At the heart of downtown is The Great River Plaza, a two block walking plaza featuring the renovated business district. Unique gifts or rare treasures..The Plaza boutiques, galleries, and stores have it all for shoppers and browsers In fact, with its night life, restaurants, frequent special events, and opportunities to tour some of Rock Islands historic structures and landmarks. The Downtown Plaza may be a full days outing for the entire family!
Several large malls and plazas are located throughout the Quad Cities, many anchored by major national department stores. The area's two regional malls are NorthPark Mall in Davenport and SouthPark Mall in Moline, both with 175+ stores and restaurants. NorthPark is Iowa's largest mall and recently added Pocket Change Park, a children's entertainment center with rides and a three-story "soft play" area, SouthPark is the largest downstate mall in Illinois. Antique America Mall in Davenport features 22,000 sq.ft. and more than 150 antique dealers.
The Great Paver Plaza, home of "The District" also features live theatre, improvisational comedy, and the regions best live music and dance clubs. Rock Island boasts a wide variety of food and beverage establishments to cater to almost any taste. In addition to the coffeehouses and brew pubs in "The District," a number of outstanding restaurants offer ethnic, fast food, or casual dining to entertain business associates or get togethers with friends.
Fifteen percent of the nation's population resides within a 300-mile radius of the Illinois Quad Cities, making it an ideal market for virtually every, product and service
The area is recognized worldwide as a major industrial and manufacturing center. Some of America's largest corporations are headquartered and/or have facilities here:
Deere & Company, 3M, Eagle Food Centers, Jewel Food Stores, Oscar Meyer, Case IH, MidAmerican Energy Company, ALCOA, and Ralston Purina to name a few. Rock Island has 11 of the 50 largest employers in the Quad Cities. Among these are the Rock Island - Milan Schools, employing over 1,200 people; Eagle Food Center; Rock Island County, Watts Trucking; Augustana College, The City of Rock Island, Thomas Proestler - Food Distributor; Jumers Casino in Rock Island, Modern Woodmen of America -Insurance; and Norcross Safety Products.
Tourism is also "big business" in Rock Island. Its myriad historic, recreational, leisure, cultural and gaming amenities attract thousands of visitors each year. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on food, lodging, services and entertainment as well as shopping in historic downtown Rock Island. The city's dedication to renovation and restoration of the downtown, as well as the surrounding historic neighborhoods, has worked to draw visitors from throughout the Midwest.
Businesses are attracted to Rock Island for its low commercial/industrial lease rates and land costs. New office space downtown averages $16/sq. ft., retail space $8/sq. ft., and industrial space $2-$6/scf ft. Industrial land cost per acre averages $20,000; construction costs approximately $25/sq.ft. Southwest Rock Island has nearly 200 acres currently available and suitable for residential and commercial development.
The Rock Island Depot, originally built in 1901 at 31st and 5th Avenue by the Rock Island Lines Railway served thousands of passengers and shippers until 1980. The depot was placed on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1982 and declared a local landmark by the Rock Island Preservation Commission in 1987. Unused, the structure fell into disrepair until the city purchased the property and building in 1994 and invested nearly $650,000 to renovate the depot to its original exterior design, including adding the clock tower which was removed in the 1930s. Original brick, wood trim and roof tiles were salvaged from the former adjacent freight house which was demolished in 1997.
The city hopes to lease or sell the restored depot to be used for commercial, professional and/or retail space.
Much of both residents' and visitors' leisure time is spent in, on or around the Mississippi River. The "shining river," as Mark Twain once called it, is one of the nation's greatest waterways, and recreational opportunities abound in its gently flowing waters and along its lush riverbanks.
The Mississippi River Visitors Center and adjacent Lock and Dam 15 at the west end of the Rock Island Arsenal provide a fascinating took at the geography ecology and history of the Upper Mississippi River. May through September, you can stand out on the observation deck to watch huge towboats pushing barges that are nearly half a mile in length. Credit Island Park, on a small island in the Mississippi, features a golf course and hall fields; here, bird watchers often spot eagles in the fall and winter.
The public launch ramp at Sunset Park provides access to both the Rock and Mississippi Rivers for power boating, canoeing, pleasure cruising, water skiing, fishing, sailing and watching or riding the grand riverboats that still make their way up and down the Mississippi,
There's more recreation ashore, beginning with the more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails along the Quad Cities riverfronts. The Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island is a 204- acre wilderness park and museum with more than four miles of hiking trails and picnic areas. The Rock Island Arsenal, Browning Museum, and Colonel Davenport House offer further looks at the history of the region. The National Cemetery on Arsenal Island has more than 15,000 graves, almost 2,000 of which hold Southerners imprisoned on the Island during the Civil War. The area also has a golf course and four-mile bike trail.
