Rockford, Illinois

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Coordinates: 42°16′11″N 89°04′11″W / 42.26972°N 89.06972°W / 42.26972; -89.06972
City of Rockford
City
Overview of eastern downtown Rockford.jpg
Downtown Rockford including the Rock River and the Jefferson Street Bridge
Coat of arms
Motto: "The Government Closest To The People"
Nickname: The Forest City
Country United States
State Illinois
County Winnebago
Township Rockford
Elevation 715 ft (218 m)
Coordinates 42°16′11″N 89°04′11″W / 42.26972°N 89.06972°W / 42.26972; -89.06972
Area 61.95 sq mi (160 km2)
 - land 61.08 sq mi (158 km2)
 - water 0.87 sq mi (2 km2)
Population 152,871 (2010) [1]
 - metro 339,178
Density 2,680.4 / sq mi (1,035 / km2)
Founded 1834
Mayor Larry J. Morrissey (I)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61101-61110, 61112, 61114, 61125, 61126
Area code 815, 779
Location of Rockford within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Rockford, Illinois
Website: http://www.ci.rockford.il.us

Rockford is the third largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois, the 160th most populous city in the United States, and the 112th most populous region in the United States. It is the county seat of Winnebago County and is located on both banks of the Rock River in far northern Illinois. According to 2010 census data, the City of Rockford has a population of 152,871, with an outlying metropolitan area population of 348,360.

Settled between 1834 and 1835, Rockford was strategically positioned between Chicago and Galena and thus became suitable for industrial development. Rockford was notable for its output of heavy machinery and tools; by the twentieth century, it was the second leading center of furniture manufacturing in the nation. Its decline, emblematic of other cities in the Rust Belt, led to economic diversification into automotive, aerospace, and healthcare industries, as well as the undertaking of various tourism and downtown revitalization efforts.

Referred to as the Forest City, Rockford is known for various venues of cultural or historical significance, including Anderson Japanese Gardens, Klehm Arboretum, Tinker Swiss Cottage, the BMO Harris Bank Center, the Coronado Theatre, the Laurent House, and the Burpee Museum of Natural History. Moreover, its contributions to music are noted in the Mendelssohn Club, the oldest music club in the nation, and performers such as Phantom Regiment and Cheap Trick.

History[edit]

Settlement and development[edit]

Rockford, after its settlement in 1834 and 1835, was known colloquially as Midway. Galena resident Germanicus Kent, his associate Thatcher Blake, and his slave Lewis Lemon are credited as the original settlers of Midway along the west bank of the Rock River; in addition, Daniel Shaw Haight is credited for completing the same task along the east bank. It was established as the county seat over rivaling communities Winnebago and Roscoe in 1836. Due to the area's proximity to a ford across the Rock River, the village of Midway was renamed Rockford in 1837 by arriving New Englanders.[2]

Rockford was chartered as a city in 1852, following the establishment of a post office in 1837 (of which Shaw Height served in as the first postmaster) and a weekly newspaper in 1840. Growth was fueled by the charter of Rockford Female Seminary in 1847 and a connection to the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad in 1852. The New York Tribune inspired the metonym The Forest City for Rockford in 1853.

The decision of John Henry Manny to locate production of his horse-powered combine harvester in Rockford attributed to a local rise in agricultural machinery manufacturing. Swedish furniture cooperatives did the same for their respective industry. The Rockford Union Furniture Company, under John Erlander, spearheaded these cooperatives; today, Erlander's home is a Rockford museum, demonstrating his efforts in elevating Rockford to second in furniture manufacturing in the nation, behind Grand Rapids.[3]

In the antebellum period, Rockford shared abolitionist leanings, lending considerable support to the Free Soil Party. In 1848, 42 percent of voters in Winnebago County, which Rockford dominated as the county seat, voted for Martin Van Buren. Four years later, John P. Hale became the first presidential candidate to visit the burgeoning city, although the returns on that visit were minimal, given that he received only 28 percent of the vote. During the Civil War, one of the first Illinois regiments to be mobilized, the Zouaves, were from Rockford, which served as the site for Camp Fuller, a training site for four other infantry regiments.

The Rockford Female Seminary became the alma mater of Jane Addams in 1881. This move accompanied the Seminary's transition into a more complete curriculum, which was represented by its renaming to Rockford College in 1892. Culture flourished with the founding of the Mendelssohn Club in 1884, which became the oldest operating music club in the United States. This was complemented by the construction of a Carnegie library in 1902, which became the first building of Rockford's public library system. 1903 saw the dedication of the Winnebago County Veterans Memorial Hall in the presence of sitting President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt returned to Rockford during his campaign in 1912 and later to address the soldiers at Camp Grant, a training site for World War I soldiers.

