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Grand Rapids Information

Grand Rapids lies in the lower peninsula of the state, approximately 25 miles east of the great Lake Michigan. The metropolis covers 45.3 square miles and according to the 2010 census, the entire metropolitan area had a population of over 1,300,000 million residents. Recognized as the county seat of Kent, Grand Rapids remains the second largest city in the state. Former residents hailing from Grand Rapids include President Gerald Ford.

Four quadrants comprise the city, which lies along the Grand River. The location has a humid climate and a close proximity to Lake Michigan creates lake effect storms throughout the year. Hot summers often bring temperatures of up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Winter temperatures commonly fall below freezing and Grand Rapids receives on average 64 inches of snow annually.

Native Americans established the first settlements here over 2,000 years ago. The Ottawa people occupied the area when Europeans first arrived in the early 1800s. Frontier families developed homesteads and trading posts. Louis Campau receives credit for officially founding the community in 1826. Campau built a cabin, blacksmith shop and trading post. He purchased an additional 72 acres of land from the government and named the land Grand Rapids.

This location later became the downtown district. Expanding into a village, the community incorporated in 1838. By 1844, the area now known as the Heritage Hill Historical District was under development. The location currently has approximately 1300 homes featuring over 60 styles of architecture. During the latter half of the century, a massive lumber industry influenced the creation of furniture manufacturing.

Taking part in expositions across the country, Grand Rapids became known as "Furniture City." By 1880, Grand Rapids had the country's first hydro-electric generator. Early on, the city became part of the automotive industry as the Austin Automobile Company operated here from 1901 to 1921. Today, the metropolis leads the world in office furniture manufacturing. The city serves as home to a number of well known companies that include Amway, Bissell and Zondervan Publishing.

Fortune magazine proclaimed that Grand Rapids was one of the Top 10 Best Cities for Business in 1998. Spectrum Health also established their headquarters in Grand Rapids and employs over 16,000 people. The organization has a cancer center, heart center and a children's hospital located along the Grand Rapids Medical Mile. The expansive health services destination also features the Butterworth Hospital, the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and the Van Andel Research Institute.

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