Rockford, Illinois

Rockford is located in the northern part of Illinois and is the third largest city in Illinois. It is known as The Forest City. Although Rockford has the population of a larger city, it has a small-town feel. The city is recognized as a world leader in the production of machine tools and auto parts, and increasingly becoming recognized as an important center for aerospace components.

To See And To Do In Rockford

  • Antique Shops
  • Anderson Japanese Gardens
  • Burpee Museum of Natural History
  • Discovery Center Museum
  • Forest City Queen Riverboat
  • Rockford Art Museum
  • Erlander Home Museum

History Of Rockford - Timeline

In 1829, Stephen Mack built a cabin, traded furs and settled in the area. He was the first white permanent settler in the area. Many settlers now arrived and Rockford was permanently settled in 1834. People came to farm and a sawmill was built. At the time the settlement was known as "Midway" and 27 people lived there. In 1837, a post office was established. In 1838, the first stagecoach arrived from Chicago.

The settlement was incorporated as a village in 1839 and 236 people now lived in the village. In 1840, "Rock River Express", the first newspaper was published. In 1846, the first factory was built. In 1847, Rockford College was established. In 1852, Rockford was chartered as a city and the first train arrived. In 1853, a bridge across the Rock River was completed.

Thousands of Swedish and Irish immigrants settled in Rockford in the 1850s. The Swedes became the largest ethnic group in the city and the Swedish language was as common as English as late as the 1920s. In 1855, the newspaper "Rockford Register Star" was founded. In 1857, two public schools were built.

In 1861, the city had a telegraph. In 1865, General Grant visited Rockford. In 1870, Robert Hall Tinker had built himself a 27-room house and it was the first house in Rockford to have electricity. In 1871, the professional baseball club "Rockford Forest Citys" joined the first professional baseball league, the National Association, for the season. The Rockford Public Library opened to the public in August 1872. In 1873, the Lake-Peterson House was built. In 1875, Robert Hall Tinker was the mayor of Rockford.

In 1875/76, Forest City Furniture Company was formed. Swedish workmen pooled their resources to organize the company. By the 1880s the furniture industry in Rockford that used the talents of Swedish craftsmen and capitalists was the second largest furniture-manufacturing center in the United States. In 1881, the Grand Opera House opened. In 1883, the city had electricity. In 1885, Rockford High School was erected on South Madison St. In 1893, the Nelson Hotel was completed.

In 1900, 44 percent of the residents were of Swedish heritage. Just like Chicago, it is said that the Swedes built Rockford. In 1910, the oldest surviving Harley Davidson dealership was founded in the city by Joe Kegel. In 1911, the Swedish American Hospital was founded.

In 1927, the 2,400 seat "Coronado Theatre" opened. In 1929, the Faust Hotel was completed. (Faust Landmark). In 1942, the Burpee Museum of Natural History opened. In 1949, the State Street bridge was completed. In 1966, Bengt Sjostrom Theatre opened. In 1981, the BMO Harris Bank Center was completed. (Formerly known as MetroCentre).