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Grand Rapids, Michigan

HistoryEdit Pearl Street, located downtown, c. 1885 For thousands of years, succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples occupied this area. Over 2,000 years ago, people associated with the Hopewell culture occupied the Grand River Valley. Around A.D. 1700, the Ottawa, who occupied territory around the Great Lakes and spoke one of the numerous Algonquian languages, moved into the area and founded several villages along the Grand River.[9] At the start of the 19th century, European fur traders (mostly French Canadian and Métis) and missionaries established posts in the area among the Ottawa. They generally lived in reasonable peace, trading European metal and textile goods for fur pelts. Joseph and his wife Madeline La Framboise, who was Métis, established the first trading post in West Michigan, and in present Grand Rapids, on the banks of the Grand River near what is nowAda. They were French-speaking and Roman Catholic. They likely both spoke Ottawa, Madeline's maternal ancestral language. After the death of her husband in 1806, Madeline La Framboise carried on, expanding fur trading posts to the west and north. La Framboise, whose mother was Ottawa and father French, later merged her successful operations with the American Fur Company. She retired at age 41 to Mackinac Island. The first permanent European-American settler in the Grand Rapids area was Isaac McCoy, a Baptist minister, who established a missionary station in 1825.[10] He represented the European-American settlers who started arriving from Ohio, New York and New England, the Yankee states of the Northern Tier. In 1826 Detroit-born Louis Campau, the official founder of Grand Rapids, built his cabin, trading post, and blacksmith shop on the east bank of the Grand River near the rapids. Campau returned to Detroit, then returned a year later with his wife and $5,000 of trade goods to trade with the Ottawa and Ojibwe. In 1831 the federal survey of the Northwest Territory reached the Grand River; it set the boundaries for Kent County, named after prominent New York jurist James Kent. Campau became perhaps the most important settler when, in 1831, he bought 72 acres (291,000 m²) from the federal government for $90 and named his tract Grand Rapids. Over time, it developed as today's main downtown business district.[9] Rival Lucius Lyon, a Yankee Protestant who purchased the rest of the prime land, called his the Village of Kent.Yankee migrants (primarily English-speaking settlers) and others began migrating fromNew York and New England in the 1830s. Ancestors of these people included not only English colonists but people of mixed ethnic Dutch, Mohawk, French Canadian and French Huguenot descent from the colonial period in New York. In 1836 John Ball, representing a group of New York land speculators, bypassed Detroit for a better deal in Grand Rapids. Ball declared the Grand River valley "the promised land, or at least the most promising one for my operations".[11] By 1838, the settlement incorporated as a village, and encompassed an area of approximately three-quarters of a mile (1 km) . The first formal census occurred in 1845, which recorded a population of 1,510 and an area of four square miles. The city of Grand Rapids was incorporated April 2, 1850.[12] It was officially established on May 2, 1850, when the village of Grand Rapids voted to accept the proposed city charter. The population at the time was 2,686. By 1857, the city of Grand Rapids' area totaled 10.5 square miles (27 km2). In 1880, the country's first hydro-electric generator was put to use on the city's west side.[13] Grand Rapids was an early center for the automobile industry, as the Austin Automobile Company operated here from 1901 until 1921. In 1945, Grand Rapids became the first city in the United States to add fluoride to its drinking water. Downtown Grand Rapids, when the center of business, used to host four department stores: Herpolsheimer's (Lazarus in 1987), Jacobson's, Steketee's (founded in 1862), and Wurzburg's. Shopping was a community event. As with many older cities, these businesses suffered as the population moved to suburbs in the postwar era with federal subsidization of highway construction. In addition, retail changes in buying habits affected business. Consolidation of department stores occurred here and nationally in the 1980s and 1990s. 1915 panorama Gypsum miningEdit An outcropping of gypsum, where Plaster Creek enters the Grand River, was known to the Native American inhabitants of the area. Pioneer geologist Douglass Houghtoncommented on this find in 1838.[14][15] Settlers began to mine this outcrop in 1841, initially in open cast mines, but later underground mines as well. Gypsum was ground locally for use as a soil amendment known as "land plaster." The Alabastine Mine in nearby Wyoming, Michigan, was originally dug in 1907 to provide gypsum for the manufacture of stucco and wall coverings, notably the alabastine favored by Arts and Crafts Movement architects. The mine has since been converted to a storage facility primarily used for computer servers and Kent County document storage. Furniture CityEdit During the second half of the 19th century, the city became a major lumbering center, processing timber harvested in the region. Logs were floated down the Grand River to be milled in the city and shipped via the Great Lakes. The city became a center of fine wood products as well. By the end of the century, it was established as the premier furniture-manufacturing city of the United States.[16] It was nicknamed "Furniture City" and exhibited many of its products at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. "After an international exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, Grand Rapids became recognized worldwide as a leader in the production of fine furniture."[17] This event in Philadelphia, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, helped spark theColonial Revival movement in American furniture. "Grand Rapids furniture" became a byword for well-made reproductions of American and English 18th and early 19th-century styles. Furniture companies included the William A. Berkey Company and its successors,Baker Furniture Company, Williams-Kimp, and Widdicomb Furniture Company.[18] The Grand Rapids Furniture Record was the trade paper for the city's industry. Its industries provided jobs for many new immigrants from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century, and a Polish neighborhood developed on the west side of the city. A furniture-makers' guild was established in 1931 to improve the design and craftsmanship of Grand Rapids furniture. National home furnishing markets were held in Grand Rapids for about 75 years, concluding in the 1960s. By that time, the furniture-making industry had largely shifted to North Carolina.[19] Although local employment in the industry is lower than at its historic peak, Grand Rapids remains a leading city in office furniture production. It incorporated trends to use steel and other manufactured materials in furniture, with ergonomic designs for chairs, computer stations, and other furnishings.[20] Transportation historyEditRoadwaysEdit The first improved road into the city was completed in 1855. This road was a private, toll plank road built from Kalamazoo through Wayland. It was a primary route for freight and passengers until about 1868. This road connected to the outside world via the Michigan Central Railroad at Kalamazoo. RailroadEdit The first railroad into the city was the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad, which commenced service in 1858. In 1869 the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway connected to the city. The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad began passenger and freight service to Cedar Springs, Michigan, on December 25, 1867, and to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1870. This railroad expanded service to Muskegon in 1886. The Grand Rapids, Newaygo and Lake Shore Railroad completed a line to White Cloud in 1875. In 1888 the Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad connected with Grand Rapids. Air transportationEdit Grand Rapids was a home to one of the first regularly scheduled passenger airlines in the United States when Stout Air Services began flights from Grand Rapids to Detroit (Ford Airport in Dearborn, Michigan), on July 31, 1926.[21] Grand River

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