What is your impression of Grand Rapids and the lakeshore?
March 28, 2006 6:56 PM   Subscribe

What is your impression of West Michigan?

This has been knawing at my brain.
With recent announcements that 'someone' in the 'music industry' will be making a $35 million investment in Grand Rapids, MI riverfront property in the next few years I started to wonder how our little corner of the U.S. is percieved by the outside world.

Have you even ever heard of Grand Rapids or the lakeshore cities?
Please don't look us up in Wikipedia before answering. Though I've traveled quite a bit I've lived here my whole life and so it's impossible for me to be objective.
But I know that sometimes I group cities together under various labels, albeit unfairly; I may think of Seattle and San Francisco as similar, or Los Angeles and Atlanta, or maybe Indianapolis and St. Louis.

I'm interested in knowing the first thing that pops into your head when I say, "West Michigan" or "Grand Rapids."

If you're comfortable, please tell me what general area of the globe you're from.
And I completely understand if this sounds UScentric - I don't know what I'd say if someone came on here and said, "What is your impression of Northern Ireland or Southern Brazil?"

I apologize if this sounds chatty, but with the recent interest in our little town I'd really like to know if people ever even think of 'West Michigan'.
posted by Baby_Balrog to Society & Culture (50 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hmm. Good question.

As a New Yorker who's traveled through the midwest before, I don't even know if I'd think of "West Michigan" as even a place.

As for Grand Rapids? Nice town.
posted by huskerdont at 7:06 PM on March 28, 2006

I'm curious about this too. I grew up there (between Cascade and Ada.) I moved away at 18 and never lived there again, but when I visit family, I'm always surprised at how picturesque it is; at the strong sense of community; and how it seems to be developing in good ways.

It's a great place to live, but you never ever hear about it outside of the reqion.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 7:07 PM on March 28, 2006

A lot of people came to my lil' college from Michigan. My best friend from college is from Grand Rapids. Outside of that experience, though, I really don't know/think much about Grand Rapids. I'm from Chicago, FWIW.

Like huskerdont, I wouldn't think of West Michigan as a place...
posted by MeetMegan at 7:18 PM on March 28, 2006

When I think of Grand Rapids, I think of Herman Miller.
posted by lilboo at 7:30 PM on March 28, 2006

Our very own Dayton.
posted by brad! at 7:39 PM on March 28, 2006

When I think of Grand Rapids, I think of Herman Miller.

Which is interesting, because they're in Zeeland.

OK, that was overly picky.

I'm from Grand Rapids area (Grandville) and I will say -- people in Detroit seem to not even acknowledge Grand Rapids. Which is, I guess, only fair, since terms like "West Michigan" really exist to unite a number of disparate communities as "not Detroit, REALLY".

But yeah, Grand Rapids, despite being the second-largest city in the state, just doesn't register in the Detroit area. A friend of mine (who later moved over here) grew up around Detroit thought for a long time "Grand Rapids? Is that somewhere near Traverse City?" Bizarre obsession with Traverse City over there. I don't get it.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:52 PM on March 28, 2006

No clear impression...I'm from CA. I've never been to western MI, or thought about it until now...but now that you mention it, here is what I imagine.

Lots of pretty coastline, magnificent autumn leaves, maybe some rolling hills here and there. Some charming small towns along the shore, lots of hunting inland. I picture a place similar to the New England coastline, except without the horrendous accents. Perhaps it's even a haven for artists, sort of like the Hudson Valley, or how Long Island and Marin County used to be, back in the day.

Inland, maybe some small-to-medium sized cities without too much urban blight, low crime, sprawling suburbs, good schools, high-school football, high-school proms, kids sneaking into Canada on the weekends, disappointing smoke-filled Indian casinos, people with a live-and-let-live political philosophy that leans to the right, diners that feature some regional specialty involving beef or veal.

