What form did life take 100 years ago?

Formed Histories: a guided spatial tour

Site-specific projects produced by Civic Studio complemented a curated tour of important sites from local history of the West Side neighborhood of Grand Rapids, MI. These projects were meant to re-imagine life 100 years ago, making connections between the past, present, and future of the city. Highlights of the tour include explorations of the rich history of labor, the former canal, and what lies below the highway. In addition, these site-specific projects engaged tour participants in an interactive, educational, and playful experience.

This Civic Studio Project began at Showroom in January and continued through April 2014. For more on Civic Studio: civicstudio.org


Participants received a 'token' at the site of the former German Aid Society.


This location on Bridge St used to have a wide diversity of shops such as thrift stores, a bike shop, and a restaurant. Participants symbolically representing these storefronts with rope.


Tour participants were given a bag of flour to mix with river water to create dough at the site of the former Voigt Flour Mill.


Father Morrow, a priest of a local church has lived on the West Side for his whole life. He told the story of his sighting of a sturgeon in the former canal in the Grand River. At first, he mistook it for a log.


Participants collaboratively performed the swimming of the sturgeon through the canal.


A Big Boy is now at the former site of the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association). Participants were given a "flat stanley" paper cutout to put Big Boy in a dress.


Participants collectively dragged a symbolic plaster cast replica of the Kroon House along the route that it took when it was moved. The Kroon House was the last house to resist the redevelopment into parking lots of a large area of land on the West Side. After the owner could no longer maintain the house (and while it stood in the middle of the parking lot for some time), it was loaded onto a semi-trailer and moved a few blocks down the street where it stayed for a few years until it was unfortunately torn down.