Grand rapids mi population 2015

Grand rapids mi population 2015 DEFAULT

A new report from looked at affordable metropolitan areas most people are moving to and found Grand Rapids had a net population growth of 30,822 people between 2015 and 2018.

Among 31 large-sized metros in the report, Grand Rapids-Wyoming came in at No. 18 with a three-year net population growth of 2.97%. Comparatively, Austin-Round Rock, Texas, saw the greatest population growth over the same period with 8.37% and 167,456 new residents.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, appeared to be the least popular large metro with a three-year net population growth of .02% and only 366 new residents.

Summary of data for the Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area:

  • Three-year net population growth: 2.97% (1.79% nationally)
  • Three-year net population growth: 30,822 (5,748,618 nationally)
  • Cost of living compared to national average: -7.8%
  • Median home price: $227,246 ($251,598)
  • Average 2-bedroom rent: $962 per month ($1,204 nationally)


Population statistics in the report are from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Cost-of-living statistics are from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Regional Price Parities dataset. Rental statistics are from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fair Market Rents survey. Home prices are from the Zillow Home Price Index.

To find the most affordable metropolitan areas that people are moving to, identified locations with the largest population increases between 2015 and 2018. Metropolitan areas with a negative or no change in population were filtered out. Additionally, metropolitan areas with a cost of living that exceeds the national average by more than 3% were also filtered out. Only locations with 100,000 residents or more were included.


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The population count of Grand Rapids Metro Area (MI) was 1,050,440 in 2018.

Above charts are based on data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey | ODN Dataset | API - Notes:

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    NYCHA Resident Data Book Summary| Last Updated 2020-02-08T00:56:30.000Z

    Contains resident demographic data at a summary level as of January 1, 2019. The Resident Data Book is compiled to serve as an information source for queries involving resident demographic as well as a source of data for internal analysis. Statistics are compiled via HUD mandated annual income reviews involving NYCHA Staff and residents. Data is then aggregated and compiled by development. Each record pertains to a single public housing development.

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    2010 Census/ACS Basic Census Tract Data| Last Updated 2014-06-10T19:42:31.000Z

    basic characteristics of people and housing for individual 2010 census tract portions inside or outside KCMO

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    2010 Census/ACS Basic Block Group Data| Last Updated 2014-06-10T19:28:50.000Z

    basic characteristics of people and housing for individual 2010 census block groups

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    Telemedicine Use in the Last 4 Weeks| Last Updated 2021-10-06T14:15:36.000Z

    To rapidly monitor recent changes in the use of telemedicine, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA MCHB) partnered with the Census Bureau on an experimental data system called the Household Pulse Survey. This 20-minute online survey was designed to complement the ability of the federal statistical system to rapidly respond and provide relevant information about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. The U.S. Census Bureau, in collaboration with five federal agencies, launched the Household Pulse Survey to produce data on the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on American households. The Household Pulse Survey was designed to gauge the impact of the pandemic on employment status, consumer spending, food security, housing, education disruptions, and dimensions of physical and mental wellness. The survey was designed to meet the goal of accurate and timely estimates. It was conducted by an internet questionnaire, with invitations to participate sent by email and text message. The sample frame is the Census Bureau Master Address File Data. Housing units linked to one or more email addresses or cell phone numbers were randomly selected to participate, and one respondent from each housing unit was selected to respond for him or herself. Estimates are weighted to adjust for nonresponse and to match Census Bureau estimates of the population by age, sex, race and ethnicity, and educational attainment. All estimates shown meet the NCHS Data Presentation Standards for Proportions.

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    2010 Census/ACS Basic Block Group Data| Last Updated 2013-02-08T20:03:40.000Z

    basic characteristics of people and housing for individual 2010 census block groups

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    Labor Force Demographic Characteristics by Commuting Mode Split: 2012 - 2016| Last Updated 2019-09-17T17:16:51.000Z

    This data set provides demographic and journey to work characteristics of the Cambridge Labor Force by primary mode of their journey to work. Attributes include age, presence of children, racial and ethnic minority status, vehicles available, time leaving home, time spent traveling, and annual household income. The data set originates from a special tabulation of the American Community Survey - the 2012 - 2016 version of the Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP). The Cambridge Labor Force consist of all persons who live in Cambridge who work or are actively seeking employment. For more information on Journey to Work data in Cambridge, please see the full 2015 report (

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    Social Vulnerability Index for Virginia by Census Tract, 2018| Last Updated 2021-10-07T19:02:27.000Z

    "ATSDR’s Geospatial Research, Analysis & Services Program (GRASP) created Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index (CDC SVI or simply SVI, hereafter) to help public health officials and emergency response planners identify and map the communities that will most likely need support before, during, and after a hazardous event. SVI indicates the relative vulnerability of every U.S. Census tract. Census tracts are subdivisions of counties for which the Census collects statistical data. SVI ranks the tracts on 15 social factors, including unemployment, minority status, and disability, and further groups them into four related themes. Thus, each tract receives a ranking for each Census variable and for each of the four themes, as well as an overall ranking." For more see

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    Workforce Demographic Characteristics by Commuting Mode Split : 2012 - 2016| Last Updated 2019-09-17T17:17:39.000Z

    This data set provides demographic and journey to work characteristics of the Cambridge Workforce by primary mode of their journey to work. Attributes include age, presence of children, racial and ethnic minority status, vehicles available, time arriving at work, time spent traveling, and annual household income. The data set originates from a special tabulation of the American Community Survey - the 2012 - 2016 version of the Census Transportation Planning Products (CTPP). The Cambridge Workforce consist of all persons who work in Cambridge, regardless of home location. For more information on Journey to Work data in Cambridge, please see the full 2015 report:

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    2010 Census/ACS Basic Census Tract Data| Last Updated 2019-04-19T19:05:00.000Z

    basic characteristics of people and housing for individual 2010 census tract portions inside or outside KCMO

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    2010 Census/ACS Basic Block Group Data| Last Updated 2019-04-19T18:51:48.000Z

    basic characteristics of people and housing for individual 2010 census block groups

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Grand Rapids, MI

In 2019, Grand Rapids, MI had a population of 198k people with a median age of 31.4 and a median household income of $50,103. Between 2018 and 2019 the population of Grand Rapids, MI grew from 197,081 to 198,401, a 0.67% increase and its median household income grew from $47,173 to $50,103, a 6.21% increase.

The 5 largest ethnic groups in Grand Rapids, MI are White (Non-Hispanic) (59%), Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (17.9%), White (Hispanic) (8.19%), Other (Hispanic) (5.59%), and Two+ (Non-Hispanic) (4.14%). 0% of the households in Grand Rapids, MI speak a non-English language at home as their primary language.

92.4% of the residents in Grand Rapids, MI are U.S. citizens.

The largest universities in Grand Rapids, MI are Grand Rapids Community College (2,347 degrees awarded in 2019), Calvin University (1,069 degrees), and Cornerstone University (658 degrees).

In 2019, the median property value in Grand Rapids, MI was $143,400, and the homeownership rate was 55.4%. Most people in Grand Rapids, MI drove alone to work, and the average commute time was 18.4 minutes. The average car ownership in Grand Rapids, MI was 2 cars per household.

About the photo: Downtown Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids - A City on the Move

Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Current weather forecast for Grand Rapids, MI

Population in 2019: 201,013 (100% urban, 0% rural).
Population change since 2000: +1.6%
Males: 99,745  (49.6%)
Females: 101,268  (50.4%)
Median resident age:31.4 years
Michigan median age:39.8 years

Zip codes:49503, 49504, 49505, 49507, 49534, 49544.

