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Davenport, Iowa

Davenport is a city along the Mississippi River in the American state of Iowa. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 98,359 and an area of 64.9 square miles. According to a 2007 estimate, the city had grown slightly to 98,975. Davenport is part of the Quad Cities, along with neighboring Bettendorf and the Illinois cities of Moline, East Moline and Rock Island. Davenport is the county seat of Scott County. Davenport was founded in 1836 by Antoine LeClaire and named after his friend Colonel George Davenport after a signing of a peace treaty ending the Black Hawk War. As of 2008, the current mayor is Bill Gluba.

Davenport is the home of Saint Ambrose University and Palmer College of Chiropractic, which is the birthplace of chiropractic medicine and wellness technique. The Figge Art Museum was founded as the nation's first municipal art museum. Several well-known annual music festivals take place in Davenport. Notable festivals include the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, The Mississippi Valley Fair, and the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, dedicated to Davenport native Bix Beiderbecke. An internationally known seven-mile (11 km) foot race called the Bix 7 is run during the festival. Davenport has a class A minor league baseball team, the Quad Cities River Bandits. The city has 27 parks, and over 12 miles of recreational paths for biking or walking.

Davenport is served by three interstates, along with two major United States highways. Davenport has a low crime rate, along with a low rate of unemployment. In 2007, Davenport, along with neighboring Rock Island, Illinois won the "City Livability Award". Davenport has a number of notable natives, including jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke and NFL running back, Roger Craig.


In 1832, Sauk Indian tribe chief Keokuk, and United States Army General Winfield Scott signed a treaty to end the Black Hawk War. Antoine LeClaire, who was part French and part Pottawattamie, served as translator. A generous portion of land was gifted by Chief Keokuk to Marguerite LeClaire, Antoine's wife, as she was the granddaughter of a Sac Indian tribe chief. Keokuk stipulated that Antoine build their home on the exact spot where the treaty was signed or forfeit the land. Antoine did so, finishing the Treaty House in the spring of 1833. Davenport was established in 1836 by Antoine LeClaire and named after his good friend Colonel George Davenport.

Colonel Davenport arrived in 1816 with the establishment of Fort Armstrong. He acted as a "sutler", or supplier, for the United States Army garrisoned at Fort Armstrong. Fort Armstrong was located on the northwestern tip of Arsenal Island with the purpose of monitoring fur trade traffic in the area and keeping the peace between local Native American tribes. On July 4, 1845, Colonel Davenport was assaulted in his home by the Banditti of the Prairie men who thought he had a fortune in his safe. Beaten and left for dead, he survived long enough to give a full description of the criminals before he died that night. Five men were charged with the murder of George Davenport, and all but one, who escaped before the trial, was hung for the murder.

In 1837, shortly after Scott County was formed Davenport, and rival neighbor Rockingham campaigned to become the county seat. After three elections, Davenport finally officially won. To ensure the question of county seat would not arise again, Davenport built the first county courthouse. By the 1850s, Germans made up Davenport's largest settlement group. By 1858, more than one-fifth of Davenport's nearly 11,000 residences were Germans.

The first railroad bridge built across the Mississippi River connected Davenport and Rock Island, IL in 1856, built by the Rock Island Railroad. Steamboaters saw nationwide railroads as a threat to their business. On May 6, 1856, just weeks after it was completed, a steamboater crashed the Effie Afton steamboat into the bridge. The owner of the Effie Afton, John Hurd, filed a lawsuit against The Rock Island Railroad Company. The Rock Island Railroad Company selected Abraham Lincoln as their trial lawyer. The United States Supreme Court, decided the bridge could remain.

Just before the start of the Civil War, Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood declared Davenport to be Iowa's first military headquarters and five camps were set up in the city to aid the Union. After the Civil War, hundreds of Iowa children were left homeless. On November 16, 1865, the "Iowa Soldier's Orphans' Home" (renamed the Annie Wittenmyer Home in 1949) was opened. Starting in 1876, children from broken homes as well as orphans from all of Iowa's 99 counties would live in the home. The home was a self-contained community, containing residences, a school, tailor shop, and a chapel. After 110 years of service, the home closed in 1975.

