See original article here: 'GR Walks' app adds self-guided tour of black historical landmarks
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - LaTarro Traylor has lived in Grand Rapids since she was 1 years old.
But the community relations coordinator for Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) says she did not know how much history the downtown area held for black residents until she worked on a self-guiding walking tour for GR Walks, a smartphone app.
"I know this town like the back of my hand," said Traylor, a graduate of Creston High School, Aquinas College and the Cooley Law School.
"I now consider myself a much more cultured resident," said Traylor, who estimates she spent 60 hours of research at the Grand Rapids Public Library's archives, the city's archives and Fountain Street Church's archives.
Narrated by 2nd Ward City Commissioner Joe Jones, the 11-point Black History Tour starts in Lyon Square, where "General"John Scott arrived in 1834 after walking 160 miles from Detroit with a group of laborers to build canals in the Grand River that powered the furniture industry.
From Lyons Square, the tour winds through the downtown area for about two miles, including theaters where blacks were banished to the balconies; Comstock's Row, where freed slaves were offered housing after the Civil War; and points of interest featuring civil rights leader Helen Claytor and the city's first black mayor, Lyman Parks.
The tour was released by DGRI this week to coincide with the observance of Juneteenth Independence Day, the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States recognized annually on Monday, June 19.
Former City Historian Gordon Olson, Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives Executive Director George Bayard, Women's Lifestyle Magazine Publisher Victoria Upton and local blues historian Kim Rush also were involved in creating the tour.
A group of community leaders plan to gather at 11 a.m. on Monday at Lyons Square to walk the route together. Traylor said she expect up to 20 persons to participate in the walk.
The tour is available anytime for free on GR Walks, a free smartphone app that also offers self-guided tours along the Grand River, the story of beer in Grand Rapids and the Heritage Hill and Roosevelt Park neighborhoods.