by Jessica Waytenick •

Media Contacts: Jessica Waytenick, 800-747-7800, ext. 827 or

Quad Cities - In the 1800s, the Quad Cities area saw an explosion of commerce as new settlers recognized the economic potential of this developing region. Wealthy merchants moved to the area as the Quad Cities became the transportation hub of the Mississippi River. With the economy's continuing boom, these successful businessmen began building homes worthy of their financial standing; creating grand neighborhoods throughout the Quad Cities.

Today, these historic neighborhoods boast a variety of beautifully renovated homes and mansions that offer a unique perspective on the people and industries that developed the Quad Cities into the metropolitan area it is today.

Joined by the Mississippi River, Moline/East Moline and Rock Island are the riverfront cities in Illinois, and Bettendorf and Davenport make up the cities on the Iowa side of the river. Together, these cities and the surrounding communities make up the Quad Cities.

Start by exploring the magnificent, historical neighborhoods of Rock Island, Illinois. In 2005, it was the first municipality in Illinois to be named a "Preserve America Community" by then First Lady Laura Bush.

Experience the historic Broadway District, a grand Victorian neighborhood where old houses are regarded as treasures. Great architecture, constant restorations and a first-rate neighborhood association focused on both have made this neighborhood the place to be in the Quad Cities for old house lovers. More than 550 homes make up the Broadway collection, which features Queen Anne, Italianate and Colonial Revival architecture. The earliest homes date from 1865, but most of the area was built between 1890 and 1915, including the 1904 Robert Wagner House, a must-see at 904 23rd Street, and the towered Parker-Conner House, located at 702 20th Street. The Broadway District is listed on the National Historic Register.

The Highland Park area of Rock Island is where the area's wealthiest citizens made their homes between 1895 and 1928. All of the architectural revivals, many of which were professionally designed, are present in this exclusive neighborhood in their highest form, including Colonial, Georgian, Dutch, Tudor and Spanish. The brick streets add a special ambience to this locally designated historic district. Be sure to drive by 1920s gangster John Looney’s impressive stone mansion located at 1635 20th Street. Looney is the actual gangster Paul Newman loosely portrayed in the 2002 Dreamwork's film "Road to Perdition."

Another interesting area is known as Hill Crest and Watch Hill. The older part of Watch Hill, historically known as Hill Crest, was extremely isolated and exclusive in 1918 when the area was platted. The rolling hillsides, curving streets and copious shade trees make this quiet residential neighborhood a fitting complement to Black Hawk State Historic Site, located just to the south. Expensive and elaborate homes were built in Watch Hill from th 1920s to the 1950s. Fourteenth Street contains some of the most outstanding residences in the City. This is an enjoyable car or bike ride for architecture and nature enthusiasts.

While Rock Island is an old river town, it was still very dynamic more than 100 years after it was settled. In the bid to be seen as "modern," many of the business and government leaders of the 1920s and 1930s looked to cutting-edge architecture to visualize this attitude. Structures in the Art Deco and Art Modern styles abound in Rock Island and 22 are featured in a driving tour of the city dedicated to the modernistic movement. Especially noteworthy are the national headquarters for Royal Neighbors of America, the spectacular terra cotta on the Fort Armstrong Theater, and Rock Island High School.

Rock Island is the first in the Quad Cities area to actively advertise the tourism potential of its historic neighborhoods. At, visitors can select any number of 23 available virtual tours of historic Rock Island neighborhoods. The neighborhoods to select from include the same ones featured in the "Stroll These Sidewalks" walking tour brochure.  It also includes a comprehensive section on historic buildings and sites in Rock Island.

New in 2007 are free downloadable audio tours of 50 of the Broadway Historic District's most interesting homes. They can be saved to an iPod or other mp3 player. The Rock Island Preservation Commission has also created theme-based tours of these same buildings. Go to

Across the river in Davenport, Iowa, their historic districts and neighborhoods are some of the oldest in Iowa. Davenport also has the largest number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in the state.