Twentieth century[edit]

John F. Kennedy campaigns through State Street in downtown Rockford in 1960.

The twentieth century saw demographic changes to Rockford. An influx of Italians, Poles, Lithuanians, and African Americans replaced the previously dominant Irish and Swedes. The city was also no stranger to contemporary political issues. Electorally divided between wets and drys on the subject of prohibition, Rockford featured a coalition of labor unionists and socialists that elected numerous aldermen and carried 25 to 40 percent in mayoral elections. During World War I, an antiwar protest by the International Workers of the World led to 118 arrests. In 1920, the city was a target of the Palmer Raids. While its congressional district favored Republicans, Rockford itself continuously elected former Socialists as mayor between 1921 and 1955.

Prior to World War II, Rockford became home to Kegel Harley-Davidson, which became the oldest family-owned Harley-Davidson dealership in existence.[4] One of its contemporary attractions, the Coronado Theatre, was opened in 1927. Notable for its atmospheric styling, the Coronado rivaled its counterparts in Chicago and was later added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.[5] Camp Grant was turned over to the Illinois National Guard. During the war, it reopened as an induction center and POW detention camp. USS Rockford, a Tacoma-class frigate named for the city, was commissioned in March 1944 and earned two service stars.

In a September 1949 issue of Life Magazine, postwar Rockford was described as "nearly typical of the U.S. as any city can be." Due to this archetypal nature, sociologists like W. Lloyd Warner warned of the necessity to "understand the realities of their system."[6] Heavily dependent on manufacturing and experiencing a shift in economic development toward its eastern borders, Rockford began to suffer irrevocable decline.[7] Impetuses for this shift in economic development include the construction of the Northwest Tollway in 1958, the new campus for Rockford College in 1964, and the campus of Rock Valley College and the Chrysler Belvidere Assembly Plant in 1965 near the eastern periphery of the city rather than downtown.

Efforts to revitalize the downtown were made in the 1970s with the construction of a pedestrian mall and a ten thousand-seat multipurpose arena. The former sectioned off Rockford's Main Street, impeding vehicle traffic, to the criticism of nearby business owners.[8] The latter, the MetroCentre, opened in 1981 to performances by Dionne Warwick and The Rolling Stones. State grants were also consulted to reverse the trend, such as those that funded an Alexander Liberman sculpture placed at a downtown intersection in 1978.[9] However, further decay occurred in the 1980s, such as the end of Amtrak service on the Black Hawk rail route from Chicago in 1981 and the closure of the Coronado Theatre due to declining revenues in 1984.[10][11]

Twenty-first century[edit]

The Stanley J. Roszkowski U.S. Courthouse and BMO Harris Bank Center in downtown Rockford.

The emphasis given to eastern areas in Rockford have rendered their western counterparts with blighted neighborhoods. In 2002, Rockford's public school system was court-ordered to spend $250 million on upgrades to western schools after it was found culpable for discrimination against residents served by them, many of whom were African American.[12]

Economic diversification has been difficult but ongoing for the area. The aerospace industry, represented by Woodward and UTC Aerospace Systems, is dominant in Rockford. Loves Park, a suburb, was selected by Woodward for a $200 million manufacturing campus toward its energy control and optimization systems in 2012.[13] Boeing included Rockford in a list of five finalists to manufacture the 777X during union disputes in 2014.[14] The healthcare industry, represented by OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center and SwedishAmerican Hospital, is also involved. SwedishAmerican, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, opened a $39 million Regional Cancer Center in 2013.[15]

Downtown improvements became more evident in the first decade. The Coronado Theatre reopened after an $18.5 million renovation in 2001.[16] The controversial pedestrian mall was removed, returning Main Street to a two-lane thoroughfare complete with cafe-style seating and wind-powered streetlights.[17] The MetroCentre underwent a $20 million renovation, prompting interest in the purchasing of its naming rights; the arena was subsequently renamed the BMO Harris Bank Center.[18][19] An open-air amphitheatre and a riverwalk were constructed to tie the Discovery Center Museum and the Burpee Museum of National History together.[20] Most significantly, the Stanley J. Roszkowski U.S. Courthouse was constructed for $100 million and the restoration of daily Black Hawk rail service began, scheduled for completion in 2015, for $223 million.[21][22]