Grand Rapids Zip Code MapEstimated median household income in 2019: $51,817 (it was $37,224 in 2000)
Grand Rapids:$51,817

Estimated per capita income in 2019: $26,399 (it was $17,661 in 2000)

Grand Rapids city income, earnings, and wages data

Estimated median house or condo value in 2019: $168,300 (it was $91,100 in 2000)
Grand Rapids:$168,300

Mean prices in 2019:all housing units: $169,920; detached houses: $167,317; townhouses or other attached units: $188,597; in 2-unit structures: $191,032; in 3-to-4-unit structures: $159,405; in 5-or-more-unit structures: $258,594; mobile homes: $35,408

Median gross rent in 2019: $995.

March 2019 cost of living index in Grand Rapids: 86.1 (less than average, U.S. average is 100)

Grand Rapids, MI residents, houses, and apartments details

Percentage of residents living in poverty in 2019: 22.4%
(12.8% for White Non-Hispanic residents, 38.8% for Black residents, 35.1% for Hispanic or Latino residents, 32.5% for American Indian residents, 8.2% for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander residents, 32.5% for other race residents, 33.1% for two or more races residents)

Detailed information about poverty and poor residents in Grand Rapids, MI

Business Search- 14 Million verified businesses

According to our research of Michigan and other state lists, there were 1,430 registered sex offenders living in Grand Rapids, Michigan as of October 14, 2021.
The ratio of all residents to sex offenders in Grand Rapids is 137 to 1.

The crime index weighs serious crimes and violent crimes more heavily. Higher means more crime, U.S. average is 270.6. It adjusts for the number of visitors and daily workers commuting into cities.

- means the value is smaller than the state average.
- means the value is about the same as the state average.
- means the value is bigger than the state average.
- means the value is much bigger than the state average.

Click on a table row to update graph crime index in Grand Rapids, MI

Crime rate in Grand Rapids detailed stats: murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts, arson

Full-time law enforcement employees in 2019, including police officers: 368 (299 officers).
Officers per 1,000 residents here:1.48
Michigan average:1.74 Blog Recent articles from our blog. Our writers, many of them Ph.D. graduates or candidates, create easy-to-read articles on a wide variety of topics.

Latest news from Grand Rapids, MI collected exclusively by from local newspapers, TV, and radio stations


Ancestries: Dutch (13.1%), German (5.1%), Polish (4.0%), Irish (3.2%), American (3.2%), European (2.6%).

Current Local Time: EST time zone

Land area: 44.6 square miles.

Population density: 4,503 people per square mile  (average).

Grand Rapids, Michigan map

22,132 residents are foreign born (5.9% Latin America, 1.6% Asia, 1.4% Africa, 1.2% Europe).

This city:11.0%

Median real estate property taxes paid for housing units with mortgages in 2019: $2,139 (1.2%)
Median real estate property taxes paid for housing units with no mortgage in 2019: $1,807 (1.1%)

Nearest city with pop. 200,000+: Milwaukee, WI (116.4 miles , pop. 596,974).

Nearest city with pop. 1,000,000+: Chicago, IL (129.0 miles , pop. 2,896,016).

Nearest cities:

Latitude: 42.96 N, Longitude: 85.66 W

Nickname or alias (official or unofficial): Furniture City

Daytime population change due to commuting: +38,839 (+19.3%)
Workers who live and work in this city: 49,257 (48.1%)

Area code: 616

Distribution of median household income in Grand Rapids, MI in 2019
Distribution of house value in Grand Rapids, MI in 2019
Grand Rapids satellite photo by USGS

Grand Rapids tourist attractions:

  • Centerpointe Mall, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park - Grand Rapids, MI - outdoor sculpture collection and garden
  • Grand Rapids Children's Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, a Fun, Interactive Learning Museum for Children
  • Heritage Hill Historic District, Grand Rapids, Michigan, One of the Largest Urban Historic Districts in the Country
  • John Ball Zoological Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • La Grande Vitesse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, an Artistic Steel Sculpture and Symbol of the City
  • JW Marriott Hotel Grand Rapids
  • Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
  • Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI
  • Woodland Mall, Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan accommodation & food services, waste management - Economy and Business Data

Single-family new house construction building permits:

  • 1997: 233 buildings, average cost: $92,700
  • 1998: 189 buildings, average cost: $97,000
  • 1999: 241 buildings, average cost: $98,000
  • 2000: 237 buildings, average cost: $110,800
  • 2001: 225 buildings, average cost: $113,900
  • 2002: 197 buildings, average cost: $98,700
  • 2003: 150 buildings, average cost: $113,700
  • 2004: 191 buildings, average cost: $90,200
  • 2005: 170 buildings, average cost: $94,000
  • 2006: 127 buildings, average cost: $93,000
  • 2007: 92 buildings, average cost: $93,300
  • 2008: 43 buildings, average cost: $98,700
  • 2009: 22 buildings, average cost: $104,900
  • 2010: 15 buildings, average cost: $128,400
  • 2011: 23 buildings, average cost: $118,600
  • 2012: 45 buildings, average cost: $129,000
  • 2013: 59 buildings, average cost: $136,300
  • 2014: 75 buildings, average cost: $154,900
  • 2015: 81 buildings, average cost: $156,400
  • 2016: 69 buildings, average cost: $144,600
  • 2017: 101 buildings, average cost: $173,800
  • 2018: 124 buildings, average cost: $154,100
  • 2019: 153 buildings, average cost: $101,200
Number of permits per 10,000 Grand Rapids, MI residents
Average permit cost in Grand Rapids, MI
Unemployment in November 2020:
Unemployment by year
Historical population in Grand Rapids, MI
Historical housing units in Grand Rapids, MI

Population change in the 1990s: +7,382 (+3.9%).
Most common industries in Grand Rapids, MI (%)
Most common industries in 2019
  • Health care (12.6%)
  • Educational services (10.4%)
  • Accommodation & food services (9.0%)
  • Professional, scientific, technical services (5.6%)
  • Administrative & support & waste management services (4.5%)
  • Finance & insurance (4.1%)
  • Transportation equipment (3.9%)
Most common industries for males in 2019
  • Educational services (7.8%)
  • Accommodation & food services (7.6%)
  • Construction (7.0%)
  • Health care (5.7%)
  • Administrative & support & waste management services (5.6%)
  • Professional, scientific, technical services (5.4%)
  • Transportation equipment (5.1%)
Most common industries for females in 2019
  • Health care (19.6%)
  • Educational services (13.0%)
  • Accommodation & food services (10.5%)
  • Professional, scientific, technical services (5.8%)
  • Social assistance (4.7%)
  • Finance & insurance (4.4%)
  • Administrative & support & waste management services (3.4%)
Most common occupations in Grand Rapids, MI (%)
Most common occupations in 2019
  • Laborers and material movers, hand (5.0%)
  • Other management occupations, except farmers and farm managers (4.2%)
  • Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations (4.2%)
  • Cooks and food preparation workers (3.5%)
  • Computer specialists (2.6%)
  • Other production occupations, including supervisors (2.6%)
  • Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides (2.5%)
Most common occupations for males in 2019
  • Laborers and material movers, hand (7.0%)
  • Other management occupations, except farmers and farm managers (4.2%)
  • Cooks and food preparation workers (3.9%)
  • Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations (3.5%)
  • Computer specialists (3.5%)
  • Engineers (3.3%)
  • Driver/sales workers and truck drivers (3.2%)
Most common occupations for females in 2019
  • Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations (4.9%)
  • Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides (4.6%)
  • Other management occupations, except farmers and farm managers (4.1%)
  • Other production occupations, including supervisors (3.3%)
  • Other office and administrative support workers, including supervisors (3.2%)
  • Customer service representatives (3.1%)
  • Cooks and food preparation workers (3.1%)

Average climate in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Based on data reported by over 4,000 weather stations

Grand Rapids, Michigan average temperaturesGrand Rapids, Michigan average precipitationGrand Rapids, Michigan humidityGrand Rapids, Michigan wind speedGrand Rapids, Michigan snowfallGrand Rapids, Michigan sunshineGrand Rapids, Michigan clear and cloudy days

Grand Rapids, Michigan environmental map by EPA

Map Legend

Air pollution and air quality trends
(lower is better)
Air Quality Index

Air Quality Index (AQI) level in 2018 was 68.3. This is about average.

