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Rockford Timeline

July 15, 1836 -- Winnebago County authorized to conduct its first election, by order of Judge Thomas H. Ford.

 

Aug 1, 1836 -- First election held. Poll books shows 120 votes cast, all at one precinct balloting site. Winners are William L. May, for member of Congress; John Turner, for representative to the State Legislature; Daniel S. Haight, for sheriff; Eliphalet Gregory, for coroner; Thomas B. Talcott, Simon P. Doty, and William E. Dunbar, for county commissioners; D. A. Spaulding, for county surveyor, and Daniel M. Whitney, for county recorder.

 

Oct. 18, 1836 -- Seward settled.

 

1837 -- Depression wipes out Kent who, seeing no future for the Rockford he had helped found, moves to Virginia in 1844 and lives there until his death in 1862. Blake remains on his farm until 1851, moves into town to engage in real estate and dies in 1880 in Wisconsin.

 

Aug. 31, 1837 -- Daniel S. Haight commissioned as Rockford's first postmaster. Serves until May, 1841.

 

Jan. 1, 1838 -- First stagecoach arrives in Rockford from Chicago.

 

Oct. 29, 1838 -- First theatrical performance in the Rockford House by a theater group.

 

Dec. 22, 1838 -- First Baptist church is organized.

 

April 1, 1839 -- The two villages of East Rockford and West Rockford, split by the Rock River, are formally incorporated into one community with a total population of 235.

 

May 5, 1840 -- First issue of the Rock River Express, first newspaper published in the county.

 

Fall, 1840 -- Rockford Star formed. Strongly Democratic, the new newspaper competes with the Express, backing Van Buren and Johnson while the older paper supports Harrison and Tyler in the presidential election. Disgruntled readers storm the Star office in July, 1841, throw its type into the middle of the room and pour ink over it. Rockford Pilot succeeds Star and is printed on the same press. Other early newspapers in the county are the Forum, the Democrat, the Republican and the Free Press.

 

Winter, 1842-1843 -- Rough weather; snow averages 30 inches deep, and many cattle starve.

 

Jan. 22, 1844 -- Contracts are awarded to Derastes and Harper to build the first bridge on State Street across the Rock River.

 

Nov. 3, 1845 -- Meeting is held to consider establishment of a women's college in Rockford. In 1844, a convention of Congregational and Presbyterian clergymen in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin had decided that a college should be built in Beloit and a seminary in Rockford.

 

1846 -- Iron Foundry, first industry-like factory, built in Rockford.

 

Feb. 25, 1847 -- Charter is issued for Rockford Female Seminary.

 

1850 -- First formal census gives village of Rockford population of 2,563.

 

Jan. 3, 1852 -- Birth of the city of Rockford. Residents vote to graduate from the village designation to the status of city.

 

April 19, 1852 -- First election of city officials. First mayor of Rockford is Willard Wheeler.

 

July 15, 1852 -- Cornerstone for the first building, Middle Hall, is laid on the Rockford College campus, just south of the city's downtown core. Anna Peck Sill is named principal of the "Rockford Female Seminary", and Rev. Aratus Kent as president of the Board of Trustees, gives the dedication speech.

 

Aug. 2, 1852 -- First train of the Galena and Chicago Union Railway arrives. It is pulled by a Pioneer engine.

 

Aug., 1852 -- First Swedish settlers arrive by train to make their permanent homes in Rockford.

 

1853 -- Rockford is given the name "The Forest City" in a New York Tribune article.

 

Jan. 27, 1853 -- First Swedish pastor, Rev. Gustaf Unonius, visits the city.

 

1854 -- D. Forbes and Son begin a foundry that eventually becomes Gunite Foundries; Covered bridge is completed connecting East and West State Streets, and it serves the city until it is torn down for the first iron bridge in 1871. Ulysses M. Warner, a Democrat, is elected mayor of Rockford, to succeed Hiram R. Maynard; Warner is the city's third mayor. City is divided into five wards.

 

Jan. 15, 1854 -- First Lutheran Church is organized; this is the young city's first Lutheran and first Swedish Church.

 

Summer, 1854 -- Cholera epidemic hits Rockford. 14 persons die in July and are buried in one long row of graves in Cedar Bluff Cemetary.