Even before the Great Recession had an effect on Rockford, the city was impacted by flooding of its Keith Creek in both 2006 and 2007. Grants were won from FEMA to widen the creek and demolish over one hundred homes to stem the severity of future floods.[23][24] Since the crisis set in, population has only declined. Thirty two percent of the area's mortgages were underwater by 2013; Forbes rated Rockford number three on its America's Most Miserable Cities list in the same year.[25] In the first four months of 2014, the unemployment rate of Rockford declined from 12.9 percent to 9.2 percent, but these figures remained well above the national average.[26]

Geography[edit]

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 61.95 square miles (160.4 km2), of which 61.08 square miles (158.2 km2) (or 98.60%) is land and 0.87 square miles (2.3 km2) (or 1.40%) is water.[27] Neighboring communities that border Rockford, and are considered an integral part of the Rockford metro area, are the cities of Loves Park, Machesney Park, Belvidere, and the villages of Winnebago, Roscoe, Rockton, Poplar Grove, New Milford, and Cherry Valley. The Rock River is the traditional center of the Rockford area and is its most recognizable natural feature. Also of note, South Beloit, Illinois and Beloit, Wisconsin are part of this continuous urban area that stretches for approximately 30 miles along the Rock River from the Chicago Rockford International Airport north to the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

Climate[edit]

Due to its location in the Midwest, naturally a deciduous forest, Rockford's climate contains four clearly defined seasons. Summers are usually warm with the average high temperature in July, the hottest month, being 83 °F (28 °C). The winter months can bring bitterly cold air masses from Canada. The average high temperature in January, the coldest month, is 27 °F (−3 °C). June is Rockford's wettest month while February is the driest. During a typical year, Rockford receives 36.63 in (930 mm) of precipitation.

Rockford and surrounding areas are prone to violent thunderstorms during the months of March, April, May, and June. On April 21, 1967, the neighboring town of Belvidere was struck by a violent F4 tornado, in which twenty-four people were killed and hundreds more injured at Belvidere's High School. Other severe weather events, such as hail and strong winds are common in these storms. On July 5, 2003 at 04:03, microbursts caused major damage on both the east and west sides of Rockford. Approximately 70,000 people were without power, with many on the west side suffering in the heat without electricity for a week. It took months for the damage to be completely cleared, but because the storm struck so early in the morning there were no injuries or fatalities. However, these sometimes violent storms bring the majority of summer rainfall.

The city is also prone to severe snowstorms in winter, and blizzards are frequent winter occurrences. On January 13, 1979 over 9 inches (23 cm) of snow fell on Rockford in just a few hours during one of the strongest blizzards in the city's history. The city averages approximately 38 inches (97 cm) of snowfall in a normal winter, but greater amounts are common. The snowiest winter in the history of the city was the winter of 1978–1979, when 75 inches (191 cm) of snow fell.

The record high temperature is 112 °F (44 °C), set on July 14, 1936 during the Dust Bowl,[28] and the record low temperature is −27 °F (−33 °C), set on January 10, 1982,[29] though a low of −25 °F (−32 °C) has occurred as recently as January 16, 2009.

Climate data for Rockford, Illinois (Chicago Rockford International Airport), 1981−2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 63
(17)
70
(21)
85
(29)
93
(34)
106
(41)
106
(41)
112
(44)
104
(40)
103
(39)
91
(33)
81
(27)
69
(21)
112
(44)
Average high °F (°C) 29.5
(−1.4)
34.2
(1.2)
46.9
(8.3)
60.7
(15.9)
71.8
(22.1)
81.1
(27.3)
84.5
(29.2)
82.4
(28)
75.4
(24.1)
62.7
(17.1)
47.6
(8.7)
33.2
(0.7)
59.3
(15.2)
Average low °F (°C) 13.5
(−10.3)
17.7
(−7.9)
27.5
(−2.5)
38.1
(3.4)
48.4
(9.1)
58.5
(14.7)
63.0
(17.2)
61.3
(16.3)
52.4
(11.3)
40.7
(4.8)
30.3
(−0.9)
17.7
(−7.9)
39.2
(4)
Record low °F (°C) −27
(−33)
−25
(−32)
−11
(−24)
5
(−15)
24
(−4)
35
(2)
43
(6)
35
(2)
24
(−4)
7
(−14)
−10
(−23)
−24
(−31)
−27
(−33)
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.37
(34.8)
1.41
(35.8)
2.31
(58.7)
3.35
(85.1)
4.01
(101.9)
4.65
(118.1)
3.94
(100.1)
4.59
(116.6)
3.35
(85.1)
2.66
(67.6)
2.58
(65.5)
1.98
(50.3)
36.21
(919.7)
Snowfall inches (cm) 10.6
(26.9)
8.0
(20.3)
4.6
(11.7)
0.8
(2)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.6
(4.1)
10.4
(26.4)
36.1
(91.7)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.4 8.3 10.5 11.3 12.2 10.4 9.4 9.7 8.3 9.4 10.2 10.2 119.3
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.2 6.0 4.0 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 1.8 7.2 28.3
Source #1: NOAA (extremes 1893–present)[30]
Source #2: The Weather Channel (records),[31]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 6,979
1870 11,049 58.3%
1880 13,120 18.7%
1890 23,584 79.8%
1900 31,051 31.7%
1910 45,401 46.2%
1920 64,651 42.4%
1930 85,864 32.8%
1940 84,637 −1.4%
1950 92,927 9.8%
1960 126,706 36.4%
1970 147,370 16.3%
1980 139,712 −5.2%
1990 139,426 −0.2%
2000 150,115 7.7%
2010 152,871 1.8%
Est. 2013 150,251 −1.7%
Census Quickfacts [32]

