Introduction to Grand Rapids, Michigan
Incorporated as a village around 1838, Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan with a population of about 200,000. There are roughly 1.3 million people within the greater Grand Rapids metropolitan area, making it the second largest metropolis in the state as well.
Located on the Grand River in western Michigan, Grand Rapids lies 30 miles east of Lake Michigan. Its founding father, Louis Campau, was an astute businessman who dealt in real estate after establishing a trading post with the Ottawa Indians in 1827. More than 2000 years ago, the mound building Hopewell Indian tribe inhabited the area. The city's most famous son is President Gerald R. Ford.
Grand Rapids experiences all four seasons. Summer and winter temperatures are moderated by Lake Michigan. However, the lake-effect contributes to an average annual snowfall of 64.4 inches. July average daily high and low temperatures are 82.3 and 60.5 degrees Fahrenheit. January average daily high and low temperatures are 29.3 and 15.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Three Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Grand Rapids - Universal Forest Products, Spartan Stores, and Steelcase, the latter carrying on a tradition of quality furniture making. Another notable company is Bissel, Inc. Also within the county is Alticor, the parent of Amway. Approximately a dozen colleges and universities are located in the area.
Arts and Leisure
Grand Rapids boasts a complete array of arts and culture. Since 1970, a three day extravaganza showcasing the arts, called Festival, takes place during the first complete weekend in June. Grand Rapids is also host to ArtPrize, one of the largest public art events in the world. There is an extraordinary amount of sculpture within the metropolis. Outdoor works of art associated with three world famous artists include:
- La Grande Vitesse, an enormous red-orange stabile by Alexander Calder.
- Ecliptic, a park by Maya Lin, including an oval amphitheater that becomes an ice skating rink in winter.
- American Horse, a 24 ft tall bronze by Nina Akamu. This is a modern day interpretation of a concept of the same scale which Leonardo Da Vinci came very close to creating. It is located in the Fredrik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.
Other cultural attractions include:
- The Grand Rapids Art Museum
- The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts
- The Fredrik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
- Opera Grand Rapids
- The Grand Rapids Symphony
- The Grand Rapids Civic Theater
- The Circle Theater
- The Broadway Theater Guild
- The Wealthy Street Theater
Some institutions for history and leisure are:
- The Public Museum of Grand Rapids
- The Van Andel Arena
- DeVos Place
- The Gerald R. Ford Museum
- The John Ball Park Zoo
Professional sports teams in the area include:
- The Griffins of the American Hockey League
- The Rampage of the Arena Football League
- The Flight of the International Basketball League
- The West Michigan Whitecaps, a minor league baseball team playing in the Midwest League, and affiliated with the Detroit Tigers