All in all, I think of it as an all-American kind of place, with a better view of the water than the midwest. I'm tempted to go back and edit out what I'm sure are naive misapprehensions, but that wouldn't be what you asked for.
posted by Brian James at 8:02 PM on March 28, 2006

Born and raised in Mid-Michigan. Moved the day after my 18th b-day. I have worked for three months in the St. Joseph area, it was very nice (esp. in the summer). My company put me up on a bluff over looking Lake Michigan. Many Chicagoans Summer in the area.
posted by 6:1 at 8:04 PM on March 28, 2006

Home of Fred Meijer gardens and the Gerald Ford presidential library. Went on a campus tour of Grand Valley when I was in HS, a couple of good friends from HS went there, met more than a few kids at college from GR. Bigger than Holland, "better" (whatever that meant to a teenager from the country) than StJoe/Benton Harbor, less political than Lansing (duh). (caveat:Mr R is from South Haven, we got married in Glenn.)

West Michigan is (at least to this michigander) one of the five regions of MI (SE, Central, West, North, and UP).

Dagny: hell, people from the Detroit 'burbs don't even acknowledge Downriver, much less anything across the state.
posted by jlkr at 8:12 PM on March 28, 2006

When I think of Grand Rapids, I think of Amway. Also churchiness.

I grew up in Kansas and now live in SE Michigan.
posted by ulotrichous at 8:15 PM on March 28, 2006

I'm from metro Detroit. When I think of West Michigan, I think of the KKK. When I think of Grand Rapids, I think of a nice place for the average American to raise a family, but also of somewhere that I could never live for lack of excitement. To be fair, I think the same of my hometown (West Bloomfield).
posted by awesomebrad at 8:20 PM on March 28, 2006

When I think of West Michigan, I think of the KKK.

As a lifelong resident (born in Grand Haven, raised in Cadillac, living in GR), I'm curious as to the nature of this association. I come from "country people" and have never ever known--even among the most blatantly racist of my brethren--anyone who was a member of the Klan. Is this a SE michigan thing (Benton Harbor/St. Joseph)? If so, it falls outside my experience.
posted by Chrischris at 8:28 PM on March 28, 2006

I lived close to Detroit and never thought about West Michigan. It was like a blind spot in my mental map of the state. When reminded of its existence the first words that come to my head are "weed" and "Kellogg's."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:36 PM on March 28, 2006

Whenever I meet someone from Michican, I hold up my right hand, palm towards them, and ask them where they're from. They always point to the spot on my hand hand corresponds to where they're from without a second thought, like it wasn't weird or anything.

And I'm a little surprised that West Michigan apparently doesn't include the UP.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:42 PM on March 28, 2006

west michigan? no. never heard of it before.

I've always referred to it as the west coast of Michigan, or the west coast of the lp. Grand Rapids is a bit inland, but probably the the best urban crown jewel.

It's home to some of the best beaches in the country. Lake Michigan is really clean, and the wooded dunes geography next to it enhances it's delicate beauty.

I live in chicagoland, so it's best if I don't say anything about the people.
posted by lester at 8:44 PM on March 28, 2006

When I think of West Michigan, I think of the KKK.

I dunno, I associate the KKK with Howell. Unless that's what you think is "West"?
posted by dagnyscott at 8:49 PM on March 28, 2006

Count me as another that grew up in GR and moved as soon as I could (but I was 17! Ha!). My opinions of the place don't really apply to your question since I grew up there. Most people here in Chicago have at least heard of it, and quite a few seem to associate it with churches. I've taken my born-and-raised Chicagoan boyfriend there a couple of times, and he thinks it's not nearly as horrible as I always made it sound. He has a point, if you're there for a weekend or so. We realized that you can get/do just about anything you could do in Chicago, but there's about ONE of everything instead of multiple. Like [in my opinion/for my tastes]: one good bar, one good coffeeshop, one good record store, one good falafel place, one good movie theater (much love for the UICA). Even the occasional good concert.

I sure as hell wouldn't ever want to live there again, though.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 8:52 PM on March 28, 2006

I usually never think of West Michigan and I lived in Michigan for 15 years. If I do think of West Michigan I usually think of Lake Michigan and how it has waves.