As of the 2010 census,[33] there were 152,871 people and 66,700 households. Rockford is in the center of its namesake metropolitan area. The racial makeup of the city was 65.1% White (58.4% Non-Hispanic white), 20.5% African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.9% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 7.5% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.8% of the population.[34]

The median income for a household in the city was $55,667, and the median income for a family was $65,465. Males had a median income of $37,098 versus $25,421 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,781. 14.0% of the population and 10.5% of families were below the poverty line. 19.6% of those under the age of 18 and 8.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

In the late 1950s, Rockford surpassed Peoria as Illinois' second largest city, holding onto that position for nearly half a century before being overtaken by Aurora after a special census held there in 2003. Note that Rockford was not recounted at the same time so this is not necessarily a direct population comparison.

Religion[edit]

St Anthony of Padua Church in Rockford, IL

As is with many other Rust Belt and midwestern cities, Catholics make up Rockford's largest religious group. According to 2010 figures, 20% of Winnebago County residents are Catholic, 19% are Evangelical, 10% are Mainline Protestant and 48% are religiously unaffiliated.[35] Rockford's religious community is served by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockford, several large evangelical and non-denominational churches, and several Lutheran and other Mainline Protestant congregations. Rockford's Jewish community is served by two synagogues, and its Buddhist community is served by two houses of worship as well.[36][37]

Law and government[edit]

Rockford City Hall in the East Rockford Historic District

Rockford is the county seat of Winnebago County. In a fashion similar to other cities its size (or larger), local government is split into executive and legislative branches. The mayor of Rockford is chosen in a general election every four years. The Rockford City Council consists of 14 aldermen, individually elected from each ward in the city.

Rockford
Crime rates (2007)
Crime type Rate*
Homicide: 12.9
Forcible rape: 68.3
Robbery: 405.4
Aggravated assault: 689.7
Total Violent crime: 1,176.3
Burglary: 1,520.6
Larceny-theft: 3,781.8
Motor vehicle theft: 404.8
Arson: 54.1
Total Property crime: 5,761.3
Notes
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.

Source: 2007 FBI UCR Data

Rockford City Council[edit]

Rockford is divided into fourteen wards which elect one alderman each. The City Council, as of May 2013, consists of:[38]

  • 1st Ward
    • Tim Durkee (R)
  • 2nd Ward
    • Jamie Getchius (R)
  • 3rd Ward
    • Tom McNamara (D)
  • 4th Ward
    • Kevin Frost (R)
  • 5th Ward
    • Venita Hervey (D)
  • 6th Ward
    • Vernon Hilton (D)
  • 7th Ward
    • Ann Thompson-Kelly (D)
  • 8th Ward
    • Jeanne Oddo (D)
  • 9th Ward
    • Teena Newburg (I)
  • 10th Ward
    • Frank Beach (R)
  • 11th Ward
    • Karen Elyea (D)
  • 12th Ward
    • John Beck (R)
  • 13th Ward
    • Linda McNeely (D)
  • 14th Ward
    • Joseph Chiarelli (R)

Economy[edit]

Largest employers[edit]

According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[39] the largest employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Rockford Public School District 4,800
2 Chrysler (Belvidere Assembly Plant) 4,700
3 Swedish American Hospital 2,600
4 Rockford Health System 2,500
5 UTC Aerospace Systems 2,200
6 OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center 2,000
7 United Parcel Service 2,000
8 County of Winnebago 1,602
9 Woodward 1,200
10 City of Rockford 1,135

Transportation[edit]

Roads and highways[edit]

Rockford is linked by highway to Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Madison, Wisconsin; and Dubuque, Iowa. In recent decades, the city's location has worked to its advantage in attracting jobs in the logistics and transportation industries. Public transportation in the city is provided by the Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD); however, public transit infrastructure in Rockford is not at the level of comparably sized communities.

