Rock Island, IA-IL
Map of Quad Cities

Common name: Quad Cities
Largest city Davenport, Iowa
Other cities  – Moline, Illinois
 – Rock Island, Illinois
 – Bettendorf, Iowa
 – East Moline, Illinois
Population  Ranked 132nd in the U.S.
 - Total 379,690
 - Density 163.19 /sq. mi. 
63.01 /km²
Area 2,314 sq. mi.
5,993 km²
State(s)   – Iowa
 – Illinois
 - Highest point 850 feet (259 m)
 - Lowest point 590 feet (180 m)

The I-74 Bridge, connecting Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, Illinois, is located near the geographic center of the Quad Cities.

The Quad Cities[1][2][3] is a group of five cities straddling the Mississippi River on the Iowa–Illinois boundary. These cities, Davenport and Bettendorf (in Iowa) and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline (in Illinois), are the center of the Quad Cities Metropolitan Area, which, as of 2010, had an estimated population of 379,690.[4]

Before World War I, the term Tri-Cities had come into use, referring to Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline. With the growth of Rock Island County, during the 1930s the term Quad Cities came into vogue, as East Moline was given "equal status". Then, with the opening of an Alcoa plant east of Davenport in 1948, the town of Bettendorf underwent so much growth that many people in the community openly discussed the adoption of the name Quint Cities.[5] And indeed, eventually Bettendorf passed East Moline in size. But by this time, the name "Quad Cities" had become known well beyond the area, and "Quint Cities" never caught on, despite the efforts of WOC-TV (as KWQC-TV was then called) and others.


The Quad Cities are located at the confluence of the Rock and Mississippi rivers, approximately 180 miles (290 km) west of Chicago. Interstate 80 crosses the Mississippi River here. The Quad Cities area is distinctive because the Mississippi River flows from east to west as it passes through the heart of the area; the Iowa cities of Davenport and Bettendorf are located due north of Rock Island and Moline, respectively.

The Quad Cities Metropolitan Area consists of four counties: Scott County in Iowa and Henry, Mercer, and Rock Island counties in Illinois. The Quad City metro population is 379,690.[4]

The Quad Cities area is one where the telephone companies cooperate with regional phone calls. Iowa and Illinois have different area codes (563 and 309 respectively), yet most calls originating and terminating within the core urban area are placed without long-distance charges by dialing just a 7-digit number. This helps the bi-state area promote itself as a single community, "joined by a river."

The Quad Cities are served by the Quad City International Airport, located in Moline. The airport is marketed as a regional alternative to the larger airports in Chicago, nearly 200 miles (320 km) away. The smaller Davenport Municipal Airport is the home of the Quad City Air Show.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is working with Amtrak to restore passenger train service to the Quad Cities.[6] The last passenger train in the area, the Quad Cities Rocket, was operated by the Rock Island Railroad and ran between Chicago and Rock Island until December 31, 1978.

Climate data for Davenport, IA
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 69
Average high °F (°C) 30
Average low °F (°C) 13
Record low °F (°C) −17
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.28


Early history[]

Before European settlers came to inhabit the Quad Cities, the confluence of rivers had attracted many varying cultures of indigenous peoples, who used the waterways and riverbanks for their settlements for thousands of years. At the time of European encounter, it was a home and principal trading place of the Sauk and Fox tribes of Native Americans. Saukenuk was the principal village of the Sauk tribe and birthplace of its 19th-century war chief, Black Hawk. In 1832, Sauk chief Keokuk and General Winfield Scott signed a treaty in Davenport after the US defeated the Sauk and their allies in the Black Hawk War. The treaty resulted in the Native Americans' ceding 6 million acres (24,000 km²) of land to the United States in exchange for a much smaller reservation elsewhere. Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island preserves part of historic Saukenuk and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The history of urban settlements in the Quad-Cities was stimulated by riverboat traffic. For fourteen miles (21 km) between LeClaire, Iowa, and Rock Island, the Mississippi River flowed across a series of finger-like rock projections protruding from either bank. These rapids were difficult for steamboats to traverse. As demand for river-based transportation increased along the upper Mississippi, the navigability of the river throughout the “Rock Island Rapids” became a greater concern. Over time, a minor industry grew up in the area to meet the steamboats’ needs. Boats needed rest areas to stop before encountering the rapids, places to hire expert pilots to guide the boat through the rocky waters, or, when the water was low, places where goods could be removed and transported by wagon on land past the Rapids.[7] (Today, the troublesome rocks are submerged six feet underwater by a lake formed by two lock and dams.)

