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The Quad Cities is a region of four counties in northwest Illinois and Southeastern Iowa. The urban core consists of four principal cities: Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois. These cities are the center of the Quad Cities Metropolitan Area, which as of 2013 had a population estimate of 383,781 and a CSA (Combined Statistical Area) population of 474,937, making it the 90th largest CSA in the nation.

History

Early history

Before European settlers came to inhabit the Quad Cities, the confluence of rivers had attracted many varying cultures of indigenous peoples, who used the waterways and riverbanks for their settlements for thousands of years. At the time of European encounter, it was a home and principal trading place of the Sauk and Fox tribes of Native Americans. Saukenuk was the principal village of the Sauk tribe and birthplace of its 19th-century war chief, Black Hawk. In 1832, Sauk chief Keokuk and General Winfield Scott signed a treaty in Davenport after the US defeated the Sauk and their allies in the Black Hawk War. The treaty resulted in the Native Americans ceding six million acres (24,000 km²) of land to the United States in exchange for a much smaller reservation elsewhere. Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island preserves part of historic Saukenuk and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The history of urban settlements in the Quad-Cities was stimulated by riverboat traffic. For 14 miles (21 km) between LeClaire, Iowa, and Rock Island, the Mississippi River flowed across a series of finger-like rock projections protruding from either bank. These rapids were difficult for steamboats to traverse. As demand for river-based transportation increased along the upper Mississippi, the navigability of the river throughout the "Rock Island Rapids" became a greater concern. Over time, a minor industry grew up in the area to meet the steamboats' needs. Boat crews needed rest areas to stop before encountering the rapids, places to hire expert pilots such as Phillip Suiter, who was the first licensed pilot on the upper Mississippi River, to guide the boat through the rocky waters, or, when the water was low, places where goods could be removed and transported by wagon on land past the rapids. Today, the rocks are submerged six feet underwater by a lake formed by two locks and dams.

As the Industrial Revolution developed in the United States, many enterprising industrialists looked to the Mississippi River as a promising source of water power. The combination of energy and easy access to river transportation attracted entrepreneurs and industrialists to the Quad Cities for development. In 1848, John Deere moved his plough business to Moline. His business was incorporated as Deere & Company in 1868. Deere & Company is the largest employer today in the Quad Cities.

The first railroad bridge built across the Mississippi River connected Davenport and Rock Island in 1856. It was built by the Rock Island Railroad Company, and replaced the slow seasonal ferry service and winter ice bridges as the primary modes of transportation across the river. Steamboaters saw the nationwide railroads as a threat to their business. On May 6, 1856, just weeks after completion of the bridge, an angry steamboater crashed the Effie Afton into it. John Hurd, the owner of the Effie Afton, filed a lawsuit against the Rock Island Railroad Company. The Rock Island Railroad Company selected Abraham Lincoln as their trial lawyer and won after he took the case to the US Supreme Court. Phillip Suiter was one of his expert witnesses. It was a pivotal trial in Lincoln's career.

Evolution of an identity

After the civil war, the region began to gain a common identity. The river towns that were thoughtfully planned and competently led flourished, while other settlements, usually get-rich-quick schemes for speculators, failed to pan out. By World War I, the towns of Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline had begun to style themselves as the "Tri-Cities", a cluster of three more-or-less equally sized river communities growing around the small bend of the Mississippi River where it flows west. But with the growth of Rock Island County, during the 1930s the term "Quad Cities" came into vogue, as East Moline was given "equal status". Despite the fact that the region had earned the name "Quad Cities", the National Basketball Association had a franchise in Moline, Illinois, from 1946 to 1951 called the "Tri-Cities Blackhawks". Then, with the opening of an Alcoa plant east of Davenport in 1948, the town of Bettendorf underwent so much growth that many people in the community discussed the adoption of the name "Quint Cities", and indeed, eventually Bettendorf passed East Moline in size. But by this time, the name "Quad Cities" had become known well beyond the area, and "Quint Cities" never caught on, despite the efforts of WOC-TV (as KWQC-TV was then called) and others.

1980s–current

Beginning in the late 1970s, economic conditions caused major industrial restructuring, which disrupted the basis of the region's economy. The major companies, agricultural manufacturers, ceased or scaled back operations in the Quad Cities. Factories which closed included International Harvester in Rock Island and Case IH in Bettendorf. Moline-based John Deere cut its labor headcount by one half. Later in the 1980s, Caterpillar Inc. closed its factories at Mount Joy and Bettendorf.

