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Kate's Pie Shop 6685 East State Street Rockford IL 61108
(815) 298-7009
BH Restore 1385 Black Cherry Dr, Rockford, IL
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Warshawsky 431 South Main Street, Rockford, IL
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Kate's Pie Shop 406 N Main St, Rockford, IL
(815) 298-7009
Petcare Pets At Home 505 Elgin St, Cherry Valley, IL
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Carson Pirie Scott Distribution Center 4650 Shepherd Trail, Rockford, IL
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Bigfoot Lounge 1609 S Alpine Rd, Rockford, IL
(815) 399-4600
Bam Bam Slam Performance Site 308 W State St, Rockford, IL
(917) 312-1239
Walmart Supercenter 7219 Walton St, Rockford, IL
(815) 399-7143
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About Rockford

Rockford is a mid-sized city located on both banks of the Rock River in the far north of Illinois, and is often referred to as "The Forest City". Rockford is the county seat of Winnebago County, Illinois, USA; the city has 150,115 residents, while the metro area has 339,178 residents as of the 2000 census and is the third largest city in Illinois, though it was the second largest city during the latter part of the 20th century.

Jefferson Street Bridge across the Rock River

 

Demographics

Rockford City Hall
Rockford City Hall

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 150,115 people, 59,158 households, and 37,328 families residing in the city. Because the city is the largest in the area, the surrounding towns are considered to be Rockford's metropolitan area, which has a combined population of approximately 339,178 persons. The population density of the city prime was 1,034.8/km² (2,680.4/mi²). There were 63,570 housing units at an average density of 438.2/km² (1,135.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.81% White, 17.37% African American, 0.32% Native American, 2.20% Asian, 2.10% Serb, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.80% from other races, and 2.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.18% of the population.

There are 59,158 households of which 31.5% include children under the age of 18, 43.8% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.09.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 29.7% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,667, and the median income for a family was $45,465. 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.

Rockford surpassed Peoria as Illinois' second largest city in the late 1950s, and held onto that position for nearly half a century before being dislodged by a special census being held in Aurora in 2003. Note that Rockford was not recounted at the same time so this is not necessarily an accurate ranking.

History

Rockford was first settled in 1834-1835 by Germanicus Kent, Thatcher Blake, and Lewis Lemon, who came from Galena and established themselves on the west bank of Rock River; and Daniel Shaw Haight, who founded a settlement on the east bank. (Lemon, a slave, later bought his freedom, but stayed in the area as a truck farmer.) Halfway between Chicago and Galena, the community was briefly known as Midway, but quickly became known as Rockford, because of the excellent ford across the Rock River. A post office was established in 1837. The settlement was incorporated as a village in 1839, and chartered as a city in 1852.

The first weekly newspaper was published in 1840 and the first successful daily newspaper appeared in 1877. Between 1890 and 1930 the city had three daily newspapers. Rockford Female Seminary was chartered in 1847, became Rockford College in 1892, and became fully coeducational in 1958. Best known of the college's graduates is Jane Addams (RFS Class of 1881), the founder of Chicago's Hull House and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Rockford Public Library, the second such institution in Illinois, first opened to the public in August 1872; the library's first dedicated building, a Carnegie library, was completed by 1902.

Memorial Hall
Memorial Hall

Although Rockford was a sleepy country village up until the 1850s, the city is now the seat of Winnebago County. In 1851, the Rockford Water Power Company was organized and in 1852 the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad reached the city. These two events, which brought inexpensive power and inexpensive transportation to the area, changed Rockford forever. By 1860 Rockford had become a significant, growing industrial center, noted for production of the John H. Manny reaper and other agricultural machinery. By the 1880s a furniture industry was begun, using the talents of Swedish craftsmen and capitalists, and by the first half of the 20th century Rockford was the second largest furniture-manufacturing center in the United States (behind Grand Rapids, Michigan). Many of the furniture companies were cooperatives, reflecting a different business approach from that of the old Yankee entrepreneur, with laborers and craftsmen holding significant power. The agricultural implement industry was already in decline by the First World War, and the furniture industry was severely damaged by the Great Depression and the Second World War. By the end of the 1960s both were extinct in the city.

Rockford's 20th century industry revolved around machine tools, heavy machinery, automotive, aerospace, fastener and cabinet hardware products, and packaging devices and concepts. The city's industrial background has produced many important and interesting inventions, among them the Nelson knitting machine, airbrush, electric brake, electric garage door opener, dollar bill changer, and electronic dartboard. Some defunct Rockford concerns of historical interest are: Air Brush Manufacturing Company, Free Sewing Machine Company, Haddorff Piano Company, Hanson Clock Company, Hess & Hopkins Leather Company, Norse Pottery Company, Rockford Brewing Company, Rockford Silver Plate Company, and Rockford Watch Company. Woodward Governor Company, an innovator in control systems for large machinery and aircraft propulsion, originated in Rockford.

Rockford has been known as a town that makes toys. The Testors Company still makes model kits and paint and glue supplies for these kits. The Nylint company produced heavy duty metal scale toys of construction equipment, such as dump trucks, from 1946 to about 2001, when they went out of business. Tootsie toys, headquartered in Chicago, had a satellite factory in Rockford, where small single piece die cast cars where made for many years. The industrial industry in Rockford has been led by Sundstrand Corporation which was the merger of Rockford Tool Company and the Rockford Milling Machine Company in the early 20th century. Sundstrand manufactured many industrial, aviation, and aerospace products and still does to this day now currently known as Hamilton Sundstrand when it was acquired by United Technologies in 1999.