Carbon Monoxide Level

Carbon Monoxide (CO) [ppm] level in 2018 was 0.235. This is about average.Closest monitor was 1.3 miles away from the city center.

Nitrogen Dioxide Level

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) [ppb] level in 2006 was 14.3. This is significantly worse than average.Closest monitor was 0.5 miles away from the city center.

Sulfur Dioxide Level

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) [ppb] level in 2018 was 0.171. This is significantly better than average.Closest monitor was 0.5 miles away from the city center.

Ozone Level

Ozone [ppb] level in 2018 was 26.9. This is better than average.Closest monitor was 1.3 miles away from the city center.

Particulate Matter Level

Particulate Matter (PM2.5) [µg/m3] level in 2018 was 8.01. This is about average.Closest monitor was 1.1 miles away from the city center.

Lead Level

Lead (Pb) [µg/m3] level in 2010 was 0.00613. This is significantly better than average.Closest monitor was 0.1 miles away from the city center.

Tornado activity:

Grand Rapids-area historical tornado activity is near Michigan state average. It is 4% greater than the overall U.S. average.

On 4/3/1956, a category F5 (max. wind speeds 261-318 mph) tornado 31.9 miles away from the Grand Rapids city center killed 18 peopleand injured 340 peopleand causedbetween $50,000 and $500,000 in damages.

On 4/11/1965, a category F4 (max. wind speeds 207-260 mph) tornado 13.9 miles away from the city center killed 5 peopleand injured 142 peopleand causedbetween $500,000 and $5,000,000 in damages.

Earthquake activity:

Grand Rapids-area historical earthquake activity is significantly above Michigan state average. It is 27% smaller than the overall U.S. average.

On 5/2/2015 at 16:23:07, a magnitude 4.2 (4.2 MW, Depth: 2.8 mi, Class: Light, Intensity: IV - V) earthquake occurred 51.5 miles away from Grand Rapids center
On 1/31/1986 at 16:46:43, a magnitude 5.0 (5.0 MB, Class: Moderate, Intensity: VI - VII) earthquake occurred 248.6 miles away from the city center
On 9/25/1998 at 19:52:52, a magnitude 5.2 (4.8 MB, 4.3 MS, 5.2 LG, 4.5 MW, Depth: 3.1 mi) earthquake occurred 288.0 miles away from Grand Rapids center
On 4/18/2008 at 09:36:59, a magnitude 5.4 (5.1 MB, 4.8 MS, 5.4 MW, 5.2 MW) earthquake occurred 333.0 miles away from Grand Rapids center
On 7/12/1986 at 08:19:37, a magnitude 4.5 (4.5 MB) earthquake occurred 180.3 miles away from the city center
On 6/10/1987 at 23:48:54, a magnitude 5.1 (4.9 MB, 4.4 MS, 4.6 MS, 5.1 LG) earthquake occurred 309.1 miles away from the city center
Magnitude types: regional Lg-wave magnitude (LG), body-wave magnitude (MB), surface-wave magnitude (MS), moment magnitude (MW)

Natural disasters:

The number of natural disasters in Kent County (11) is smaller than the US average (15).
Major Disasters (Presidential) Declared: 6
Emergencies Declared: 4

Causes of natural disasters: Storms: 5, Floods: 4, Tornadoes: 3, Winter Storms: 2, Blizzard: 1, Hurricane: 1, Snowstorm: 1, Wind: 1, Other: 1 (Note: some incidents may be assigned to more than one category).Grand Rapids topographic map


Hospitals in Grand Rapids:


Rapids population 2015 mi grand

What is the current population of Grand Rapids?

Based on the latest 2020 data from the US census, the current population of Grand Rapids is 201,013. Grand Rapids, Michigan is the 113th largest city in the US.

What was the peak population of Grand Rapids?

The current population of Grand Rapids (201,013) is it's peak population.

How quickly is Grand Rapids growing?

Grand Rapids has grown 1.5% since the 2000. Grand Rapids, Michigan's growth is extremely below average. 85% of similarly sized cities are growing faster since 2000.

What county is Grand Rapids, Michigan in?

Grand Rapids is located entirely in Kent County.

DO NOT MOVE to Grand Rapids? - 10 Worst Neighborhoods in Grand Rapids - Moving to Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Michigan Population 2021

The Grand Rapids area has been inhabited by many indigenous peoples for thousands of years, including the Hopewell people and the Ottawa, who founded many villages along the river. European fur traders and missionaries began building trading posts in the area among the Ottawa people in the 19th century. The first permanent European American settler established a missionary in 1825.

The official founder of Grand Rapids was Louis Campau, who build a blacksmith shop and trading post in the area in 1826. In 1831, he purchased 72 acres from the government and named the track Grand Rapids. This original track is today's downtown business area. By 1838, the community was incorporated as a village. In 1845, it had a population of 1,510. Grand Rapids was included five years later with a population of 2,686.

In 1880, Grand Rapids became the early center for America's auto industry. During the mid-19th century, Grand Rapids also became a significant timber center and the largest furniture manufacturing city in the country. Grand Rapids was nicknamed the Furniture City, and it's still the leading U.S. city for office furniture manufacturing.


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Grand Rapids, Michigan

City in Michigan, United States

"Grand Rapids" redirects here. For other uses, see Grand Rapids (disambiguation).

City in Michigan, United States

Grand Rapids, Michigan

City of Grand Rapids

Images from top to bottom, left to right: downtown cityscape, Meyer May House, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum,
La Grande Vitesse, pedestrian bridge over the Grand River, Van Andel Arena, Van Andel Institute on the Medical Mile


Official seal of Grand Rapids, Michigan


Official logo of Grand Rapids, Michigan



GR, River City, Beer City USA, Furniture City


Motu Viget (Latin)
(English: "Strength in activity")

Location within Kent County

Location within Kent County

Grand Rapids is located in Michigan
Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

Location within the state of Michigan

Show map of Michigan
Grand Rapids is located in the United States
Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

Locaion within the United States

Show map of the United States
Coordinates: 42°57′40″N85°39′20″W / 42.96111°N 85.65556°W / 42.96111; -85.65556Coordinates: 42°57′40″N85°39′20″W / 42.96111°N 85.65556°W / 42.96111; -85.65556
CountryUnited States
 • TypeCity commission
 • MayorRosalynn Bliss
 • ManagerMark Washington
 • ClerkJoel Hondorp
 • City45.63 sq mi (118.19 km2)
 • Land44.76 sq mi (115.92 km2)
 • Water0.88 sq mi (2.27 km2)  1.92%
Elevation640 ft (200 m)
 • City198,917
 • RankUS: 115th
MI: 2nd
 • Density4,491.31/sq mi (1,734.09/km2)
 • Urban


