Grand Rapids , a city and the capital of Kent co., Michigan, situated at the rapids of Grand river, here spanned by five bridges, 30 m. E. of Lake Michigan and 60 m. W. N. W. of Lansing; pop. in 1850, 2,686; in 1860, 8,085; in 1870, 16,507, of whom 5,725 were foreigners. It is built on both sides of the river, which here, deviating from its general W. direction, runs nearly S. between high bluffs about a mile apart, which gradually diverge and nearly disappear above and below the city. The central school building, erected in 1868 at a cost of $50,000, is on the highest part of the bluffs E. of the river, and commands a fine view. The county jail, built in 1872, is a fine specimen of architecture. There are many handsome residences, a number of gravelled streets, and several miles of street railroad. The river is navigable to this point for steamers of considerable size. Six railroads intersect here: the Detroit and Milwaukee, the Grand Rapids and Indiana, the Grand River Valley division of the Michigan Central, the Kalamazoo division of the Michigan Southern, the Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore, and the Grand Rapids, Newaygo, and Lake Shore. The rapids furnish extensive water power, which is utilized by means of two canals.
The one on the E. side of the river is 2,600 ft. long, 140 ft. wide at the upper and 30 ft. at the lower end; the W. side canal is 3,300 | ft. long, 100 ft. wide at the upper and 50 ft. at the lower end. Only a portion of the available power is in actual use. The principal manufactures are of wood work, embracing furniture, barrels, and rim and bent work, tubs, pails, sashes and blinds, carriages and wagons, etc. There are also manufactories of agricultural implements and brushes, several founde-ries and machine shops, chemical works, tanneries, breweries, etc. The pine lumber produced in 1872 exceeded 60,000,000 ft. A large establishment for preserving fruit has recently been erected. Four firms, with an aggregate capital of $400,000, are engaged in quarrying and manufacturing gypsum, which is abundant in the vicinity, the annual production being about 100,000 tons. Cream-colored bricks, known as Milwaukee bricks, are also manufactured here. There are two national banks with an aggregate capital of $700,000, and a savings bank. The city is divided into eight wards, is lighted with gas, and has an efficient police force and a paid tire department.
The assessed value of property in 1873 was $4,949,282. The United States circuit and district courts for the W. district of Michigan are held here. The school buildings are nine in number, including a high school. There is a public library with more than 7,000 volumes, a free reading room, and a scientific institute which has a fine museum. There are three daily and five weekly (one Dutch and one German) newspapers, two monthly periodicals, and 20 churches. Grand Rapids was first settled in 1833, and incorporated in 1850.