Introduction to Cedar Falls, Iowa
The Iowa city of Cedar Falls is located in Black Hawk County in the northeastern part of the state and is home to the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). The city sits near the Cedar River and lies 8 miles west of its neighboring city and county seat, the city of Waterloo. Cedar Falls is also 63 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids and about 125 miles northeast of the state capital of Des Moines. Highways serving the Cedar Falls area include Interstate 380; U.S. Routes 20, 63, and 218; and Iowa State Highways 21, 27, 57, 58, and 281.
Settled in 1845 by William Sturgis, the city's original name was Sturgis Falls. When the area was later purchased by the Overman family, the name was changed to Cedar Falls. The Sturgis and Overman names are still prominent today and appear in some of the city's parks and landmarks. Incorporated as a city in 1853, Cedar Falls grew as a lumber- and grain-milling center during the 19th century and today has an economy which relies on the manufacturing of products such as rotary pumps and farm equipment and the development of a fledgling high-technology industry. One of the main sources of the city's relative affluence is the presence of the University, whose students, professionals, and faculty contribute to a lively economic environment.
Cedar Falls Attractions
Cedar Falls offers its visitors the perfect combination of history, culture and recreation. A visitor to the city can explore the past by strolling through structures listed with the National Historic Registry, catch a traveling Broadway show at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, or keep in shape by taking advantage of miles of biking/hiking trails. For history buffs, the Cedar Falls Historical Society operates five museums depicting life in the city's early days:
- The Victorian Home and Carriage House Museum: Houses memorabilia documenting the first permanent settlement in Black Hawk County.
- The George Wyth House and Viking Pump Museum: Former home of George Wyth, founder of the Viking Pump Company.
- The Ice House Museum: A circular structure 100 feet in diameter that once housed the flourishing Cedar Falls ice business.
- The Little Red School House: A schoolhouse built in 1909.
- The Behrens-Rapp Service Station: The second gasoline station built in the City of Cedar Falls.
Popular annual events in Cedar Falls include the Sturgis Falls Celebration/Cedar Basin Jazz Festival, which grew out of the 1976 Cedar Falls Bicentennial Celebration. One of the area's most popular summer events, this festival is held during the last full weekend in June and features jazz bands, hometown parades, craft shows and games. The College Hill Arts Festival is a mid-July event held on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. The festival has evolved over the years from a small art get-together to a full-fledged extravaganza showcasing more than 75 artists from around the Midwest. The Cedar Trails Festival, held every August, features a variety of events including fireworks, "Skate the Lake", and the famous "Light Up the Night" bike ride. Other popular events in the city include the Iowa State Trap Shooting Competition, the Iowa Boat Show, the UNI-Dome Antique & Collectibles Show, the Eastern Iowa Sports Show, the Cedar Valley Sing, the Cedar Falls Bible Conference and the Old Time Power Show. Fans of the performing arts will enjoy The Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, the hub of performing arts and arts education in northeast Iowa. The complex features three state-of-the-art concert halls, an imposing glass-walled lobby and dozens of teaching and rehearsal spaces. The Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra performs a large number of classical, chamber, and family concerts every season; and the Cedar Falls Community Theatre group presents a large number of plays. In summertime, the Cedar Falls Municipal Band seduces music lovers with outdoor concerts held at the Overman Park band shell.
One of the city's most popular attractions is the James and Meryl Hearst Center for the Arts. Nestled in a woodland setting, the center is home to two galleries, a recital hall, a photo lab, a ceramics lab, a classroom and meeting spaces. The center offers a wide spectrum of performances, exhibits, and programs to suit all tastes. Outdoor recreation lovers can't help but be fascinated by Cedar Falls' impressive trail system. More than 30 miles of trails wind through the city, affording bikers, hikers, and skaters the opportunity to explore the city in depth. George Wyth Park offers even more outdoor fun with boating, fishing, cross-country skiing, and more.
The University of Northern Iowa athletics program brings some first-rate collegiate sports to the area. The Northern Iowa Panthers field 16 varsity teams spanning 12 sports. The university competes in NCAA Division I as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference in all sports except football, in which it competes in Division I-AA in the Gateway Conference. The UNI athletic program has enjoyed good success: the men's basketball team has recently been awarded berths in the NCAA tournament three consecutive years and the football team has won eleven Conference Championships and was 2005 runner-up in the NCAA Division I-AA national championship. Professional sports are only an hour away in Cedar Rapids, where the Cedar Rapids Kernels make their home. The Kernels are a Minor League Baseball team playing in the Midwest League. They are the Class Single-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.