As the Industrial Revolution developed in the United States, many enterprising industrialists looked to the Mississippi River as a promising source of water power. The combination of energy and easy access to river transportation attracted entrepreneurs and industrialists to the Quad Cities for development. In 1848, John Deere moved his plough business to Moline. His business was incorporated as Deere & Company in 1868. Deere & Company is the largest employer today in the Quad Cities.

The first railroad bridge built across the Mississippi River connected Davenport and Rock Island in 1856. It was built by the Rock Island Railroad Company, and replaced the slow seasonal ferry service and winter ice bridges as the primary modes of transportation across the river. Steamboaters saw the nationwide railroads as a threat to their business. On May 6, 1856, just weeks after completion of the bridge, an angry steamboater crashed the Effie Afton into it. John Hurd, the owner of the Effie Afton, filed a lawsuit against The Rock Island Railroad Company. The Rock Island Railroad Company selected Abraham Lincoln as their trial lawyer and won after he took the case to the US Supreme Court. It was a pivotal trial in Lincoln's career.

After the Civil War the region began to gain a common identity. The river towns that were thoughtfully planned and competently led flourished while other settlements, usually get-rich-quick schemes for speculators, failed to pan out. The towns of Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline called themselves the “Tri-Cities,” a cluster of three more-or-less equally sized river communities growing around the small bend of the Mississippi River where it flows east and west.


Beginning in the late 1970s, economic conditions caused major industrial restructuring, which disrupted the basis of the region's economy. The major companies, agricultural manufacturers, ceased or scaled back operations in the Quad Cities. Factories which closed included International Harvester in Rock Island and Case IH in Bettendorf. Moline-based John Deere cut its labor headcount by one half. Later in the 1980s, Caterpillar Inc. closed its factories at Mount Joy and Bettendorf.

Since the 1990s, the Quad Cities governments, businesses, non-profits and residents have worked hard to redevelop the region. They have achieved national attention for their accomplishments.

Examples of revitalization and rebirth:

  • Davenport's River Renaissance (a downtown revitalization project that includes a River Music History Center), an ag-tech venture capital campus, and the Figge Art Museum opened or were completed during the first decade of the 21st century.
  • Moline has invested in what was once a robust downtown. The "John Deere Commons" and i wireless Center (formerly "The MARK of the Quad Cities") both opened during the 1990s.
  • In 2007, Davenport and Rock Island competed for and won the title of "most livable small city" from the National Council of Mayors, based upon an unfunded proposal called RiverVision.
  • In 2008 Bettendorf was ranked by CNN[8] as one of the ten best places to buy a house in the United States.


The John Deere Pavilion in Moline

  • Brady Street Stadium, a major high school sports venue along Davenport's Brady Street (U.S. Route 61).
  • Antique Archeology from the show American Pickers is located in LeClaire
  • Davenport Skybridge
  • Figge Art Museum, in Davenport.
  • Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge, along Interstate 80, connecting LeClaire and Rapids City.
  • Government Bridge, connecting Rock Island Arsenal and Davenport.
  • Rock Island County Fairgrounds in East Moline, also the site of the Quad City Speedway.
  • Great Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, a fair and exposition venue in Davenport.
  • Iowa 80 - The world's largest truck stop is in Walcott, Iowa.
  • i wireless Center – arena center in Moline. (formerly The MARK of the Quad Cities)
  • I-74 Bridge, connecting Bettendorf and Moline.
  • John Deere Pavilion, a small museum and showcase for John Deere equipment.
  • John Deere World Headquarters, in Moline.
  • Lock and Dam No. 15, on the Mississippi River.
  • Modern Woodmen Park, the home of the St. Louis Cardinal A-Ball affiliate Quad Cities River Bandits, Davenport. (formerly John O'Donnell Stadium) (Named one of ten great places for baseball pilgrimage by USA Today)
  • Putnam Museum and IMAX Theater in Davenport
  • Quad City Botanical Center in Rock Island.
  • Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station
  • Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center, located in Bettendorf.
  • RiverCenter/Adler Theater, a convention and performing arts complex in Davenport
  • River Music Experience
  • Rock Island Arsenal
  • Rock Island Centennial Bridge, connecting Rock Island and Davenport.
  • Vander Veer Botanical Park
  • The Col Ballroom, a small arena for music concerts, in Davenport.
  • The Quarter – a 90-acre (360,000 m2) site in East Moline, alongside the Mississippi River, featuring shops, restaurants, condominiums, boat docks, sports and interpretive centers, and a working lighthouse, currently under development. (Geographical coordinates: 41°31′47″N 90°26′16″W / 41.52972, -90.43778)[9]
  • Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Freight House, referred to locally as The Freight House, is an entertainment venue

