Davenport, Iowa facts for kids

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Davenport, Iowa
City
Top row: Village of East Davenport, Figge Art Museum; Second row: Downtown Davenport, Third row: Fountain in Vander Veer Botanical Park, baseball in Modern Woodmen Park; Bottom row: Davenport Skybridge
Top row: Village of East Davenport, Figge Art Museum; Second row: Downtown Davenport, Third row: Fountain in Vander Veer Botanical Park, baseball in Modern Woodmen Park; Bottom row: Davenport Skybridge
Nickname(s): Iowa's Front Porch
Motto: Working together to serve you
Located on the center south border of a county that is on southern side of the hump on the eastern border of Iowa.
Location of Davenport in Scott County (left) and location of Scott County in the State of Iowa
Country United States
State Iowa
County Scott
Settled May 14, 1836
Incorporated January 25, 1839
Area
 • City 65.08 sq mi (168.56 km2)
 • Land 62.95 sq mi (163.04 km2)
 • Water 2.13 sq mi (5.52 km2)
Elevation 580 ft (180 m)
Population (2010)
 • City 99,685
 • Estimate (2015) 104,589 (US: 294th)
 • Rank 3rd in Iowa
 • Density 1,583.6/sq mi (611.4/km2)
 • Metro

382,630 (135th)

474,226 (90th)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 52801–52809
Area code(s) 563
FIPS code 19-19000
Interstates I-74, I-80
Waterways Mississippi River
Interstate Spurs I-280
Website www.cityofdavenportiowa.com

Davenport is the county seat of Scott County in Iowa and is the largest of the Quad Cities, a metropolitan area with a population estimate of 382,630 and a CSA population of 474,226, making it the 90th largest CSA in the nation. Davenport was founded on May 14, 1836 by Antoine Le Claire and was named for his friend, George Davenport, a colonel during the Black Hawk War stationed at nearby Fort Armstrong. According to the 2010 census, the city had a population of 99,685 (making it Iowa's third-largest city). However, the city is currently appealing this figure, arguing that the Census Bureau missed a section of residents that would place the total population over 100,000, and indeed, even the Census Bureau's own estimate for Davenport's 2011 population is 100,802.

Located approximately halfway between Chicago and Des Moines, Davenport is on the border of Iowa and Illinois. The city is prone to frequent flooding due to its location on the Mississippi River. There are two main universities: Saint Ambrose University and Palmer College of Chiropractic, which is where the first chiropractic adjustment took place. Several annual music festivals take place in Davenport, including the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, The Mississippi Valley Fair, and the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. An internationally known 7-mile (11 km) foot race called the Bix 7 is run during the festival. The city has a Class A minor league baseball team, the Quad Cities River Bandits. Davenport has 50 plus parks and facilities, as well as over 20 miles (32 km) of recreational paths for biking or walking.

Four interstates and two major United States Highways serve the city. Davenport has seen steady population growth since its incorporation, with an exception being the 1980s, when the population decreased due to job loss. The Quad Cities was ranked as the most affordable metropolitan area in 2010 by Forbes. In 2007, Davenport, along with neighboring Rock Island, won the City Livability Award in the small-city category from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In 2012, Davenport as well as the Quad Cities Metropolitan Area was ranked among the fastest-growing areas in the nation in the growth of high-tech jobs. Notable natives of the city have included jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Susan Glaspell, former National Football League running back Roger Craig, and former WWE World Heavyweight Championship holder Seth Rollins.

The current mayor of Davenport is Frank Klipsch.

History

Antoine LeClaire
Antoine Le Claire was the primary founder of Davenport

The land was originally owned by the Sauk people, Meskwaki (Fox), and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) – indigenous peoples of the Americas. In 1803 France sold it to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase. Lieutenant Zebulon Pike was the first United States representative to officially visit the Upper Mississippi River area. On August 27, 1805, Pike camped on the present day site of Davenport.

