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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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City Charter and Seal

City Charter and Seal

GRHC - August 26th, 2013

The original seal of the city was adopted on June 25, 1850, but seven years later the Common Council decided that since it had passed a new charter, the seal also needed a few adjustments.


The Grand Rapids city charter was adopted by popular vote May 1, 1850, and the first informal meeting of the Common Council was held on May 18th. Two days later the Council met and organized and adopted, temporarily, the Rules of Order of the Detroit Common Council. May 22nd saw several ordinances passed relative to taverns and inns; ordinaries and groceries; ball alleys, billiards and other games; and shows and theatrical exhibitions. In June the first city license for tavern keeper was granted to Gottlieb Christ of the Bridge Street House. The pay of City Surveyor was set at $2 per day.

A city seal, designed and engraved by Aaron B. Turner, the city clerk, was adopted on June 25th. Joseph Penney, a member of the newly formed Common Council, suggested the Latin motto, Motu Viget, broadly translated as ‘Strength in Activity’.

Seven years later a new charter was passed on February 14, 1857. A room, in the upper story of a building at the corner of Lyon and Canal Streets, was rented for Council meetings at $75 a year. In July of the same year they also tinkered with the following details of the city’s seal: the hand holding the scales of justice, placement of the shield in relation to the eagle, and ‘City of Grand Rapids M’ was replaced by ‘City of Grand Rapids Mich.’ 

Full Details

TitleCity Charter and Seal
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; city charter; city seal
Pubdate StringAugust 26th, 2013

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