Interstate 90 I-90.svg

Completed in 1958, the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (known as the Northwest Tollway until September 2007) links the Rockford area both to Madison, Wisconsin and the northwest Chicago suburbs. From Rockford north, I-90 replaced U.S. Route 51 in Illinois. I-90 also links the city with Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as I-43 joins it 2 miles north of the state line. The tollway was partially responsible in the city's rapid growth eastward from the 1960s to the late 1990s.

U.S. Route 20 US 20.svg

U.S. Route 20 goes through Rockford twice. The original highway is now an east-west business route (State Street) that divides the city to the north and south. From the 1970s to the late 1990s, the area was core to commercial development in the city. Rockford also marks the point where U.S. 20 and Interstate 90 no longer parallel each other.

In 1965, a US 20 bypass around the southern end of the city was completed, joining the Northwest Tollway near Cherry Valley. The bypass (known as "Bypass 20") joins State Street west of the city near the village of Winnebago, Illinois. East of Interstate 90, U.S. 20 is a 4-lane divided highway parallelling I-90. From the west, U.S. 20 provides a link to Freeport, Galena, and Dubuque, Iowa. However, much of the highway west of Freeport is a winding two-lane road that discourages truck traffic.

Interstate 39 I-39.svg and U.S. Route 51 US 51.svg

Built in stages between the late 1970s to its completion in 1992, Interstate 39 served as a replacement for U.S. 51 south of the city. Starting from the U.S. 20 bypass, the highway directly links Rockford to Bloomington and Normal, Illinois. Its construction allowed better access to Chicago from the south via Interstate 80 and Interstate 88, also allowing for a bypass around the city of Chicago to Wisconsin. U.S. Route 51 overlaps Interstate 39 throughout the Rockford area.

Other roads/highways
  • Illinois 2.svg Illinois Route 2 (South/North Main Street)
  • Illinois 70.svg Illinois Route 70 (Kilburn Avenue)
  • Illinois 251.svg Illinois Route 251 (North Second Street, Kishwaukee Street, Harrison Avenue, 11th Street)
  • Raoul Wallenberg Expressway (proposed, never built)
  • The Veterans Memorial Beltway consists of four-lane surface roads that create a continuous outer loop around the city. The roads that make up the beltway include Perryville Road, Harrison Avenue, Springfield Avenue, and Riverside Boulevard.

Air[edit]

Main Terminal at Chicago-Rockford Int'l Airport

In 1946, after Camp Grant was permanently closed, the Greater Rockford Airport was built on the western portion of the property. Rockford's airport is the Chicago Rockford International Airport (formerly Greater Rockford Airport). Built on the western end of the former Camp Grant U.S. Army training camp, it is located in the southern end of the city. The Greater Rockford Airport was opened in 1946; the current passenger terminal was completed in 1987. The airport is currently home to United Parcel Service's second largest air hub. It is presently ranked as the twenty-second largest cargo airport in the nation when measured by landed weight.[40] Passenger service is currently offered by Allegiant Air along with several other charter operations. The airport markets itself as an alternative to Chicago airports for leisure travelers, particularly emphasizing its free long-term parking.

Machesney Airport, located north of the city, was opened in 1927 as a private airport serving the Rockford area. During World War II, the airport was utilized by the Army Air Corps. After the war, it again served as municipal airport, closing in 1974. After its closure, the Machesney Airport became the site of the Machesney Park Mall, built in 1980.

Rail[edit]

Passenger

Currently (as of July 2012), the Rockford region is not served by passenger rail service. From 1974 to 1981, Amtrak provided service to the city via the Black Hawk route, linking Rockford with Dubuque, Iowa and Union Station in Chicago. In September 1981, the Black Hawk was discontinued as part of Amtrak funding cuts.

During the 2000s, interest increased in relinking the Rockford and Chicago regions together by rail. In 2006, the Northern Illinois Commuter Transportation Initiative proposed extending Metra train service from the western Chicago suburbs to Rockford.[41] Although Metra service has not been brought to the city, Amtrak is in the process of being returned. In late 2010, after several years of study, Amtrak made a decision to revive the Black Hawk route; along with the construction of an all-new train station. Initial service is expected to begin in late 2014 over Canadian National rails.[42]

Freight

Rockford is served by several different freight railroad lines, the Union Pacific, the Canadian National, the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern (Canadian Pacific), and the Illinois Railway. The Union Pacific line from West Chicago terminates in Rockford, at a small yard. Canadian National line from Elgin enters from the South-East, and leaves in the North-West. They have a small yard, where they interchange with the Illinois Railway. The Illinois Railway Rockford Line comes from the South, joins the Canadian National line, where they continue on trackage rights to the Canadian National yard. Canadian Pacific (Iowa, Chicago, and Eastern) runs on Illinois Railway trackage rights from Davis Junction, and leaves on their own trackage to the North. All of the railroads interchange at a yard off of Main Street. The Union Pacific Railroad’s Global III Intermodal Facility is located approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of Rockford in Rochelle, Illinois, a community of 10,000. The complex is one of the largest intermodal facilities in the world.[citation needed] Construction on the state-of-the-art facility was completed in 2003 in Rochelle due to the close proximity to four interstate highways (I-39, I-88, I-80, and I-90) and rail routes.