In 1832, a group of Sauk, Meskwaki, and Kickapoo people were defeated by the United States in the Black Hawk War. The United States government then concluded the Black Hawk Purchase, sometimes called the Forty-Mile Strip or Scott's Purchase, by which the US acquired lands in what is now eastern Iowa. The purchase was made for $640,000 on September 21, 1832 and contained an area of some 6 million acres (24,000 km²), at a price equivalent to 11 cents/acre (26 $/km²). Although named after the defeated chief Black Hawk, he was being held prisoner at the time. The purchase was therefore agreed to by Sauk chief Keokuk, who had remained neutral in the war. It was made on the site of present-day Davenport. Army General Winfield Scott and Governor of Illinois, John Reynolds, acted on behalf of the United States, with the future Davenport founder, half-Native, Antoine Le Claire serving as translator.

Chief Keokuk gave a generous portion of land to Antoine Le Claire's wife, Marguerite, who was a granddaughter of a Sauk chief. Antoine built their home on the exact spot where the agreement was signed, as stipulated by Keokuk or he would have forfeited the land. Antoine did so, finishing the 'Treaty House' in the spring of 1833. Davenport was established on May 14, 1836 by Le Claire, and named after his friend Colonel George Davenport, who was stationed at Fort Armstrong during the war. The city was incorporated on January 25, 1839. The area was successively governed by the legislatures of the Michigan Territory, the Wisconsin Territory, Iowa Territory and finally Iowa.

Scott County was formed by an act of the Wisconsin Territorial legislature in 1837. Davenport and neighbor Rockingham both campaigned to become the county seat. The city with the most votes from Scott County citizens in the February 1838 election would become the county seat. On the eve of the election, Davenport citizens acquired the temporary service of Dubuque laborers so they could vote in the election. Davenport won the election with the help of the laborers. Rockingham supporters protested the elections to the territorial governor, on the grounds the laborers from Dubuque were not Scott County residents. The governor refused to certify the results of the election. A second election was held the following August. To avoid another import of voters, the governor set a 60-day residency requirement for all voters. Davenport was again the victor by only two votes. Because the margin of victory was so close a third election in the summer of 1840 was held. As the August election drew nearer, Rockingham residents grew tired of the county seat cause, and the efforts of Davenporters were difficult to challenge. Davenport easily won the third election. Consequently, to ensure that the county seat issue would not be played out again, Davenport built the first county courthouse.

Rock Island Railroad built the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River in 1856. It connected Davenport to Rock Island, Illinois. This railway connection caused transportation and commerce with Chicago to significantly improve. The addition of new railroad lines to Muscatine and Iowa City, and the acquiring of other lines by the Rock Island Railroad, caused Davenport to become a commercial railroad hub.

BridgeDavenportIAAerialView1800s
Aerial view of early Davenport c. 1800s (decade)

Steamboat companies saw nationwide railroads as a threat to their business and on May 6, 1856, just weeks after the bridge was completed, a steamboat captain deliberately crashed the Effie Afton into the bridge. The owner of the Effie Afton, John Hurd, filed a lawsuit against the Rock Island Railroad Company. Abraham Lincoln was the lead defense lawyer for the railroad company. The decision of the United States Supreme Court upheld the right to bridge navigable streams, therefore the bridge was allowed to remain.

Davenport Claim House
The Claim House was constructed by George L. Davenport, son of Colonel George Davenport, in 1832 or 1833 and is believed to be the oldest structure in the city.

Prior to the start of the Civil War, Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood declared Davenport to be Iowa's first military headquarters and five camps were set up in the city to aid the Union.

The Davenport City Hall was built in 1895 for the meager price of $100,000 ($2.55 million in 2019 dollars). Architectural journals of the time poked fun at the project due to the small amount of money budgeted. The skyline began forming in the 1920s with the building of the Kahl Building, the Parker Building, and the Capitol Theatre during an economic and building expansion.

