It’s A Bird, It’s a Plane, No It’s ……


Mumbai, Minneapolis, and Grand Rapids, Oh My – What do they all have in common….. Skywalks!

So Grand Rapids has a Skywalk, which is an elevated enclosed walkway between buildings. The main point of skywalks is to give users a safe way to move between buildings (avoid traffic, congestion on streets) and to protect pedestrians from the weather.

The Grand Rapids Skywalk is 1.4 miles long, covers 7 city blocks, and connects multiple buildings.  The Skywalk starts at Devos Place off of Monroe, and snakes it way down Monroe, and heads East on Fulton and ends at the Van Andel Arena.  Here is a map and here is another map, and here is a confusing map with entrances and exits and non identified buildings.

It is hard to get information on the SkyWalk and so I took it upon myself through visual observation and Bing Maps and their Aerial View (which rocks) to create my own map of the Grand Rapids SkyWalk and identifying what buildings it connects (and the businesses inside those buildings).  But of course soon after I created that map I found this one which is perfect – oh well.  Please click on my map to make me feel better about not wasting my time.

I have been on the Skywalk once after a Griffins hockey game at Van Andel Arena, promptly got lost and exited as quickly as I saw an exit.  But luckily it looks like the City of Grand Rapids is fixing the Skywalk system with a series of wayfaring signs by Corbin Design out of Traverse City (the same company that did the street wayfaring system for the downtown).  Additionally according to this article they are also looking for ways to beautify the Skywalk.

With out further ado here is the path of the Grand Rapids SkyWalk (my map): Also note that the numbers below correspond to the Bing Map I created)

Van Andel Arena (#1)to 25 Ottawa SW Building (#3) to both 32 Market SW Building (#5) and the Parking Lot on Market/Fulton/Monroe (#7) to Courtyard by Marriott (#8) & Plaza Towers (#9) (at 11 Monroe NW) to Campau Square Parking Lot on Campau & Monroe (#11) to Campau Square Plaza Building (#13) (99 Monroe NW) to National City Bank Building (#15) (171 Monroe NW) then splits to JW Marriott (#17) and Amway Grand Hotel (#21) & Plaza.

The JW Marriott Route (#17) goes to Riverfront Plaza Building (#19)(55 Campau, 88 Campau) and ends.

The path to Amway Grand Plaza (#21) goes to Windquest Building (#24 my personal favorite) and  DeVos Place/Performance Hall (#25).

So it seems that this Grand Rapids SkyWalk may still grow in the future.  In fact the city of Grand Rapids as recently as 1/20/2010 in a Economic Development Corporate meeting was asking about viability of a skywalk at the Old Post Office, which it was told that a Skywalk is too expensive and not a part of the plan for the building (here is the link to the notes from that meeting).  But it goes to show that is still on the minds of city leaders and developers.

There  is a photographic slideshow of the Grand Rapids SkyWalk through Flickr.

Please share your SkyWalk stories and thoughts in the comments.  Does Grand Rapids even need a SkyWalk?  How did this all get started in Grand Rapids?

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5 responses to “It’s A Bird, It’s a Plane, No It’s ……

  1. I can’t help but connect your Skywalk article with your article about the lack of a downtown shopping district in Grand Rapids. While the SkyWalk may be convenient, it removes potential patrons from potential storefronts. If we want to create/grow a shopping district in downton GR, we need to do things keep people walking the streets year round.

    I’m all for making the current skywalk more useable but expanding it would be a mistake. Future investments need to be made in on the ground improvements like snowmelt equipped sidewalks, heatlamps, community fireplaces etc.

    • Ross, thanks for connecting those dots. I hadn’t thought about that at all but it does make perfect sense. Now that I think about it more the SkyWalk does detract from the city. From what I read one of the big marketing messages of the SkyWalk is that it connects all the downtown hotels with DeVos Place Convention Center. So having all these convention visitors in our city, they could technically isolate their Grand Rapids experience to only their Hotel, the Convention Center, and the SkyWalk. That kind of sucks. How else do you get to experience a city without being able to walk on its streets and sidewalks and discover things for yourself.

      But to contradict myself if I were able to park in a downtown parking lot that is connected to the SkyWalk and use that to get to my place of employment, that would be super cool, especially in winter.

  2. If only there was a Trader Joe’s somewhere along it…. 🙂

  3. Pingback: 169 Monroe, Great View | Urbane [ur-beyn] Grand Rapids

  4. Pingback: It’s SPREADING…Beer Spill in West Michigan! | The Ledger

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