Grand Rapids: Furniture City

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William Haldane opened a cabinet shop in 1836, 14 years before Grand Rapids incorporated. Other furniture companies followed: Berkey and Gay, Widdicomb, Sligh, Hekman, and Phoenix were among those taking advantage of the Grand River for transportation and power, the area's abundant hardwood supply, and a growing immigrant labor pool. The furniture soon attracted national attention. In 1876, the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition proved conclusively that a river town in Michigan had indeed earned the title "Furniture City." Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower all worked at Grand Rapids–made desks. Fifteen manufacturers joined forces to build 1,000 Handley Page bombers duringWorld War I. The Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed on September 2, 1945, at a table made in Grand Rapids. Despite fires, floods, strikes, depressions, and wars, Grand Rapids led the industry until the 1950s and 1960s, when the factories began moving to North Carolina. Today the area, along with nearby Holland and Zeeland, dominates the office furniture industry.
ISBN: 9780738552002
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
State: Michigan
Series: Images of America
Images: 200
Pages: 128
Dimensions: 6.5 (w) x 9.25 (h)
Norma Lewis lives in a Grand Rapids suburb, where she writes humor, travel, and feature articles for national and regional magazines. She enjoys historic research and is the author of Going for the Gold, a juvenile account of the 1898 Yukon gold rush. Images in this book came from corporate archives, the Grand Rapids Public Library, the Public Museum of Grand Rapids, and private collections.
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