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Streetcars - Part of Our Past and Part of Our Future

Take a look at the history of the streetcar in Grand Rapids then consider a 2014 plan to bring them back.

Photo of Matt Knaack
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This is just one of the ways that transportation may change in GR. I hope you find it intriguing like I do! According to the above site, streetcars were used in Grand Rapids from 1865 to 1935. At one point, GR even had the most modern streetcar system in the country! Now read this excerpt from the opening message of a 2014 study (link above), written by former GR mayor, John H. Logie: “In the 1890s there were streetcars all around Grand Rapids, with tracks from downtown out to Reeds Lake before East Grand Rapids became a city. We were in the process of changing over from horsedrawn to electric-powered vehicles supplied by wires mounted on buildings above the tracks. We even had a San Francisco-like cable car to get up and down the Michigan Street hill. Our streetcars were replaced by buses and automobiles many years ago, but our community still needs better mobility for our residents and visitors and new economic development opportunities to create jobs and sustain growth. Now, fast forward almost 100 years. Desiring to build upon Grand Rapids 'streetcar legacy,' in the last several months, the Streetcar Advisory Committee has been hard at work to identify what will become the first streetcar to begin running through downtown since the last one shut down in the 1930’s..."


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Photo of Tom Bulten

Hi Matt: I appreciated your thoughtful comments about streetcars, bike riding, and more. I wonder if you would want to develop an idea for the "Propose" phase of the City of Tomorrow Challenge. (It is seeking proposals through September 30.) You have a unique perspective to contribute. I'm the online facilitator for the Grand Rapids Challenge. So, let me know if I can help you refine an idea. You can submit a proposal here:

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