Education[edit]

Post-secondary[edit]

Although Rockford is located in a large metropolitan area, the region does not feature any locally based public 4-year universities; the closest such institution is Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, 45 miles (72 km) away. Along with Rockford University (a private 4-year school of just under 2000 students), the city is the home to Rock Valley College (a 10,000-student community college), Rockford Business College (re-branded as Rockford Career College in 2009), and St. Anthony College of Nursing.

In addition, it hosts several satellite branches of other schools, including Judson University (based in Elgin), Northern Illinois University (based in DeKalb), Rasmussen College[1], Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University as a part of their "Worldwide campus",[43] and the University of Illinois College of Medicine (based in Chicago).

Rockford University is best known for graduating Jane Addams, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for her efforts to promote international peace and justice. Laura Jane Addams (1860–1935) entered what was then Rockford Female Seminary in 1877 and became the first graduate to receive a B.A. degree from the newly accredited baccalaureate institution in 1882 (the school was renamed Rockford College in 1892, and Rockford University in 2013).

Rock Valley College is a community college with several locations in the Rockford area. The main campus is the site of the Bengt Sjostrom Theatre. The former outdoor theatre now features a motorized retractable roof constructed during 2003.

Public School District 205[edit]

Serving Rockford, Cherry Valley, and portions of Winnebago and Booone counties, Rockford Public School District 205 covers an area of roughly 170 square miles (440 km2). With an enrollment of approximately 27,000 students, it is the fourth-largest school district in the state (by enrollment). District 205 consists of four high schools (Auburn, East, Guilford, and Jefferson), six middle schools, and 29 elementary schools; the district also operates a variety of early-childhood and alternative education centers.

Private schools[edit]

In addition to its public school system, Rockford supports 27 sectarian and nonsectarian private schools ranging from elementary to secondary education.

Culture and tourism[edit]

The Coronado Theatre marquee in its Art Deco styling over Main Street.

The attractions of Rockford are often of architectural significance. The Lake-Peterson House, constructed by alderman John Lake in 1873 and preserved by Swedish industrialist Pehr August Peterson, is a notable example of Gothic Revival. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, it is contemporarily used for the School of Medical Technology of the Rockford-based Swedish American Hospital.[44] Further Swedish influence on Rockford during the Victorian era is represented in the Erlander Home Museum, the base of the Swedish Historical Society. Swiss influence can be seen in the Tinker Swiss Cottage, which was opened as a museum under the park district in 1943 and was featured in an episode of Ghost Hunters in 2012.[45][46]

Modern architectural movements, like Art Deco and Prairie School, are also integral to Rockford. Most renowned is the Coronado Theatre, a civic and entertainment center that was named one of 150 Great Places in Illinois by the American Institute of Architects. The theatre is known for its blend of Art Deco with Spanish Baroque Revival and has hosted numerous performers over its lifetime, including the Marx Brothers, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Dylan.[47][48] The 186-foot tall Faust Hotel complements the Coronado; constructed in 1929, it endures as Rockford's tallest building, albeit as apartments for the elderly and disabled. The Laurent House, a single-story Usonian home constructed in 1952 by Frank Lloyd Wright, is the only Wright building designed for a disabled person. Acquired by a private foundation from its commissioners, it was renovated into a museum in 2014.[49]

A tea house within Anderson Japanese Gardens.