 

Feb. 15, 1855 -- Rockford Register, predecessor of today's Rockford Register Star is founded.

 

Summer, 1855 -- Attorney Abraham Lincoln visits the city as a representative for John H. Manny in his patent suit against Cyrus H. Mccormick. In January, 1856, Manny is upheld in his fight against McCormick for patent rights to the Manny Reaper. Rockford becomes known as "The Reaper City. James L. Loop takes office in 1856 as the fourth Rockford mayor.

 

1856-1857 -- Rockford builds its first two public schools at the cost of $15,000 each.

 

Nov. 2, 1859 -- Railroad completed between Rockford and Kenosha, Wisconsin.

 

April 12, 1861 -- News reaches Rockford by telegraph of the firing on Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina, by southern rebels, touching off the War Between the States.

 

July 16, 1862 -- Rockford is chosen as the site of a temporary Civil War training camp, named Camp Fuller in honor of Adj. Gen. Curtis Fuller, who selected the location.

 

1865 -- General Grant visits Rockford on his return to Galena. Grant carries Winnebago County in the presidential race against Democrat Horace Seymor.

 

1865-1869 -- Forest City Nine professional baseball brings fame to Rockford. A.G. Spaulding is a pitcher on the team, which breaks up in 1869 after a short, but historic, career. Spaulding and others join a Boston team in 1870.

 

April 9, 1865 -- Civil War ends.

 

April 19, 1865 -- Day of fasting and prayer in the Rockford area for Abraham Lincoln, fatally wounded by an assassin's bullet in Washington theater four days earlier.

 

1866 -- Health code adopted. Hall School established. Ellis School opens in 1868. Edward H. Baker elected mayor, re-elected in 1868. Fowler serves a second term in 1867. Other one-term mayors were Seymor G. Bronson, 1869; Gilbert Woodruff, 1873; Robert H. Tinker, 1875; Levi Rhoades, 1876; Duncan Ferguson, 1877; William Watson, 1878; and Sylvester B. Wilkins, 1879.

 

1870 -- Rockford population is 11,049.

 

May 31, 1870 -- Amos W. Woodward is issued his first patent; from this beginning is to spring the Woodward Governor Company.

 

Sept. 11, 1871 -- Council approves contract for third bridge to span the Rock River at State St.

 

Oct. 1875 -- Andrew C. Johnson organizes the city's first furniture factory, Forest City Furniture Company.

 

Feb. 15, 1876 -- Rockford Union Furniture Company is formed as a cooperative association of 25 members. Swedish workmen pooled their resources to organize the company.

 

May 11, 1877 -- Courthouse dome collapses. Seven workmen are killed outright, two more are injured fatally, and 12 are hurt seriously.

 

Aug. 10, 1878 -- New Winnebago County Courthouse is completed, contract price $211,000.

 

1880 -- Census figure for Rockford is 13,129.

 

June 27, 1881 --- Rockford Street Railway Company is granted a 99-year franchise to provide streetcar service. Horses supplant mules on city transportation scene.

 

Nov., 1881 -- Grand Opera House is opened.

 

Dec. 5, 1882 -- Rockford Hospital Association is formed.

 

April, 1883 -- Forest City Electric and Power Company opens plant on N. Madison Street. First electric service is provided.

 

Oct. 4, 1884 -- Mendelssohn Club organized to promote music appreciation.

 

1885 -- Rockford High School - a central high school to serve the entire community- is erected on South Madison St.

 

1886 -- City begins development of own sewer system.

 

1887 -- Rockford Standard Furniture Co. is established. Skandia Furniture Co. follows it by one year. By 1888, 1,055 persons are employed in furniture factories along Railroad Ave.

 

March 20, 1888 -- First issue of the Rockford Morning Star newspaper.

 

Aug. 5, 1888 -- First passenger train on the Illinois Central line pulls into the city.

 

Aug. 16, 1889 -- Contract is awarded for paving E. State Street from the bridge. This is the first street to be paved in the city.

 

Aug. 24-25, 1889 -- Fire destroys Union Furniture Company plant and kills Ralph Emerson, Jr. The disaster, brings about the removal of the union plant to 18th Ave. and starts the southeast-end industrial boom.

 

1890 -- Census figure 23,534.