Muskegon is the first city to come to mind. I also think of Newaygo, Coolbough Natural Areas, and The Nature Conservancy.

However, I usually don't think about it at all.
posted by mto at 8:57 PM on March 28, 2006

kirkaracha:And I'm a little surprised that West Michigan apparently doesn't include the UP.

WTF? Why would it? Da Yoop as part of "Northern Michigan", maybe, but not "West Michigan".
posted by jlkr at 9:08 PM on March 28, 2006

I've been to Grand Rapids and shot a photo project there. My impressions were that it was not unlike Canada -- quiet, friendly, conservative (small C), reasonably modern, provincial, somewhat insular. The biggest difference from Canada was that there were parts of it where I felt unsafe. But not many. With a big influx of money it could be a wonderful place to live.
posted by unSane at 9:09 PM on March 28, 2006

First things that pop into my head about GR: Calvin College / Christian Reformed Church.

I grew up in Northern California, but now live in LA. As a good Dutch boy brought up in the CRC, I felt it was almost an obligation to go check out Calvin as a potential college to attend, even if it was just as a favor to my father. (I went to a UC college, but my sister did graduate from Calvin, as did several cousins.) It's a nice place to visit, and I do every five or six years - I have aunts and uncles and cousins living in GR, and near Holland, and near Cadillac.

On the other hand, my (white) cousin and her (black) husband have found that rural West Michigan is not as accepting of mixed-race couples (or children) as is Seattle or Los Angeles, and they're moving back west soon.
posted by Guy Smiley at 10:40 PM on March 28, 2006

I grew up in mid-Michigan. My impression is that Western Michigan is conservative and Dutch. GR is pretty okay though, for a small town. I used to see shows there every now and then.

A lot of people vacation on that side of the state in the summer.
posted by k8t at 1:13 AM on March 29, 2006

I've lived in Ann Arbor for almost ten years. Initially, I thought of GR as just one of too many Michigan towns named Grand Somethingorother. Over time, I've come to associate it with ultra-conservatives, Amway, and Frederick Meijers...but not necessarily in that order.
posted by klarck at 4:28 AM on March 29, 2006

Initially, I thought of GR as just one of too many Michigan towns named Grand Somethingorother.

OK, I'm going to explain this to you once, it's not that hard. This isn't a matter of coincidence or ego or anything. What it is: the French came into Michigan as the first White folks. They saw this big river. It became called... the Grand River. Grand being French for big and all. Everything else called Grand something has some connection to the Grand River... Grand Rapids, Grandville, Grand Haven, etc.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:29 AM on March 29, 2006

Well, I've finally done it. (gotten myself a metafilter account, that is) Apparently, this was the topic I found important enough to share my comments (GO FIGURE!).

As baby balrog already knows, I moved from an area just south of Grand Rapids after finishing my under-grad degree at WMU. (that's Western Michigan University for those of you who might need another set of parentheses). I moved to NYC for grad school, met the love of my life, and now live just outside of Boston.

I think what I miss the most is the slower pace. It seems that even when you are rushing in MI, you still have time to enjoy things a bit more. On the East Coast, my 20 mile commute to work every morning and evening costs me well over an hour EACH WAY. This robs me of a LOT of time, which causes me to try to fit so MUCH into so LITTLE!

I live in a town that DEFINES "quaint." While I can literally BREATHE the history in this town, I don't think that I'd appreciate it as much if my roots weren't midwestern. People here take SO much for granted. Although I think that along the same lines, much of that slower pace is taken for granted in Western Michigan. I also think that there is a certain amount of humility in Western Michigan that you won't find out here as well.

This had all been a bit off the topic of the "music industry" that prompted baby balrog's question, but something resonated that I felt compelled to add.

Western Michigan is one of my favorite places in this world. While I know that I'll probably (never say never) not live there again, I will ALWAYS appreciate my the fact that I come from such a BEAUTIFUL place with some of the world's most wonderful people. The "music industry" may find it a bit slower, but I think that the world needs to slow down a bit some times.

