Grand Rapids has come a long way in the last 30 years.  The city has grown in size and scope and has had a downtown revival as of late.  The city continues to grow and always seems to be on the top of lists that highlight great cities in America.

Now, with the help of the Google Earth Engine and the Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab's Time Machine library, we can watch the city change right before our eyes!  This awesome time lapse technology takes yearly montages of the earth and pieces them together, removing clouds and other weather effects, to give us a time-lapse of the Earth's surface over the last 30 years!  So let's zoom in to our little neck of the woods and see what we have going on!

Some notable things to watch for (I'm sure you can find more!):

  • Watch the Paul B. Henry Freeway being built.  According to wikipedia: "The freeway was originally conceived in the 1960s. It took 32 years to approve, plan, finance, and build the freeway from the time that the state first authorized funding in 1972 to the time of the ribbon-cutting ceremony in 2004 that opened the South Beltline to traffic."
  • Watch Millennium park being built.  Kent County Parks says "Millennium Park is one of our nation's largest urban parks with portions in Grand Rapids, Walker, Grandville and Wyoming. With 1,400 acres of rolling terrain and six miles of frontage on the Grand River, the park is rich in natural resources, featuring unique habitats and large natural areas for wildlife to thrive.  Planning for the park was launched in the year 2000."
  • Watch the Gerald R. Ford Airport add another runway.  Their website gave the history behind this runway addition: "In 1997, a new 8,500-foot North-South air carrier runway was added in anticipation of the eventual need to rebuild the main East-West runway and to give air traffic controllers and flight crews greater operational flexibility."
  • Watch everyone's favorite freeway feature, the S-Curve, get constructed.  Wikipedia tells us a bit about it's timeline here: "Another large-scale construction project in 2000 rebuilt an unusual section of the freeway through Grand Rapids known as the S-Curve. Two bridges formerly used by US 131 have been labeled by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) as historic structures; one of them has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NHRP)."
  • Huge housing developments in the metro area.  Specifically in Kentwood and Wyoming.  This growth is pretty self evident as you can see that more and more subdivisions are being constructed further and further away from the city center.  Hopefully we won't end up with the urban sprawl they have in metro Detroit anytime soon!
  • Watch downtown get a revamp as both the Van Andel Arena and the DeVos Place are built.  Wikipedia gives us a background for both locations, respectively: "After a $75 million construction effort, the arena opened on October 8, 1996, and since has attracted over five million patrons." and "DeVos Place Convention Center, erected in 2004 on the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States, is a multi-purpose convention center. It is named for Richard DeVos, who donated $20 million towards its construction."