Eastown Architecture

Apparently, some people think of the Eastown neighborhood as the Greenwich Village of Grand Rapids (in a travel story about West Michigan at boston.com) That seems a bit grandiose, but if the big city folks in Boston think so . . .. It’s also thought of as a liberal enclave in a conservative city. That idea probably underestimates the liberal nature of the city, as GR votes Democratic. EGR and GR together perhaps are a liberal enclave in West Michigan.

But I “get” the Greenwich Village comparison, if only in the Eastown has a mix of classic Midwestern architecture and some that is decidedly out of the ordinary. It also has some fun restaurants and shops and bars, some of them a bit hippy-dippy perhaps, the point of view of aesthetically conservative West Michiganders.

A good example is a building that has hosted a variety of kinds of businesses over the years, currently a restaurant–Chez Olga’s–that advertises Caribbean heat. Next to it is Billy’s Lounge, a venerable bar and concert venue. Chez Olga’s building has a bit of hippy and a bit of Hobbit to it. Maybe a bit of Grimm’s fairy tale.

Even the more-staid looking buildings in Eastown sometimes host businesses that presumably would have shocked or at least confused their original owners 100-plus years ago. A business that “melts” fat cells? Confusing. A place that does piercings (and not just of ears) for respectable people? Shocking, no doubt.

Finally, the cover photo of a clothier (not sure why, but I love that word) and a reflection in one of its windows. The people lining up across the street in the reflection photo is classic Eastown. Waiting to get into Wolfgang’s for a weekend morning breakfast.

I’ve been enjoying the cooler weather in the past week or so. But the weekend mostly has been a write-off from a photography point of view, with all the rain. I managed to get these images just as the rain was ending.


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