[[[[i miss you baby b]]] [[BB]]
posted by bigbrotherbalrog at 5:31 AM on March 29, 2006

Some things you might not know about W. Michigan (Part 1):

1. We grow more high-bush blueberries than anyone else in the world. Enjoy blueberry pie? Chances are the berries were grown here. Blueberries are a high value but fairly delicate crop which require a fair amount of manpower to harvest. Hence, we've seen a sizeable influx of migrant workers in West Michigan (primarily along the Holland-Grand Haven-Muskegon lakeshore corridor). Many of these good folks have settled here in the past few years, which has complicated the traditional political demographics of the area (many of the lakeshore communities were founded by conservative Dutch Calvinist immigrants who saw the area as a place to settle down and escape the increasingly liberal and secular climate of the Netherlands in the mid to late 19th century). There is a nascent nativist backlash brewing because of this, one which I'm watching with particular curiosity in light of the recent Republican intramural struggles (both at the state and federal levels) with immigration issues.

2. West Michigan is the office furniture capital of the world. Steelcase, Herman Miller, and Knoll are all headquartered hereabouts. While these industries had traditionally provided incredibly generous (at its high point in the late 70s, early 80s, Steelcase workers made more money per hour and had more benefits than members of the UAW) and stable livings for many West Michiganders, the deflation of the dot com bubble almost single handedly destroyed them. After having added capacity at a breakneck pace for years, all the major players have radically downsized since 2001-2002. The economic pain of this, though ameliorated by the growth of certain secondary industries, has most certainly not been forgotten. That's one reason why the circulation of rumors about large-scale development (the issue which set BabyBalrog off to ask this question) has generated such a frenzy...
posted by Chrischris at 6:05 AM on March 29, 2006

I am from California and have never been to W MI, but have heard of Grand Rapids. I have no solid idea of what the people, landscape or anything else would be like. For some reason I would expect lovely camping and parks along the lake, toward the north. In case my outsider's take is of interest, these are the two things that leaped to mind when I read your question:

1. A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I've got a gal ... in Kalamazoo-zoo-zoo.

2. Damn, some of those towns would have the best view of anywhere on the planet if you could actually see across the lake.

This was incredibly helpful, I'm sure. You're welcome.

on preview: welcome! [waves at balrog the elder]
posted by donpedro at 6:09 AM on March 29, 2006

I left Western Michigan back when Grand Rapids was still Pretty-Good Rapids.
My family still lives there, I get back to my home town regularly to visit. (Think baby food.)

Great beaches, beautiful scenery and some of the most narrow-minded conservative people in the U.S., the goddamn Dutch. They came to the new world seeking the freedom to be narrow.

(A big Michigan salute to all the other Michigander MeFites. I'm from here: *points at the base of my little finger*)
posted by Floydd at 6:36 AM on March 29, 2006

What? Nobody's mentioned Tulip Time?

I grew up in Holland, but moved away at the first opportunity. I miss the lakes and dunes now-- but definitely not the city.

I remember Grand Rapids having a lot of culture, with some neat places like the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Meijer Gardens and a pretty decent local music scene. Once I was old enough to drive, I spent a lot of my time there.

Holland is very quiet and Protestant Christian-- when moving to town, one of the realtors suggested my Catholic teacher live on the north side of town (outside city limits) because people might make trouble for her in town. The city has hopefully changed a bit since then (there are a lot more Catholic Hispanics in town now), but I think some of that attitude will never leave.

It's a great place to spend weekends, though.
posted by base_16 at 6:42 AM on March 29, 2006

Chicagoan here. When I think of West Michigan, I think:

-The Lake
-great vacations
-ice cream in Whitehall
-wine & wineries
-sand dunes
-visiting my brothers at Owasippe
-rich Chicagoans
-wooden shoes :-)
-old ships and shipwrecks

All great memories, and I would love to be able to afford to retire to some pleasant lakeside town. I've never been much farther east than Holland, so I guess I don't have a very complete picture. But Michigan along the lake is one of my favorite places.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:45 AM on March 29, 2006

Hicks. Churches. KKK. But pretty.