The USS Rockford, a Tacoma class frigate named for the city, was commissioned in March 1944 and earned two service stars during World War II. Camp Grant, a training depot used during World Wars I and II, was torn down in 1947 and became the site of the Chicago/Rockford International Airport by late 1954, and of Seth B. Atwood Park in 1956. Machesney airport, located north of the city, originally a private airport starting in 1927, was later used by the army air corps during World War II, later was a municipal airport and is now no longer an airport but home to the Machesney Park mall.

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 several years ago. 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.

Coronado Theater
Coronado Theater

The number of impressive movie palaces built in the 1920s and early 1930s speaks to the thriving economy Rockford had at the time. The Coronado Theater theater was the largest and most expansive of all these movie theaters in Rockford, complete with an orchestra pit, double balcony, highly ornate design and full array of theatrical and stage equipment. Other remarkable theaters in Rockford included the Midway, Times, and State theaters.

Rockford was well known for its elm trees, this being the reason for its nickname the Forest City. But in the mid 1950s an epidemic of Dutch Elm disease more or less wiped out the population of Elm trees. However, Rockford is still heavily lined with trees. Of note are the parks and boulevard street layouts in certain parts of the city. Neighborhood parks and wide common grassy/forested areas forming boulevards are found in the older parts of the city. Many of the parks were part of the street layout put down in the late 1890s, early 1900s when subdivisions of that era were created. These parks typically were an entire city block, or in some cases larger. They would typically have a bowery, and sometimes a cement-lined pool. The boulevards tend to be in slightly newer subdivisions built in the 1920s.

The 1960s saw expansion of the manufacturing segment in the area. Near the outskirts of Rockford in Belvidere, a Chrysler car factory was built in 1965 [4] which initially assembled the Chrysler Newport and other large cars and now produces the Dodge Caliber and similar cars. Sundstrand, now Hamilton Sundstrand, a division of United Technologies [5] also expanded during this time period making aircraft parts.

Starting as early as the 1990s Rockford has had the ignominious honour of being listed at times as one America's worst cities by the Rand McNally corporation and Money magazine, sometimes being ranked one of the top ten worst cities.[6] This may have been due to the lack of jobs and high number of outdated or closed factories. Crime on the west side of town was endemic, with huge areas of old established neighborhoods in extreme blight. The homicide rate in these areas was quite high. Many houses were vacant with no one wishing to buy them. The city government has developed many programs to attempt to address these problems and has seen some success. In 2005 Rockford received top honors in the America in Bloom contest with the award being 4 Blooms Tidiness.

In early 2007 the city of Rockford city council voted to end the 90 year old vehicle sticker program. [7] The vehicle sticker was a way of raising tax revenue and it required Rockford residents to display, every year, a new sticker/decal on the inside of registered vehicle windshields. [8] The last sticker, required through the end of 2007, will depict artwork from Rockford's hometown celebrity rock group Cheap Trick, from their latest album called Rockford.

Post-secondary

Rockford, Illinois is the site of Rockford Business College, Rockford College and Rock Valley College. In addition, it hosts several satellite branches of other schools, including Judson College (based in Elgin), Northern Illinois University (based in DeKalb), Rasmussen College[2], and the University of Illinois College of Medicine (based in Champaign-Urbana).

Rockford College 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).

Points of interest

Symbol. Rockford's best known public scuplture, created by Alexander Liberman (1912 - 1999).
Symbol. Rockford's best known public scuplture, created by Alexander Liberman (1912 - 1999).

The Rockford area is known as an outdoor destination, especially in the non-winter months. Numerous forest preserves surround the Kishwaukee River valley, five miles southeast of the downtown area. Rock Cut State Park is located within the county to the northeast. Both the Rockford Park District and Winnebago County Forest Preserve District own and operate numerous golf courses as well. In fact, Golf Magazine called Aldeen Golf Club one of 50 excellent national golf courses one can play for under $50. Aldeen was ranked #38 in the nation in 2004.

Rockford's Anderson Japanese Gardens has been ranked the top Japanese garden in North America. The garden was designed by Hoichi Kurisu. The Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden is also a popular attraction. The facility contains 150 acres of rare trees and shrubs.

Burpee Museum of Natural History, located just north of downtown, is home to Jane the Rockford T-Rex. The Discovery Center Museum contains a large and well-respected interactive children's science exhibit. The Rockford Art Museum completes the entire museum campus.

Another point of interest is the Coronado Theatre, an ornately decorated vaudeville movie theater located in Downtown Rockford. The theatre was completely restored in 1999. The tallest building in Rockford is the former Faust Hotel. It was built in 1929 and has many art deco features. It has a tower several stories above the rest of the building, topping off at 15 stories (186 ft) The Hotel Faust was the center of social life and visits by V.I.P.s for decades. The 'Faust' building is now used as apartments for the elderly.

To get an idea of what life was like in Rockford in the 19th century, take a tour of the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, a preserved "cottage" built in 1865, with exterior elements of a Swiss Chalet with some style borrowed from Victorian. The swing foot bridge, no longer extent, ran from the cottage crossing the Kent creek bluffs and was a popular place to visit for many years.

Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center is the oldest continuous community music organization in the United States. It exists to provide quality music for all people of the northern Illinois region through live performances by local and world-renowned artists.

Midway Village and Museum Center is a picturesque turn-of-the-century Victorian village featuring twenty-six historic structures and heritage gardens. Its grounds include a 55,000 sq ft. Museum Center that offers five exhibition galleries of Rockford's unique and ethnic history, a collection of antique and handcrafted doll houses in the Old Doll House and a working replica of a water powered machine shop at its Severin Lake entrance.

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Rockford, Illinois

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