569,935 (US: 70th)
 • Metro1,077,370[2] (US: 52nd)
 • CSA1,412,470[2] (US: 42nd)
Demonym(s)Grand Rapidian
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)

49501–49508, 49510, 49514–49516, 49518, 49523, 49525, 49534, 49546, 49548, 49555, 49560, 49588, 49594

Area code(s)616
FIPS code26-34000
GNIS feature ID0627105[3]

Grand Rapids is a city and county seat of Kent County in the U.S. state of Michigan.[4] At the 2020 census, the city had a population of 198,917, which ranks it as the second most-populated city in the state after Detroit. Grand Rapids is the central city of the Grand Rapids metropolitan area, which has a population of 1,087,592 and a combined statistical area population of 1,383,918.[2]

Situated along the Grand River approximately 30 miles (48 km) east of Lake Michigan, it is the economic and cultural hub of West Michigan, as well as one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest.[5] A historic furniture manufacturing center, Grand Rapids is home to five of the world's leading office furniture companies and is nicknamed "Furniture City." Other nicknames include "River City" and more recently, "Beer City" (the latter given by USA Today[6] and adopted by the city as a brand).[7] The city and surrounding communities are economically diverse, based in the health care, information technology, automotive, aviation, and consumer goods manufacturing industries, among others.

Grand Rapids was the childhood home of U.S. President Gerald Ford, who is buried with his wife Betty on the grounds of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in the city.[8] The city's Gerald R. Ford International Airport and Gerald R. Ford Freeway are named after him.


Main article: History of Grand Rapids, Michigan

Native American settlement[edit]

A 1772 engraving showing Ottawa attire of the period.

For thousands of years, succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples occupied the area. Over 2000 years ago, people associated with the Hopewell culture occupied the Grand River Valley.[9] Later, a tribe from the Ottawa River traveled to the Grand River valley, fighting three battles with the Prairie Indians who were established in the area.[10] The tribe later split, with the Chippewas settling in the northern lower peninsula, the Pottawatomies staying south of the Kalamazoo River and the Ottawa staying in central Michigan.[10]

By the late 1600s, the Ottawa, who occupied territory around the Great Lakes and spoke one of the numerous Algonquian languages, moved into the Grand Rapids area and founded several villages along the Grand River.[9][11] The Ottawa established on the river, which they called O-wash-ta-nong, or far-away-water due to the river's length, where they "raised corn, melons, pumpkins and beans, to which they added game of the woods and the fish from the streams".[10]

In 1740, an Ottawa man who would later be known as Chief Noonday and become the future chief of the Ottawa, was born.[12] Between 1761 and 1763, Chief Pontiac visited the area annually, gathering over 3,000 natives and asking them to volunteer to lay siege to the British fort in Detroit, which would culminate into Pontiac's War.[10] By the end of the 1700s, there were an estimated 1,000 Ottawa in the Kent County area.[10]

Nineteenth century: European-American settlement[edit]

Trading post[edit]

After the French established territories in Michigan, Jesuit missionaries and traders traveled down Lake Michigan and its tributaries.[10] At the start of the 19th century, European fur traders (mostly French Canadian and Métis) and missionaries established posts in the area among the Ottawa. They generally lived in peace, trading European metal and textile goods for fur pelts.

In 1806, Joseph and his wife Madeline La Framboise, who was Métis, traveled by canoe from Mackinac and established the first trading post in West Michigan in present-day Grand Rapids on the banks of the Grand River, near what is now Ada Township, the junction of the Grand and Thornapple Rivers. They were French-speaking and Roman Catholic. They likely both spoke Ottawa, Madeline's maternal ancestral language. After the murder of her husband in 1809 while en route to Grand Rapids, Madeline La Framboise carried on the trade business, expanding fur trading posts to the west and north, creating a good reputation among the American Fur Company. La Framboise, whose mother was Ottawa and father French, later merged her successful operations with the American Fur Company.[10]

By 1810, Chief Noonday established a village on the north side of the river with about 500 Ottawa.[12] During the War of 1812, Noonday was allied with Tecumseh during the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh was killed in this battle, and Noonday inherited his tomahawk and hat.[13] In 1821, the Council of Three Fires signed the first treaty of Chicago, ceding to the United States all lands in Michigan Territory south of the Grand River, except for several small reservations. The treaty included "One hundred thousand dollars to satisfy sundry individuals, in behalf of whom reservations were asked, which the Commissioners refused to grant" of which Joseph La Framboise received 1000 dollars immediately and 200 dollars a year, for life.[14]

Madeline La Framboise retired the trading post to Rix Robinson in 1821 and returned to Mackinac.[10] That year, Grand Rapids was described as being the home of an Ottawa village of about 50 to 60 huts on the north side of the river near the 5th Ward, with Kewkishkam being the village chief and Chief Noonday being the chief of the Ottawa.[15]

European settlement[edit]

The first permanent European-American settler in the Grand Rapids area was Isaac McCoy, a Baptist minister. General Lewis Cass, who commissioned Charles Christopher Trowbridge to establish missions for Native Americans in Michigan, ordered McCoy to establish a mission in Grand Rapids for the Ottawa.[15] In 1823, McCoy, as well as Paget, a Frenchman who brought along a Native American pupil, traveled to Grand Rapids to arrange a mission, though negotiations fell through with the group returning to the Carey mission for the Potawatomi on the St. Joseph River.[15]

In 1824, Baptist missionary Rev. L. Slater traveled with two settlers to Grand Rapids to perform work.[15] The winter of 1824 was difficult, with Slater's group having to resupply and return before the spring.[15] Slater then erected the first settler structures in Grand Rapids, a log cabin for himself and a log schoolhouse.[15] In 1825, McCoy returned and established a missionary station.[16] He represented the settlers who began arriving from Ohio, New York and New England, the Yankee states of the Northern Tier.

A sketch of Grand Rapids in 1831. The collection of houses across the river on its west side is the Baptist mission. The three buildings in the middle right are Louis Campau's trading post.

Shortly after, Detroit-born Louis Campau, known as the official founder of Grand Rapids, was convinced by fur trader William Brewster, who was in a rivalry with the American Fur Company, to travel to Grand Rapids and establish trade there.[15] In 1826, Campau built his cabin, trading post, and blacksmith shop on the south bank of the Grand River near the rapids, stating the Native Americans in the area were "friendly and peaceable".[15] Campau returned to Detroit, then returned a year later with his wife and $5,000 of trade goods to trade with the Ottawa and Ojibwa, with the only currency being fur.[15] Campau's younger brother Touissant would often assist him with trade and other tasks at hand.[15]

In 1831 the federal survey of the Northwest Territory reached the Grand River; it set the boundaries for Kent County, named after prominent New York jurist James Kent. In 1833, a land office was established in White Pigeon, Michigan, with Campau and fellow settler Luther Lincoln seeking land in the Grand River valley.[15] Lincoln purchased land in what is now known as Grandville, while Campau became perhaps the most important settler when he bought 72 acres (291,000 m2) from the federal government for $90 and named his tract Grand Rapids. Over time, it developed as today's main downtown business district.[9] In the spring of 1833, Campau sold to Joel Guild, who traveled from New York, a plot of land for $25.00, with Guild building the first frame structure in Grand Rapids, which is now where McKay Tower stands.[15][17] Guild later became the postmaster, with mail at the time being delivered monthly from the Gull Lake, Michigan to Grand Rapids.[15] Grand Rapids in 1833 was only a few acres of land cleared on each side of the Grand River, with oak trees planted in light, sandy soil standing between what is now Lyon Street and Fulton Street.[15]

The large framed building constructed by Campau in 1834, seen in this image converted into part of the Rathbun House.