Sorry. I'm from one of the detroit burbs and it wasn't until reading this thread that I realized that W.MI doesn't have much of a place on my mental map either. Grand Rapids is really the 2nd largest city in MI??
posted by selfmedicating at 6:49 AM on March 29, 2006

Balrog -

The mystery investor may be Jason Newsted; he grew up in the Kalamazoo area (went to Gull Lake High School, my alma mater! Whoo hoo! But he didn't graduate). I mean, not that it's *definitely* him, but if you're scratching your head over why the F any music industry fatcat got interested in West Michigan, that's one possibility.
posted by rkent at 6:50 AM on March 29, 2006

Response by poster: haa my older brother got a metafilter account :D

all good answers - thank you -
rkent - I had heard his name recently brought up in conjunction with this project but the article escapes me. We'll know in about 2 weeks what it will be. 40 acres on the riverfront! Unbelievable! My prediction is a music/shopping district a la San Antonio's Riverwalk. That would be so cool!
But .. maybe it will be a medical prosthesis manufacturing plant. that would not be so cool.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:09 AM on March 29, 2006

my impression of grand rapids is that it's a conservative town with a rather wild and/or leftist underground streak ... or used to be ... the town has changed tremendously from what it was in the 60s and 70s ... there was a time when it was almost impossible to find a gas station open on sunday in the grand rapids area and the roads in the city were nearly deserted

suburbs are much more conservative than the city, which, last time i was there, seemed to have seen a lot of neighborhood blight spreading

someone once made the observation to me that it's a lot less prone to people hanging out in isolated cliques than towns like battle creek ... which is a fairly good description of battle creek

battle creek's a strange and conflicted town ... strong elements of southern and appalachian culture exist there ... the town is basically run by the business community and those who come from outside the area to work at kellogg's for a few years before being transferred somewhere else ... they talk up the town as if it's the greatest place on earth ... the natives are a lot less positive ... lots of racial tension and other unhappiness in this city

kalamazoo's also a little strange ... people seem happier there, though ... the university is big enough in relation to the city that it should be a "college town", but it doesn't quite make it, because many of the students are from the area and live at home with their folks ... it's a fairly pleasant place to live though ... some dutch/calvinist influence, but not anywhere near the level of grand rapids

i don't know muskegon well enough to say much about it ... holland is very straight and dull ... sagatuck/douglas is unique in being a small community with strong artist/gay components ... grand haven, south haven and st joseph are centers of what i'd call lakeshore culture ... lots of boaters, lots of people from chicago during the summer, lots of tourist trappy things ... benton harbor is as run down and economically desperate as detroit

rural areas are quite rednecky ... in the areas around benton harbor/st joe, there was a strong kkk element a few years ago, but i think they're not calling themselves that now ... in other areas, especially van buren and allegan counties, methamphetamine abuse is rampant ... it's one of the worst areas in the country for this and the worst in the state ... there are appalling pockets of rural poverty all over sw michigan

i don't get out of the area much, so it's hard for me to tell, but it seems to me that over the years, sw michigan has become more generically american ... and more run down and poorer with the exception of the suburbs and possibly grand rapids, where the economy has managed to be quite a bit better ... the fact that towns like battle creek and kalamazoo have been improved by this genericness says something about them

life is slower here, though ... and the political fighting doesn't seem quite as strong here as in other sections of the country ... the area is quite nice ... lots of farmland and forest, hills and lakes ... although lake michigan is very built up ... summers are pleasant and usually cooler than in surrounding states ... winters can be pure hell, but lately they've been on the mild side

not really impressions, but experiences, as i've spent a total of 45 years here ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:11 AM on March 29, 2006

shout out to floydd! i second that emotion on the Dutch. (but lest anyone think I'm talking about people from the Netherlands, I'm NOT!) there's a common phrase i grew up hearing in high school . . . "if you ain't dutch, you ain't much!" they'll actually look down on you for mowing your LAWN ON A SUNDAY!!
posted by bigbrotherbalrog at 7:12 AM on March 29, 2006

I'm from smalltown rural michigan on the other side of the state (the thumb, for you mitten map folks), and currently live in Ann Arbor. I have been to GR many times - one of my best friends went to school there, and my sister lived in KZoo for years...

