Generally, if you think about the Post Office at all it would be to grab some stamps or mail a package. The utilitarian buildings are in every town in America and few give them much thought.

An interesting question came up on social media recently about the history of the downtown Post Office in Grand Rapids.

The question asked if the building ever had any other use. Many on the "If You Grew Up in Grand Rapids/Kent County, then you remember...." Facebook group where quick to recall the location at Michigan and Monroe was one a train depot and the building now on the site and serving as the post office was always a post office and built for that use.

One comment that caught the eye of many was about some urban legends that surround the building. It was completed in the early 1970s, so not peak-Cold War but many of that era's fears fuel these legends.

grand rapids post office west side
Google Maps Street View

Urban Legends about the Grand Rapids Post Office

It's said that the building was built as a Civil Defense structure and constructed to survive a nuclear blast. The parking structure atop the building was said to be so sturdy a wrecking ball dropped on the parking deck would simply bounce off. Finally, there are allegedly large stores of water and food in the basement for survivors who took shelter there.

Some were quick to comment that the story is bunk and there's no validity to the legends.

grand rapids post office east side
Google Maps Street View

There's a comprehensive list of fallout shelters in the Grand Rapids area but does not list anything remarkable about the Post Office.

The current Post Office replaced a building at 17 Pearl. That building, built in 1909, housed a federal courthouse as well as the Post Office. Today it's the location of the Kendall College of Art and Design.

Famous declassified government secrets

Stacker looks at the top 30 declassified government secrets, from Operation Paperclip to previously unknown Cold War facts. There’s no conspiracy in these slides—these government secrets are all true to history.