By 1834, the settlement had become more organized. Rev. Turner had established a school on the east side of the river, with children on the west side of the river being brought to school every morning by a Native American on a canoe who would shuttle them across the river. Multiple events happened at Guild's frame structure, including the first marriage in the city, one that involved his daughter Harriet Guild and Barney Burton, as well as the first town meeting that had nine voters. It was also this year Campau began constructing his own frame building—the largest at the time—near present-day Rosa Parks Circle.[15]

In 1835, many settlers arrived in the area with the population growing to about 50 people, including its first doctor, Dr. Wilson, who was supplied with equipment from Campau.[15]Lucius Lyon, a Yankee Protestant who would later become a rival to Campau arrived in Grand Rapids who purchased the rest of the prime land and called his plot the Village of Kent. When Lyon and his partner N. O. Sergeant returned after their purchase, they arrived along with a posse of men carrying shovels and picks, intending to build a mill race. The group arrived to the music of a bugle which startled the settlement, with Chief Noonday offering Campau assistance to drive back Lyon's posse believing they were invaders. Also that year, Rev. Andrew Vizoisky, a Hungarian native educated in Catholic institutions in Austria, arrived, presiding over the Catholic mission in the area until his death in 1852.[15]

That year, Campau, Rix Robinson, Rev. Slater, and the husband of Chief Noonday's daughter, Meccissininni, traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak about the purchase of Ottawa land on the west side of the river with President Andrew Jackson.[12] Jackson was originally unimpressed with Meccissininni, though Meccissininni, who often acquired white customs, asked Jackson for a similar suit to the one the president was wearing. While later wearing his suit that was made similar to Jackson's, Meccissininni also unknowingly imitated Jackson's hat, placing a piece of weed in it, which impressed Jackson since it symbolized mourning the death of his wife.[12]

John Ball, representing a group of New York land speculators, bypassed Detroit for a better deal in Grand Rapids traveling to the settlement in 1836. Ball declared the Grand River valley "the promised land, or at least the most promising one for my operations".[18] That year, the first steamboat was constructed on the Grand River named the Gov. Mason, though the ship wrecked two years later in Muskegon.[15]Yankee migrants (primarily English-speaking settlers) and others began migrating from New York and New England through the 1830s. Ancestors of these people included not only English colonists but people of mixed ethnic Dutch, Mohawk, French Canadian, and French Huguenot descent from the colonial period in New York. However, after 1837, the area saw poor times, with many of the French returning to their places of origin, with poverty hitting the area for the next few years.[15]

The first Grand Rapids newspaper, The Grand River Times, was printed on April 18, 1837, describing the village's attributes, stating:[15]

Though young in its improvements, the site of this village has long been known and esteemed for its natural advantages. It was here that the Indian traders long since made their great depot.

The Grand River Times continued, saying the village had grown quickly from a few French families to about 1,200 residents, the Grand River was "one of the most important and delightful to be found in the country," and described the changing Native American culture in the area.[15]

Incorporation and cityhood[edit]

By 1838, the settlement incorporated as a village, and encompassed approximately .75 square miles (1.9 km2).[19]

An outcropping of gypsum, where Plaster Creek enters the Grand River, was known to the Native American inhabitants of the area. Pioneer geologist Douglass Houghton commented on this find in 1838.[20][21] Settlers began to mine this outcrop in 1841, initially in open cast mines, but later underground mines as well. Gypsum was ground locally for use as a soil amendment known as "land plaster."

The first formal census in 1845 recorded a population of 1,510[22] and an area of 4 square miles (10 km2).[22] The city of Grand Rapids was incorporated April 2, 1850.[23] It was officially established on May 2, 1850, when the village of Grand Rapids voted to accept the proposed city charter. The population at the time was 2,686. By 1857, the city of Grand Rapids' area totaled 10.5 square miles (27 km2).[19] In October 1870, Grand Rapids became a desired location for immigrants, with about 120 Swedes arriving in the United States to travel and create a "colony" in the area in one week.[24]

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the city became a major lumbering center, processing timber harvested in the region. Logs were floated down the Grand River to be milled in the city and shipped via the Great Lakes. The city became a center of fine wood products as well. By the end of the century, it was established as the premier furniture-manufacturing city of the United States.[25] It was the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia that brought attention to Grand Rapids' furniture on the national stage, providing a new growing industry to help the city recover from the Panic of 1873.[26][27] In 1880, the country's first hydro-electric generator was put to use on the city's west side.[28]

Twentieth century: Furniture City[edit]

Due to its flourishing furniture industry, Grand Rapids began the be recognized as "Furniture City". Grand Rapids was also an early center for the automobile industry, as the Austin Automobile Company operated there from 1901 until 1921.

A 1915 panorama, when the furniture industry peaked before the Great Depression.

Furniture companies included the William A. Berkey Company and its successors, Baker Furniture Company, Williams-Kimp, and Widdicomb Furniture Company.[29] The furniture industry began to grow significantly into the twentieth century; in 1870 there were eight factories employing 280 workers and by 1911, Old National Bank wrote that about 8,500 were employed by forty-seven factories.[30][31] At least a third of the workers in Grand Rapids were employed by furniture companies.[30]The Grand Rapids Furniture Record was the trade paper for the city's industry. Its industries provided jobs for many new immigrants from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century, and a Polish neighborhood developed on the west side of the city.

Strike of 1911[edit]

Main article: 1911 Grand Rapids furniture workers strike

By the early twentieth century, the quality of furniture produced in Grand Rapids was renowned throughout furniture industry, mainly due to the skill of its workers.[31] Government reports in 1907 revealed that while Grand Rapids lead the industry in product output, though its furniture workers were paid lower wages than in other areas.[31] After a minor dispute, workers were inspired to form labor unions; workers requested furniture companies to increase wages, less working hours, the creation of collective bargaining and the institution of a minimum wage to replace piece work.[30][31] The furniture businesses refused to respond with unions as they believed that any meeting represented recognition of unions.[30][31]

Workers in Grand Rapids then began a four month long general strike on April 19, 1911.[30][32] Much of the public, the mayor, the press and the Catholic diocese supported the strike, believing that the unwillingness of business leaders to negotiate was unjust.[30][31] Ultimately, the Christian Reformed Church – where the majority of striking workers congregated – and the Fountain Street Church – whose reverend feared the loss of contributions from the wealthy furniture businessmen – lead opposition to the strike, which resulted in its end on August 19, 1911.[30][32]

The strike resulted with substantial changes to the governmental and labor structure of the city.[32] With businesses upset with Mayor Ellis for supporting the strike lobbied for the city to change from a twelve-ward government – which more accurately represented the city's ethnic groups – to a smaller three ward system that placed more power into the demands of Dutch citizens, the city's largest demographic.[33][34] Some workers who participated in the strike were blacklisted by companies and thousands of dissatisfied furniture workers emigrated to higher paying regions.[30][31]

Move to retail and suburbanization[edit]

Shifting from its furniture-centric industry, downtown Grand Rapids temporarily became a retail destination for the region, hosting four department stores: Herpolsheimer's (Lazarus), Jacobson's, Steketee's (founded in 1862), and Wurzburg's. In 1945, Grand Rapids became the first city in the United States to add fluoride to its drinking water. National home furnishing conferences were held in Grand Rapids for about seventy-five years, concluding in the 1960s. By that time, the furniture-making industry had largely shifted to North Carolina.[35]

As with many older cities in the United States, these retail in the city suffered as the population moved to suburbs in the postwar era with federal subsidization of highway construction. The Grand Rapids suburb Wyoming began to develop rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s following the opening of retail outlets such as Rogers Plaza and Wyoming Village Mall on 28th Street, with developments built so quickly that they were finished without utilities.[36] Consolidation of department stores occurred in Grand Rapids and nationally in the 1980s and 1990s.