When I think of GR, I guess I think of:
I know it's the 2nd biggest city in Michigan, but it really doesn't seem like it when you're actually in town. Lots of cool architecture downtown, and some really great museum/artsy stuff - especially for a town that nobody from elsewhere seems to know. Cheap rent. Some good restaurants. Lots and lots of churches - everywhere you look.

The info about this mysterious music guy buying up all the property is news to me, but it could be really cool - maybe hometown boy Anthony Kiedis (RHCP)? Al Green? Some gospel recording billionaire?
posted by sluggo at 7:40 AM on March 29, 2006

- quonsar
- Sufjan Stevens
- Dick DeVos
- Amway
- Meijer
- Office Furniture
- Sand dunes
- Lake Michigan
- Lighthouses
- Benton Harbor & (vs?) St. Joseph
posted by pardonyou? at 8:16 AM on March 29, 2006

the fact that towns like battle creek and kalamazoo have been improved by this genericness says something about them

Or, the fact that you consider this an improvement says something about you. As to Kalamazoo, I could care less for the mediocre tapas place they put in place of the old Ms. Havisham-ish bakery, or the bland terrible bagel place that replaced Klein's.

Of course, I went to high school 2 minutes from Fourth Coast and now I'm part of the diaspora so maybe I'm just getting crotchety and nostalgic ("back in my day they sold drugs in the parking lot... and we liked it!"). At this point, I'd be happy if they'd just ship Bell's further east than Pittsburgh. I guess they just found a distributor in South Dakota... super.
posted by rkent at 8:25 AM on March 29, 2006

A few more:

- Bell's Oberon (thanks for the reminder, rkent)
- Kellogg
- Gerber
- The Amway Grand
- Arcadia Bluffs
posted by pardonyou? at 8:38 AM on March 29, 2006

Or, the fact that you consider this an improvement says something about you.

i moved to the area in 1962 ... bagels? ... tapas? ... positively exotic back then ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:13 AM on March 29, 2006

actually, i think it was '61 ... long time ago
posted by pyramid termite at 9:14 AM on March 29, 2006

I would die for a Bell's Oberon.

I haven't lived in Michigan since 2001... but oh, was that my summertime drink of choice!

I even have a t-shirt of it somewhere after visiting the Bell's brewery.

I certainly recommend that any Michigander spend some time OUTSIDE of Michigan for awhile. A change of perspective is always a good thing.
posted by k8t at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2006

I would die for a Bell's Oberon.
I haven't lived in Michigan since 2001... but oh, was that my summertime drink of choice!

We drink 'em all summer long, but the discerning W. Michigan beer lover drinks New Holland Mad Hatter.
posted by Chrischris at 9:42 AM on March 29, 2006

The appalling stench of the paper mill in Muskegon in the summer when I was little. My grandpa told a story about the first time he smelled it, that he tried to roll the car window down because he thought someone had disgraced themself, and it only got 10x worse. Also: he hated the Dutch.

We always ate Carl Buddig lunch meat and went to Duck Lake, the little pond right by Lake Michigan there. Sometimes we walked out to the lighthouse and got sprayed by the waves. My relatives want to go back and retire in Muskegon, but they can't afford it anymore because so many Chicagoans keep their boats there now.
posted by Marnie at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2006

the discerning W. Michigan beer lover drinks New Holland Mad Hatter.

And what is Two-Hearted Ale, chopped liver?? Probably my favorite IPA of all time, even though it pushes the light/thin end of the spectrum. The perfect summer beer, I think; Solsun was always overrated (that's right, I said Solsun).

