This Michigan city was first settled by a group of Native Americans who were known for their huge burial mounds. We know it today as Grand Rapids.

Even though most of the world knows Grand Rapids for its furniture and Gerald Ford, there are a few other accomplishments that shouldn't go unnoticed.

First of all, it was well over two thousand years ago when the Hopewell Indians had villages throughout the Grand River Valley; their expertise and diligence in creating burial mounds earned them the nickname 'The Mound Builders'. The mounds didn't contain just a deceased person, but some of their personal belongings as well, and trinkets donated by tribe members.

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As recent as 300+ years ago, the Ottawa tribe arrived and occupied villages along the valley river. To the north were the Chippewa and the Potowatomi were to the south. Together, they formed an alliance known as ‘The People of the Three Fires.”

First permanent settler, Isaac McCoy
1826: Louis Campau opens the first trading post
1831: Campau purchases the whole future downtown area from the government for $90 1838: Incorporated as a village
1850: Grand Rapids is incorporated as a city
1850: The city has a furniture factory and various smaller furniture shops
1876: Grand Rapids is known worldwide for its furniture output
1881: The first hydro-electric plant in the country begins operating

A few more things that Michiganders should know about Grand Rapids:
1) During the Great Depression, Grand Rapids one-upped the federal government when the city became the first to kick off a jobs program. It wasn't until afterward that a federal employment effort was initiated.
2) In 1945, Grand Rapids became the very first city in the entire United States to infuse flouride into the drinking water.
3) It's Michigan's second-largest city.

And, according to City of Grand Rapids, the city “lays claims to the first scheduled air service.....(and is) responsible for the first publicly-funded art installation.”

These tidbits are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to Grand Rapids...if you haven't visited for a while, maybe you should.

The gallery below features many images of Grand Rapids, from the years 1868-1920s.

Vintage Grand Rapids: 1868-1920s


Buck Barry, Grand Rapids Kid Show Host: 1950s-1960s

Haunted Michigan Bell, Grand Rapids

Young Gerald Ford and His Grand Rapids Boyhood Home