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Cedar Rapids, IA

Cedar Rapids, the second biggest city in Iowa, is located on the Cedar River, and a few of the town's governmental buildings, including City Hall, are on Mays Island in the center of the river. Since 2005-06 the Cedar Rapids government has had a "weak mayor" system, in which the mayor and city council work part time and on a four-year rotation. Though the mayor is an elected official, the city council holds the governmental power, leaving the mayor to perform largely ceremonial duties.

In June of 2008, Cedar Rapids was so devastated by severe flooding that estimates say it will take the city at least a decade to recover. More than 5,000 residents were affected by the rising water, and about 4,000 homes were evacuated for safety. More than 9 square miles of Cedar Rapids were destroyed by the flooding, which resulted in hundreds of residents living in emergency shelters for several weeks following the disaster. During the first week of recovery, more than 40,000 tons of debris were removed. According to city officials, the cost of this flood is more than $1 billion and climbing. Cleanup is expected to top $500 million, with an additional $800 million needed to protect the city from another such catastrophe.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

Some of the leading employers in the city includes Rockwell Collins, Inc., RuffaloCODY, Larken, Inc. and Transamerica Occidental Life. Major industries in the city are manufacturing, retail, educational services and health care.

NewspaperARCHIVE.com is also based in Cedar Rapids and holds the distinction of being the largest newspaper archive in North America, boasting more than 150 million pages that span 250 years.

Many large businesses and industries call Cedar Rapids home including Cargill, Incorporated, Alliant Energy Corporation, Quaker Oats Company, General Mills, Inc., Qwest Communications Company LLC, Toyota Financial Services and United Fire.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

Cedar Rapids has a population of 126,396 out of which about 125,090 people are urban. The estimated rural population of the city is around 1,270. The city accommodates around 52,169 houses with 49,810 houses occupied. Renters occupy around 15,399 houses and owners occupy about 34,410 houses. The average housing density for the city is 826 houses per square mile and the estimated rent for a vacant for-rent house is about $470.

The location of Czech Village is 16th Avenue SW, which is south of the Cedar River. Czech Village is home to Czech-related businesses. Wellington Heights is located in the south side of Cedar Rapids and Moundview Heights is situated near Wellington Heights.

The walkability of the city is very good. Most of the grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops and bars are situated within a distance of 1 mile from the center of the city.

EDUCATION

There are two four-year colleges in Cedar Rapids. Coe College is a private liberal arts college associated with the Presbyterian Church, and Mount Mercy College is a Catholic liberal arts college. The University of Iowa offers an MBA campus in Cedar Rapids, while Kirkwood Community College is the only two-year college in the area. Kaplan University and Upper Iowa University both have satellite campuses in Cedar Rapids.

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art houses a great collection of art by Grant Wood, painter of "American Gothic", who lived in Cedar Rapids for many years. The African American Museum of Iowa preserves the history of black Iowans and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library is the foremost institution in the US interpreting the history of those East European cultures.

Built in the 1920s as a movie palace, the opulent Paramount Theater downtown is a now a venue for live performances.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels is the city's minor-league baseball team. The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are members of the United States Hockey League, an amateur league. They won the Clark Cup in the 2004-05 hockey season.

EVENTS

Cedar Rapids plays host to several festivals each year. Due to the large number of festivals and other activities in the city, the tourism board recommends checking the official city website for current festival dates.

  • Ushers Ferry Folk Music Festival, which features a lineup of several bands playing a variety of music.
  • Freedom Festival, which includes water skiing events, live concerts, and fireworks.
  • Houby Days, a spring festival that includes craft fairs, music, and a classic car show.
  • Fairytale Festival, a celebration of stories that centers around trolls, fairies, ogres, princesses, and knights, along with crafts, games, and music.
  • Hawkeye Downs Fair, a fair with a carnival, food, fun, and music held at the Hawkeye Downs Speedway.
  • Apple Festival, an apple festival and craft show with wood-stove cooking demonstrations and other activities for the entire family.
  • Bluesmore, a festival celebrating blues music.
  • National Bohemian, Moravian, and Slovak Folk Dance Festival, a music and dance festival.
  • Svaty Mikulas Day, a celebration of Saint Nicholas with a puppet show, a puppet-making workshop, music, and Christmas trees.
  • Wild West Weekend, which celebrates all things wild west.
  • Jazz Jubilee, a music festival with an emphasis on jazz.

RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY

Muslim culture is a significant part of Cedar Rapids heritage. Cedar Rapids is home to the National Muslim Cemetery, a Muslim-only cemetery in which all graves face Mecca. In addition, Cedar Rapids is home to Mother Mosque of America, one of the first permanent mosques in the United States. The original was established in 1934 then replaced in the early 1970s; the original was renovated by the Islamic Council of Iowa and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mother Mosque of America was one of hundreds of buildings that were damaged in the flooding of 2008. Cedar Rapids is thought to have the oldest running Muslim organization in the United States.

LOCAL MEDIA

There are four network-affiliated television stations serving Cedar Rapids:

  • KGAN (CBS), channel 2
  • KCRG (ABC), channel 9
  • KFXA (Fox), channel 28
  • KPXR (ION), channel 48

The NBC affiliate is station KWWL, channel 7, and is based out of Waterloo, Iowa. Several other stations service Cedar Rapids:

  • KWKB, channel 20
  • CW/MyNetwork TV
  • KWWF, channel 22
  • RTN, licensed to Waterloo
  • KFXB (CNT), channel 40

The two Iowa Public Television stations servicing Cedar Rapids are KIIN, channel 12, in Iowa City and KRIN, channel 32, in Waterloo. The Gazette is the daily newspaper for Cedar Rapids.

DID YOU KNOW?

Notable people from Cedar Rapids include:

  • Orville and Wilber Wright, aviators
  • Elijah Wood, actor
  • Zack Johnson, professional golfer
  • Ashton Kutcher, actor and producer
  • Kurt Warner, football player
  • Landon Cassill, race car driver
  • Paul Engle, poet
  • Conger Metcalf, artist