The area is often regarded as an outdoor destination. Rock Cut State Park is located to the northeast of the city. Once home to various Scots, Canadians, and New Englanders, as well as a railroad line to Kenosha, the park's 3,092 acres are now utilized for camping, hiking, fishing and boating, and hunting.[50] Anderson Japanese Gardens, modeled after the Portland Japanese Garden and landscaped by Hoichi Kurisu, is 10 acres in size and features a teahouse and guesthouse in the sukiya-zukuri style. John Anderson, the commissioner of the gardens, was presented with a commemorative silver cup by Japan for his efforts in the mutual understanding of cultures in 1992; he donated the gardens to a nonprofit organization later in 1998.[51] Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden is 155 acres in size and is noted for its selection of both indigenous and foreign plant species.[52]

The interior of the $13.5 million Nicholas Conservatory.[53]

The city's park district is particularly active. It operates Aldeen Golf Course, which was rated the best municipal golf course in Illinois by Golf Digest and one of the top fifty golf courses in the nation that cost under $50 to play by Golf Magazine.[54] In addition to Tinker Swiss Cottage, the park district maintains four other museums. The Burpee Museum of Natural History is home to the world's most complete juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, Jane, as well as a triceratops, Homer. The Discovery Center Museum, a children's museum featuring over 250 hands-on exhibits including a planetarium, is on the 12 Best Children's Museums In The U.S. list by Forbes.[55] The Burpee Museum and the Discovery Center Museum, along with the Rockford Art Museum and the bases for Northern Public Radio, the Rockford Dance Company, and the Rockford Symphony Orchestra compose the downtown Riverfront Museum Park complex. The last museum under the park district's authority is Midway Village and Museum Center, a recreation of a Victorian era village. However, it also maintains the third largest conservatory in Illinois, the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, on the city's eastern riverwalk. The conservatory is adjacent to the Symbol, a Alexander Liberman sculpture that was moved from downtown during the 1980s and is now one of Rockford's most recognizable features.[56]

Notable people[edit]

Sports teams[edit]

Current[edit]

Historical[edit]

The Rockford Peaches[edit]

Main article: Rockford Peaches

During the early-to-late 1940s the Rockford Peaches (of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) were one of the first all-female baseball teams in the world. They played their home games at Beyer Stadium which was razed in the 1990s. A placard displays where the stadium once stood, along with additional historical information. Although the 1992 motion picture A League of Their Own features the Rockford Peaches, all of the characters playing on the team were fictional, and the team did not participate in the league championship series in 1943 as depicted in the film. The Peaches won the league championship in 1945, 1948, 1949, and 1950.

Surrounding communities and suburbs[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Media[edit]

Print media[edit]

Television[edit]

Rockford is one of a few markets in the United States with no PBS station of its own. PBS in the Rockford area is available on cable through WTTW in Chicago, and Wisconsin Public Television affiliate WHA-TV in Madison.

Radio[edit]

Although this is a list of radio stations based in the Rockford area, the signals of radio stations from both the Chicago area and southern Wisconsin also are commonly received in the city.

AM Radio stations
  • WNTA 1330, Spanish-language News/Talk
  • WROK 1440, News/Talk Radio
  • WLUV 1520, Classic Country
  • WTJK 1380, ESPN Radio
FM Radio stations
  • WFEN 88.3, Christian Radio
  • WNIJ 89.5, NPR (operated by Northern Illinois University)
  • WNIU 90.5, NPR Classical Radio (see WNIJ)
  • WGSL 91.1, Christian Radio
  • WRTB 95.3, Country Radio
  • WKGL-FM 96.7, Classic Rock Radio
  • WZOK 97.5, Top 40 Radio
  • WXXQ 98.5, Country Radio
  • W263BJ 100.5, Classic Hits Radio
  • WQFL 100.9, Christian Radio
  • WGFB 103.1, Adult Contemporary Radio
  • WXRX 104.9, Active Rock Radio
  • WYRB 106.3, Hip Hop/Rhythmic Contemporary
  • WLEY 107.9, Mexican Regional, Aurora