Davenport Barber 1865p517 crop
Picture of Davenport in 1865; on the right is the Steamboat Iowa, which appears in the Seal of Iowa.

By 1932 thousands of Davenport residents were on public relief due to the Great Depression. A shantytown grew in the west end of the city along the Mississippi River. Sickness, hunger, and unsanitary living conditions plagued the area. The situation would soon change, as many citizens went to work for the Works Progress Administration and Davenport experienced a boom after World War II. As Davenport grew, it absorbed smaller surrounding communities, annexing Rockingham, Nahant, Probstei, East Davenport, Oakdale, Cawiezeel, Blackhawk, Mt. Joy, Green Tree, and others. Oscar Mayer, Ralston Purina, and other companies built plants in west Davenport. The Interstate highway network was brought to Davenport in 1956. By 1959 more than 1,000 homes a year were being constructed. By the late 1970s the good times were over for both downtown and local businesses and industries. The farm crisis of the 1980s negatively affected Davenport and the rest of the Quad Cities, 35,000 workers lost their jobs throughout the entire Quad Cities area. The Caterpillar plant on the city's north side closed, causing the loss of employment for many residents. The 1990s showed the beginnings of a resurgence for the city. In recent years, many renovations and building additions have occurred to revitalize the downtown area, including repairing Modern Woodmen Park, the building of the Skybridge and the Figge Art Museum. In 2011, the Gold Coast and Hamburg Historic District was named as a 2011 America's Great Place by the American Planning Association.

Geography

Map of Davenport Iowa
Map of Davenport (yellow).
Davenport IowalJS
Lithograph of Davenport from a letter-head dating to 1868

Davenport's longitude and latitude coordinates in decimal form are 41.542982, −90.590745. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 65.08 square miles (168.56 km2), of which, 62.95 square miles (163.04 km2) is land and 2.13 square miles (5.52 km2) is water. Davenport is located approximately 170 miles (270 km) west of Chicago and 170 miles (270 km) east of the Iowa state capital of Des Moines. The city is located about 200 miles (320 km) north of St. Louis, Missouri, and 265 miles (426 km) southeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Farmland surrounds Davenport, outside the Quad Cities area.

Davenport is located on the banks of the Mississippi River. At this point the river has a maximum depth of around 30 to 40 feet (9.1 to 12.2 m) and is 2,217 feet (676 m) wide where the Centennial Bridge crosses it. The river flows from east to west along Davenport's banks, as opposed to its usual north to south direction. From the river the city starts to slope north up a hill, which is steep at some points. The streets of the city, especially downtown and in the central part of the town, follow a grid design. Davenport often makes national headlines when the Mississippi River floods. It is the largest city bordering the Mississippi that has no permanent flood wall or levee. Davenport prefers the open access to the river for parks and vistas over having access cut off by dikes and levees. Davenport has adopted ordinances that any new construction in the floodplain must be elevated above the 100-year-flood level or protected with walls. As a result, former mayor Phil Yerington publicly expressed the view that if they "let Mother Nature take her course, we'll all be better off". An example of a building that is elevated or flood-proofed in Davenport is the Figge Art Museum.

Climate

April 30, 2008 flood in Davenport, Iowa
Flooding on April 30, 2008. The red line (at the top right) indicates where the Mississippi River should be. The picture was taken from the Skybridge.

Under the Köppen climate classification, Davenport is considered to have a humid continental climate (Dfa). Summers are very warm to hot with high levels of humidity. Winters have cold temperatures and often high winds, with snow likely from November through February. Average snowfall in Davenport is 30.7 inches (780 mm) per year. January is on average the coldest month, while July is the warmest. The highest temperature recorded in Davenport was 103 °F (39 °C) on July 18, 2006. The lowest temperature, −22 °F (−30 °C), was recorded on February 2 and February 3, 1996. Substantial weather changes frequently occur at three- to four-day intervals as a result of mid-latitude storm tracks, which is where low and high pressure extratropical disturbances occur.

