Grand Rapids is one of the most unique cities in the country, and it's not just me saying that. U.S. News and World Report named Grand Rapids as the 20th best city to live in in the entire country. But our esteemed city is not the only Grand Rapids in the Midwest, and these two cities have been locked in a battle for GR supremacy since the beginning of time (or the 1800s).

Recently I stumbled across this subreddit for Grand Rapids, Minnesota claiming the subreddit was "for the only Grand Rapids that matters, not that craphole in Michigan." A bold (and hurtful) claim. So I think it's time to settle the debate. Which Grand Rapids is truly better?

TSM Grand Rapids
TSM Grand Rapids
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Grand Rapids, Minnesota

If you've ever typed Grand Rapids into Google and noticed two search results, it's because there is another Grand Rapids located in Minnesota. Founded in 1872 as a lumber and mining settlement, the city of Grand Rapids was geographically beneficial due to its proximity to the Mississippi River.

Google Maps
Google Maps
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Today, the city has grown to have a population of around 11,000 people. This GR is known for its surrounding rural areas, with fishing and hiking being popular activities outside the city. A fun fact: Judy Garland, star of "The Wizard of Oz", was born and raised here, and you can visit her childhood home at a museum. The town has also received accolades of its own, having appeared in a "Best Places To Live in the US" list on USA Today (ranked 50th out of 50 cities).

Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash
Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash
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Grand Rapids, Michigan

Like the Grand Rapids across Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids, Michigan has been around since the 1800s, with GR becoming a city in 1850. Both cities were lumber hubs that relied on the nearby river, ours being the Grand River, to help transport logs until GR experienced a boom in furniture production. Since then, the city has continued growing and has become the second-largest city in Michigan with a population of 200,000.

Grand Rapids Historical Commision via Furniture City History
Grand Rapids Historical Commission via Furniture City History
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Michigan's Grand Rapids is known for its craft beer scene (the city has been dubbed "Beer City USA") and its blossoming art scene that features several large murals on buildings around the city and, of course, the nationally known Artprize competition that turns the entire city into one giant art exhibit that generated an estimated $34.6 million and over 750,000 attendees in 2022.

Artprize's "The Furniture City Sets The Table for the World of Art" / Gene
Artprize's "The Furniture City Sets The Table for the World of Art" / Gene
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Based on these metrics alone, it also makes comparing the two cities unfair. But that's sort of the point, right? Michigan's Grand Rapids is becoming a cultural powerhouse that is being nationally recognized, while Minnesota's offers only a fraction of what makes our city impressive and unique. No shade to Minnesota of course: y'all have things going for you too.

serggn
serggn
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Vintage Grand Rapids: 1868-1920s

Rumors Nightclub for Sale in Grand Rapids, Mich.

A longtime Grand Rapids gay bar, Rumors, is on the market for $3.69M. A cornerstone of the local LGBTQ+ scene for many years, the property includes a dance floor, seating areas, a bar, and nearly 40 parking spaces. According to the listing, Rumors is "fully equipped and operational".

Gallery Credit: Janna

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