Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, offering educational, employment and cultural opportunities to visitors and residents alike. An example of the unique culture of this urban center is Heartside and Center City, two neighborhoods that make up the downtown city center.
Heartside is a combination of art, entertainment, good eating and charity wrapped up in the southeast side of the heart of the city. This slice of history features many of the city’s most popular destinations. For example, the Van Andel Arena plays host to major concerts, as well as home to the Griffins hockey team and also serves as an affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.
The housing reflects the unique industrial and early 19th century structures that give this neighborhood its special flair. Today, these historical commercial buildings have been restored into unique housing options, such as townhomes and condos. These homes boast high ceilings that complement the buildings previous uses.
Residents can enjoy the local artists and their talents at a variety of shops and galleries dotted throughout the neighborhood and district. Division Avenue, for example, is known as the Avenue of the Arts. For those who love the nightlife, Ionia Avenue offers a large variety of options for all ages.
With plenty of fashionable shops and the new Downtown Market, which offers a large selection of year-round produce and a variety of food options, there are plenty of place for residents and visitors alike to satisfy their appetites for shopping and good food. Restaurants offer a wide selection, from local favorites to national chains.
Yet this neighborhood gets its name, not just for the inviting atmosphere, but its compassion for the less fortunate. Among all the revitalization, there are still plenty of welcoming community kitchens, clothing banks and other services geared to care for the needs of those who are struggling to meet their basic needs.
Anchoring Grand Rapids’ West Coast, Center City is the other section of the downtown, which is a financial and cultural hub. It offers residents and visitors the ability to visit the Civic Theater, which is Michigan’s oldest community theater. Within the Monroe Center walking mall provides residents with a wide variety of restaurants, boutique shops and coffee houses.
For the blues lovers, Rosa Parks Circle offers weekly blues concerts in its amphitheater during the summer months. In the Rosa Parks Circle public park, residents can ice skate throughout the winter. There is also the outdoor sculpture at the center of government square, La Grande Vitesse. It carries the distinction of being America’s first publically-funded art installation.
There are also several different festivals held in this area, including an arts celebration, and many cultural celebrations that reflect the diverse immigrant background of the city. These festivals are held throughout the summer. Center City also reflects the efforts of Grand Rapids to redefine itself as a modern medical research leader.
Throughout Grand Rapids, there are clearly plenty of slices of its immigrant culture and the forward thinking of its residents.