Although several minor tornadoes have occurred, no devastating tornado has ever touched down in Davenport. Flooding, however, is often a problem in Davenport due to the lack of a flood wall. During the Great Flood of 1993, the water crested at 22.63 feet (6.90 m) on July 9. This is nearly 8 feet (2.4 m) above the 14.9-foot (4.5 m) flood stage. Major flooding in Davenport causes many problems. Roads in and around the downtown area, including U.S. Route 67, are closed and cause increased traffic on other city roads. The effects of major flooding can be long-lasting. For example, during the 2008 flooding, Credit Island in the city's southwest corner remained closed for 5½ months while crews worked on cleaning up damage and removing river debris. Duck Creek, a stream situated in Bettendorf and Davenport, is also vulnerable to flash flooding. Severe thunderstorms on June 16, 1990, created heavy flash flooding in Bettendorf and Davenport that killed four people. Another major flood happened on June 12, 2008, when severe thunderstorms caused Duck Creek to overflow its banks and flood properties and nearby streets (see Iowa flood of 2008).


Neighborhoods

Map of Davenport, Iowa Neighborhoods
Map highlighting the historic neighborhoods
Village of East Davenport
One of Davenport's oldest neighborhoods, the Village of East Davenport, is full of small specialty shops.

Davenport has several neighborhoods dating back to the 1840s. The original city plot was around current day Ripley and 5th Streets, where Antoine Le Claire had built his house. The city can be divided into five areas: downtown, central, east end, near north and northwest, and west end. Many architectural designs are found throughout the city including Victorian, Queen Anne, Tudor Revival, and others. Many of the original neighborhoods were inhabited by German settlers.

The east side of the city dates back to 1850 and has always contained higher end housing. The proximity and commanding view of the river kept these neighborhoods a fashionable address long after the original families departed. Lindsay Park, in The Village of East Davenport, was used as parade grounds for Civil War soldiers from Camp McClellan.

In contrast to the east side, the central and west neighborhoods originally contained many of the working class Germans who settled the town. Development on the west side started in the 1850s with extensive construction occurring in the 1870s. Housing was mostly one and a half to two story front gable American Foursquare and simplified Queen Anne style. The central Hamburg neighborhood contains the most architecturally significant residences in the old German neighborhoods. Also in central Davenport, the Vander Veer Park Historic District is a neighborhood anchored by Vander Veer Park, a large park with a botanical garden and a fountain. The park was modeled after New York City's Central Park and originally shared its name. Vander Veer is surrounded by large Queen Anne and Tudor Revival style houses that were built between 1895 and 1915. Development of the Vander Veer Park was one of the first major beautification efforts.

Today the eastern side of Davenport still contains many of the higher class houses in the city. The old Civil War parade grounds, in The Village of East Davenport ("The Village" for short), have been turned into Lindsay Park, which is surrounded by small specialty shops. West of The Village, Downtown contains the two tallest buildings in the Quad Cities: the Wells Fargo Bank Building, which is 255 feet tall, and the Mid-American Energy Building, which is 220 feet tall. Other tall buildings include the 11-story Hotel Blackhawk, the 150 foot Kahl Building and the Davenport City Hall.

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 1,848
1860 11,267 509.7%
1870 20,038 77.8%
1880 21,831 8.9%
1890 26,872 23.1%
1900 35,254 31.2%
1910 43,028 22.1%
1920 56,727 31.8%
1930 60,751 7.1%
1940 66,039 8.7%
1950 74,549 12.9%
1960 88,981 19.4%
1970 98,469 10.7%
1980 103,264 4.9%
1990 95,333 −7.7%
2000 98,359 3.2%
2010 99,685 1.3%
Est. 2015 104,589 6.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

According to the 2010 United States Census estimate, the city population grew to 99,685 and the Quad Cities metropolitan area grew to 379,690. As of the 2000 census, there were 98,359 people, 39,124 households, and 24,804 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,566.5 people per square mile (604.8/km²). There were 41,350 housing units at an average density of 658.5 per square mile (254.3/km²). Davenport's population density is 30 times the average density of Iowa and 20 times the average density of the United States. However, it is about a third less than Des Moines and 20 percent less than Cedar Rapids, the only two cities in Iowa with higher populations than Davenport. Sioux City, the next city smaller than Davenport in population, has a density of 5 people more per square mile.

