Cedar Rapids

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Summary

Cedar Rapids, the second largest city in the state, lies in eastern Iowa with the Cedar River at its heart. Located about 100 miles northeast of Des Moines, it is the county seat of Linn County. Residents of Cedar Rapids enjoy exceptional healthcare facilities, great schools from preschool through secondary education, and an array of places to get out and enjoy nature. Cedar Rapids is also a hub of arts and culture with numerous museums and art venues, as well as events celebrating the cultural heritage of the many Czech, Slovak, Lebanese, and Syrian immigrants who settled in the area over a century ago. The city is a major center for corn processing—its most important industry—and other major employers, including Colins Aerospace, CRST, and Quaker Oats. It is no wonder that Cedar Rapids is growing! It offers the affordability, amenities, jobs, and quality of life of a midsized city without the drawbacks of a larger metropolis.

Transportation

Cedar Rapids has been working to improve and reconnect its pedestrian network of sidewalks, walking trails, and transit amenities, and this ongoing project has made the city progressively more walkable and bike-friendly. The Cedar Rapids Transit system provides bus service across the city and is free to many riders. Most residents rely on their cars for errands and commuting, and the average one-way commute in Cedar Rapids is just under 18 minutes, well under the 26.4 national average, and there is an outstanding carpool program in place.

Activity & Entertainment

Along with being named one of the Top 100 Places to Live, Cedar Rapids has earned high marks among national surveys for its affordability and high air quality. The Cedar Rapids community is proud of its cultural heritage and is a regional center for arts and culture, including the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the National Czech and Slovak Museum & Library, the Paramount Theater, the African American Museum of Iowa, and more. The oldest standing mosque in the US, Mother Mosque of America, also calls Cedar Rapids home. The city supports a robust parks and recreation program including a golf course, swimming pools, splash pads, and two sports complexes. The area is still recovering from the Derecho winds of 2020, and crews continue their work of clearing and replanting with a new commitment to biodiversity, ensuring a growing healthy tree canopy for generations to come.

History

Once Ioway Tribal territory and followed by the Sac and Fox tribes, present day Cedar Rapids developed around a mill constructed at the last set of rapids on the Cedar River. The town was incorporated in 1849 with a population of under 400 people. In the coming decades, Cedar Rapids would be transformed by newcomers, including a large community of Czech immigrants, and the founding of Coe College. Later, the Sinclair meat packing plant became the largest of its kind, and an oatmeal mill became the flagship operation of Quaker Oats. In the 20th century, Cedar Rapids was home to artist Grant Wood, whose work can be seen in the stained-glass windows in Cedar Rapids Veterans Memorial Building. Cedar Rapids faced a history-making and regionally devastating flood in 2008, which guided the city to institute a variety of changes to mitigate challenges and prevent such extensive damage from occurring in future flood events. The city rebounded from millions of dollars in damage to homes, city buildings, and infrastructure, by coming together as neighbors to help one another, in true Iowa fashion.


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