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Historical Sites of Grand Rapids


Civil War
Civic Theatre
Pearl St. Bridge
Sixth St. Bridge
Voigt House
Meyer May House
Indian Mounds
Heritage Hills
Pantlind Hotel
McKay Tower
Fulton St. Cemetery


    The Sixth Street Bridge in Grand Rapids is the longest and oldest metal span bridge in Michigan. The Massillon Bridge Company of Ohio built the four span bridge in 1886 for the cost of $31,000. When completed the bridge was 545 feet long and 18 feet wide. There was also a 7-foot wide walkway for workers who used the bridge everyday to get to their jobs across the river. The bridge was able to handle horse-drawn wagons and buggies for many years. However, when bigger trucks and cars began using the bridge they caused damage to it. It was inspected and repaired frequently. In 1975, a report showed that the cement below the water was eroding and the metal on the bridge was rusted and in need of repair and painting. The city thought about removing the bridge and building a modern four-lane bridge. The Kent County Council for Historic Preservation had the bridge placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and it was saved.

    The bridge is expected to be closed in April 2002 for four months when it will receive a new coat of paint and lights. About 4,500 cars use this bridge a day and during the painting the traffic will be rerouted over the Leonard Street Bridge. Tarps will hang over the river to prevent polluting while the bridge is sandblasted and painted. It has been 21 years since it was last painted. It will be painted a dark greenish-black color to resemble its original color. The Scott Civil Engineering Company and Icarus Industrial Painting and Contracting will do the repairs, painting, and lighting.