Since the 1990s, the Quad Cities governments, businesses, non-profits and residents have worked hard to redevelop the region. They have achieved national attention for their accomplishments.

Examples of revitalization and rebirth:

  • Davenport's River Renaissance (a downtown revitalization project that includes a river music history center), an ag-tech venture capital campus, and the Figge Art Museum opened or were completed during the first decade of the 21st century.
  • Moline has invested in what was once a robust downtown. The "John Deere Commons" and iWireless Center (formerly "The mark of the Quad Cities") both opened during the 1990s.
  • In 2007, Davenport and Rock Island competed for and won the title of "most livable small city" from the National Council of Mayors, based upon an unfunded proposal called RiverVision.
  • In 2008 Bettendorf was ranked by CNN as one of the ten best places to buy a house in the United States.
  • In 2010, the Quad Cities was named "the most affordable metro" by Forbes magazine.
  • In 2012, Davenport housing market ranked second in the nation beating the housing bubble, due to its lack of foreclosures and their low unemployment.
  • In 2012, the Quad Cities Metropolitan Area was ranked among the fastest-growing areas in the nation in the growth of high-tech jobs.
  • In 2012, the Quad Cities was named the "2012 All American City"
  • In 2013, Modern Woodman Park was voted the best minor league ballpark in America.

Geography

The Quad Cities are located at the confluence of the Rock and Mississippi rivers, approximately 140 miles (230 km) west of Chicago, and form the largest metropolitan area along the Mississippi River between Minneapolis–Saint Paul and the St. Louis metropolitan area. Interstate 80 crosses the Mississippi River here. The Quad Cities area is distinctive because the Mississippi River flows from east to west as it passes through the heart of the area; the Iowa cities of Davenport and Bettendorf are located due north of Rock Island and Moline, respectively.

The Quad Cities area is one where the telephone companies cooperate with regional phone calls. Iowa and Illinois have different area codes (563 and 309 respectively), yet most calls originating and terminating within the core urban area are placed without long-distance charges by dialing just a 7-digit number. This helps the bi-state area promote itself as a single community, "joined by a river."

The Quad Cities Metropolitan Area consists of three counties: Scott County in Iowa, and Rock Island County and Henry County in Illinois. The Quad City metro population is 272,000. The Quad Cities Metropolitan Area is also considered part of the Great Lakes Megalopolis.


