Pop Quiz: Which U.S. City Is Known as "Furniture City"?

Pop Quiz: Which U.S. City Is Known as "Furniture City"?

Carrie McBride
Sep 28, 2012

There are still many thriving furniture companies manufacturing their wares in the United States, but it's a shadow of the industry it was a century or more ago. One city had such a concentration of furniture manufacturing in the 19th century that it earned the moniker "Furniture City" - do you know which city?

Grand Rapids Chair Co., early 20th Century

If you answered Grand Rapids, Michigan - pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to a cookie. Grand Rapids was the first center of mass-produced and fine furniture in North America, partly due to its proximity to lumber. Furniture markets, attended by buyers from around the world, began in Grand Rapids in 1878 and lasted into the 1960s.

Oriel Furniture Co., Grand Rapids, early 20th Century

Grand Rapids' furniture prominence is now diminished but it is still an important part of the city's economy. It houses five of the world's leading office furniture companies (such as Steelcase) as well as fine furniture companies (like Kindel who has been in the city for 100 years).

If you're visiting Grand Rapids, be sure to check out the Furniture City exhibit at the Grand Rapids Museum which includes information about the history of the local furniture industry, over 120 pieces of locally made furniture from the 1840s onward and a recreation of the Phoenix Furniture Factory.

Learn more:

Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America's Furniture City by Christian G. Carron (1998)
Grand Times in Grand Rapids: Pieces of Furniture City History by Gordon Beld (2012)
Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Furniture City on MidWest Guest
Furniture Exhibition Buildings in Grand Rapids on Grand Rapids History

(Images: 1. Shutterstock 2. Library of Congress 3. Library of Congress)

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