Introduction to Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cedar Rapids, one of Iowa's largest cities, lies in the eastern part of the state, about 28 miles north of Iowa City and 125 miles northeast of the state capital of Des Moines. As the county seat of Linn County, Cedar Rapids serves as the regional hub of Eastern Iowa due to its proximity to several large metropolitan areas and major interstate highways. Interstate I-380 bisects the city, which is also serviced by U.S. Routes 30, 151, and 218 and by Iowa State Highways 13 and 100. Regional air transportation is provided by the Eastern Iowa Airport (formerly known as the Cedar Rapids Municipal Airport).
Cedar Rapids was originally named Rapids City after the rapids on the Cedar River. Incorporated in 1849, the city began to grow economically with the arrival in 1871 of T. M. Sinclair, who established one of the nation's largest meat packing companies. Other major local industries soon followed, including Cherry-Burrell and the Quaker Oats company. During this same period, many of the city's arts and educational institutions were formed; among them Greene's Opera House and the Cedar Rapids Business College. Private enterprise continued into the first half of the 20th century with the formation of the Collins Radio Company, which began as a tiny electronics firm and grew to become a leader in the industrial radio business. The company, which supplied electronic equipment to all branches of the armed services during World War II, became a part of Rockwell Collins in 1973 and evolved into a major regional employer. Today the Cedar Rapids metropolitan area is a telecommunications hub, who's "Technology Corridor" is one of the leading centers in the country for the defense electronics industry. The city is widely considered to be the manufacturing capital of Iowa.
Cedar Rapids is known as the "City of Five Seasons." This unique designation pays tribute to the changing seasons in the city's Midwestern landscape and the perception that taking the time to appreciate everyday beauty extends life in the same way as if an extra season were added to every year. The city's community atmosphere extends to neighboring municipalities in Linn County, which include Marion (to the northeast), Hiawatha (to the north), and Mount Vernon (to the east).
Points of Interest in Cedar Rapids
A notable early summer event in Cedar Rapids is the annual Freedom Festival. Held during the months of June and July, the 16-day event features concerts, parades, races, educational opportunities and many other attractions. Cedar Rapids is also home to several artistic, cultural, and entertainment sites which can be enjoyed year-round. The African American Historical Museum & Cultural Center of Iowa offers exhibits on the history of African Americans in the United States, with special emphasis on Iowa. The Carl & Mary Koehler History Center, which began in 1969 as the Linn County Historical Museum Association, chronicles the history and heritage of Linn County. Other local attractions include:
- The Indian Creek Nature Center: A 210-acre site providing environmental education for all ages
- Ushers Ferry Historic Village: Re-creates a small Iowa town as it was 100 years ago
- The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art
- The National Czech & Slovak Museum
- Grant Wood Studio
- The Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra
- Iowa Masonic Library & Museum
- The Paramount Theatre
- Cedar Rapids Ice Arena
- The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena
- U.S. Cellular Center
Sports fans in Cedar Rapids can root for a local Minor League professional baseball team. The Cedar Rapids Kernels are a Class Single-A team affiliated with Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Kernels play in the Midwest League. Also in town is the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Professional Hockey Club. The RoughRiders are a Tier 1 junior ice hockey team playing in the East Division of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Top-notch NCAA collegiate sports action can be found 30 minutes away in Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa and its athletic teams known as the Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes are a member of the Big Ten Conference.