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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Prospect Hill

Prospect Hill

GRHC - September 30th, 2009

This week on Glance at the Past, we examine a lost feature of the Grand Rapids landscape. This program is a collaboration between the Grand Rapids Historical Commission and the Community Media Center.



A wooded ridge of clay and gravel, formed by the glaciers, has disappeared from the downtown Grand Rapids landscape. Prospect Hill began about 200 feet from the east bank of the Grand River, and rose 60-70 feet above it. The steep south face began at Monroe and ran north beyond Lyon St.

It abounded in springs that provided pure drinking water for village residents; Fountain St. acquired its name from those springs. But as population grew, more pigs ran loose, and increased horse and human traffic contaminated the natural water supplied by Prospect Hill.

Children played on the hill in summer, and in winter they coasted down the Lyon and Pearl St. slopes on sleds made from walnut and black cherry no doubt discarded from Deacon Haldane’s cabinet shop because there was an unsightly knot in it. There were specimens of oak, hickory and basswood trees on the hill and many elms and butternuts around its base.

Progress began to gnaw away at the hill as Pearl, Lyon and Ottawa Streets were cut through. Cartloads of the hill were used to fit in the river between Island #2 and the east bank. By the 1890s Prospect Hill had disappeared.

Try to imagine a modern Grand Rapids with park-like islands in the River and a wooded hill in the midst of downtown.



Full Details

TitleProspect Hill
KeywordsGlance at the Past, Prospect Hill, radio, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission
Pubdate StringSeptember 30th, 2009

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