Grand Rapids, Kent Co, Michigan
    History Databases

A non profit educational website.

from my personal experience growing up in and working for the City of Grand Rapids

     Official City of Grand Rapids - for current income tax, parking, assessor

Historic and Geographic Databases

City of Grand Rapids


1857-2000 Annexation Map

Annotated  Annexation Map overlaid on township/sections


1857-2000 Street Name changes


1888 - Sanborn Fire Insurance Map

1894 Polk map

1895 - Sanborn Fire Insurance Map

1907 Ogle Map


1911 Sanborn coming

1912 City Directory list of address changes as assigned by City Engineers

1994 City Engineers Quarter Section Maps

Catholic Churches and Cemeteries historically located in the central city.



Central High School History

Early City Plat maps

Fire Barns

Photographers any name ever used in City Directories 1856-1979

Public Schools   
rand Rapids Public Schools - Any and all names ---   Alpha List.
Grand Rapids Public Schools - By street location

County of Kent

Kent County street name changes by old name 1943-  Record of Earlier ones disappeared about 2000
Kent County Range and Town lines
permanent parcel numbers  are NOT permanent.


Ancestry.Com A fool and his money are soon parted.
Dewey Decimal System
Essays - society has changed drastically in my life time

How township sections are arranged

Maps - Links to many maps covering the city from before it was created to now

If your query landed you on this site, the information may be too embedded for you to find easily. Feel free to just email me and ask me your question.

This is a work in progress. Last updated Oct 2010.

In-depth information beyond a list

I believe that genealogy, geography and history are inter-twined and accuracy is very important.  And accuracy depends on your ability to see the source in its own time-line not yours.

As an example: In my time-line Herpolsheimer's Store was at the corner of Fulton and Division while Wurzburg's Dept Store was at the corner of Ottawa and Monroe. . In my mother's time-line Herp's was at the corner of Ottawa and Monroe while Wurzburg's was near the corner of Crescent and Monroe. Do not assume your time-line fits the source's time-line or you will make mistakes and look foolish except to other fools. .

Townships were created under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Most of Kent County was surveyed in the 1830's.
The City of Grand Rapids was created in 1850.

This page covers specifically the CITY of Grand Rapids and presents a "nest" of information that can be used in your own projects to understand the past in its timeline. The City annexed land from four townships.  Explanation of Township and Range lines

First annexation in 1850:    Grand Rapids Township (formerly Kent Twp) T7N R11W    -      Walker Township T7N R12 W

The township lines that divide these four townships correspond to Division Avenue and Hall Street.

First annexation in 1891:    Paris Township  T6N R11 W                                               -     Wyoming TownshipT6N R12

Genealogy and the City of Grand Rapids

Don't believe
Genealogical Research at the Grand Rapids Public Library
Understanding the Dewey Decimal System
Index to Grand Rapids Photographers 1856-1979
Footnoting vs Common Sense
Significant Difference between Primary and Secondary Sources


Geography and the City of Grand Rapids

List of Township and City Maps
Understanding Local Legal Descriptions
Street City and County Street Name Changes 1857- 2000

Addressing Rules
Early federal laws

City Assessor

History and the City of Grand Rapids 

specific information on:
School history

Interesting Architecture

 Destruction of homes and neighborhoods by US131, I-196 and I-96
Catholic Churches
Engine Houses
Chicago Style
Octagon houses on Hastings and on Butterworth and  Taylor
Buildings I just like  West of the river; east of the river  North of Fulton St,  South of Fulton St.

Growing Up in Grand Rapids

Personal Perspective and general history
Camp Fire
My Coit School neighborhood   
My child
My Downtown
West Side
Colebaugh family    
Aunt Mamie                            


Instructions:  The underlined aqua is a link.  Click on it. 

Small photos are also links.  Click on the photo and it will get bigger.  Once at the bigger site it may be necessary to scurry over the lower right hand corner to get a little square X to pop up. Click on it to make the writing legible.  Another internet version will have a HUGE blurry picture pop up. Be patient. Wait at least a minute and it will suddenly reduce back to normal size.

There are other sites which cover the City of Grand Rapids.

This site is more sporadic, as if they were just opening a box in the attic and posting whatever they find Grand Rapids History: About

This site is run by WMGS: Western Michigan Genealogical Society

This site is run by someone who has never lived in the City so be careful about their "City" info:

   Barbara Vander Mark , Real Property Appraiser II, retired.


I created this web site and its contents using my own knowledge, experience and original sources whenever available. This is my web site and I am responsible for its contents. I would like to thank my fellow City of Grand Rapids employees who provided me with the raw data and their knowledge and expertise.  Special thanks to Bruce Sullivan, Personnel, for rescuing me, twice. Special thanks to Bill Hill the know-it-all reference librarian who truly does KNOW IT ALL except how to do genealogy. 

What started my quest of creating this web site: The rise and reliance on  Name Matching which is just copying nonsense.  And if you use a big word like transcribing which means "to make a written copy of" to cover up your mindless copying you are still responsible for extending the nonsense. Transcribing nonsense is nonsense.  I do not copy.  I do not transcribe. I think.  But hey, if you believe everything you read without question, well then you owe me a million dollars!

I mean no offense but I have to admit I am annoyed that Name Matching even extends to geography. Another genealogy site has implied that Kent County, Kent Twp - same name, same entity; Grand Rapids City, Grand Rapids Township - same name, same entity. Does that mean that since Grand Rapids, Michigan and Grand Rapids, Minnesota have the same name they are the same entity? Well, I can drive to London, Ontario. Can you drive to London, England without getting wet?

The words county, town, township and city are not synonyms. Antecedents are very important.  Another genealogy site isn't so careful about antecedents so I have added that information in parenthesis.  A direct quote from this other site. "It (Kent County) became a county in 1831. On March 22, 1842, the legislature changed the name of the town(ship) from Kent (Township) to Grand Rapids (Township).  It (the City of Grand Rapids)  is the county seat." Without the antecedents it is too easy to infer that Kent Town was renamed Grand Rapids Town and later on this town became a city instead of being separate government entities.

And I owe Singary for the sample of her excellent and award-winning  Tom Berenger web-site (guess who's my favorite actor?) and her advice in uploading.  Thank you Jenny!  and to Ted Pack who is a smart-ass just like me! And a computer programmer.  Check this site for how to begin genealogy, the smart-ass way.

And thanks to Kim Rush and Steve Smith for helping me improve this site

Although I have consulted Baxter's History of Grand Rapids, I have not copied this secondary source assuming what Baxter meant in 1891 is what it still means in 2000, but have made an effort to confirm and update the information with independent sources.  See my essay on Primary vs. Secondary.

And you can read Baxter for yourself.  Books Online - Kent County, Michigan - Histories, Directories, Biographies, Gazetteers


I have tried to impact every source with corrections or comments so everything on this site is copyrighted. The information may be used for your project but the source must be cited.

Contact Information

Postal address
Grand Rapids, Kent Co, Michigan
Electronic mail
General Information:
Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2006 My Grand Rapids
Last modified: 10/20/10