I am always amazed by all of the cool things I learn about living in Michigan.

In one of my daily (and multiple) conversations I have with fellow radio girlie and morning show peep, Laura Hardy, she is always finding out cool things since we are both from other states.

Laura told me about how there are heated sidewalks in certain West Michigan cities.


When I tell you, I was flabbergasted and shocked, just like my buddy Joey!

I immediately launched into a deep dive into all things heated sidewalks.

Let me tell you, what I found is crazy!

The city of Holland has the largest municipal snowmelt system (a fancy way of saying heated sidewalks) in the entire continent of North America!

How did Holland get its snowmelt system?

City of Holland
City of Holland

Back in the 80s, business owners collabed with the city of Holland to make their downtown area as vibrant and relevant as possible.

According to Holland's website,

"Joining the conversation was Holland native and Prince Corporation founder, Edgar D. Prince. Prince brought to the table an idea that he discovered while in Europe, a system of underground piping that circulates warm water to keep the snow and ice at bay during the winter months. Using this idea, Prince expanded on the possibilities of snow and ice free access in downtown, and thus began the downtown Holland snowmelt project."

The snowmelt system end up getting kicked off and implemented in 1988.

How does this work?

They use waste heat from power generation to heat the water and circulate it through 120 miles of plastic tubes.

"The tubes are 3/4" in circumference; Holland has 600,000 square feet of tubing totaling 4.9 miles and 10.5 acres of heated streets and sidewalks. With the water heating up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the system can melt 1" of snow per hour - even at 20 degrees Fahrenheit with 10 MPH winds!"

There is even an entire TikTok explaining everything about it on the city of Holland's official TikTok page.

@cityofholland #stitch with @poweristakennotgiven SNOWMELT! SNOWMELT! ❄️💦💧 #snowmelt #energy #park #holland #cityofholland #bpw #hollandbpw #snow #wethebest ♬ original sound - City of Holland

What other places have snowmelt systems?

  • Reykajvik, Iceland (of course)
  • Oslo, Norway
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • most of Japan, including the city of Sapporo

Winter in Holland, MI

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