Historic, culturally vibrant, and situated right next to the world-famous Mississippi River, Rock Island, Illinois is one of the Quad Cities along with Moline, East Moline, and the Iowa cities of Davenport and Bettendorf. With the wide variety of housing options available throughout the area, whether you’re looking to move into a historic home, a new downtown condo, a shiny new spot in the heart of the city (lovingly referred to as “The District”) or prefer a more quiet and wooded homestead away from it all, Rock Island has a property for you.
When you buy a home in Rock Island, IL, you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty along the Mississippi River and explore the many outdoor attractions this beautiful area has to offer. Rock Island has so much to see and do, which makes this one of the best places to buy a home.
The original Rock Island, from which the city gets its name, is the largest island on the Mississippi River. It is now called “Arsenal Island” and it houses the Rock Island Arsenal, the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the U.S. (which also employs over 6,000 people). The city’s population has reached about 40,000 (and is still growing!), and has a total metropolitan area of almost 400,000.
As one of the first settlements established in the region, and then later, a growing hub for steamboat traffic, bridges, and railroads—Rock Island never stopped its upward trajectory or lost its pioneering spirit. Many families and young professionals call Rock Island home. It’s the perfect place to spread wings and explore all that Quad Cities have to offer.
Rock Island is everybody’s “hometown.” Nestled between the Rock River and the Mississippi River, residents are welcoming and visitors feel like they’re home as soon as they get here. “The QC” or the Quad Cities connect residents to a variety of opportunities for both work and play. Rock Island’s small-town feel and connected community make moving here a breeze—locals are happy to share their favorite places to visit and are always willing to lend a helping hand.
The Rock Island-Milan School District, Rockridge School District, Augustana College, and many private schools serve area families. The Rock Island-Milan School District is home to more than 10 public schools, high schools, junior highs, and elementary schools, as well as alternative education centers. Private schools including Jordan Catholic Elementary School and Alleman Catholic High School also serve the region providing a multitude of different educational options for families and young professionals and the price of living is lower than in the majority of states throughout the U.S.
There are four major districts in Rock Island—The Downtown Rock Island District, College Hilltop, Watch Hill & Hillcrest Neighborhoods, and the Broadway Historic District. Visit the downtown area for murals, craft breweries, and a selfie in front of the Blues Brothers statue. College Hilltop has great antique and gift shops and is home to the Augustana College campus and of course, the QC’s Vikings. Watch Hill and the Hillcrest Neighborhoods feature elaborate homes and architecture, and the Broadway Historic District is perfect for anyone looking to live in grand homes that feature Victorian architecture.
The District (Downtown Rock Island) is lined with art galleries, a casino, theaters, nightclubs, coffee shops, restaurants, and tons of shopping. Once you’ve gotten a feel for the city, get a feel for the beautiful nature surrounding it! Parks, golf courses, marinas, bike paths, festivals, the Quad City Botanical Center, and historic tours, should be next on your list to check out.
During the summertime, Schwiebert Park at the riverfront for daytime splashing through the fountains and free, family-friendly nighttime concerts are a popular favorite, and the Black Hawk State Historic Site and Broadway Historic District are some of the best places to get a true understanding of the area and its history. And don’t forget to visit the Longview Park Conservatory and Gardens in the spring, the colors are unbelievable!
Head to the Rock Island Public library for exciting events all year long and the Boetje’s Mustard Factory for some treats. In the fall, head to the Chippiannock Cemetery for a spooky tour before popping over to Jumer’s Casino & Hotel for some nonstop gaming, luxury amenities, and world-class dining.
Some other signature events include the Ya Maka My Weekend and the annual bi-state St. Patrick’s Day Parade—one of the largest St. Patty’s Day parades of its kind in the country!
Being part of the Quad Cities offers residents many opportunities for work in both Illinois and Iowa. The major, private-sector employers in the area provide jobs, careers, and employment opportunities for residents across the QC’s six-county region and span multiple industries which continue to grow consistently and provide the integral foundation that makes the region what it is today.
Some of the largest employers in the area include:
Don’t forget to check out the many opportunities in The District, too! With so many things to do and see, many people choose to work in Rock Island’s thriving downtown area at local restaurants, breweries, art galleries, and more.
Explore homes for sale in Rock Island, Illinois, and get more information about what it is like to live in the Quad Cities and the exciting town of Rock Island.
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Moline, IL 61265
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The Indian settlement of Saukenuk was located on the south side of the bluff between the Mississippi River and the Rock River, just above their confluence. This site (now in the city of Rock Island) may have been occupied by Indians as long as 12,000 years ago. In the 1700s, about 7,000 Sac and Fox Indians lived here in one of the largest Indian settlements in North America.
In 1816, a garrison of U.S. soldiers arrived and began constructing Fort Armstrong on Rock Island, the largest island in the Mississippi River. Riverboat traffic fueled the growth of several communities in the area. A city plat, under the name Stephenson, was filed in 1835. The name was changed to Rock Island in 1841.
The first railroad bridge to cross the Mississippi was constructed between Rock Island and Davenport in 1856. The Quad Cities became a major commercial and manufacturing center with roads, rail and river barge traffic hauling the emigrants, supplies and produce of the heartland of America.
The Rock Island Arsenal was established by an Act of Congress in 1862. It is today the largest arsenal operated by the United States, producing munitions for the U.S. Military and 6,000 local jobs for the Quad Cities economy. In 1875, Augustana College moved from Chicago to Rock Island and established its campus on the north side of the bluff.
Rock Island is located on a bluff on the south bank of the Mississippi River directly across from Davenport. It is the county seat of Rock Island County. In 2007, the city won the “2007 Livability” award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the small-city category, making Rock Island real estate even more coveted.
The city covers an area of 15.9 square miles and has a population density of 2,402 people/square mile.
To learn more about Rock Island, you can explore the new web series about living here.
Rock Island is home to a variety of historic locations, including the Black Hawk Historic Site on the location of the Saukenuk Indian Village. The John Hauberg Indian Museum provides further insight into Rock Island’s earliest residents. The Rock Island Arsenal has a number of interesting locations including the Arsenal Museum, the original home of Colonel Davenport, and a Civil War Cemetery. The Broadway Historic District preserves a 19th Century neighborhood. You can also visit the nearby Jumer’s Casino & Hotel which brings a little bit of Las Vegas to the Rock Island area. The city is well supplied with green space along with riverside walks, nine parks, several golf courses and the campus of Augustana College.
Attractions and entertainment opportunities for other Quad Cities communities are readily accessible to Rock Island residents.