A historical review of the rise, fall and revival of the Wealthy Street corridor in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Created by destep on Apr 13, 2011
Last updated: 04/20/11 at 06:38 PM
Vandalism upgraded to "urban terrorism" after arson, letter threatening “a multitude of repercussions” including muggings and kidnapping.
2011: Vandals strike again at Wealthy Street businesses, tout anarchist message.
Vandals target area with anti-gentrification graffiti and smashed windows.
Annual Wealthy Alive! street festival ceases after crime prevention grant funding dries up.
Developer Guy Bazzani rehabs the Helmus Building, formerly a streetcar barn, at corner of Diamond Avenue and Wealthy Street SE as example of revitalization possibilities. Business owners agree to special assessment to pay for street bricks, historical lighting. Wealthy Street Bakery opens.
Philanthropist Peter Wege buys troubled Speedy Mart at corner of Wealthy and Fuller, plans “safe area.” Two years later, Huntington Bank branch opens in the location.
Fairmount Square Historic District established in East Hills. Wealthy Theatre reopens as a nonprofit, multicultural arts center after $2 million restoration project.
Wealthy Theatre Historic District established. Fifteen-year tax-free Renaissance Zone established between Union and Fuller avenues SE.
Cherry Hill Historic District established. after neighbors successfully push out scads of absentee landlords leaving houses open to crime and decay
Wealthy and surrounding neighborhoods considered a drain on city finances and Blighted buildings start getting demolished. Drugs and gang violence fuel blight.
Heartside Historic District established.
Wealthy Theatre closes. Heritage Hill Historic District established.
Decline of Wealthy Street corridor becomes serious. Many buildings are boarded-up and vacant. Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 begins to target urban decline with block grants.
July 24-27 riot causes extensive damage to Wealthy-Jefferson neighborhood.
Homes in area begin to show signs of age. Racial unrest, coupled with new freeways, outlying shopping malls and rise of suburbs cause whites to relocate en masse.
Area starts to show beginnings of post-World War II integration when racial restrictive deed covenants break down after 1948 Shelley v. Kraemer decision by U.S. Supreme Court. Business district continues to thrive.
Chain grocers like Kroger, Piggly Wiggly and A&P begin to crowd out neighborhood corner stores.
Businesses in Eastown respond to new automobile-based commerce by building parking lots. Additional commercial buildings spring up along Wealthy during a period of growth sparked by theatre construction. Neighborhood stores sold clothes, groceries, meats, dried goods, hardware, etc
Neighborhood residents Thomas and Laura Giles build Pastime Vaudette (now the Wealthy Theatre), encouraging other businesses to locate nearby. First of 11 neighborhood theatres built throughout the city.
The East Building constructed in Eastown as streetcar barn. Now houses, among other businesses, Mulligan’s Pub.
Grand Rapids and Reeds Lake Railroad Co. organized. Property owners raise $17,000 to entice the company to run the streetcar line down Wealthy.
Beginning of tremendous growth decade along Wealthy Street, which was mostly small farms and pasture. Mid-decade sees first commercial district between Union and Eastern Avenues.
Southern boundary extended south from Fulton Street to the section line by Judge Jefferson Morrison. Street is formally named after Morrison’s second wife, Wealthy Davis, two years later.
Village of Grand Rapids incorporated.