The Davenport City Hall was built in 1895, for the meager price of $100,000. Palmer College of Chiropractic was also built in 1897. The 1920s brought an economic and building boom. The city's skyline began to form, with the construction of commercial buildings like the Kahl Building, the Parker Building, and the Capitol Theatre. Large national department stores also arrived downtown, including Montgomery Ward, Sears and J.C. Penney.

By 1932, thousands of Davenporters were on public relief due to the Great Depression. A shantytown grew in the west end of the city along the Mississippi River. Sickness, hunger, and unsanitary living conditions plagued the area. That would soon end, as Davenport experienced a post-war boom after World War II. Oscar Mayer, Ralston Purina, and other companies all built plants in west Davenport, and 1956 brought the Interstate highway network to Davenport. By 1959, more than 1,000 homes a year were being constructed. By the late 1970s, the good times were over for both downtown and local businesses and industries. The farm crisis of the 1980s hit Davenport and the rest of the Quad Cities hard; 35,000 workers lost their jobs through the entire Quad Cities area. The Caterpillar Plant on the city's north side closed, causing many jobs to be lost. The 1990s brought the beginnings of a turnaround for the city. Many renovations and building additions have occurred to revitalize downtown, including fixing up Modern Woodmen Park, building the Skybridge, and the Figge Art Museum.


Davenport is located at (41.542982, -90.590745). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 64.9 square miles (168.2 km²), of which, 62.8 square miles (162.6 km²) of it is land and 2.2 square miles (5.6 km²) of it (3.31%) is water.

Davenport is located approximately 170 miles west of Chicago, Illinois and 170 miles east of the Iowa state capital, Des Moines. They city is located about 200 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri and 265 miles southeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Farmland surrounds Davenport, outside the Quad Cities area. The Mississippi River in Davenport is around 30 to 40 feet deep in the middle. The river is wide, where the Centennial Bridge crosses. The Mississippi River runs from east to west along Davenport's banks, as opposed to the north to south direction the river flows the rest of the way.

Davenport is located on the banks of the Mississippi River. From the river the city starts to slope north up a hill, which is steep at some points. The streets of the city, especially downtown and in the central part of the town follow a grid design. Davenport often makes national headlines when the Mississippi River floods. It is the largest city bordering the Mississippi that has no permanent floodwall or levee. Davenport prefers the open access to the river for parks and vistas over having access cut off by dikes and levees. Davenport has adopted ordinances that any new construction in the floodplain must be elevated above the 100-year flood level or protected with walls. As a result, former mayor, Phil Yerington, publicly expressed the view that if they "let Mother Nature take her course, we'll all be better off". An example of a building that is elevated or flood proofed in Davenport is the Figge Art Museum. During the Great Flood of 1993, the water crested at on July 9. This is nearly above the flood stage. Major flooding in Davenport causes many problems. Roads in and around the downtown area, including U.S. Route 67 are closed, and cause increased traffic on other city roads. The effects of major flooding can be long lasting. For example, Credit Island in the city's southwest corner remained closed for 5 ½ months, while crews worked on cleaning up damage, and removing river debris.


Davenport has a humid continental climate. The summers are marked by hot, humid days. Winter has cold temperatures, and often high winds. Snow is likely from November through February. Average snow fall is per year. January is on average the coldest month, while July is the warmest. The wettest month is on average June, followed closely by May. The highest temperature recorded in Davenport was on July 15, 1988. The lowest record temperature, , was reached on two consecutive days, February 2–3, 1996.

