GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Thirty years ago, the Amway Grand Plaza was dedicated with a black tie gala. The building became a part of the revitalization of downtown.
"First of all it showed that [the founders of Amway] had confidence in Grand Rapids and believed that they could in fact make a difference. When they did that it said to a lot of other investors, it said to city and county government, it said to a lot of people, 'yes we can do this," said Grand Rapids historian emeritus Gordon Olson.
In 1981, according to 24 Hour News 8 archive footage, the cost of a room ranged from $40 to $78 per night.
Before that week thirty years ago, downtown Grand Rapids looked a lot different.
"Downtown Grand Rapids...I guess the kindest way to say it is, it was a quiet place," he told us while chuckling.
But, Olson pointed out, history is a process and not just a single event.
There's no doubt that the hotel was economically and symbolically important, but during that same week in 1981, two other Grand Rapids institutions were dedicated.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated and opened for the first time. That event drew crowds, international dignitaries and sitting President Ronald Reagan.
The Grand Rapids Art Museum also moved to a brand new facility that same week.
President Ford attended, and spoke, at each of the three major events.
Olson said the events that drew heads of state, and television cameras to Grand Rapids provided an opportunity for the West Michigan city.
"It was an event that said to this city, and in turn allowed the city say to the rest of the country, because the television covered everything, that Grand Rapids was a different place than it was just a few years ago," said Olson.
In the present day, Grand Rapids already has a lot of the important places a city needs to compete : the Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and MSU medical School's Secchia Center -- just to name a few.
Olson said that means that the new innovations of the future may not be of the brick and mortar type.
"I don't think there's any doubt that 'people activities' are a big part of this, but you can't have the people activities without the bricks and mortar," said Olson.
That may mean events like ArtPrize or 5x5 may be the next generation's opportunity to build on the foundation started decades ago.
11 fire departments from several counties were called out to a fire at an adult entertainment club Wednesday afternoon.
Holland police were searching for 28-year-old Mark Steven Randall Harris, who was considered armed and dangerous, but arrested him late Wednesday night.
Those receiving the 2013 White House holiday card will see a design made by a Grand Rapids artist.