I think the Michigan breweries really shine in the cold-weather beers, though (maybe because it's winter for 9 months a year?); both Bell's and Founder's make some of the best damn stout produced in this country, notwithstanding the Russian-Imperial-Worldwide-blah-whatever craze. Man! I miss those beers.
posted by rkent at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2006

Detroiter here. I went to Blue Lake Music Camp on the west side of the state, so I know it exists. Doesn't mean I think well of it, or understand it.

Basic opinion is that it is filled with Dutch Reformed Church members who are politically very conservative, and who wish to impose their restricted way of life and beliefs on the rest of the world.

And I resent that former gov. Engler took money from Detroit, and gave it to Grand Rapids. That is one of the things that led to Detroit choosing to give away its zoo and museums, because we couldn't afford to completely support institutions used by mostly suburbanites.

No, I do not like the west side of the state. I resent Grand Rapids. And I try to avoid spending money over there.
posted by QIbHom at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2006

Solsun was always overrated (that's right, I said

My wife likes Solsun (which, for the uniformed, was what Oberon was called until a lawsuit forced the name change), but she's pretty much switched to Widmer Hefeweizen. Almost as good and around three bucks less a sixpack...

Anyways, we also like Founders Centennial IPA and their Breakfast Stout. Their brewpub is right downtown (on Monroe St. near the Sixth St. Bridge) and recommended.
posted by Chrischris at 10:03 AM on March 29, 2006

No, I do not like the west side of the state. I resent Grand Rapids. And I try to avoid spending money over there.

Ah yes, another unremarked aspect of Michigan life: the often virulent East-West rift.

To summarize:
Detroiters think West Michigan is full of uptight, hyper-moralistic God-botherers who resent their (Detroit's) sophisticated urbanism and economic (up until the last few years) might. They consider us parasitical and fit only to serve their touristic needs for clean, comfortable beaches and holiday diversions.

Grand Rapidians see Detroit as a festering cesspool of poverty, ugly racial division, and despair, unfit for anything except a day-trip to see the Lions, Wings, or Tigers. The DIA? Who gives a shit. Chicago's Art Institute (ensconced in a much more pleasant urban milieu than anywhere in Detroit) is closer and far superior. We've got a zoo here too, which, while not of the scale of Detroit's, is still very pleasant and is perceived to be much safer and "family-friendly."

Both stereotypes are wrong-headed, but (as stereotypes often do) may contain a kernel of truth... The mutual antipathy, alas, is very real and much more prevelant than most folks might like to admit.
posted by Chrischris at 10:23 AM on March 29, 2006

Grand Rapidians see Detroit as a festering cesspool of poverty, ugly racial division, and despair

and pretend hall st doesn't exist as they hang out in jenison

in battle creek, many have nicknamed the town "little detroit" ... or "little mississippi" ... so they're not as likely to look down on detroit

a day-trip to see the Lions, Wings, or Tigers

starting from kalamazoo westwards, one gets into cubs territory ...

the dia is in a rather crappy part of town ... going from there up woodward to royal oak i saw 14 year old kids breaking into cars in broad daylight during rush hour ... nice

We've got a zoo here too, which, while not of the scale of Detroit's, is still very pleasant and is perceived to be much safer and "family-friendly."

unless you go there from downtown and see all the gang graffiti on store fronts and houses on the west side ... sigh ... that was a much better neighborhood 30 years ago

i went to john ball park zoo last year and someone ripped some of the windshield molding from my car ...

binder park zoo south of battle creek is much nicer, anyway

another thing ... i like bell's just fine, but arcadia is very good also ... i didn't think mad hatter was quite up to that level, but it's not bad
posted by pyramid termite at 11:01 AM on March 29, 2006

Kwings, Bells, Founders, New Holland, The Bigass Building in GR (which a friend worked at), and a general desire to never be stuck out there again. I like SE Michigan OK, but West Michigan is incredibly boring and backwards.
posted by klangklangston at 9:14 AM on April 13, 2006

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