Longview Park has a conservatory flower garden, ice skating pond, frisbee golf, greenhouse, swimming pool and play grounds. Snow skiers can hit the slopes in nearby Andalusia at Snowstar, which has 20 acres Of Slopes for beginning to expert skiers. The Quad Cities Classic is an annual PGA tour event, hosted by one of the 20+ public play golf courses in the Quad Cities. Rock island is home to two challenging Courses, Highland Springs and Saukie.
Rock Island's Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for providing leisure opportunities to community residents. More than 300 year round recreational programs attract nearly 100,000 participants of all ages and interests. It oversees 26 community parks and recreational facilities. including play parks, Saukie and Highland Springs golf courses, Ben Williamson Park, home to the Backwater Gamblers Ski Shows, the state-of-the-art Rock Island Fitness and Activity Center, Great River Bike Path, Alan A. Campbell Sports Complex, Hauberg Estates and more.
There's also plenty to see and do along the riverbanks of the "Mighty Mississippi" in Rock Island. The city has undergone a renaissance in recent years with extensive restoration and renovation of homes and storefronts along the riverfront, such as in the Broadway and downtown historic areas. It's a step back in time as you stroll along Broadway's residential streets and shop through downtown Rock Island, the area known as "The District" and the hub of arts and entertainment for the Quad Cities.
The Great River Plaza is a comfortable, walker-friendly plaza surrounded by historic architecture and a casual ambiance. Downtown, you can enjoy a Broadway musical, mystery comedy or children's play at the Circa 21 Dinner Theatre, now in its 21st year of professional production visit the Quad City Arts Center, home to the area's visual arts and featuring live performances throughout the year... stroll through the Quad City Botanical Center, one of the largest in the Midwest... take part in the gaming excitement of Jumers Casino Rock Island Riverboat at the Boatworks... enjoy live music and poetry readings at All Kinds of People... shop for antiques, gifts, clothing, music, books, jewelry, furniture and much more... sit back with a good book and sip fresh- roasted lava at one of the cozy coffeehouses... bring your friends and tap your toes to the sounds of live bands at a downtown bar-and-grill, or dance the night away at one of the local night clubs... or dine at one of the dozen or so restaurants offering a world of tempting cuisines. Whatever your tastes, simple or eclectic, you're bound to find an afternoon or evening of fun in Downtown Rock Island. Make it a weekend and stay over at the Channing Victorian Inn, Potter House, Top-O-The-Morning bed-and-breakfasts, or the Plaza One Hotel.
The Quad City Symphony, founded in 1915 and one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the country, performs its Sunday Series at Centennial Hall on the campus of Augustana College. The Augustana Centennial Art Gallery features both permanent and visiting collections of fine art. The Genusius Guild presents classical drama each summer in an open-air theatre in Lincoln Park, sponsored by the Rock Island Parks and Recreation Department.
The Downtown Rock Island Arts & Entertainment District, better known as "The District", hosts many festivals throughout the year. The summer kicks off with the Quad Cities Criterium bicycle and in-line skating races on Memorial Day. June brings Gumbo Ya Ya, a Mardi Gras celebration with cajun food and zydeco music, and Rhythm & Food Festival which features the newest music and a variety of ethnic and American food. Take a trip to the Caribbean in August to Ya Maka My Weekend/Boonoonoonoos with reggae music, a children's village and sand volleyball contest. Erin Feis, an Irish folk festival, is held in September. Laser lights streak the sky during Halloween with Laser Light Fright Nights. For more information on these events, please contact "The District" at (309) 788-6311.
During Labor Day weekend, residents and visitors flock to downtown Rock Island for the annual Rock Island Argus Gran Prix, where lightening-fast go-karts race through the streets. The event, hosted by "The District", also features nightly entertainment, art and craft show, food fairs and is culminated with an exciting Labor Day Parade beginning on 18th Avenue. The Backwater Gamblers Water Ski Show performs free from May through September at its home site on the Rock River, and at Sunset Park. The Rock Island Summer Fest Committee sponsors the Summer Fest in July which features free entertainment and an old-fashioned carnival, From May through August the Rock Island Parks & Recreation sponsors musical performances in Lincoln and Longview Parks.
The Star of Bethlehem program at the Augustana College Planetarium, held each Christmas season, describes the what the fabled Wise Men may have seen in the heavens 2,000 years ago as they journeyed to the birthplace of Christ. The nation's only bistate St. Patrick's Day Parade. It begins in Rock Island and crosses the Mississippi River into Davenport, Iowa and features dozens of bands, floats and costumed Irish families.