 

June 13, 1890 - - Deluge of rain sweeps away every bridge on Kent Creek and Keith Creek, knocking out electric lights, raising Rock River a foot within a few minutes, halting train service in Winnebago County, and causing "the most terrible night ever known in Rockford", according to the Morning Star newspaper the next day.

 

1891 - - A year of industrial growth: Ingersol Milling Machine Co. moves to the city. Barber-Colman Co. is organized. Mechanics Machine Co. is born as forerunner to Mechanics Universal Joint Division of Borg-Warner Corporation.

 

1893 - - Nelson Hotel completed at S. Main and Chestnut St. at a cost of $250,000.

 

March, 1893 - - Financial panic hits Rockford; 27 industries go into the hands of receivers in a single day.

 

June, 1895 - - C. C. Smith creates a paint business partnership with his son Ernst; this is the start of the Smith Oil and Refining Co.

 

Oct. 1, 1895 - - First Federal buidling and post office opened on S. Main and Green Streets.

 

April 21, 1898 - - Factory whistles in industrial Rockford announce the start of the Spanish-American War. Companies H and K leave the city April 23 and return Nov. 11.

 

Aug., 1899 - - Rockford's second large hospital, St. Anthony Hospital, opens its doors.

 

1900 -- Rockford opens the new century with a census figure of 31,051.

 

Jan 30, 1901 -- Three I League organized for minor league baseball competition; Rockford has franchise.

 

Nov. 21, 1903 -- Rockford Public Library building on N. Wyman Street opened.

 

1904 -- J. L. Clark organized, and Greenlee Bros & Co. moves to Rockford. City of Rockford buys 22-acre fairgrounds site from the Winnebago County Agricultural Association. Several new schools built between 1904 and 1911. Also in 1904, first auto races are held in the driving park north of Rockford. Andrew Ashton builds the city's first "Skyscraper," a new store with six stories at State & Main Streets. City Hall building on Walnut Street completed, at a cost of $100,000.

 

1905 -- Construction begins on the Children's Home of Rockford. Rockford Furniture Co. is organized. Illinois Cabinet Co. formed in 1906 and Excel Furniture Co. in 1907.

 

1907 -- Organized labor makes itself felt for the first time on the Rockford business and political scenes; labor helps elect Mayor Mark Jardine, a leader in the Leather Workers Union.

 

1908 -- Rt. Rev. Peter J. Muldoon is appointed the first Catholic bishop of Rockford.

 

March 27, 1909 -- Voters create the Rockford Park District. Within the next two years, Sinnissippi and Blackhawk Parks are acquired.

 

1910 -- Census figure for the city of Rockford is 45,401. Chamber of Commerce organized the same year. Consolidation of four school districts; first Harlem high school opens to serve students north of Rockford.

 

September, 1910 -- Twenty students attend first classes at St. Thomas High School. Classes held in the St. James Parish Hall.

 

Nov. 4, 1910 -- Rockford Election Board is authorized.

 

1911 -- Rockford votes down commission for of government. William Bennett, a "dry" crusader is elected mayor and re-elected in 1913 and 1915.

 

March 11, 1911 -- Rockford High School wins its first Illinois high school basketball championship, with 60-15 victory over Mount Carroll in title game.

 

1912 -- St. Thomas High School moves into old Ellis School building at W. State and Stanley. St. Stanislaus Church built to accommodate 100 Polish families in Rockford.

 

1913 -- State Street paved, from 3rd to Summit Streets.

 

July 8, 1913 -- Tornado hits Rockford area; damage is estimated at $100,000, many buildings are unroofed, and State Street is flooded.

 

1914-1923 -- G. J. Boehland, clothing merchant, is instrumental in getting trees planted; provides program to give trees to schools, especially in Arbor Day observances.

 

1915 -- First Sundstrand adding machine is made here; inventors are Oscar J. and David Sundstrand. Boom year for business; many industries show 50 per cent gain. War products plants get big orders; night shifts are begun.

 

March 15, 1915 -- Rockford High School wins its second state basketball title, 39-29 over Springfield.

 

April, 1915 -- Women vote for the first time in municipal election and play a big part in another anti-saloon ballot.

