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Interesting Facts about Cedar Rapids

Aerial View of Cedar Rapids IowaCedar Rapids has a rich and colorful history. We take great pride and interest and everything that has made our city strong and prosperous as we continue to build and rebuild our traditions, culture, and infrastructure. It all started with buying out the squatting rights from an alleged horse thief back in 1841. The event is described in greater detail below, along with more interesting facts about Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Welcome to the City of Five Seasons! 

A Brief Timeline of Interesting Facts 

1837, A Horse Thief: It is thought that the first European settler was Osgood Shepherd. He built a log cabin on the Cedar River around 1837. It has been said that even if he wasn’t a horse thief, he definitely hung around horse thieves. 

1841, A Better Beginning: How do you get rid of a horse thief? It’s been a problem throughout history. Sometimes they’re branded, tortured, exiled, or put to death. It was simple in the case of Osgood Shepherd. He was simply bought out. He was never proven to be a horse thief, so money was the simple solution. In 1841 George Greene and Nicholas Brown formed a partnership with a few others and purchased Shepherd’s claim. The town was incorporated in 1849. 

1901, Grant Wood: The artist was born in Anamosa, Iowa in 1891 and moved to Cedar Rapids in 1901 after his father passed away. The farmer and his wife depicted in Grant Wood’s 1930 “American Gothic” painting have inspired countless artists and satirists. The painting depicting rural life in the American Midwest is a cultural icon. It has been used in advertisements and cartoons time and time again. 

1927, Give Me Oats: The flagship operation of the Quaker Oats Company was built in downtown Cedar Rapids. It was completed in 1927. It is the 4th tallest building in Cedar Rapids. 

1950 Statue, Give Me Lady Liberty: A Boy Scouts commissioner from Kansas City Missouri had the idea of creating miniature replicas of the Statue of Liberty in 1950, to celebrate the Boy Scouts of America’s 40th anniversary. A Chicago company was hired to make the statues. The copper statues were made available to scout councils around the country. One of these statues was purchased by the local chapter in Iowa and given to the City of Cedar Rapids. It became the city’s first public statue and was placed in Green Square Park in 1950. The 8 ½ foot tall statue was moved to May’s Island in 2003 only to be swept away by the flood of 2008. Lady Liberty was recovered, restored by members of the Sheet Metal Workers Union, and returned to the island in 2011. 

2008, An Unfortunate Flood: Cedar Rapids was one of the hardest hit areas in the 2008 Iowa flood. 10 square miles were affected. 5,238 houses and 940 businesses were damaged. The aforementioned replica of the Statue of Liberty washed away in the flood. The Cedar River reached 31.12 feet. 

2016, Another Unfortunate Flood: The Cedar River reached 22 feet. It was the second highest recorded crest of the river. 

2022, Flood Control Master Plan: Temporary protection has been used from flooding following the 2008 flood including the placement of sand-filled HESCO barriers and the closing of underground storm sewer systems. The city is investing in a permanent Flood Control System. This system will include floodwalls, levees, and gates when complete (as well as aesthetic elements).

A Nickname and Bragging Rights 

Five Seasons: The city’s nickname is the “City of Five Seasons”. The fifth season is simply the time used to enjoy the other four. 

Give Me Corn: Cedar Rapids is the largest corn-processing city in the entire world. The larger processing plants include Quaker Oats, General Mills, and Archer Daniels. 

Coldwell Banker Hedges Realty is a locally owned and operated affiliate of Coldwell Banker Real Estate. We have been helping Midwesterners with all of their real estate needs since 1887. Our roots are strong and we look forward to helping you find the perfect home in the Cedar Rapids & Corridor area and establish your family roots in Iowa. Contact us today!

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