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Grand Rapids, Minnesota
—  City  —
Location of Grand Rapids, Minnesota
Coordinates: 47°14′0″N 93°31′45″W / 47.233333°N 93.52917°W / 47.233333; -93.52917
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Itasca
Founded About 1872
Incorporated (village) 1891-06-09
 - Mayor Dale Adams, elected in 2008
 - Total 8.1 sq mi (20.9 km2)
 - Land 7.3 sq mi (19.0 km2)
 - Water 0.7 sq mi (1.9 km2)
Elevation 1,286 ft (392 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 7,764
 Density 1,057.8/sq mi (408.4/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 55730, 55744, 55745
Area code(s) 218
FIPS code 27-25118[1]
GNIS feature ID 0656428[2]

Grand Rapids is a city in Itasca County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 7,764 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Itasca County[3].

The city of Grand Rapids is named for the 3.5 mile long local rapids in the Mississippi river, which was the uppermost limit of practical steamboat travel during the late 1800s. Today, those rapids are hidden underneath the dam of the Blandin Paper Mill.



Grand Rapids was originally founded as a logging town, as the Mississippi River provided an optimal method of log shipment to population centers. The predecessor of the Blandin paper mill was opened in 1902.[4]

The Forest History Center is a State Historic Site and a living history museum that recreates life as it was in a turn of the century logging camp. Costumed interpreters guide visitors through a recreated circa 1890's logging camp to educate the public on the history of white pine logging and its relevance to today's economy. Miles of nature trails, educational naturalist programming, and an interpretive museum are also located on the site.

Old Central School, located in downtown Grand Rapids, was built in 1895 in the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture. The three story building served as an elementary school from 1895 to 1972. A community effort restored the building in 1984 and it now serves as a location for commerce, houses the Itasca County Historical Society, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.1 square miles (20.9 km²), of which, 7.3 square miles (19.0 km²) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.9 km²) of it (9.16%) is water.

The city of Grand Rapids sits on the junction of U.S. Routes 2 and 169. Highway 2 runs west towards Bemidji and east towards Duluth. Highway 169 heads south to Hill City, Minnesota and ultimately towards Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the other direction, Highway 169 heads up the Mesabi Range until it reaches Virginia, Minnesota, passing through Hibbing and several other smaller towns along the way. Grand Rapids is also the starting point of State Highway 38, running 47 miles north along the Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway towards Effie, Minnesota. State Highway 38 has been designated a National Scenic Byway by the United States Department of Transportation.

Grand Rapids is also located at a junction of the BNSF Railway.

Grand Rapids is the county seat of Itasca County, a county that contains over 1000 lakes.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 7,764 people, 3,446 households, and 1,943 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,057.8 people per square mile (408.4/km²). There were 3,621 housing units at an average density of 493.3/sq mi (190.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.53% White, 0.28% African American, 1.93% Native American, 0.71% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.85% of the population.

There were 3,446 households out of which 25.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.5% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.6% were non-families. 38.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.1% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 23.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 87.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,991, and the median income for a family was $39,468. Males had a median income of $36,035 versus $20,759 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,223. About 9.2% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.1% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.


Mayor Dale Adams was elected in 2008.

Grand Rapids is represented politically by:

    • Minnesota House Of Representatives district 3B by Democrat Loren A. Solberg
    • Minnesota Senate district 3 by Democrat Tom Saxhaug
    • U.S. House Of Representatives district 8 by Democrat James Oberstar


Marker in front of Judy Garland's Birthplace in Grand Rapids

Historically, the local economy was based on timber harvesting, and to this day, Blandin Paper Mill, now owned by the Finnish-based UPM paper company, has its papermaking facilities in downtown Grand Rapids, while Ainsworth (formerly Potlach) located just outside of the city limits, produced oriented strand board until it ceased operation in September 2006. The Mesabi Range or Iron Range region of Minnesota begins with one iron mine to the southwest and a number to the northeast of the city. Although technically and geographically a member of the Iron Range, Grand Rapids and its economy has been historically based on paper manufacturing and other wood products. Its current economy also has a large tourist footing, with many local resorts, four golf courses, over one million acres of public and industrial forestlands that provide excellent regional hunting, and more than 1,000 lakes for fishing. It also is the service center for 46,000 people due to a large seasonal and weekend population of summer residences on surrounding lakes, and a number of smaller bedroom communities located near Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids was the first rural city in Minnesota to be served by an Advanced Life Support Ambulance Service, Meds-1 EMS.


Annual tourism events

  • Judy Garland Festival, June
  • Mississippi Melodie Showboat, July
  • Itasca Vintage Car Show and Swap Meet, July
  • Tall Timber Days, August
  • White Rendezvous & Festival, August
  • Grand Slam of Golf Tournament, August
  • Goods From the Woods, September
  • National Ruffed Grouse Society Annual Hunt, October
  • White Oak Classic Dog Sled Race, January


Grand Rapids has one of the few competitive high school marching bands north of the Twin Cities. Schools include:

All the schools except St. Joseph's, Grace Christian School, and ICC are part of Independent School District 318


Local radio stations

The following radio stations are licensed by the FCC to Grand Rapids. The city is also served by many other radio stations from around the northland.

  • KOZY 1320 AM Talk radio, Oldies
  • KMFY 96.9 FM Soft Rock, Paul Harvey
  • KAXE 91.7 FM Public Radio (first rural public radio station in the United States)
  • KGPZ 96.1 FM Country
  • KBAJ Deer River 105.5FM Rebroadcast of KQDS-FM Duluth, MN except for commercials and community calendar, which are local.


  • Grand Rapids Herald-Review - Published on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Television stations

Grand Rapids TV is primarily fed in from Duluth TV stations, but some cable subscribers also receive Minneapolis stations as well. Local government and community events are covered by the local community television station.

Notable people

Judy Garland's Birthplace

Grand Rapids was the birthplace and early childhood home of legendary singer and actress Judy Garland, although her family moved to Lancaster, California when she was four years old. The Itasca County Historical Society maintains a Judy Garland exhibit in their Heritage Museum and Judy's fully restored birthplace, in a home built in 1892, is open to the public as the Judy Garland Museum. An annual Judy Garland Festival is held the fourth weekend in June.

Other notable people who were born in Grand Rapids or lived in the city include:


External links

Coordinates: 47°14′14″N 93°31′49″W / 47.23722°N 93.53028°W / 47.23722; -93.53028


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