The mission of the Rock Island-Milan School District is to provide an education based upon excellence while recognizing the individual differences and needs of children. District teachers, administrators and support staff are dedicated to providing an environment that enhances the development of self-esteem, responsibility, critical thinking, and good communication skills for their students. Partnerships with community organizations are encouraged.
Nearly 7,000 students attend the District's 1b elementary, middle and senior high schools. The voters of the community recently by a margin of 4-1, passed a referendum to allow the District to continue to upgrade its facilities. The schools are equipped with technology following a locally formulated plan, Computer aided drafting, modular technology programs and television production augment the use of computers in the classroom tabs. Year round programs are in place at Horace Mann and Grant Elementary schools, which offer nine-to-ten week sessions with a two-to-three week break between each session.
The students of the District excel in many ways. The high school has traditionally produced more National Merit Scholarship finalists than other Quad City high schools. Unique programs are cited in many of the schools drawing attention from throughout the region and state.
The schools are staffed on a ratio of 20:5 students per teacher. Thus classes are kept small enough for interaction between the child and teacher. On the average teachers in Rock Island have more experience than their counterparts statewide. At the teacher recognition banquet each year, teachers from Rock Island receive a significant number of the "Master Teacher" awards given.
Various sports teams, clubs and other extra-curricular activities are available to students. These programs further enhance the educational experiences while allowing participants to develop their unique interests, talents and skills.
There are four private schools in Rock Island serving students in grades K-12. These schools offering quality educational opportunities combined with religious study are: Alleman High School, Immanuel Lutheran School, and the Jordan Catholic Schools, serving students K-4 and 5-8 at two campuses.
Augustana College in Rock Island is the oldest college of Scandinavian origin in the U.S., founded in 1860 by graduates of the universities of Uppsala and Lund in Sweden. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America but welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds. in 1949 Augustana became a Phi Beta Kappa institution, and today is ranked among the top 60 small liberal arts colleges in America,
Augustana "invented" the work-study program adopted by the federal government in the 1930s and is now in place nationwide. In the 1970s, Augustana created one of the first international career internship programs; today, one in three students travels abroad, as an intern or a part of foreign study program.
The faculty-student ratio is a low 13: 1, and nearly 90 percent of the faculty hold a Ph.D. or terminal degree. Many are actively engaged in research projects and students are encouraged to assist faculty in projects of interest and/or pursuant to the field of study.
The beautiful, 115-acre campus is home to the Fryxell Geology Museum, John Deere Planetarium, Carl Gamble Observatory, and Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center. The recently built library holds one of the finest small-college collections, with more than 375,000 items. In addition, the Augustana College Art Gallery regularly exhibits arts by students and faculty as well as national works and selected works from the colleges collection of more than 1,200 pieces.
Black Hawk Community College in Moline has an enrollment of 10,000 full- and part- time students. it offers numerous courses of study in liberal arts, business, vocations, technology and more.
The Quad Cities Graduate Study Center in Rock Island is a consortium of 11 public and private institutions of higher learning in Illinois and Iowa:Augustana College, Bradley University, Illinois and Iowa State Universities, Illinois University, St. Ambrose University, the Universities of Illinois and Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, and Western Illinois University - Moline. All of these institutions of higher education are within a short drive of Rock Island, offering four-year degree programs in hundreds of courses of study.
Institutions in nearby Davenport include American Institute of Commerce, Marycrest International University, The Palmer College of Chiropractic, founded in 1897 by the "father" of modem chiropractic, David D. Palmer, and St. Ambrose University.
Rock island is served by eight hospitals in the Quad Cities area, nine immediate care facilities, numerous medical clinics and nursing facilities, and hundreds of physicians and dentists with local practices.
Trinity Medical Center's West Campus, in Rock Island, is a 650-bed regional hospital offering a comprehensive range of medical, wellness and surgical services. It houses a state-of-the-art cancer unit, Level II trauma Center, bum and reconstructive care unit, women's health and maternal care centers, and community center for mental health and chemical dependency care. Trinity is the only children's hospital in the region, and offers the latest in treatment, plus compassionate care, for young patients.
The hospitals community outreach includes a parish nurse program, health screenings and needs assessment, physician referral, and charitable contributions to a number of local health services.
The Trinity College of Nursing is located at the hospital's East Campus in Moline. It offers two- and four-year degrees in nursing, and general education courses both at the main campus and at Black Hawk Community College and Western Illinois University. The Trinity Schools of Allied Health offer advanced medical education and training.[ top of page ]
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