Grand River View

I’m not sure if Grand Rapids is famous for anything. Furniture maybe. Beer more recently maybe. For an urban area of half a million and a metropolitan area of over a million, it is surprisingly unknown or at least overlooked nationally. Unlike Salt Lake City, which is about the same size, we don’t have an NBA franchise, world class ski resorts nearby, or lots and lots of Mormons. (We have lots and lots of Dutch Calvinists, who historically were similarly clannish and had an outsized religious and economic influence in the city.)

If not famous, the many bridges across the Grand River, linking the east and west sides of the city are characteristic. This image is a nod to them, stacking them up visually.

The next image features the 131 expressway that bisects the city, notably the “S” curve through the downtown area.

I flew my drone south over the river towards Jackson Island, which you can see at the bottom of the image below. I was careful to wait for birds in the area to land. I saw a crane circling and then land in the water near the island, wait a bit to make sure it was settled, then started my drone and put it in the air. You can see the Grand Rapids campus of Grand Valley State University on the left side of these images. Just south of the campus is an old industrial area, with old warehouses, factory buildings, and a recycling plant. I like how the “S” curve breaks up the vertical lines in the image and draws your gaze up and across the image.

The RR bridge in the image below is just north of the Wealthy Street bridge. The recycling plant is just to the left (west) of the white building at the bottom left of the image. I photographed this area from the ground a few years ago.

This is, I think, my favorite image from this set. The greenery, in contrast to the built environment. Concrete and asphalt have not quite overwhelmed nature.

The image also captures the history of the city nicely. The old industrial area in the foreground represents the Grand Rapids economy of a century ago. That economy is still part of the area, but a declining portion of the economy locally and statewide. In the mid-ground of the image, you see the Grand Valley campus. It represents the economy of the city and region today (medical, research, technology, higher education, etc.).

The gray skies are a sign that fall is here, and winter is coming. Enjoy warm, dry weather as we get it in the next weeks. More gray and cold is coming, even if not quite in Game of Thrones fashion. (Though we are having an election in November, the American game of thrones is scheduled for 2024.)

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