Remember, remember…: About the Historic Fifth Ward

#CrestonBuzz Vol. 5

Before there was even a Creston Brewery, and way, way back before there was even a Creston neighborhood or business association, the environs surrounding Plainfield Avenue and Quimby Street was simply known as “The North End.” It was populated by several wealthy community leaders that resided in large, beautiful houses at the crest of the hill.  The majority of the residents were African Americans, New Englanders and fairly recent immigrants from Ireland, Canada and France — they were highly known as the strong, working stock backbone of the furniture industry along with the local retailers that provided basic supplies and services for them. As a political entity in the growing city of Grand Rapids, the area was also known as “The Fifth Ward,” one of nine voting districts in a not-too-badly gerrymandered community in the late 1890s.


Grand Rapids circa 1880-90

Now here’s where it gets interesting…

According to legend, rumors and a couple of detailed police reports, the Fifth Ward experienced a short period of unrest and dismay. There may have been a roaming gang of brutes who beat and robbed some of their fellow citizens… There might have been an ugly murder/suicide in the area. The explanation for the sudden burst of violence was lost on the city, it even attracted attention of the morning paper at the time, The Grand Rapids Herald as well as  The Grand Rapids Evening Press. Both publications ran at least one story making the eerie reference to “The Bloody Fifth Ward.”


Canal Street looking north, Grand Rapids MI

But that’s not the end of the story….

The hard-working, god-fearing, generally decent residents and business owners of the North End got together to save their community — not only from the bad hombres roaming around, but also from the lousy press and the tainted image the area was suffering from. A nickname like,  “The Bloody Fifth” was not good for business, or for new home sales, or for the social image of the wealthy folks living happily on the crest of the hill. So, a group of residents got together and decided that to really solve the image problem, the whole area needed a new moniker and more importantly, a new identity. They held a community wide contest in the spring of 1906 and got a bunch of creative suggestions. After tallying the votes, a final entry was chosen.

And the winning new name for the former “North End, Fifth Ward, Bloody Fifth” was (drum roll please…) Creston!


The Bloody Fifth, only at Creston Brewery

In a continuing nod to our favorite neighborhood, Creston Brewery adds “The Bloody Fifth” to our growing list of house brewed beer names with North End historical relevance; Quimby, Polar Bear, Sweet Street, The Great Log Jam of 1883, Clickety Clack, Fox Deluxe and more.

So, that’s how one of our tastiest new brews, The Bloody Fifth, got its name — it is a beautiful red IPA brewed with juicy Michigan Summit hops, plenty of caramel malts for a balanced, silky body and a dank aroma the will leave you feeling, well, lifted. Enjoy!

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