January 27, 2012

0108 UNITED STATES (Michigan) - Grand Rapids skyline

In 1805, when was born Michigan Territory, effectively consisting of Detroit and the surrounding area - to 52 years after the British had taken possession of the territory east of the Mississippi River, which he had held 100 years by the French - it had about 4,000 inhabitants, of course without Native American Peoples, which nobody count they. It now has almost 10 million inhabitants, of whom nearly a million and a half don't have a job (the worst unemployment rate of any state), due to the auto industry crisis, the same industry that led to the extraordinary development of state in 20th century.

Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan, located on the Grand River about 40 miles east of Lake Michigan, is an important center of manufacturing. Since 1838, the city has been noted for its furniture industry and is home to 5 of the world's leading office furniture companies. Home also to the Austin Automobile Company from 1901 until 1921, the city houses today a number of major companies including Steelcase, Amway, and Meijer, and is an important center for GE Aviation Systems.

I always liked that Americans know in detail how each city was founded, because many of them have less than 200 years. Grand Rapids is among them, and Wikipedia says very clearly: "The first permanent white settler in the Grand Rapids area was a Baptist minister named Isaac McCoy who arrived in 1825. In 1826 Detroit-born Louis Campau, the official founder of Grand Rapids, built his cabin, trading post, and blacksmith shop on the east bank of the Grand River near the rapids. Campau returned to Detroit, then came back a year later with his wife and $5,000 of trade goods to trade with the native tribes. In 1831 the federal survey of the Northwest Territory reached the Grand River and set the boundaries for Kent County, named after prominent New York jurist James Kent. Campau became perhaps the most important settler when, in 1831, he bought 72 acres (291,000 m²) of what is now the entire downtown business district of Grand Rapids. He purchased it from the federal government for $90 and named his tract Grand Rapids. Rival Lucius Lyon, who purchased the rest of the prime land, called his the Village of Kent. Yankee immigrants and others began immigrating from New York and New England in the 1830s."

On the postcard received from Kimberly, whom I thank, can see exactly the downtown area with its many bridges and tallest buildings in the city (photo: John Penrod). The first skyscraper on the left is Amway Grand Plaza Hotel (the third tallest in the city, with the 97m of its), reopened in 1981 after extensive renovations done by Marvin DeWinter & Associates including the addition of a 29 story glass tower. The hotel is home to several well-known restaurants in Grand Rapids, such as Cygnus and the 1913 Room, which was Michigan's only AAA Five Diamond Award restaurant, before being replaced in May 2011 by Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. The second building is also a hotel, JW Marriott Grand Rapids (the sixth tallest in the city – 78m), the first JW Marriott Hotel in the Midwest, opening in September 2007. The third is Plaza Towers Apartments (the second tallest in the city – 105m), built in 1991 and included individually-owned condominiums, rental apartments, a major-chain hotel and assorted retail stores.

The notable people born in Grand Rapids include Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, and Paul Schrader, best known as screenwriter, author of the screenplay of the famous Taxi Driver, made by Martin Scorsese in 1976.

About the stamp, which shown Grand Teton National Park, I wrote here.

sender: Kimberly McDermott / kimmybear (postcrossing)
sent from Grand Rapids (Michigan / United States), on 07.01.2012

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