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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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City Grade Bench

City Grade Bench

GRHC - September 12th, 2012

The grade bench established a starting point, or base, from which surveys and levels were calculated in city engineering.


A large granite boulder, with an iron bolt leaded securely in the top was officially known as the city grade bench. It was planted at least three feet in the ground in the southeast corner of the small triangular park at Fulton and Division, known today as Monument Park. Barely noticeable, the tip of the boulder and the iron bolt appeared just above the stone pavement at the corner.

The grade bench established a starting point, or base, from which surveys and levels, east of the river, were calculated in the city engineering. It was required to be referred to in all records for street grades after April 18, 1865, when Wright L. Coffinberry, city surveyor, recorded it in the City Grade Book.

The top of the stone was 56.57 feet above the estimated low water mark of the Grand River at Fulton St. Bridge. While not officially recognized, but for the convenience of civil engineers, there was also a grade bench in the cornerstone of the Eagle Hotel, and another on a level with the floor of Fulton St. Bridge.

A 1913 Press article noted, “One of the city’s treasured landmarks has been displaced to furnish a site for the new weather kiosk.” However, the man in charge no doubt started gossip for curious children to spread by spinning the tale that the boulder marked the resting place of the original Indian chief.


Full Details

TitleCity Grade Bench
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; surveys; Wright L. Coffinberry
Pubdate StringSeptember 12th, 2012

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