Noteworthy companies[]

  • Alcoa
  • Cobham plc
  • Deere and Company
  • Genesis Health System
  • Group O
  • Happy Joe's
  • Hungry Hobo
  • KONE, Inc (formerly Montgomery Elevator)
  • Lee Enterprises
  • Lewis Machine and Tool Company
  • Modern Woodmen of America
  • Nortrax
  • QCR Holdings
  • Rock Island Arsenal
  • Sears Seating (also known as Sears Manufacturing)
  • Von Maur
  • Whitey's Ice Cream
  • XPAC
  • YASH Technologies

Colleges and universities[]

  • Augustana College – Rock Island
  • Black Hawk College – community college in Moline, with a satellite campus in Kewanee, Illinois
  • Eastern Iowa Community College District, consisting of campuses in Bettendorf, Clinton, and Muscatine. Bettendorf's campus is known as Scott Community College.
  • Hamilton Technical College – Davenport
  • Kaplan University – satellite campus in Davenport.
  • Palmer Chiropractic College – Davenport
  • Saint Ambrose University- Davenport
  • Western Illinois University – a satellite campus in Moline was constructed along the riverfront at the former site of the 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) John Deere Technical Site.


Since 1916, the region has supported the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, which presents a year-round schedule of concerts at the Adler Theatre in Davenport and Centennial Hall in Rock Island. The Handel Oratorio Society, dating to 1880, is the second-oldest organization of its kind in the nation and presents annual performances of "Messiah" along with another major work for choir and orchestra. The Augustana Choir, founded at Rock Island's Augustana College in 1934, is one of the nation's leading collegiate choruses. Nova Singers, a professional 20-voice chorus, celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2011. Major outdoor summer music festivals include the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival and IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. The Quad-Cities' three traditional community theaters -- Playcrafters (founded in 1920, comedies and dramas) and Quad City Music Guild (1948, musicals) in Moline, and Genesius guild (1957, outdoor Shakespeare and Greek comedies and tragedies) in Rock Island -- were joined in 1976 by Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, a professional dinner theater in downtown Rock Island's historic Fort Theatre. In recent years the theater scene has burgeoned, adding three small professional companies in Davenport -- New Ground, Harrison Hilltop and the Curtainbox -- plus a resident professional ballet company, Ballet Quad Cities. Other area community theaters included the itinerent Prenzie Players, who specialize in nontraditional productions of Shakespeare and other verse theater, the Richmond Hill Players in Geneseo, Ill., and Countryside Community Theatre in Eldridge, Iowa. St. Ambrose University in Davenport hosts the leading theater company on the collegiate scene, which also includes active programs at Augustana College, Black Hawk College in Moline and Scott Community College in Bettendorf. The city of Davenport's Junior Theatre program has been in operation since the 1950s. ComedySportz Quad Cities recently celebrated their 21st anniversary of bringing family-friendly improv comedy to the area at their new landmark home, The Establishment Theatre (formally The Rocket Theater) in The District of Rock Island. Bluebox Limited is a Bettendorf-based film production company, and many outside productions companies have filmed movies in the Quad Cities in recent years. Historic buildings and sites listed on state and the National Register of Historic Places interpret the history of people's settlement and lives in the area.


The Quad Cities is the 147th largest radio market in the United States[10] and the 99th largest TV market in the United States.[11]

The area is served by over 13 commercial radio stations, 8 non-commercial radio stations, 3 low power FM radio stations, 8 TV stations and 3 daily newspapers.



  • Interstate 74
  • Interstate 80
  • Interstate 88 (Ronald Reagan Tollway)
  • Interstate 280
  • U.S. Route 6
  • U.S. Route 61
  • U.S. Route 67
  • U.S. Route 150
  • Illinois Route 5 (John Deere Expressway)
  • Illinois Route 84
  • Illinois Route 92
  • Illinois Route 192
  • Illinois Route 110 (Chicago-Kansas City Expressway)
  • Iowa Highway 22
  • Iowa Highway 130

Local transit[]

There are three transit operators in the Quad Cities with limited interconnection between them.

  • Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit District (Quad Cities MetroLINK) serves the Illinois cities of Rock Island, Moline, East Moline, Milan, Silvis, Carbon Cliff, Hampton and Colona. It has 12 routes and a fleet of about 52 buses. It operates a river craft during summer months.
  • Davenport Citibus has 13 fixed routes and operates 20 buses, six days a week.
  • Bettendorf Transit operates five routes, Monday–Saturday, and has eight buses.