The racial makeup of the city was 83.7% White, 9.2% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 2.0% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.3% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. 5.4% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 39,124 households out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 13.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. Of all households, 29.5% were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.03.

The percent of all races, with the exception of white, are higher in Davenport, than Iowa averages, with the black population in Davenport four times the average of Iowa. All races in Davenport, except for white are at a higher percent than the rest of Iowa, but lower than the United States. Whites in Davenport, however, are lower than the Iowa average, but higher than the rest of the United States.

Age spread: 26.2% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 94.7 males.

Arts and culture

Landmarks

See also: Davenport Register of Historic Properties and Quad Cities Landmarks
Redstone Building
The Redstone Building was originally the longtime home of the Petersen Harned Von Maur flagship store and is now home of the River Music Experience.
Putnam Museum
The Putnam Museum.

Downtown Davenport has many points of interest including the Davenport Public Library, the Davenport Skybridge, Figge Art Museum, River Music Experience, Putnam Museum, the RiverCenter/Adler Theater, Modern Woodmen Park which is home of the Quad City River Bandits baseball team and the Centennial Bridge. The former Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Freight House, now known as The Freight House, is home to several small businesses featuring locally grown items, such as a deli, a grocery hub, and a tap room for a local brewery.

Figge Art Museum 2
The Figge Art Museum in Downtown Davenport, Iowa.

Davenport's cultural and educational institutions include the Figge Art Museum, which houses The National Center for Midwest Art and Design, and was founded in 1925 as the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery. The Putnam Museum, which was founded in 1867 and was one of the first museums west of the Mississippi River. The Quad City Symphony Orchestra, headquartered in downtown Davenport, was founded in 1915. The Davenport Public Library was opened in 1839. The German American Heritage Center is located at the foot of the Centennial Bridge.

Uptown features a few historic landmarks such as the Iowa Soldiers' Orphans' Home which took in homeless children from all of Iowa's ninety-nine counties following the Civil War and Ambrose Hall which was the original building of St. Ambrose University. Aside from landmarks, uptown contains some entertainment venues too, such as the Great Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, which hosts fairs, stock car racing, and many other events. NorthPark Mall is the city's main shopping mall and has 160 stores. Its companion, SouthPark Mall, is located in Moline. Brady Street Stadium is home to Davenport high school and Saint Ambrose University football games. Davenport has a number of parks, including Credit Island park which has a bike path, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and fishing along the Mississippi River. Vander Veer Botanical Park has a small botanical garden and also features a walking path, a lagoon, and a large fountain. The Stampe Lilac Garden is located in Duck Creek Park, on Locust St.

Additional Parks and Recreation amenities: • 50+ parks and facilities • 25+ picnic areas and shelters • 20+ miles of recreational trails • 2 dog off leash parks • Multiple natural prairies and no-mow zones • 32 playgrounds • 30 ball diamonds • 17 outdoor basketball courts • 8 tennis/pickle ball courts • 8 volleyball courts • 3 golf courses • FootGolf course (Red Hawk Golf Course) • 3 disc golf courses • 8 river views • Multiple lagoons and pond • Various fishing locations including 3 boat launches • 3 pools • Spray park • 3 splash pads • Soccer complex • Indoor ice and turf facility (The River's Edge) • Skate park • Iowa's only indoor human foosball (The River's Edge) • Mobile environmental education trailer • Mobile show wagon • Botanical park and conservatory • 5 fountains • 2 lodges • Cemetery • Community center • Several historic sites including a bandshell • The second oldest children's theatre in America (Junior Theatre)

