Sitting on the Grand River, just 30 miles from Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan. Known for its industry and the scenic area around which Grand Rapids was built, the city is known as “Furniture City” and “River City.”
Grand Rapids was first settled in 1826 by Louis Campau, a fur trader from Detroit. In 1831, Campau bought 72 acres of land and named it “Grand Rapids” and it was this land that developed into what is presently the business district. The city was incorporated on April 2, 1850, and officially established one month later. Highlighting its original start as a lumbering center, Grand Rapids is home to some of the largest furniture companies in the nation. Job opportunities in this industry have drawn immigrants from across the globe, shaping not only the economic landscape of Grand Rapids, but the cultural one as well.
As the fifth largest public school district in Michigan, The Grand Rapids Public School district serves 17,000 students across dozens of schools. City High Middle School, a GRPS school, has been ranked among the leading schools in the state by U.S. News & World Report. Private schooling is also available throughout Grand Rapids, with Catholic Central High School being the oldest co-educational Catholic high school in the United States. Grand Rapids is also home to a number of colleges and universities, including: Aquinas College, Calvin College, Grand Valley State University, and Ferris State University. “The Rapid”, Grand Rapids’ public bus transportation system, provides bus service throughout the city, while interstate travel is available via I-96, I-196 and I-296. Amtrak service is available downtown, while national and international air travel is offered at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
Grand Rapids is known for its “Celebration on the Grand Festival” which is a traditional festival to close out the summer season, taking place the week after Labor Day. The festival features food and free musical performances, and concludes with a fireworks display. Grand Rapids also boasts a bustling performing arts district, with multiple concert venues, a symphony and an opera. Four professional sports teams are based in Grand Rapids, including: West Michigan Whitecaps (baseball), Grand Rapids Griffins (hockey), Grand Rapids Drive (basketball) and Grand Rapids FC (soccer).
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