While situated squarely in the path of Tornado Alley, Davenport is believed to be protected by a blessing from a mass mound. The Mass Mound is a sort of an alter, to protect the city from tornadoes. It is, however, not really an altar at all, but a mound on a hillside. It came in 1835 in the woodsy bluffs of what now is Tremont Avenue and East 12th Street. The Reverend Charles Van Quickenborne, a Jesuit missionary, erected a giant cross and a temporary altar on what he called a Mass Mound. He offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, blessing the hamlet below, now Davenport, against the tornadoes that had been devastating this Mississippi River valley. The reason for no tornadoes may be due to the fact that the Mississippi River and Rock River come together close to the city. Either way, no devastating tornado has ever touched down in Davenport. Davenport was located on the longest stretch of the Mississippi river with rapids. At this point, the river also runs east to west.


Davenport has a variety of neighborhoods dating back to the 1840s. The city can be divided into five areas for neighborhoods: Downtown, central, east end, near north and northwest, and west end. The neighborhoods contain many architectural designs including Victorian, Queen Anne, Tudor Revival, and others. Many of the original neighborhoods were inhabited by German settlers. The original city plot was around current day Ripley and 5th Streets, where Antoine LeClaire had built his house. Housing is one of the most affordable in the nation.

Downtown contains the two tallest buildings in the Quad Cities, the Wells Fargo bank building is 17 stories tall and the MidAmerican building is 15 stories. Downtown contains a few other tall buildings, including the 11 story Black Hawk Hotel and the 10 story Kahl Building.

The central neighborhoods originally contained many of the working class Germans that settled the town. The Hamburg neighborhood contains the most architecturally significant residents in the old German neighborhoods. The central neighborhoods contain Palmer College of Chiropractic and many commercial buildings on Brady Street, Harrison Street (both Highway 61), and Main Street.

The east neighborhoods date back to 1850 and contain some of the most expensive and elegant houses in Davenport. The proximity and commanding view of the river kept these neighborhoods a fashionable address long after the originally families had departed. The east end neighborhood, The Village of East Davenport, consists of residential and commercial buildings, mostly small specialty shops. Lindsay Park, in The Village, was used as parade grounds for Civil War soldiers from Camp McClellan.

The north and west end neighborhoods also contained many working class Germans and was plotted in the 1850s with extensive development occurring in the 1870s. Vander Veer Park is a large park with large houses surrounding it. The houses were built between 1895 and 1915 and are Queen Anne and Tudor Revival style. Development of the Vander Veer Park was the first major beautification effort outside two small spaces in downtown. Today the park contains a lagoon and a small botanical park. The Riverview Terrace neighborhood is located on a bluff overlooking downtown, the Mississippi River, and Rock Island.


As of the 2000 census, there were 98,359 people, 39,124 households, and 24,804 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,566.5 people per square mile (604.8/km²). There were 41,350 housing units at an average density of 658.5/sq mi (254.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.68% White, 9.24% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 2.00% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.32% from other races, and 2.36% from two or more races. 5.36% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 39,124 households out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 13.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.6% were non-families. Of all households, 29.5% were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.03.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 94.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,378 with families earning $51,445. Males had a median income of $41,853 versus $30,002 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,828. About 10.5% of families and 14.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.2% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those ages 65 or over. The average home price in Davenport is $129,300.


Crime in Davenport is on the decline. Violent crimes, which include, robbery, rape, and assault have fallen 35.7% from 2002–2006. Murders are down 42.9% from 2000 to four murders in 2006. From 2005 to 2006, stolen vehicles decreased by 36.6% to 295, burglaries decreased 12.7% to 1,449, aggravated assaults decreased by 46.3% to 481, and robberies decreased by 10.5% to 271. Forcible sex abuse is the only crime with an increase of 17.4% to 142.


