I really liked Fort Wayne as well. From my last drive-through in 1997, I remembered it as being sort of dowdy and unpleasant, but after spending a day or two exploring, my opinion has changed. There are some really dumply and abandoned areas, but Fort Wayne has largely been spared that whole Rust Belt depopulation thing as well, and the city is a treasure trove of older commercial architecture (despite the destruction of much of the older part of its downtown core).
There were just great little surprises every time I turned a corner. I could take pictures there for days.
Because of the amazing public library city directory collection I mentioned before, I’ll probably be back, and it’s nice to know there’s an interesting town to explore. And shawarma.
Grand Rapids is known as “Furniture City.” So is High Point, North Carolina.
Grand Rapids is known as “Beer City.” So is Asheville, North Carolina.
Grand Rapids is very different from either place. It sort of fascinates me, because it’s never really seen the depopulation that most other cities in the Upper Midwest have. There have been decades where the population declined a bit, but current estimates show that the city is currently at its highest population ever. And it reads like a much bigger city than it is, in some ways. The downtown area is aided by the presence of a major medical facility and several universities and colleges.
There are a ton of craft breweries and some interesting neighborhoods. The main public library rocks.
This is the first time in quite a while that I’ve spent a significant amount of time in a city I’d never visited before. And best of all, I got to hang out with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost 13 years. Bonus all the way around.