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10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

With beaches, beer, bears and bibles all making appearances on our list, we may not have Grand Rapids covered from A to Z, but B to Z won’t be any problem at all.

Ian Douglass

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10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user Jack Amick

Strap on your wooden shoes, grab your favorite craft beer, take a seat in your homemade desk chair and read this undeniably true list of stereotypes about Michigan’s second largest city. Just make sure there are no black bears around before you get too comfortable…

1. It Has Grand Rapids

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user Starley Shelton


OK, this one actually isn’t true, but it used to be—and it might be true again one day. In fact, Grand Rapids Whitewater currently has a plan underway to restore the rapids to the Grand River and help Grand Rapids live up to its name once again.

2. It’s The Furniture Production Capitol of The World

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user elycefeliz


Grand Rapids’ reputation as a center for furniture production has persisted since the 1870s, and with good reason. At present, it is home to more than 40 furniture manufacturers including: Steelcase, Haworth and Herman Miller, three of the world’s most prolific producers of office furniture.

3. Bears Lurk Around Every Corner

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user MaugiArt


There’s nothing like a black bear sighting to spice up a Michigan evening, and for the last few years, black bears have been popping up in the Grand Rapids area streets every so often just to keep things interesting.

4. Beers Lurk Around Every Corner

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Fouders Brewing Co


Grand Rapids is home to some of the best craft beer companies in the country, and Founders Brewing Company has officially been named by RateBeer.com as the third best brewery in the entire world. Maybe this is why beer enthusiasts nationwide voted Grand Rapids “BeerCity USA” for a second consecutive year in 2013.

5. It’s God’s Country

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user Jeremy Bronson


If you own a Bible, chances are it was made in Grand Rapids. Several of the most prolific Christian book publishers are headquartered in Grand Rapids, including Zondervan, the world’s leading producer of Bibles. Of course, Grand Rapids is also nicknamed “Little Jerusalem” for both its high number of churches per capita and the quantity of palatial church structures that line its streets.

6. Everyone Works For Amway

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user OZinOH


It isn’t actually true that everyone in Grand Rapids work for Amway—it just feels that way. That’s because Amway is one of the world’s largest companies, and it’s headquartered in nearby Ada, Mich. Plus, because of Amway’s famously inclusive approach, it’s technically possible that everyone could work for Amway.

7. Everyone is Dutch

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user Fellowship of the Rich


Almost every major structure in Grand Rapids is adorned with the names of the Dutch founders of Amway, Van Andel (Van Andel Arena, Van Andel Institute) and DeVos (DeVos Place Convention Center, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital). However, the most obvious nod to Dutch preeminence in the region takes place in the nearby and appropriately named city of Holland, which is the yearly host to America’s largest tulip festival.

8. It’s Safe (Compared to Detroit)

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user Michigan Municipal League (MML)


Perhaps no city comes out looking better from a direct comparison with Detroit than Grand Rapids. With nearly 200,000 residents, a major city the size of Grand Rapids would expect to have its share of problems. Yet, Michigan’s second largest city comes out smelling like a rose (or better yet, a tulip) when compared with Detroit since its crime statistics of 100,000 are a fraction of Michigan’s largest city’s pretty much across the board.

9. The People Are Award-Winning Beach Bums

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user Dave Wilson Cumbria


Proximity to the nearby beaches along Lake Michigan makes everyone in Western Michigan yearn for the summer months. In fact, partially on the strength of these sandy attractions, Lonely Planet ranked Grand Rapids and its adjoining lakefront region as the No. 1 tourist destination in the United States for 2014.

10. It’s Always Snowing in the Winter

10 Stereotypes About Grand Rapids That Are Actually True

Source: Flickr user stevendepolo


Without getting into what technically is and is not lake-effect snow, I’ll just cut to the chase and say that Grand Rapids definitely gets lake-effect snow, and lots of it. Grand Rapids residents wouldn’t have it any other way, either, since the white snow translates into green tourist dollars and creates many opportunities for skiing and sledding over the regions many hills and trails.

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posted on: December 17, 2013
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