Old Images of Grand Rapids, Michigan

Categorised as Michigan
grand rapids michigan map 1868

Glimpse history through fascinating old images of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Canal Street

This early photo of Canal Street, with streetcar rails running along the middle of the road, and horses and carts waiting outside the smartly awned shop windows, may have been taken sometime between 1870 and 1890.

The city’s first horseline car was established in 1865. Then the streetcar system gradually expanded and was later electrified, until 1935 when it was all ended.

It’s a lovely historic image packed with details, so I’ve added two closeups.

Old photo of Canal Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s
Old photo of Canal Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s. From the archives of the Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library.
Closeup of an old photo of Canal Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s
Closeup of an old photo of Canal Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s. From the archives of the Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library.
Closeup of an old photo of Canal Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s
Closeup of an old photo of Canal Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s. From the archives of the Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library.

Main Street

In this early image of Main Street, the lines of carriage wheels on the ground suggest the city’s street has yet to be paved.

Again, this is a historic photo packed with a lot of detail, so I’ve added two close up images.

Old photo of Main Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s
Old photo of Main Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s. From the archives of the Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library.
Closeup of an old photo of Main Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s
Closeup of an old photo of Main Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s. From the archives of the Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library.
Closeup of an old photo of Main Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s
Closeup of an old photo of Main Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s. From the archives of the Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library.

Lyons Street

This early photo of Lyons Street, probably from second half of the 1800s, isn’t very clear. So I’ve added just one closeup, where you can see horses and carts parked along the sidewalk, and several people waiting or talking.

It looks as though the sidewalk had ramps down to the road.

Old photo of Lyons Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s
Old photo of Lyons Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s. From the archives of the Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library.
Closeup of an old photo of Lyons Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s
Closeup of an old photo of Lyons Street, Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably taken in the late 1800s. From the archives of the Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs at the Photography Collection of the New York Public Library.

Grand Rapids 1905 – 1910

These old photos of Grand Rapids were taken between 1905 and 1910.

They show Canal Street and Monroe Street at a time when both motor vehicles and horses were common sights on the streets, and all ladies wore long skirts and big bonnets.

Old photos of Grand Rapids(Michigan)1905-1910 – oldstuff4all on YouTube


Grand Rapids 1946

In 1946, the Grand Rapids Amateur Movie Club made a film to show the city as “A Good Place to Live”.

It opens with aerial shots of the city, visits the city’s landmarks and downstown streets, and glimpses people going about their daily lives and leisure activities.

Grand Rapids 1946 – kgbird1949 on YouTube


Downtown in 1953

Just under a minute long, this old cine film captures some of the downtown streets and landmarks as they were in 1953.

Downtown Grand Rapids MI 1953 – petersondesignstudio on YouTube


Wilcox Park

In 1992 – three decades ago! – a local resident made a home video of Wilcox Park and some of the houses and streets nearby.

Grand Rapids, Michigan – 1992 old neighborhood – Bob Craig on YouTube

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