Davenport's biggest labor industry is manufacturing, with over 7,600 jobs with a vast majority of the jobs coming from the John Deere factory on the north edge of the city. Davenport is the headquarters for upscale department store Von Maur. Von Maur was started in 1872 by German immigrant J. H. C. Petersen and his three sons. The store was originally a -by-50-foot store in downtown Davenport. In 1916, the J. H. C. Petersen Company sold their store to a partnership of R.H. Harned, C.J. von Maur, and Cable von Maur. Today Von Maur has 22 stores in nine states. Davenport is also the headquarters of Lee Enterprises. Lee Enterprises publishes 55 daily newspapers and more than 300 weekly newspapers, shoppers and specialty publications, plus online sites, in 23 states. Davenport, and the rest of the Quad Cities, has an unemployment rate of 4.8%. Davenport has a lower cost of living than the national average.


Points of interest

Downtown Davenport has many points of interest including the Davenport Public Library, the Davenport Skybridge, Figge Art Museum, River Music Experience, Putnam Museum and IMAX Theater, Modern Woodmen Park which is home of the Quad City River Bandits baseball team and the Centennial Bridge.

Several Davenport cultural and educational institutions figure prominently in the history of the United States, particularly west of the Mississippi river. The Figge Art Museum was founded in 1925 as the first municipal art museum in the country. The Putnam Museum was founded in 1867 and The Quad City Symphony Orchestra, headquartered in downtown Davenport, was founded in 1915. The Davenport Public Library began in 1839 and is one of the oldest public library systems west of the Mississippi.

The first chiropractic school in the world, Palmer College of Chiropractic, founded in 1897, is located just north of downtown. Uptown features the Great Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, which hosts fairs, stock car racing and many other events. NorthPark Mall is the city's main mall sporting up to 160 stores. Its companion, SouthPark Mall, is located in Moline. Brady Street Stadium is home to Davenport high school football games, as well as football games for Saint Ambrose University. Davenport offers a number of great parks. Credit Island park includes a bike path, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, and fishing along the Mississippi River. Vander Veer Park has a small botanical garden. The park also includes a walking path, a pond, and a large fountain. For those that prefer a scenic overlook, there is Mount Ida. Mount Ida is on a summit overlooking the Mississippi River.

Events and festivals

Bix Fest is a three-day music festival with many traditional jazz bands held in tribute to internationally renowned jazz cornetist, pianist, composer, and Davenport native Bix Beiderbecke. The festival was started in August 1971, and the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society was founded one year later to organized and produce it. 2008 was the 38th consecutive festival. In addition to the Bix Fest, the Wells Fargo Street Fest features live music, food, and vendors until 12 a.m. The annual Bix 7 road race, started in 1975, has often been run by over 20,000 people. In late July or early August, the six-day Great Mississippi Valley Fair features major grandstand concerts, carnival rides, attractions, and food vendors. Sturgis on the River is a large annual gathering of motorcycles, which includes bands and food vendors.

Sports and recreation

Davenport and the Quad Cities are home to many sports teams. Davenport is home to the Quad Cities River Bandits baseball team. The i wireless Center in Moline is home to the Quad City Flames hockey team, and the Quad City Steamwheelers arena football team. The Quad Cities Riverhawks are a Premier Basketball League team. They play their home games at Wharton Field House on the old Marycrest International University campus. Davenport high schools are in the Mississippi Athletic Conference for sports.

Davenport has 27 parks with a total of 2,200 acres (8.9 km²) of land. Major parks include Credit Island, a park in southwest Davenport located alongside the Mississippi River. The park includes a golf course, rugby, soccer, baseball, and softball fields. Fejervary Park, which contains a pool and children's zoo, has approximately 20,000 visitors each year since 1996. Junge Park is situated along the Duck Creek Parkway and includes baseball and softball fields, along with sand volleyball, and basketball courts. LeClaire Park is located right on the banks of the Mississippi River as it is also located near Modern Woodmen Park. LeClaire Park hosts many summer events including River Roots Live and Ribfest. Bands for the Bix Fest play in the park each July, and celebrations for Red, White and Boom, the fourth of July events take place in the park. Vander Veer Botanical Park, welcomes approximately 25,000 visitors to continuous floral shows year-round. The rose garden and conservatory are especially popular as wedding sites.

