Here’s a cool bird’s-eye view lithograph map of Grand Rapids, Mich. in 1868

Grand Rapids, Michigan 1868. -- Chicago, Chicago Lithographing Co. [1868] -- (Library of Congress)
Grand Rapids, Michigan 1868. -- Chicago, Chicago Lithographing Co. [1868] -- (Library of Congress)

Every now and again I stumble across a cool photo -- or in this case a lithograph map -- that captures Michigan history.

This one shows the city of Grand Rapids in 1868. I found this while stumbling around for old weather photos in the Library of Congress' online database.

What a find!

Grand Rapids was founded in 1826. At the time of this lithograph, the city was still just a small town situated along the Grand River.

Here's a brief snippet on the city's early history from its own website:

One French trader named Louis Campau established a trading post here in 1826. He was not the first permanent white settler. A Baptist minister named Isaac McCoy was first. He arrived in 1825. Campau became the most important settler in 1831. He did this when he bought what is now the entire downtown business district of Grand Rapids. He bought it from the federal government for $90.

By 1838 the settlement had incorporated as a village. It encompassed an area of approximately three-quarters of a mile. The first formal census occurred in 1845. This announced a population of 1,510 and recorded an area of four square miles. In 1850, the burgeoning community became a city with a population of 2,686. By 1857, the City of Grand Rapids' boundary totaled 10.5 square miles.

On the lithograph map you can see five bridges, two of which appear to be railroad bridges, crossing the river. There are subtle street names written on the map, and it's unclear if any of them match current street names.

Grand Rapids' population soared to nearly 200,000 by the year 2000. It's now the second-largest city in Michigan.

For more stories like this head to the All About Michigan History page.

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