The federal government has awarded $230 million in funding for an Amtrak connection between Chicago and Iowa City that will establish a passenger rail link in the Quad-Cities for the first time since the 1970s. The Amtrak station will be based in Moline, Illinois, and is expected to be complete by 2015.[12]


The Quad Cities are served by Quad City International Airport, which serves a variety of domestic destinations.

Airlines and destinations[]

Destinations served from
Quad City International Airport
(effective June 2010)


Sports teams[]

From 1920 to 1926, Rock Island was home to the NFL's Rock Island Independents. Football legend Jim Thorpe was once a member of the team.

The Tri-Cities Blackhawks, named in honor of the Sauk war chief Black Hawk, was the next top-level professional sports franchise. The club played in the National Basketball League (NBL) from 1946 until its merger in 1949 with the Basketball Association of America to became the National Basketball Association (NBA). Hall of famer Red Auerbach coached the Blackhawks during their first NBA season.

After the 1950–51 basketball season, the team moved to Milwaukee, where they were named the Hawks. After a second move to St. Louis, the team is now the Atlanta Hawks.

Professional basketball returned to the Quad Cities during the 1980s and 1990s with the Quad City Thunder of the Continental Basketball Association. The CBA served as the NBA's premiere developmental league and produced many highly regarded NBA stars. From 1987 through the 1992–93 season, the Thunder played at Wharton Field House in Moline. Starting with the 1993–94 season, the team played at The MARK of the Quad Cities (now the i wireless Center.) After the CBA folded in 2001, the Thunder franchise ceased operations permanently.


Club League Venue Established Championships
Quad Cities River Bandits MWL, Baseball Modern Woodmen Park 1960 4
Quad City Mallards CHL, Ice hockey i wireless Center 2009 0
Quad Cities Riverhawks PBL, Basketball Wharton Field House 2006 0
  • Quad City River Bandits is a Class A Midwest League minor league baseball team in Davenport. Their home games are played at Modern Woodmen Park, formerly John O'Donnell Stadium. The team has existed under a variety of names and Major League Baseball team affiliations since 1960. The River Bandits are currently affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Quad City Mallards are an CHL team that began play in the 2009–10 season, with home games held at the i wireless Center in Moline. The new Mallards replace the former Quad City Flames AHL team which played from 2007–2009 (that team moved to Abbotsford, British Columbia and plays as the Abbotsford Heat.) The original Mallards played in the United Hockey League from 1995–2007.
  • The Quad City Steamwheelers were an AF2 arena football franchise that also played at the i wireless Center. The Steamwheelers won the league's title game, the ArenaCup, in 2000 and 2001. After the AF2 league folded following its 2009 season, the Steamwheelers also ceased operations.
  • Quad City Silverbacks were a professional mixed martial arts team competing in the now-defunct International Fight League. Home matches take place at the i wireless Center.
  • The Quad City Riverhawks was a PBL (Premier Basketball League) team. They played home games at Wharton Field House in Moline during the 2008 season. They ended with that season.
  • The i wireless Center occasionally hosts NCAA Division I college basketball conference tournaments as well as NBA and NHL exhibitions.
  • The PGA Tour makes an annual stop in the Quad Cities. The golf tournament is currently known as the John Deere Classic. It has drawn dozens of top PGA players over the years, including Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, and Payne Stewart.

See also[]

  • Mississippi Athletic Conference for Iowa high school sports, and Western Big 6 Conference for high school sports in Illinois.

See also[]

  • African Americans in Davenport, Iowa


  1. ^ "Welcome to the Quad Cities". City Guide Post Inc.. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  2. ^ "Community Visitor Information". Illinois Quad Cites Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Dirk (1987-10-20). "East Moline Journal; Friday Night High, in the Bleachers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United Staes Census Bureau. 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-26.  Note: Quad City population is equivalent to adding up the populations of Scott County, Iowa and Rock Island, Mercer, and Henry Counties in Illinois.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition. "vision". 
  7. ^ Frederick Anderson, ed.. Joined by a River: The Quad Cities, Lee Enterprises, Inc., 1982, p. 16. 
  8. ^ Cox, Jeff. "CNN; Where homes are affordable". Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Arbitron — Market Survey Schedule & Population Rankings" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  11. ^ "Nielsen DMAs: 2009-2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  12. ^


External links[]

Coordinates: 41°31′N 90°32′W / 41.517, -90.533

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