Cedar Rapids, Iowa


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The region in the U.S. state of Iowa in which the present day city of Cedar Rapids is located was originally the territory of the Fox and Sac tribes.  Osgood Shepherd is the first United States citizen known for settling the area in 1838.  The town was originally named Columbus, but it was renamed Cedar Rapids in 1841 by the surveyor N.B. Brown.  Brown chose this name due to the rapids in the Cedar River at the site.  (The Cedar River is itself named after the large number of red cedar trees that once grew along its banks.)  Cedar Rapids was incorporated on January 15th, 1849.

Today, the city is known as the second largest in Iowa, after Des Moines.  According to the 2010 United States Census, Cedar Rapids has a population of 126,326.  The Three-County Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes the nearby cities of Marion and Hiawatha, was estimated to have a population of 255,452 in 2008.

Cedar Rapids is one of the world’s best-known cities for corn processing.  So much so, in fact, that the corn processing industry is Cedar Rapids’ largest and most vital economic sector.  In the area, this industry accounts for 4,000 jobs directly and 8,000 jobs indirectly.

Cedar Rapids is home to Fortune 500 company Rockwell Collins.  Other companies in and around the city include Aegon’s headquarters, a large Quaker Oats mill (one of the four that merged in 1901 to create the company Quaker Oats), Archer Daniels Midland, General Mills, Cargill, Nordstrom, Toyota Financial Services, and Newspaperarchive.

Newspaperarchive prides itself on being the largest newspaper archive in North America with a repository of more than 150 million pages assembled over 250 years.  The city also serves as the location for the Hotel Roosevelt, which opened in 1927.  The Hotel Roosevelt is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other attractions around the city include the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, located in the downtown area.  The Museum of Art is privately owned and was established in 1905.  It holds the world’s largest collection of works by Grant Wood, Marvin Cone, and Bertha Jacques, works by Mauricio Lasansky and the Riley Collection of ancient Roman portrait busts.  The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) is also located within the city and was established in 1974, to serve the large number of Czech and Slovakian immigrants in the city.  (This population is so ingrained into the heritage of the city, in fact, that there is even a Czech Village, located along 16th Avenue SW.)

The state of Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site, which is preserved by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Queen Anne-style mansion known as ‘Brucemore’, sits right at the heart of Cedar Rapids.  Caroline Sinclair, the widow of pioneer industrialist T.M. Sinclair, had the mansion built between 1884 and 1886.  Its name alludes to the Scottish moors of the second owner’s [George Bruce Douglas] ancestral home.

Cedar Rapids has no teams in any major professional sports league, but it is home to the minor-league baseball team, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, a member of the Midwest League.  The Kernels serve as a farm team for MLB’s Minnesota Twins.  USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders play ice hockey in the city and were once Clark Cup Champions.  The Cedar Rapids Titans play in the Indoor Football League.

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