Grand Rapids developed on the banks of the Grand River, where there was once a set of rapids, at an altitude of 610 feet (186 m) above sea level. Ships could navigate on the river up to this fall line, stopping because of the rapids. The river valley is flat and narrow, surrounded by steep hills and bluffs. The terrain becomes more rolling hills away from the river. The countryside surrounding the metropolitan area consists of mixed forest and farmland, with large areas of orchards to the northwest. It is approximately 25 mi (40 km) east of Lake Michigan. The state capital of Lansing lies about 60 mi (97 km) to the east-by-southeast, and Kalamazoo is about 50 mi (80 km) to the south.

Grand Rapids is divided into four quadrants, which form a part of mailing addresses in Kent County. The quadrants are NE (northeast), NW (northwest), SE (southeast), and SW (southwest). Fulton Street serves as the north–south dividing line, while Division Avenue serves as the east–west dividing line separating these quadrants.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 45.27 square miles (117.25 km2), of which, 44.40 square miles (115.00 km2) of it is land and 0.87 square miles (2.25 km2) is water.[37]


Grand Rapids
Climate chart (explanation)

































































































Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: NOAA[38]
Metric conversion

































































































Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

Grand Rapids has a humid continental climate (KöppenDfa),[39] with very warm and humid summers, cold and snowy winters, and short and mild springs and autumns.

Even though it is in the middle of the continent, the city experiences some maritime effects due to its location east of Lake Michigan, including a high number of cloudy days during the late fall and winter, delayed heating in the spring, delayed cooling in fall, somewhat moderated temperatures during winter and lake effect snow. The city averages 75.6 in (192 cm) of snow a year, making it one of the snowiest major cities in the United States.[40] The area often receives quick and sudden lake effect snowstorms, producing significant amounts of snowfall.

The months of March, April, October and November are transitional months and the weather can vary. March has experienced a record high of 87 °F (31 °C) and record low of −8 °F (−22 °C). The average last frost date in spring is May 1, and the average first frost in fall is October 11, giving the area a growing season of 162 days.[41] The city is in plant hardiness zone 6a, while outlying areas are 5b. Some far western suburbs closer to the insulating effect of Lake Michigan are in zone 6b.[42] Summers are warm or hot, and heat waves and severe weather outbreaks are common during a typical summer.

The average temperature of the area is 49 °F (9 °C). The highest temperature in the area was recorded on July 13, 1936, at 108 °F (42 °C), and the lowest was recorded on February 13–14, 1899, at −24 °F (−31 °C).[43] During an average year, sunshine occurs in 46% of the daylight hours. On 138 nights, the temperature dips to below 32 °F (0 °C). On average, 9.2 days a year have temperatures that meet or exceed the 90 °F (32 °C) mark, and 5.6 days a year have lows that are 0 °F (−18 °C) or colder.

In April 1956, the western and northern portions of the city and its suburbs were hit by a violent tornado which locally produced F5 damage and killed 18 people.[44]

With the Grand River flowing through the center of Grand Rapids, the city has been prone to floods. From March 25–29, 1904, more than one-half of the entire populated portion of the city lying on the west side of the river was completely underwater, over twenty-five hundred houses, affecting fourteen thousand persons, being completely surrounded. On March 28, the river registered at 19.6 feet (6.0 m), more than two feet (0.61 m) above its highest previous mark.[45]

More than one-hundred years later, the 2013 Grand Rapids flood occurred from April 12–25, 2013, with the river cresting at 21.85 feet (6.66 m) on the 21st, causing thousands of residents to evacuate their homes and over $10 million in damage.[46]

Climate data for Grand Rapids, Michigan (Gerald Ford Int'l), 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1892−present[a]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Mean maximum °F (°C) 51
Average high °F (°C) 31.0
Daily mean °F (°C) 24.8
Average low °F (°C) 18.6
Mean minimum °F (°C) −3
Record low °F (°C) −22
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.52
Average snowfall inches (cm) 22.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)16.8 13.1 11.8 12.8 12.5 10.7 10.0 9.9 10.2 12.5 12.9 15.5 148.7
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)14.9 11.2 5.9 2.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.4 4.5 11.9 50.9
Average relative humidity (%) 77.2 74.2 71.1 66.8 65.4 68.1 69.6 73.3 76.1 74.6 76.9 79.5 72.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours88.3 116.0 168.2 210.2 255.9 286.8 296.5 264.2 206.0 152.4 82.0 62.1 2,188.6
Percent possible sunshine30 39 45 52 56 62 64 61 55 45 28 22 49
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961−1990)[47][48][49]


See also: List of tallest buildings in Grand Rapids and List of nature centers in Michigan

The city skyline shows the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, formerly the Pantlind, which reopened in 1981 after extensive renovations by Marvin DeWinter & Associates. This work included the addition of a 29–story glass tower offering panoramic views of the city, river and surrounding area. The Pantlind Hotel's original architects, Warren & Wetmore, were inspired by the work of the Scottish neoclassical architect Robert Adam. In its prime, the hotel was rated as one of the top ten hotels in the US. The hotel features several restaurants well known in Grand Rapids, such as Cygnus. The hotel is owned by Amway Hotel Collection, a subsidiary of Amway's holding company Alticor.[50]

The skyline of Grand Rapids as seen in August 2021

Other prominent large buildings include the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, the first JW Marriott Hotel in the Midwest. It is themed from cityscapes of Grand Rapids' sister cities: Omihachiman, Japan; Bielsko-Biała, Poland; Perugia, Italy; Ga District, Ghana; and Zapopan, Mexico. When the hotel opened, Amway Hotel corporation hired photographer Dan Watts to travel to each of the sister cities and photograph them for the property. Each floor of the hotel features photography from one of the cities, which is unique to that floor. Cityscapes of these five cities are alternated in order, up the 23 floors.

The city's tallest building is the River House Condominiums, a 34-story (123.8 m) condominium tower completed in 2008 that stands as the tallest all-residential building in the state of Michigan.[51]

A barn belonging to the Blandford School at the Blandford Nature Center in early springtime

Grand Rapids is also home to two large urban nature centers. The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve and Native Gardens, operated by Calvin University on the city's southeast side, is 104 acres (42 ha). It is home to over 44 acres (18 ha) of public-access nature trails, a 60-acre (24 ha), restricted-access wildlife preserve, as well as the Bunker Interpretive Center, which hosts university classes and educational programs for the wider community.[52] The Blandford Nature Center, located on the city's northwest side, opened in 1968 and contains extensive nature trails, an animal hospital, and a "heritage village" made up of several well-preserved 19th-century buildings, including a log cabin, schoolhouse, and barn.[53] The nature center is also home to Blandford School, a highly selective environmental education program for sixth graders from the metropolitan region, which is run by Grand Rapids Public Schools and serves as a feeder school for City High-Middle School. At 264 acres (107 ha), Blandford is one of the largest urban nature centers in the United States.[54]


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[55]

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 census,[56] there were 188,036 people, 72,126 households, and 41,015 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,235.1 inhabitants per square mile (1,635.2/km2). There were 80,619 housing units at an average density of 1,815.7 per square mile (701.0/km2). The city's racial makeup was 64.6% White (59.0% Non-Hispanic White[57]), 20.9% African American, 0.7% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 7.7% from other races, and 4.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race were 15.6% of the population.[58]

Of the 72,126 households, 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.5% were married couples living together, 16.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.1% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.20.

