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Cedar Rapids History, Iowa

Cedar Rapids, much like Des Moines, Dubuque, Waterloo and other major Iowa cities, has been inhabited since the prehistoric times. Very little is known about this ancient phase of Cedar Rapids history except that these early inhabitants were ancestors of different Indian American tribes. When the township was established in the year 1838, Cedar Rapids was a part of the territory under the Sac and the Fox tribes. The township was initially named Columbus; it was re-christened Rapids City in 1841 and was finally named Cedar Rapids in 1848. Cedar Rapids was recognized as a city in the year 1849.

Cedar Rapids History – 1850s to 1900s

Following its incorporation, Cedar Rapids city experienced growth in every sphere. The establishment of the railway link has perhaps been the most meaningful event to happen in Cedar Rapids history so far; it ushered in an era of industrialization. The 1850s saw the city foraying into product-packaging and when the Irish T.M. Sinclair Company opened a meat-packaging facility here in 1871, the economy of the city got the necessary boost. Other key industries like the world's largest cereal mill, Quaker Oats and Cherry-Burrell, also belong to that period of Cedar Rapids history.

Side-by-side its industrial-cum-economic growth, Cedar Rapids was also undergoing cultural, political and social changes. The one major political change that marked this period was the annexation of the town of Kingston in 1870. The city’s famous theater, Greene's Opera House, was built in the year 1880; the first Business College was also established in the same year. During these years, the Czech-community of Cedar Rapids made important contributions in the cultural sphere.

Cedar Rapids History – 20th Century

Cedar Rapids industrial growth continued even as it stepped into the 20th century. Of course, the new century saw Cedar Rapids entering into new areas like electronics and technology. A good example of this is the Collins Radio Company (now a part of Rockwell Collins) established in the 1920s.

The development of the Municipal Island in 1908 marked the beginning of the city’s cultural progress in the 20th century; later on additions were made in the form of the Brucemore Mansion, People’s Bank, Memorial Building, etc. Grant Wood, the world-renowned creator of ‘American Gothic’, belonged to this period; among his other notable art-works, the stained glass window in the Cedar Rapids Memorial Building deserves special mention.

The 20th century proved significant politically and Cedar Rapids became the county seat in 1919.

Cedar Rapids History – The Modern Times

Cedar Rapids has been no different in modern times – it is still continuing on the path of progress, modernization and innovation. Cedar Rapids Technology Corridor and the recent developments in wind power energy sector are examples of what the city has achieved in these years.

The June 2008-flood, which flooded an area of about 23 sq km, caused some damages; however, Cedar Rapids has successfully minimized the impact through continuous efforts and has re-established itself as the ‘City of Five Seasons.’

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