Events and festivals

Bix Fest is a three-day music festival with many traditional jazz bands held in tribute to internationally renowned jazz cornetist, pianist, composer, and Davenport native Bix Beiderbecke. The festival was started in August 1971 and the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society was founded one year later to organize and sponsor it. 2009 was the 39th consecutive festival. In addition to the Bix Fest, the Wells Fargo Street Fest features live music, food, and vendors.

The annual Bix 7 is a 7-mile (11 km) road race held in late July in Davenport. The race was founded in 1975 by John A. Hudetz a resident of Bettendorf, Iowa, who wanted to bring to the Quad Cities some of the excitement he felt when he ran his first Boston Marathon. The first race had 84 participants, but today 12,000 to 18,000 runners take part. In late July or early August the six-day Great Mississippi Valley Fair features major grandstand concerts, carnival rides, attractions, and food vendors. Sturgis on the River is a large annual gathering of motorcycles which includes bands and food vendors. Another big festival that takes place in Davenport is The Great Mississippi Valley Fair. Others include Stirgus By The River, River Roots Live, Beaxu Arts Fair and many others.

Sister cities

Davenport has three sister cities:

Germany Kaiserslautern, Germany (1960)
Brazil Ilhéus, Brazil (2005)
Republic of Ireland County Carlow, Ireland (2006)

Livability Award

Davenport (along with neighboring Rock Island, Illinois), won the 2007 City Livability Award in the small-city category from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Tom Cochran, Executive Director of the Conference, stated that the award "gives the Conference a chance to highlight mayoral leadership in making urban areas safer, cleaner and more livable." The award acknowledges achievements from the RiverVision plan of Davenport and Rock Island.

Sports and recreation

See also: Quad Cities sports teams
Modern Woodmen Park
Modern Woodmen Park is home to the Quad Cities River Bandits baseball team.

Davenport and the Quad Cities are home to many sports teams. The Quad Cities River Bandits baseball team play games at Downtown Davenport's Modern Woodmen Park. The i wireless Center in Moline is home to the Quad City Mallards hockey team. The Quad Cities Riverhawks are a Premier Basketball League team. They play their home games at Wharton Field House on the old Marycrest International University campus. Davenport high schools are in the Mississippi Athletic Conference for sports.

Junge Park
Junge Park is situated along the Duck Creek bike path. The park includes baseball and softball fields, along with sand volleyball, and basketball courts.

Davenport has over fifty parks or recreational trails. Major parks include Credit Island, which is a 450-acre (1.8 km2) park in southwest Davenport located alongside the Mississippi River. Fejervary Park contains a pool and has had approximately 20,000 visitors each year since 1996. Junge Park is situated along the Duck Creek Parkway and includes baseball and softball fields, sand volleyball, and basketball courts. LeClaire Park is located right on the banks of the Mississippi River next to Modern Woodmen Park. LeClaire Park hosts many summer events including River Roots Live and Ribfest. Bands for the Bix Fest play in the park each July. Vander Veer Botanical Park welcomes approximately 25,000 visitors to continuous floral shows.

The city features two recreational trails for biking or walking. Duck Creek Parkway extends from Emeis Park in west Davenport 8.26 miles (13.29 km) east to Bettendorf along Duck Creek. Riverfront Parkway extends 4.75 miles (7.64 km) along the Mississippi waterfront from Credit Island to Bettendorf. Both these trails continue into Bettendorf. Plans are being discussed to connect the two trails in Riverdale. Three public golf courses are offered in the city. For river-related activities, The Channel Cat boat offers rides across the river and has two stops in Iowa and three stops in Illinois and connects the bike paths that each state has on its river front.

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