What Driving In Grand Rapids Was Like In 1953 [Photos/Video]
Many may look back fondly on the year 1953, but I sometimes wonder how slow it was to get around this great state of ours.
The Grand Rapids City archives posted this series of photos from a 1953 State of Michigan roadmap. This was before the age of the interstate highway system, which President Dwight D. Eisenhower began instituting circa 1955.
As you can see, the Grand Rapids metro looked considerably different, with the main highways being the old two lane U.S.131, the east/west main routes of M-16, which runs along the same route as present day I-96, and M-21, which continued on toward Lake Michigan along the present route of I-196, and M-37, which is pretty much the same as today.
The current East Beltline was called the 131 bypass, and route M-50 ran with M-21 for awhile, before heading to the lake through Allendale along what is now known as M-45. M-50 and M-16 would split off from M-21 just east of this map and head to Lansing along the current I-96 path.
What is now the M-6 or South Beltline existed as not only a 131 west by pass, but was also a west bound bypass of the city for M-21 and M-16.
I could only imagine what weekend traffic heading up north on a summer weekend looked like in this configuration, it probably wasn't as bad, because auto travel was still kind of a luxury back then.
I did find this video of what downtown traffic looked like in 1953. Everything seems slower back then.
By the way, 1953 was also the penultimate year of the women's All-American Baseball League, and the Grand Rapids Chicks won the title that season.