The Rapidian

Creston's changing street names

What street do you live on? Does your street hold the secret of a former name?
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A portion of an 1884 map of Grand Rapids showing several streets with old names, including Crabapple Alley and Christ Street.

A portion of an 1884 map of Grand Rapids showing several streets with old names, including Crabapple Alley and Christ Street. /Courtesy: Grand Rapids Public Library

Burr Oak was called Seventh St. until it was re-named in 1892. It is only one of many area streets that changed names.

Burr Oak was called Seventh St. until it was re-named in 1892. It is only one of many area streets that changed names. /Photo by: Pete Tabberer

By Michael J. Page

 

A Very Brief History

The Village of Grand Rapids was incorporated in 1837. In the following decade, there was substantial growth. The village then became the City of Grand Rapids in 1850. At that time, the lands we call the Creston Neighborhood Association (CNA) area were north of the established boundaries of the city and were mostly woods, orchards and farmlands.

Where Are We?

Fast forward to the spring of 1884. You and I are in northeast Grand Rapids at the corner of Madison Street and Reed Street, a stones throw east of Perry Street. We’re waiting for friends to arrive. One lives on Henrietta near King Court. Another is coming from the area of Crabapple Alley and Christ Street. When they arrive, it’s a short walk to the Plainfield Avenue School grounds (just north of Quimby Street) where I hope to try out for the Kent Baseball Club. I want to be a Hurler, but I can also play the Behind position. Afterward, we are meeting a group of neighbors at the corner of Carrier and Coit to discuss rumors about a new Catholic church being proposed for that area. They say it will be named St. Alphonsus Church. Time will tell.           

Growth and Changes

In the coming years, our city will continue to grow rapidly due to the furniture industry and many other businesses. The north city limits will push to Sweet Street, then Knapp Street and beyond. Some streets will be named and then re-named … making for a confusing mess at first, but for the good of future generations.

Now and Then

Here is a list of CNA area street names that exist today, the former name of the street and the year of the change. Is your street listed here?

 

            Now                                        Then                   Year

  • Plainfield Ave. NE                   Plainfield Road             1873
  • Curtis St. NE                           Chubb                         1877
  • Brenner Court NE                   Crabapple Alley           1888
  • Matthews Court NE                Colfax Alley                  1891
  • Knapp St. NE                          Ninth St.                      1892
  • Shanahan Ct. NE                     King Court                   1892
  • Dale St.                                   Second St.                   1892
  • Travis St.                                 Third St.                       1892
  • Ann St.                                    Fifth St.                        1892
  • Burr Oak St.                            Seventh St.                  1892
  • Spencer St. NE                       Madison St.                  1899
  • Maude Ave. NE                      Forrest St.                    1899
  • Dean St. NE                            Hazel St.                       1899
  • Queen Ave. NE                      King Ct.                        1899
  • Monroe Ave.                          Canal St.                       1912
  • Page St.                                 Crescent Court             1912
  • Berlin Place                             Briggs Place                 1912
  • Carman Ave. NE                     Henrietta St.                1920
  • Buffalo Ave. NE                      Perry Ave.                    1920
  • Cole Ave. NE                         Stuard Ave.                  1928
  • Emerald Ave. NE                   Ryn Court                     1928
  • Paris Ave. NE                         Christ St.                      1938
  • Houseman Ave. NE               Armstrong Ave.            1938

 

Compiled by:

Michael J. Page

Nov. 2012

         

Sources:

*  Grand Rapids City Directories, Grand Rapids Public Library – Main.

*  History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan by Albert Baxter, 1891.

*  1844 Map of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Grand Rapids Public Library.

*  StreetWise, by Jim Mencarelli; Grand Rapids Press, Nov. 22, 1987.

 

     

About the Author:

Michael J. Page is one of eight children born to Lucille M. and Charles P. Page. The Pages helped establish the Creston Neighborhood Association in the early 1980s. Michael is a local historian and works part-time at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. He is the author of “The Loren M. Page Family and the American Civil War”, published in Michigana (The Quarterly Magazine of the Western Michigan Genealogical Society), Volume 57, Number 1 Jan/Feb/Mar 2011.   

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