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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Grab Corners

Grab Corners

GRHC - January 12th, 2011

This episode shares the history of Compau Square, formerly known as Grab Corners.



Grab Corners later acquired the more respectable name of Campau Square. The title “Grab” was attached to the corners after the Civil War. Lt. Bob Wilson, returning from three years of service, found a job as a reporter for the Daily Eagle newspaper. He fixed the term “Grab Corners” and all his red-headed wit, ridicule, and sarcasm turned toward this scene of village activity.

In the 1860s all the activities of the town, good, bad, and indifferent centered about Grab Corners. There were many fine stores and some very good buildings; there were also some poker rooms and several basement bars.

Monroe and Canal Streets did not meet on friendly terms at Grab Corners; in fact, they did not meet at all. Canal St., later becoming lower Monroe, came head-on from the north to the two-story Taylor building that seemed to block the way, but upon closer inspection one found that Pearl St. gave an opening that led to Monroe.

In the early days the Old Arcade, on the north side of Grab Corners, was an alley short-cut running between Pearl and Lyon Sts. William Powers, who owned the Powers Theater adjacent to the Arcade, made it into a business thoroughfare, and the stage entrance to the Theater was up a stairway off the alley.

Often the police would round up those who had imbibed too much and found refuge in the dark corners of the Arcade, but there was also a great deal of friendliness among those doing business in the alley.

Full Details

TitleGrab Corners
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, radio, Grab Corners Campau Square, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringJanuary 12th, 2011

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