Landmarks

JDPavilionMar06
The John Deere Pavilion in Moline
Downtown Rock Island, IL
Downtown Rock Island, Illinois
Figge Art Museum 2
The Figge Art Museum in Downtown Davenport, Iowa
  • Antique archeology from the History Channel show American Pickers is located in LeClaire
  • Brady Street Stadium, a major high-school sports venue along Davenport's Brady Street (U.S. 61)
  • Davenport Skybridge
  • Figge Art Museum, Davenport, formerly the Davenport Museum of Art, designed by British architect David Chipperfield and opened in 2005. Its holdings include extensive collections of Haitian, colonial Mexican and Midwestern art, particularly pieces by Thomas Hart Benton, Marvin Cone and Grant Wood, and personal effects from Wood's estate.
  • Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge, a four-lane steel-girder bridge on Interstate 80, crossing the Mississippi River to connect LeClaire and Rapids City. Opened in 1966.
  • Government Bridge, a double-decked bridge adjacent to Locks and Dam 15, carrying motor and rail traffic between Arsenal Island and Davenport. The 1896 truss bridge, about 1,950 feet long, includes a 360-degree swing span over the twin locks. It connects to the Illinois side of the river via the Rock Island Viaduct.
  • Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, a fair and exposition venue in Davenport
  • Iowa 80 Truck Stop – the world's largest truck stop is along Interstate 80 near Walcott, Iowa, west of Davenport.
  • iWireless Center – 11,000-seat arena in Moline (formerly The mark of the Quad Cities).
  • Interstate 74 Bridge, formerly known as the "Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge", connecting Bettendorf and Moline. The twin suspension spans across the Mississippi River were built in 1935 and 1959 and adapted to carry Interstate 74 in the early 1970s. The twinned towers are a symbol of the two-state Quad-Cities community. The bridge is set to be replaced with eight lanes.
  • John Deere Pavilion, a small museum and showcase for John Deere equipment, built adjacent to the John Deere Commons in the 1990s in downtown Moline.
  • John Deere World Headquarters, designed by Eero Saarinen and completed in 1963 in Moline.
  • The John Looney Mansion, designed and built in 1897 for the attorney, publisher and gangster John Looney in Rock Island which still stands off 20th Street and 17th Avenue.
  • Lock and Dam No. 15, a 1,200-foot roller dam with twin locks across the Mississippi River between Arsenal Island and Davenport. The roller dam, billed as the longest of its type, maintains a pool upstream that allows river traffic to pass through the once notorious Rock Island Rapids.
  • Modern Woodmen Park, formerly John O'Donnell Stadium, home of the Houston Astros' class A affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits, on the Davenport riverfront. With the lights of Rock Island across the Mississippi and the Centennial Bridge looming just beyond the right-field fence, the park was named by USA Today as one of 10 great places for a baseball pilgrimage. The ball park added a 110 ft. ferris wheel before the start of the 2014 season.
  • Old Main, completed in 1888, the oldest building on the campus of Augustana College. Located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, its iconic and newly renovated dome was lighted as of October 2011.
  • Putnam Museum in Davenport
  • Quad City Botanical Center in Rock Island
  • Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center, located in Bettendorf
  • RiverCenter/Adler Theatre, a convention and performing-arts complex in Davenport. The 2,400-seat Adler is the former RKO Orpheum Theater, which opened in 1931, designed by A.S. Graven of Chicago, whose projects included the Drake Hotel in Chicago and the Paramount Theater in New York City. The theater was extensively renovated and expanded in 1984–86 and 2005.
  • River Music Experience, a performance, education and music-history venue in the Redstone Building, the former Petersen Harned Von Maur department store
  • Rock Island Arsenal, manufacturer of military equipment and ordnance since the 1880s, now the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the United States. The arsenal is located on Arsenal Island (formerly known as Rock Island) in the Mississippi River between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois. Fort Armstrong was built there in 1816. During the civil war, the island held a Union prison camp for Confederate soldiers. The Federal-style home of Colonel George Davenport, built in 1833–34, the oldest extant building in the Quad Cities, is on the north bank of the island.
  • Rock Island Centennial Bridge over the Mississippi River between downtown Davenport and Rock Island, completed in 1940 to commemorate Rock Island's 100th anniversary. The five arches of the 3,853-foot through-arch bridge often are used as a symbol of the Quad Cities.
  • Rock Island County Fairgrounds in East Moline, also the site of the Quad City Speedway
  • Rock Island Auction Company from the Discovery Channel show Ready, Aim, Shoot
  • Vander Veer Botanical Park
  • The Col Ballroom, a small arena for music concerts, in Davenport
  • The Quarter – a 90-acre (360,000 m2) site in East Moline, alongside the Mississippi River, featuring shops, restaurants, condominiums, boat docks, sports and interpretive centers, and a working lighthouse, currently under development. (Geographical coordinates: Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:mw' not found.)
  • Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Freight House, referred to locally as the "Freight House", is an entertainment venue

Noteworthy companies

Konebuilding
The new Kone Building in Downtown Moline, Illinois.
  • Alcoa
  • Cobham plc
  • Deere & Company (also known as/branded: John Deere)
  • Genesis Health System
  • Group O
  • Guardian Industries
  • Happy Joe's
  • Hungry Hobo
  • KONE, Inc (formerly Montgomery Elevator)
  • Lee Enterprises
  • Lewis Machine and Tool Company
  • Modern Woodmen of America
  • Nestlé Purina PetCare
  • QCR Holdings
  • Sears Seating (also known as Sears Manufacturing)
  • Von Maur
  • Whitey's Ice Cream
  • XPAC

Culture

Since 1916, the region has supported the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, which presents a year-round schedule of concerts at the Adler Theatre in Davenport and Centennial Hall in Rock Island. The Handel Oratorio Society, dating to 1880, is the second-oldest organization of its kind in the nation and presents annual performances of "Messiah" along with another major work for choir and orchestra. The Augustana Choir, founded at Rock Island's Augustana College in 1934, is one of the nation's leading collegiate choruses. Major outdoor summer music festivals include the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, and River Roots Live.