Davenport has two recreational trails for biking or walking. Duck Creek Parkway, extends from Emeis Park in west Davenport east to Bettendorf along Duck Creek. Riverfront Parkway, extends along the Mississippi waterfront from Credit Island to Bettendorf. Both these trails continue into Bettendorf. Plans are being discussed to connect the two trails in Riverdale. Davenport offers four public golf courses, designed and maintained to satisfy all types of golfing interests. Golfers may test their skills on one of the 9-hole or 18-hole courses. More than 120,000 rounds are played on these courses each year.

Davenport offers a few river related activities. The Celebration Belle offers river cruises from a one and a half hour sightseeing cruise, to an all day, three meal cruises up to Dubuque, Iowa. The Channel Cat boat offers rides across the river, to two stops in Iowa and three stops in Illinois. Riders can take their bicycles on the boat, and be connected to the bike paths that each state has on its river front.


The major daily newspaper in Davenport is the Quad City Times. An alternative free newspaper, River Cities Reader, is published in Davenport. All four major television networks have stations in the area, including KWQC (NBC) and KLJB (Fox), in Davenport itself, and WHBF (CBS), located in Rock Island, and WQAD (ABC) in Moline. The Quad Cities ranks as the 96th largest market for television, and the 144th largest market for radio. Radio station WOC made its local broadcasting debut on February 18, 1922. It is the second licensed station on the air. In 1933, WOC hired future President Ronald Regan as a staff announcer.

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival featured a movie called Sugar. Much of the movie was filmed at Modern Woodmen Park. In the movie, Miguel "Sugar" Santos has a golden arm and gets called to play professional baseball to America, first at a spring training camp in Phoenix, Arizona and then with the Class A minor league team in the Quad-Cities.


Davenport currently uses the mayor-council form of local government consisting of a mayor, currently in 2008, Bill Gluba, and a 10-person council. One person is elected from each of the eight wards, and two at-large aldermen are elected to represent the whole city. Nonpartisan elections are held in odd-numbered years. The mayor is the city's chief executive officer. He or she approves, vetoes, or takes no action on all ordinances, amendments, or resolutions passed by the City Council. The mayor presides at City Council Meetings and can vote in case of a tie. The mayor is also responsible for appointing members of city boards and commissions. The city council has the responsibility of setting all municipal policies not designated by city charter or state legislation such as adopting ordinances and resolutions and approving the city budget. The city administrator, currently Craig Malin, is appointed by the mayor and is subject to confirmation by a two-thirds vote of the entire membership of the city council. City wide goals through 2011 include having a financially responsible government, have a growing economy, revitalize neighborhoods, and upgrade city infrastructure and public facilities.

The 2008 fiscal year budget is $161.2 million and decrease of 5.68% from 2007 due to program reduction in the capital improvements budget. The city's general fund receives about 78% of its revenue from property taxes, while 80% of the expense goes to personnel costs. The city has given a few surveys for citizens to rate the quality of life and city services. The 2004 survey stated 44% of citizens said they support increasing revenue to maintain city services. The largest department in the city is the public works department with a budget of $34.9 million. At less than half that budget, the fire department is second with $15.1 million. The police department has a budget of $10.9 million, the parks department has $5.8 million, and the Davenport Public Library has a budget of $3.9 million.


Davenport public schools serve nearly 17,000 students in the communities of Davenport, Blue Grass, Buffalo, and Walcott. The Davenport Community School District is the second largest school district in Iowa. Davenport has three public high schools: Central, West, and North and one private high school: Assumption. There are six public intermediate schools and 22 public elementary schools. There are also six private kindergartens through eighth grade schools. The high schools are part of the Mississippi Athletic Conference for sports. The city has four higher education schools Palmer Chiropractic College, Saint Ambrose University, Kaplan University, and Hamilton Technical College. Marycrest International University was a university in Davenport from 1939 to 2002 when it closed and became senior citizen housing.



