Bridging community

Once a logging route, today the Blue Bridge is a gathering spot.

The Blue Bridge, north of Fulton Street, has crossed the Grand River since 1892. Built by the Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad, the bridge replaced an earlier structure that was washed out by the log jam of 1883. Although the GR&I railroad line was originally developed for logging, it unexpectedly became a gateway for tourism to northern Michigan. Despite struggling to turn a profit, the GR&I played a role in the growing fishing, camping and resort business in the northern Lower Peninsula.

By the early 1980s, the bridge was no longer in use. The riverfront through downtown was different then: weeds, rubble and old factory buildings lined the banks and there was little pedestrian access. In 1987, the Grand River Showcase project raised money to complete a number of improvements transforming the riverbank. They worked with developers and the city to install walkways along the river, add lighting to bridges and to open the GR&I railroad bridge to pedestrians. After sandblasting and painting and the addition of a concrete deck, the Blue Bridge opened in late 1987. Since then, the bridge has become not only a way to cross the river, but also an event space, hosting ArtPrize exhibits, dance parties, yoga and more.

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