The median age in the city was 30.8 years. 24.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 14.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.6% were from 25 to 44; 21.2% were from 45 to 64; and 11.1% were 65 years of age or older. The city's gender makeup was 48.7% male and 51.3% female.

2000 census[edit]

There were 73,217 households, of which 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.3% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.24.

In the city, the age distribution shows 27.0% under the age of 18, 13.1% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 16.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.5 males.

The city's median household income was $37,224, and the median family income was $44,224. Males had a median income of $33,050 versus $26,382 for females. The city's per capita income was $17,661. 15.7% of the population and 11.9% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 19.4% are under the age of 18 and 10.4% are 65 or older.


According to a 2007 American Community Survey, the largest ancestry groups in Grand Rapids reported (not including "American") were those of German (23.4% of the population), Dutch (21.2%), Irish (11.4%), English (10.8%), Polish (6.5%), and French (4.1%) heritage.[59]

In recent decades, Grand Rapids and its suburban areas have seen their Latino communities grow. Between 2000 and 2010 the Latino population in Grand Rapids grew from 25,818 to 29,261, increasing over 13% in a decade.[60]

In 2015, Grand Rapids was rated as the second-worst city for African-Americans, behind only Milwaukee to succeed economically based on disparities in employment, income, and homeownership levels.[61]


The Cathedral of Saint Andrew, constructed in 1874 as a parish for Irish immigrants in Grand Rapids' Heartside neighborhood, was rebuilt in 1903 after a fire destroyed much of the original building two years earlier.[62]

Grand Rapids has a significant Dutch Reformed population. The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) has a large following in Grand Rapids; its denominational offices are on the city's southeast side. The CRCNA has over 230 congregations and almost 100,000 members in Michigan as of 2010.[63] The denomination is concentrated in the western part of the state, where a substantial number of immigrants from the Netherlands settled; most were followers of the Reformed faith who took part in the Secession of 1834.[64] As of 2012, the Christian Reformed Church in North America has nearly 1,100 congregations and over 250,000 members nationwide.[65] The Grand Rapids-Wyoming Metropolitan Area has 149 Christian Reformed Churches with 77,389 members.[66]

The Reform Judaism congregation of Temple Emanuel was founded in 1857 and the fifth oldest Reform congregation in the United States.[67] The congregation built its first synagogue in 1882 on the corner of Fountain and Ransom Streets. The current location was constructed in 1952.[68]

Grand Rapids is home to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, which was created on May 19, 1882 by Pope Leo XIII. The Diocese comprises 176,098 Catholics in West Michigan, 102 parishes, and five high schools: Catholic Central High School, Grand Rapids; Muskegon Catholic Central High School, Muskegon; St. Patrick High School, Portland; Sacred Heart Academy, Grand Rapids; and West Catholic High School, Grand Rapids.[69]David John Walkowiak is the Bishop of Grand Rapids.

The Reformed Church in America (RCA) has about 154 congregations and 76,000 members mainly in Western Michigan,[70] heavily concentrated in the cities in Grand Rapids, Holland, and Zeeland. The denomination's main office is also in Grand Rapids.[71] The Grand Rapids-Wyoming metropolitan area has 86 congregations with almost 49,000 members. The Protestant Reformed Churches in America (PRCA) traces its roots to the First Protestant Reformed Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan) whose pastor was Herman Hoeksema, the founder of the church.[72] A majority of the PRCA's Classis East churches, about 13 congregations, are around Grand Rapids.[66][73][74]

Grand Rapids aerial view in the 1930s
Grand Rapids aerial view in the 1930s

The United Reformed Churches in North America has 12 congregations in Grand Rapids area; these congregations form the Classis of Michigan.[75] The Heritage Reformed Congregations' flagship and largest church is in Grand Rapids. The Netherlands Reformed Congregations in North America has 2 churches.[76] The PC(USA) had 12 congregations and 7,000 members in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming Metropolitan statistical area, the United Church of Christ had also 14 congregations and 5,400 members.[66]

The offices of the West Michigan Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church are in the East Hills Neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The West Michigan Annual Conference represents more than 400 local United Methodist churches in the western half of the lower peninsula with approximately 65,000 members in total.[77] Grand Rapids is also home to the United Methodist Community House, whose mission is to increase the ability of children, youth, adults and families to succeed in a diverse community.[78] In 2010, The United Methodist Church had 61 congregations and 21,450 members in the Grand Rapids Metropolitan area.[66]


Top Employers in Grand Rapids Metro (2019)

Source: The Right Place

1 Spectrum Health25,000
2 Meijer10,340
3 Mercy Health8,500
4 Gentex5,800
5 Gordon Food Service5,000
6 Amway Corporation3,791
7 Herman Miller3,621
8 Perrigo Company3,500
9 Steelcase Inc.3,500
10 Farmers Insurance Group3,500
11 Grand Valley State University3,306
12 Lacks Enterprises 3,000
13 Grand Rapids Public Schools2,800
14 Arconic2,350
15 Hope Network2,162
16 Metro Health Hospital2,100
17 Roskam Baking Co. 2,090
18 Fifth Third Bank2,280
19 Haworth2,000
20 SpartanNash2,000

Further information: List of Michigan companies

A collection of Spectrum Health facilities and affiliates on the Medical Mile.

Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Spectrum Health is West Michigan's largest employer, with 25,600 staff and 1,700 physicians in 2017.[79] Spectrum Health's Meijer Heart Center, Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion, and Butterworth Hospital, a level I trauma center, are on the Grand Rapids Medical Mile, which has world-class facilities that focus on the health sciences. They include the Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Valley State University's Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine medical school's Secchia Center, along with Ferris State University's College of Pharmacy. Nearly a billion dollars has been invested in the Spectrum Health Cancer Pavilion, the Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, and the expansion to the Van Andel Institute. These facilities have attracted many health science businesses to the area.

Grand Rapids has long been a center manufacturing, dating back to its original roots in furniture manufacturing. Office furniture manufacturers such as American Seating, Steelcase (and its subsidiaries Coalesse and Turnstone), Haworth, and Herman Miller are based in and around the Grand Rapids area.[80][81][82][83][84][85] In 1881, the Furniture Manufacturers Association (FMA) was organized in Grand Rapids; making it the country's first furniture manufacturing advocacy group.[86] The Kindel Furniture Company[87] and the Hekman Furniture Company[88] have been designing and manufacturing furniture in Grand Rapids since 1912 and 1922 respectively.

The Grand Rapids area is also known for its automobile and aviation manufacturing industries, with GE Aviation Systems having a location in the city.[89]

The Grand Rapids area is home to a number of well-known companies including Alticor/Amway (a multi-level marketing company), Acrisure (the fastest-growing insurance brokerage in industry history), Bissell (a privately owned vacuum cleaner and floor care product manufacturer), Highlight Industries (an industry leader in stretch wrap equipment), SpartanNash (a food distributor and grocery store chain), Foremost Insurance Company (a specialty lines insurance company), Meijer (a regional supercenter chain), GE Aviation (formerly Smiths Industries, an aerospace products company), Wolverine World Wide (a designer and manufacturer of shoes, boots and clothing), Universal Forest Products (a building materials company), and Schuler Books & Music, one of the country's largest independent bookstores.[citation needed]

The city is known as a center of Christian publishing, home to Zondervan, Baker Books, Kregel Publications, Eerdmans Publishing and Our Daily Bread Ministries.

