Looking back through development and redevelopment of downtown Grand Rapids over the years, one special little corner of downtown Grand Rapids has changed remarkably, so let's take a look.

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It's moved from a bustling retail center way back when, to the pedestrian mall of Monroe Center with it's amphitheater, to today's beautiful park-like setting with the ice skating rink in the winter, to a concert and event venue the rest of the year, known as Rosa Parks Circle.

1936 GRAND RAPIDS

Construction Site
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Back in 1936, what is now part of Rosa Parks Circle, the new S.S. Kresge store was being built.

MONROE MALL AMPHITHEATER

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grcity archives/Justin Anderson/Facebook
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As downtown retail declined and shoppers were moving out to the the malls, that part of Monroe was turned into a pedestrian mall with the Monroe Center Amphitheater and the big waterway/fountain.

Later on, however, in a push to create a more welcoming downtown and help stores, bars and restaurants, the pedestrian mall was redesigned again to allow limited traffic, and on street parking.

The Amphitheater was wearing out it's welcome and the city wanted a new park to replace it, so the search was on for designs and ideas.

2001 ROSA PARKS CIRCLE/MYA LIN'S ECLIPTIC BEGINS

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World-famous American designer and sculptor Maya Lin, who had designed the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.,  was chosen to design and create the new park, and she called it The Ecliptic.

ROSA PARKS CIRCLE/MAYA LIN'S ECLIPTIC TODAY

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It's hard to believe that was 23 years ago, 2001, when they began construction.

As a side note, the new Grand Rapids Art Museum was created on what was Market Avenue, and the buildings were torn down after the Ecliptic was finished.  That is all but one, sort of. The classic Mutual Home Loan bank building facade with the Greek columns in the 1936 B&W picture above, was saved and moved. Any guesses where? You'll find it today in East Grand Rapids' Gaslight Village!

WEALTHY STREET, GASLIGHT VILLAGE, EAST GRAND RAPIDS

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And the rest is history!

 

MORE: Some Fun Photos From Michigan's Past

 

 

 

 

 

 

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