It’s the Year of the River in Cedar Rapids

If you’re local to the Cedar Rapids area you’ve probably heard of this year referred to as the “Year of the River.”  I saw the slogan on a recent newsletter from the Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and decided to investigate.

In May, 2007 the City of Cedar Rapids and Linn County proclaimed 2008 the Year of the River. The City of Cedar Rapids’ Web site stated that they hoped doing so would bring attention to the Riverfront and generate private and public investment.


According to the year of the river’s Web site:

The Year of the River should encourage collaboration between the County and City governments, public and private stakeholders, and interested individuals and groups who want a share in the revitalization of the Red Cedar and its banks and should act as a stimulus to investment in our Riverfront for decades to come. “Year of the Red Cedar River 2008″ is the rallying point of support for the City’s Vision of sustainable growth and quality of life. 

Hold on – The Red Cedar River? 

Was I even on the right Web site?  I’ve lived here practically my entire life and this is the first time I’ve heard of the Cedar River – which I can practically see from my office – referred to as the Red Cedar River. 

I needed to investigate further.

The City on the Rapids
In 1841 the town was named Rapids City after the rapids on the Cedar River, and in 1848 the name was changed to Cedar Rapids. In the early 1840s a dam was built across the river to provide power for the grist and lumber industries. Cedar Rapids was incorporated as a city in 1849, and the town of Kingston, located on the west side of the river, was annexed to Cedar Rapids in 1870.

May’s Island was purchased in 1908, and so this is the year we will celebrate the centennial. May’s Island, which many of you know, is in the middle of the Cedar River in downtown Cedar Rapids.  Cedar Rapids is one of only two mainland cities to have their governmental offices on an island (the other being Paris, France). According to The Gazette in 1908, “The location was chosen to unify the East and West sides of the River and the purchase in essence meant cementing of the East and West sides of the City.”

The Cedar River is named after the juniper (also called “red cedar”) trees growing there. It is also sometimes called the Red Cedar River.

Well, there you have it.  Maybe this is common knowledge and I just missed it.

Anyway – It’s time to celebrate the Year of the River!  The city has a lot of great events planned, and we’ll try to highlight a few on the blog. 

 Other Info
Another local blogger describes another “Iowa River Town” – a beautiful destination if you’re in the mood for a daytrip.

posted by: heatherjoy77

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2 Comments

Filed under Community Events, Editorial commentary

2 responses to “It’s the Year of the River in Cedar Rapids

  1. Kristen

    Do you have any updates on the 5 in 15 that Cedar Rapids is doing, might be a nice followup to this great Cedar Rapids history. By the way good article, didn’t know it was the Red Cedar either.

  2. heatherjoy77

    Thanks! I’ll see what I can find out about the 15 in 5 and create a post on that topic too.

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