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Table 1: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places Over 100,000, Ranked by July 1, 2008 Population: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008" (CSV). 2008 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. July 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  2. ^ Bridget, French. "All About Rockford, Illinois". Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ Lundin, Jon W. "Rockford, An Illustrated History, Windsor Publications 1989 p. 8
  4. ^ "Kegel Harley-Davidson; Worlds Oldest Dealer". 
  5. ^ Krefft, Bryan. "Coronado Performing Arts Center". Cinema Treasures. Cinema Treasures. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ Warner, W. Lloyd (September 12, 1949). "A sociologist looks at a American community". Life Magazine (Life Magazine). pp. 108–119. 
  7. ^ Lundin, Jon W. "Rockford, An Illustrated History, Windsor Publications 1989 p. 12
  8. ^ Kolkey, Jeff (December 11, 2008). "Goodbye, pedestrian mall: Downtown gets a ‘cool, hip image’". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  9. ^ Schwitters, Kevin. "Historical Facts About Symbol". Symbol—The Official Rockford Sculpture. Kevin Schwitters. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon (April 10, 2014). "Amtrak rail service between Chicago and Rockford to begin in 2015". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ "About Coronado Performing Arts Center". Coronado Performing Arts Center. Coronado PAC. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  12. ^ Curry, Corina (February 24, 2009). "People Who Care: It all began 20 years ago". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  13. ^ Gary, Alex (August 23, 2012). "Woodward picks Loves Park for $200M expansion". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  14. ^ Karp, Gregory (January 9, 2014). "Illinois had shot to land 777X plant". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ Westphal, Melissa (October 9, 2013). "New SwedishAmerican cancer center opens next week in Rockford". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ "About Coronado Performing Arts Center". Coronado Performing Arts Center. Coronado PAC. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  17. ^ Kolkey, Jeff (December 11, 2008). "Goodbye, pedestrian mall: Downtown gets a ‘cool, hip image’". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  18. ^ Wiser, Mike (July 11, 2008). "MetroCentre revamp project winding down, revenue going up". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  19. ^ Kolkey, Jeff (August 11, 2011). "Rockford MetroCentre has new name: BMO Harris Bank Center". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  20. ^ Curry, Corina (July 20, 2012). "Rockford's new riverwalk opens". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  21. ^ Curry, Corina (October 29, 2011). "Rockford's new federal courthouse dedicated". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  22. ^ Hilkevitch, Jon (April 10, 2014). "Amtrak rail service between Chicago and Rockford to begin in 2015". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  23. ^ Kolkey, Jeff (October 9, 2009). "Keith Creek home demolition to start soon". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  24. ^ Green, Chris (December 13, 2013). "An empowered Rockford neighborhood celebrates accomplishments". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 28, 2014. 
  25. ^ Dougherty, Conor (September 8, 2013). "Welcome to Rockford, Ill, the Underwater Mortgage Capital of America". The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Economy at a Glance". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Bureau of Labor Statistics. June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  27. ^ "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  28. ^ "July Daily Averages for Rockford, IL". The Weather Channel. 2012-02-27. 
  29. ^ "January Daily Averages for Rockford, IL". The Weather Channel. 2012-02-27. 
  30. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  31. ^ "Monthly Averages for Rockford, IL". The Weather Channel. 
  32. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". U.S. Census Bureau. 2013-02-20. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  33. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  34. ^ "Race, Hispanic or Latino, Age, and Housing Occupancy: 2010". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  35. ^ "The Association of Religious Data Archives". www.thearda.com. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  36. ^ "Community Directory". Jewish Federation of Greater Rockford. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  37. ^ Vela, Susan. "Rock River Valley's Laotians Celebrate New Year". RRstar.com. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved 6/29/14. 
  38. ^ "Wards and Aldermen". The City of Rockford. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  39. ^ City of Rockford CAFR
  40. ^ Fly RFD, Chicago Rockford International Airport
  41. ^ Bona, Thomas V (April 30, 2008). "All aboard? Commuter rail could take 3 to 5 years". Rockford Register Star. Retrieved 2008-04-30. [dead link]
  42. ^ "Amtrak Black Hawk". Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Embry-Riddle Worldwide". Worldwide.erau.edu. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  44. ^ "Lake-Peterson House". Waymarking. Groundspeak, Inc. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Erlander Museum". Swedish Historical Society of Rockford, IL. Swedish Historical Society of Rockford, IL. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  46. ^ Curry, Corina (October 10, 2012). "'Ghost Hunters' episode filmed in Rockford at Tinker Swiss Cottage". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Coronado Theatre". American Institute of Architects. American Institute of Architects. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  48. ^ "Coronado Theatre, Rockford, IL". Lares Associates. Lares Associates. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  49. ^ Massie, Caroline (May 9, 2014). "A Grand Opening for a "Little Gem"". Architect Magazine. Architect Magazine. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  50. ^ "Rock Cut State Park". Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  51. ^ Manzullo, Don. "Anderson's Japanese Gardens". Local Legacies. Library of Congress. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  52. ^ "Mission and History". Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  53. ^ Haas, Kevin (October 28, 2011). "Nicholas Conservatory to make public debut". Rockford Register Star. Rockford Register Star. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  54. ^ "About Aldeen Golf Club". Aldeen Golf Club. Rockford Public Schools. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  55. ^ Olmsted, Larry (January 30, 2012). "12 Best Children's Museums In The U.S.". Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  56. ^ "Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens". Rockford Park District. Rockford Park District. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  57. ^ RiverHawks headed to Northern League
  58. ^ "Rockford Rage home page". Rockford Rage. 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
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Further reading[edit]

  • Sutrina, Katie. "The ‘Rosies’ of Rockford: Working Women in Two Rockford Companies in the Depression and World War II Eras," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, 102 (Fall–Winter 2009), 402–28.

External links[edit]