Having once been home to an American Indian tribe and then a Civil War camp, McClellan Heights is the largest historic district in the State of Iowa. Much controversy surrounded the formation of this suburban neighborhood in the early 20th century. Civil War veterans from across the state wanted to turn it into a park, but the effort failed and now the streets follow winding routes along hills and ravines. Over 400 homes represent nearly every architectural style, including Colonial, Mediterranean, and Spanish to Ranch and Modern.

Parts of the Hamburg District were laid out in 1836 as part of the original town. This area with outstanding views of the river and downtown became a prime location for wealthy and working class German immigrants. The geography of the area gave rise to the term "Gold Coast", as these early Greek Revival residences sat majestically on the bluffline portion of West 6th Street between Ripley and Gaines Streets. Following the Civil War, the area saw a proliferation of picturesque designs constructed including Victorian Gothic, Second Empire, Italianate, and Queen Anne. By the turn of the century the Hamburg district began to display the more classical and symmetrical influences of the Georgian Colonial Revival and Craftsman styles.

VanderVeer was Davenport's first planned urban park and was patterned after Central Park in New York City. The 33-acre park is the focal point with houses dating from 1895 to 1915. The houses are remarkably consistent in size and spacing while remaining diverse in style, ranging from Queen Anne to Tudor Revival.

Riverview Terrace, located in the center of Northwest Davenport at the top of the river bluff, includes 24 dwellings that offer some of the city's finest examples of Italianate and Georgian/Federal Revival. Surrounding the three-acre Riverview Terrace Park, this shaded and intimate neighborhood offers an impressive view of Davenport, the Mississippi River, and Rock Island.

In 2007, a 33-acre historic commercial district in downtown Moline, Illinois, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are 113 buildings within the district representing 14 architectural styles: Gothic, Italianate, Queen Anne, Beaux Arts, Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, Tudor Revival, Late Gothic Revival, Italian Renaissance, Prairie School, Commercial Style, Moderne, Art Deco, and Chateauesque.

The district has been the traditional center of activity since even before the city's incorporation.  David Sears and John Deere built their mills on the Mississippi riverfront and Moline expanded from the downtown outward.

John Deere also built his home in Moline and a drive through the neighborhood from 13th Street to 7th Street on 11th Avenue will give you a glimpse of the family life that existed in these stately homes once occupied by John Deere, his daughters, and other relatives. Two of these residences, the Butterworth Center and Deere-Wiman House, are open for tours by appointment. The Rock Island County Historical Society Museum is located across the street in an 1870 Italianate -style house. All located in the historic Overlook neighborhood, this area boasts a wide range of historically significant homes that have been maintained or restored to their original detail by their owners.  Several of the neighborhood's homes have been passed on from generation to generation, and many have been designated as local landmarks.

Located just upriver from the Quad Cities, LeClaire, Iowa, is located at a point where the Mississippi River makes a sharp bend to the southwest.  LeClaire's historic bond with the river and the bold men who tamed the Upper Rapids is still visible in the homes and buildings they left behind.  Their homes have been recognized as part of the nine-block Cody Road Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Most of the homes are located along Cody Road and Second Street with a few between Wisconsin and Dodge Streets.

All of the homes and buildings included in the Historic District were constructed in the mid-19th century, mostly between 1850-1870, though style, form, size and materials of construction vary.  Most prominent is the Italianate, with examples of both brick and frame construction.  The Greek Revival is expressed in several modes, ranging from the relatively sophisticated to the decidedly vernacular.

Walking and driving tour brochures are available at the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau's area Visitor Centers.

Along with discovering its history, the Quad Cities is also known for its abundance of special events, festivals, attractions, museums, biking/hiking trails, river boats, gaming, golf, outdoor recreation, shopping, performances, professional sports teams, restaurants, and, of course, the Mississippi River.

For information on the Quad Cities area, call the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800 or visit their website at

When You Go
Rock Island Preservation Commission

Davenport Historic Preservation Commission

Moline Preservation Society

Rock Island County Historical Society Museum
822 11th Avenue, Moline, IL

LeClaire River Pilots' Homes Self-Guided Tour

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