The Quad-Cities' three traditional community theaters – Playcrafters Barn Theatre (founded in 1920, comedies and dramas) and Quad City Music Guild (1948, musicals) in Moline, and Genesius guild (1957, outdoor Shakespeare and Greek comedies and tragedies) in Rock Island – were joined in 1976 by Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, a professional dinner theater in downtown Rock Island's historic Fort Theatre. Ballet is performed at Ballet Quad Cities. The River Music Experience provides quality music programming, education, and outreach to all cities.ComedySportz provides improv comedy. Bluebox Limited is a Bettendorf-based film production company, and many outside productions companies have filmed movies in the Quad Cities in recent years. Historic buildings and sites listed on state and the National Register of Historic Places interpret the history of people's settlement and lives in the area.

Bill McAlister recorded a song titled "Quad City Queen" and included it on his "Illinois Opry" album. The song references the TPC golf course in Silvis, and the arsenal gate.

Transportation

I-74 Bridge
The current I-74 Bridge, connecting Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, Illinois, is located near the geographic center of the Quad Cities.

Four interstate highways serve the Quad Cities: Interstate 80, Interstate 280, Interstate 74 serve both states while Interstate 88 serves just Illinois. United States highways include U.S. Route 6 and U.S. Route 67 which run through both Iowa and Illinois, while U.S. Route 61 serves just Iowa and U.S. Route 150 serves just Illinois.

NewI74bridge
The future I-74 Bridge will span 4 lanes in each direction; construction is set to begin in 2018.

A total of five bridges accessible by automobiles connect Iowa with Illinois in the Quad Cities across the Mississippi River. The Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge carries Interstate 80 and connects Le Claire, Iowa, with Rapids City, Illinois. Continuing downstream, the I-74 Bridge connects Bettendorf, Iowa, with Moline, Illinois, and is the busiest bridge with an average of 70,400 cars a day. The Government Bridge connects Downtown Davenport with the Rock Island Arsenal. Three bridges connect Davenport with Rock Island, Illinois; The Rock Island Centennial Bridge, The Crescent Rail Bridge, and the furthest downstream bridge, the Sergeant John F. Baker, Jr. Bridge which carries I-280.

Several state highways also serve the area. Iowa Highway 22 is on Davenport's southwest side and runs west through the county, while Iowa Highway 130 runs along Northwest Boulevard on Davenport's north edge. Illinois Route 5 (John Deere Road) runs from Rock Island east till it runs into Interstate 88. Illinois Route 92 runs along the Mississippi River, while Illinois Route 84 runs along the east side of Rock Island County. Illinois Route 192 connects Highway 92 with Illinois Route 94 near Taylor Ridge. The Chicago – Kansas City Expressway also serves the area along Interstates 74, 80, and 88.

There are three transit operators in the Quad Cities with limited interconnection between them. Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (Quad Cities MetroLINK) serves the Illinois cities of Rock Island, Moline, East Moline, Milan, Silvis, Carbon Cliff, Hampton and Colona. It has 12 routes and a fleet of about 52 buses. It operates a river craft during summer months. In Iowa, Davenport Citibus has 13 fixed routes and operates 20 buses, six days a week and Bettendorf Transit operates five routes, Monday–Saturday, and has eight buses.

Amtrak currently does not serve the Quad Cities. The closest station is about 50 miles (80 km) away in Galesburg, Illinois. In 2008, the two current United States Senators from Iowa, Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, and former President Barack Obama sent a letter to Amtrak asking them to begin plans to bring rail service to the Quad Cities. In October 2010, a $230 million federal fund was announced that will bring Amtrak service to the Quad Cities, with a new line running from Moline to Chicago. They hope to have the line completed in 2015, and offer two round trips daily to Chicago. In December 2011, the federal government awarded $177 million in funding for the Amtrak connection. It will establish passenger rail for the first time since the 1970s.

The Quad Cities are served by the Quad City International Airport, Illinois' third-busiest airport, located in Moline. The airport is marketed as a regional alternative to the larger airports in Chicago, nearly 200 miles (320 km) away. The smaller Davenport Municipal Airport is the home of the Quad City Air Show.

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