Though originally only two stories tall when it was built in 1890, McKay Tower became Grand Rapids' first skyscraper when it was expanded in 1927. It is a cornerstone of Monroe Center, the defacto center of town, on a once-popular streetcar line.
- Monroe Center, which runs from Division Ave. to Pearl St. was originally Monroe Street, named for President James Monroe.
- During bad weather in the early days of the city, Monroe Street was often a heavy, wet bed of clay, and the only sidewalks were wooden planks that individual merchants placed in front of their stores.
- Cobblestones were used to pave Monroe St. when the first brick sewer was laid in 1855. Previously drainage was limited to wooden sewer pipes or open ditches.
- The 9 foot tall bronze statue in front of McKay Tower honors local resident, Arthur H. Vandenberg, senator from Michigan from 1928-1951, who was a key player in the forming of the United Nations