Cedar Rapids was named for the surging rapids of the Cedar River. It is a commercial and industrial city and a distribution and rail center for the extensive surrounding agricultural area. The first real population boom in Cedar Rapids occurred after the Civil War. In 1829, the North Star Oatmeal Mill began operation, growing rapidly into the internationally known Quaker Oats Company. A unique blend of immigrants from Scotland, England, Ireland, Germany and the Czech and Slovak republics settled in Cedar Rapids. The city's rich history still provides it with an “Old World” feel today. The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library tell the story of the people who were so instrumental in the growth of Cedar Rapids.
Cedar Rapids today bears little resemblance to the muddy settlement it once was. It is a thriving manufacturing center, producing such goods as food and beverages, electrical equipment, machinery and metal. A regional cultural destination, the town is home to a major symphony orchestra and many quality museums, galleries and theaters. Popular tourist attractions include the US Cellular Center, Ushers Ferry Historic Village and the nearby Amana Colonies.
Cedar Rapids residents celebrate their vibrant community and rich cultural heritage through several festive annual events. The Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival, Taste of Cedar Rapids and the Ushers Ferry Folk Festival are family traditions in the heart of eastern Iowa.
Outdoor recreational opportunities are plentiful. The Indian Creek Nature Center has more than 11 miles of trails and wildlife habitats. Noelridge Park and Greenhouse encompasses 102 acres, a rose garden and a Farmers Market. Sac and Fox National Recreational Trail, Cedar Greenbelt National Recreation Trail and Cedar Valley Nature Trail are other nature preserves featuring hiking trails, cross-country skiing and picturesque scenery.
Sports lovers will enjoy a visit to Veterans Memorial Park, a new state-of-the-art stadium where the Cedar Rapids Kernels compete. The Kernels are a Midwestern affiliate of the Anaheim Angels. The Cedar Rapids Roughriders play hockey at the new NHL Ice Arena. 12 municipal golf facilities can be found throughout the city, including 18-hole Ellis Park golf course, three country club courses and six courses that are privately owned but open to the public.
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