Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me

Tanglefoot Building, Grand Rapids, Michigan

I cut my teeth in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Not only did I attend college there, but it was in Grand Rapids that I had my first “real” job and experienced many of those necessary rites of passage you have in your early 20s, like falling in (and out) of love with assholes, filing my own taxes, and getting drunk with coworkers at a bro bar after having one too many neon-colored shots.

Despite the fact that rich religious nut jobs like Betsy DeVos hail from Grand Rapids, the winters are awful, and gentrification is plaguing the city, it’s still one of my favorite places to go.  Though the landscape is quickly changing, I still feel more at home in Grand Rapids than in many of the other places I’ve lived.

In a recent visit to G Raggedy with my BFF, Kat*[1], I decided to see if there were any strange, weird, or abandoned places there I’d never heard of.  Atlas Obscura told us about the old Tanglefoot Building:

This building in southwest Grand Rapids, Michigan, was once the source of a large percentage of the world’s flypaper, where it was manufactured in 1885. Tanglefoot, an insect controlling adhesive paste, is still manufactured and packaged here. The building is better known as the site of several artists’s studios and was an exhibit site for the city’s annual Artprize competition.

Kat and I drove up to the Tanglefoot Building, which was nice-looking in an old-factory-turned-art-space way, and I hopped out of the car to take a few photos.  Because it was absolutely frigid outside, that was all we did.





A fun fact: the Tanglefoot Building is found on a street called Straight.  It’s located not too far from a street called Gay.   Maybe the early settlers of Grand Rapids wanted to make it clear where you’d live if you had a particular sexual orientation?

Regardless, I’m somewhat shocked that the ultra-conservative DeVoses and Van Andels (a.k.a., Grand Rapids royalty) haven’t tried to petition to change the name of Gay Street to, say, Definitely Heterosexual Road.

[1] Name changed; Kat’s pretty private. 🙂



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