Three interstate highways serve Davenport: Interstate 80, Interstate 280 and Interstate 74. U.S. Highway 61, U.S. Highway 6 and U.S. Highway 67 also go through Davenport; U.S. 67 crosses over to Illinois via the Centennial Bridge. Davenport is connected to the Illinois side of the Quad Cities by a total of four bridges across the Mississippi River. Other highways include Iowa Highway 22 (on the city's southwest side) and Iowa Highway 130, along Northwest Boulevard on Davenport's north edge. For air travel, Davenport Municipal Airport – located adjacent to the city's northern city limits – serves smaller aircraft, while the Quad City International Airport across the river in Moline, Illinois is the closest commercial airport. Major railroads include the Iowa Interstate Railroad and the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern. Two national U.S. recreation trails intersect in Davenport: the Mississippi River Trail and the American Discovery Trail.

Amtrak currently does not serve Davenport or the Quad Cities. The closest stations are about 45 miles away in Burlington, Iowa and Galesburg, Illinois. The two current United States Senators from Iowa, Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley, and the two Illinois Senators, Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, sent a letter to Amtrak asking them to get plans started to get rail service to the Quad Cities. They hope to see passenger rail service up and running in two years from Iowa City to the Quad Cities and from the Quad Cities to Chicago. Greyhound bus service has a station in Davenport. The building is shared with the local Davenport Citibus.

Davenport Citibus

Public transit appeared in Davenport in 1969 when the city created a City Transit Authority. The authority at first provides monetary support to Davenport City Lines Bus Company, which was a privately owned company. After a few years, the city purchased the Davenport City Lines, and placed the operation of public transportation under the jurisdiction of the City's Department of Municipal Transportation. Today, Davenport CitiBus is a division of the Department of Public Works. Davenport CitiBus has a total of twenty vehicles, and covers approximately 30 square miles of the city. CitiBus connects with both Bettendorf Transit and the Illinois Quad Cities mass transit system, MetroLINK. In 2007, Citibus saw a ridership of 1,022,815 customers. Ridership as of September 2008 had grown to 1,045,000 due in part to high gas prices.

Utilities and health care

Electricity to Davenport, and the rest of the Iowa Quad Cities is provided by MidAmerican Energy Company. Water is provided by the Mississippi River and is treated by the Iowa American Water Company. The water treatment facility is located in southeast Davenport. The contaminates in the water are far below government standards.

Davenport is served by two hospitals, Genesis East and Genesis West. Together the facilities have 502 beds. The hospital employs more than 450 physicians and 3,100 staff members. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, the nation’s leading credentialing organization, awarded Genesis Medical Center the prestigious Magnet designation for excellence in nursing services.

Notable natives

Notable Davenporters include jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke, after whom the Bix 7 road race and jazz festival are named. The artist Isabel Bloom was raised in Davenport; she is the creator of concrete figurines that bear her name. Other natives include the aviation pioneer Samuel Cody and the actress Lara Flynn Boyle. Sports figures born in Davenport include NFL running back Roger Craig and former middleweight boxing champion Michael Nunn.

Sister cities

Davenport has three sister cities. Kaiserslautern, Germany is the first sister city of Davenport. They became sister cities on June 10, 1960. The coastal city of Ilhéus in Bahia, Brazil became Davenport's sister city on January 31, 2005. Davenport and Carlow County, Ireland, became a sister city on September 26, 2006.

Livability Award

Davenport (along with neighboring Rock Island, Illinois) won the "2007 City Livability Award" in the small-city category from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Tom Cochran, Executive Director of the Conference, stated that the award "gives the Conference a chance to highlight mayoral leadership in making urban areas safer, cleaner and more livable." The award acknowledges achievements from the "RiverVision" plan of Davenport and Rock Island; "RiverVision is a bi-state collaboration between Davenport and Rock Island to transform the Mississippi River’s edge into one of the most compelling waterfronts in the nation."

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