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John Ball Area Neighbors

Originally established in the 1830’s by the Ottawa Indians, the John Ball Area neighborhood officially became part of the city of Grand Rapids in the 1850’s. Although it was considered a part of Grand Rapids, it was difficult for settlers to cross the Grand River causing the neighborhood to become isolated from the rest of the city. Over time, advances in both transportation and technology would turn this isolated community into a vibrant and desirable area to live. The neighborhood steadily grew over time and now there are more than 7,000 people who live in this neighborhood.

Within the community is the John Ball Area Neighbors association where they have made it their mission to continue the positive growth of the community. It is important to continue the positive growth of the community through enhancing and preserving the quality of life for those who live in the neighborhood. The association website is a great way to stay updated on the neighborhood through upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and other ways to get involved within the community.

Located near the Grand Valley State University Pew Campus, there is a unique blend of people who live in the John Ball Area neighborhood. The Pew Campus is an extension of the main campus in Allendale and was created for business, engineering, health services, and many other future professions. This university continues to grow and bring people from all over the world to the Grand Rapids area.


Most famously known in this neighborhood is the John Ball Zoo and Park. This zoo is full of animals from all over the world and has many interactive features like camel rides, a petting zoo, a zip line, and other great outdoor activities. In addition to activities in the zoo, there are many educational shows or classes for people to attend and learn about the animal kingdom. For more outdoor enjoyment in the John Ball Area neighborhood, stop by Lincoln Park to enjoy this 12-acres park named after President Abraham Lincoln. This park is full of great amenities like a seasonal swimming pool, basketball court, playground, and much more.

Also located in the John Ball Area neighborhood is Mines Golf Course which sits just 150 feet above a gypsum mine that was used through the early 1900’s. During the construction of this golf course, various pieces and processes from the old gypsum mine were incorporated into the layout and design. In addition, the water used to keep the grass green and landscaping beautiful is pulled directly from the mine underneath the golf course.


Along with the great amenities in the John Ball Area neighborhood, there are a number of small local businesses too. Nawara Brother Home Store is a locally owned and operated shop that specializes in providing name brand appliances at low prices. While shopping in their store you will get one-on-one personal guidance from their experienced staff.

Another family owned restaurant in the area is Vito’s Pizza which was originally established in 1973 as Steve’s Pizza. When the current owner purchased the restaurant, he changed the name and did the remodeling himself. They are pleased to offer pizza for dine-in, carry out, and delivery to their patrons.

Only a few blocks away from Vito’s Pizza, Joey’s Tavern is a great place for a relaxing atmosphere with a full bar and American cuisine style menu. Watch a sports game on one of their many televisions while you sip on a delicious cocktail. In the mood for a snack, grab one of their menus and make sure to try some of the tempting macaroni and cheese bites! If you’re in the mood for coffee or a sweet treat, Rower’s Club and Spoonlickers frozen yogurt shop are right next to each other along Fulton Street.