The city and its surrounding region house a successful food processing and agribusiness industry, which has experienced a 10-year job growth rate of 45% from 2009-2019. With Michigan being the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, the Greater Grand Rapids region is well-known for its fruit production. Due to its proximity to Lake Michigan, the climate is considered especially prime for apple, peach, and blueberry farming. Greater Grand Rapids produces 1/3 of Michigan's total agricultural sales.

In 2010 Grand Rapids was named the "most sustainable midsize city in the U.S." by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Civic Leadership Center and Siemens Corp. Grand Rapids was chosen over finalist cities Davenport, Iowa and Hoover, Alabama.[90] The city has also been named in several other notable rankings since, including:

  • No.1 Cities with the Most Manufacturing Jobs - Grand Rapids/Kentwood (Smartest Dollar, 2020)
  • No.1 Mid-Sized Metro for Economic Growth Potential - Grand Rapids (Business Facilities, 2019)
  • No. 1 Top Metro for Sustainable Development - Grand Rapids, (Site Selection Magazine, 2019)
  • Top 20 Cities for 7-Year Job Growth - Grand Rapids (Reuters, 2019)


K–12 public education is provided by the Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) as well as a number of charter schools. City High-Middle School, a magnet school for academically talented students in the metropolitan region operated by GRPS, is habitually ranked among the nation's top high schools.[91] Grand Rapids is also home to the oldest co-educational Catholic high school in the United States, Catholic Central High School.[92]National Heritage Academies, which operates charter schools across several states, has its headquarters in Grand Rapids.[93]

Grand Rapids is home to several colleges and universities. The private, religious schools: Aquinas College, Calvin University, Cornerstone University, Grace Bible College, and Kuyper College, each have a campus within the city. The seminaries Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary are in Grand Rapids. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a private institution, also has a campus in Grand Rapids. Northwood University, a private university with its main campus in Midland, Michigan, has a satellite campus downtown near the "medical mile." Davenport University, a private, non-profit, multi-location university with 14 campuses statewide, has its main campus just outside Grand Rapids.

As for public tertiary institutions, Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) maintains a campus downtown and facilities in other parts of the city and surrounding region.

Grand Valley State University, with its main campus in nearby Allendale, continues to develop its presence downtown by expanding its Pew Campus, begun in the 1980s on the west bank of the Grand River.[94] This downtown campus comprises 67 acres (27 ha) in two locations and is home to 12 buildings and three leased spaces.[95] Into the 2000s, Grand Valley State University expanded its medical education programs into Medical Mile, constructing various facilities such as the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences in 2003.[96] The university expanded across I-196 from the Medical Mile into the Belknap Lookout neighborhood in the 2010s, constructing the Raleigh Finkelstein Hall to assist with medical and nursing studies.[97]

Ferris State University has a growing campus downtown, including the Applied Technology Center (operated with GRCC) and the Kendall College of Art and Design, a formerly private institution that now is part of Ferris. Ferris State also has a branch of the College of Pharmacy downtown on the medical mile. Western Michigan University has a long-standing graduate program in the city, with facilities downtown, and in the southeast. The Van Andel Institute, a cancer research institute established in 1996, also resides on the medical mile; the institute established a graduate school in 2005 to train Ph.D. students in cellular, genetic, and molecular biology.[citation needed]

Grand Rapids is home to the Secchia Center medical education building, a $90 million, seven-story, 180,000-square-foot (17,000 m2) facility, at Michigan Street and Division Avenue, part of the Grand Rapids Medical Mile. The building is home to the Grand Rapids Campus of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. This campus trains medical students through all four years of their medical education. The state-of-the-art facility includes clinical examination rooms, simulation suites, classrooms, offices, and student areas.[98]


In 1969, Alexander Calder's abstract sculpture, La Grande Vitesse, which translates from French as "the great swiftness" or more loosely as "grand rapids," was installed downtown on Vandenberg Plaza, the redesigned setting of Grand Rapids City Hall.[99] It was the first work of public art in the United States funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.[100] The sculpture is informally known as "the Calder", and since its installation the city has hosted an annual Festival of the Arts in the area surrounding the sculpture, now known informally as "Calder Plaza".[99][101] During the first weekend in June, several blocks of downtown surrounding the Calder stabile in Vandenberg Plaza are closed to traffic. The festival features several stages with free live performances, food booths selling a variety of ethnic cuisine, art demonstrations and sales, and other arts-related activities. Organizers bill it as the largest all-volunteer arts festival in the United States. Vandenberg Plaza also hosts various ethnic festivals throughout the summer season.

Each October, the city celebrates Polish culture, historically based on the West side of town, with Pulaski Days.

In 1973, Grand Rapids hosted Sculpture off the Pedestal, an outdoor exhibition of public sculpture, which assembled works by 13 world-renowned artists, including Mark di Suvero, John Henry, Kenneth Snelson, Robert Morris, John Mason, Lyman Kipp and Stephen Antonakos, in a single, citywide celebration. Sculpture off the Pedestal was a public/private partnership, including financial support by the National Endowment for the Arts, educational support from the Michigan Council for the Arts, and in-kind contributions from individuals, business, and industry. Fund-raising events, volunteers, and locals housing artists contributed to the public character of the event.

From 1980 to 2015, Celebration on the Grand was held the weekend after Labor Day, featuring free concerts, fireworks display and food booths. 'Celebration on the Grand' is an event that celebrates life in the Grand River valley.

On November 10, 2004, the grand premiere of the film The Polar Express was held in Grand Rapids. It was adapted from the children's book by author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, who lives in the city. His main character in the book (and movie) also lives in Grand Rapids, and the movie was set in the city. The Meijer Gardens created a Polar Express display as part of their larger Christmas Around the World exhibit.

In mid-2004, the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) began construction of a new, larger building for its collection; it opened in October 2007 at 101 Monroe Center NW. The new building site faces the sculpture Ecliptic, by Maya Lin, at Rosa Parks Circle. The museum was completed in 2007. It was the first new art museum to achieve gold-level LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

ArtPrize, the world's largest annual art competition determined by public voting, first took place in Grand Rapids from September 23 through October 10, 2009. This event was founded by Rick DeVos, grandson of Amway Corp. co-founder Richard DeVos, who offered $449,000 in cash prizes. A total of 1,262 artists exhibited their work for two weeks, and a total of 334,219 votes were cast. First prize, including a $250,000 cash prize, went to Brooklyn painter Ran Ortner.[102] ArtPrize 2010 was held September 22 through October 10, 2010, with work by 1,713 artists on display. The first prize was awarded to Grand Rapids artist Chris LaPorte.[103] The twelfth annual ArtPrize will be held from September 16 to October 3, 2021.

In 2012, Grand Rapids tied with Asheville, North Carolina for "Beer City USA." The competition was held by casting votes online for cities around the United States. Prominent breweries in the area such as B.O.B's Brewery, Brewery Vivant, Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids Brewing Co., Harmony Brewing, HopCat and Schmohz have created the culture necessary to win the award.[104] In 2013, Grand Rapids was the sole winner of "Beer City USA", taking the prize with more votes than those combined for the second-place Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the third-place Asheville, North Carolina.[105]


Grand Rapids is the home of John Ball Zoological Garden, Belknap Hill, and the Gerald R. Ford Museum. He and former First Lady Betty Ford were buried on the site. Significant buildings in the downtown include the DeVos Place Convention Center, Van Andel Arena, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, and the JW Marriott Hotel. The


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