 

1916 -- Further industrial expansion; salaries increase, and auto dealers report record business. Rockford Municipal Sanitarium opens. Two new bridges - Morgan Street and Chestnut Street - are built. Shrine Temple erected at a cost of $250,000. City grows from five to eight wards. Companies H and K leave for Mexican border service as part of the 3rd Illinois Cavalry.

 

1916-1918 -- South side courthouse addition built.

 

May 1. 1916 -- City is divided into eight wards; consolidation of Rockford and New Milford Townships is approved.

 

1917 -- Smith Oil and Refining opens the city's first "drive-in" gasoline station at N. Church and Mulberry Streets.

 

April 17, 1917 -- Sunday movies are approved by a vote of 8,400 to 6,389.

 

June 12, 1917 -- Rockford is awarded the National Army Cantonment, later named Camp Grant, to train soldiers recruited for service in World War I.

 

June 14, 1917 -- Rockford passes $1 million in Liberty Bonds.

 

June 26, 1917 -- For evading draft registration, 103 persons from Winnebago County are sentenced to Bridewell Jail.

 

July 1, 1917 -- Construction begins on the new camp. First Illinois Army engineers arrive on July 2.

 

Sept. 5-9, 1917 -- First group of 2,000 draftees reaches the cantonment.

 

Nov. 2, 1917 -- Sarah Bernhardt appears at Shrine Temple.

 

Nov. 15, 1917 -- Camp Grant is ready to house 41,160 men.

 

Jan. 5, 1918 -- Gen. John J. Pershing visits Camp Grant.

 

July 14, 1918 -- Swedish-American Hospital opens doors as Rockford's third major hospital.

 

September, 1918 -- Memorable influenza epidemic strikes the city and Camp Grant. Schools and all public places are closed. Final toll is 323 dead in the city and 1,400 at the camp.

 

Nov. 11, 1918 -- Rockford and Winnebago County join nation in an explosive Armistice Day celebration to herald the end of the Great War. About one million men entered, trained or were demobilized at Camp Grant during the conflict.

 

June, 1919 -- Walter R. Craig Post is formed as an American Legion chapter.

 

1920 -- Census figure for the City of Rockford is 65,651.

 

Jan. 2, 1920 -- 180 Rockford citizens arrested as Communist agitators and anarchists. Twelve are indicted.

 

Oct. 20, 1920 -- Bert R. J. Hassell opens flying field at east end of 18th Avenue.

 

April, 1921 -- J. Herman Hallstrom is elected may of Rockford at age of 32. He serves 10 years.

 

September, 1921 -- U. S. Government authorizes wrecking of Camp Grant and sale of buildings.

 

Nov. 4, 1922 -- Winnebago County Forest Preserve District established by vote.

 

1923 -- First zoning code adopted.

 

October, 1923 -- KFLV ( later WROK ) goes into operation as Rockford's first radio station.

 

1924 -- Roosevelt Junior High School opens. City's Boy Scout organization is started.

 

1926 -- Jefferson Street Bridge is completed, Lincoln Junior High School is opened, and construction begins on the 12-story Talcott Building in downtown Rockford.

 

March 31, 1926 -- Worst blizzard since 1880 hits Rockford.

 

June 13, 1926 -- 4.37 inches of rain fall in 90 minutes; flood damage is estimated at $1 million.

 

July 3, 1926 -- Sammy Mandell of Rockford whips Rocky Kansas to win the World's Lightweight Boxing Championship.

 

Nov. 2, 1926 -- Voters approve formation of the Sanitary Sewer District of Rockford.

 

1927 -- Baudhuin - Anderson Co. established to manufacture and sell paints. Later became Rockcote Paint Co. and Rockcote division of Valspar Corporation. Lafayette Hotel is opened and Coronado Theater is completed.

 

June, 1927 -- Fred E. Machesney opens an airfield which on July 8 is designated Rockford's official airport.

 

June 9, 1927 -- P. A. Peterson dies. He bequeaths large amounts for P. A. Peterson Home for the Aged and a Rockford YMCA.

 

Aug. 20, 1927 -- Col. Charles A. Lindbergh flies over Rockford after his history-making flight across the ocean.

 

1928 -- Construction begins on the first unit of the News Tower in Rockford.

 

April, 1928 -- Sanitary district $2.5 million bond issue approved by voters.

 

July 26, 1928 -- Bert R. J. Hassell and Parker B. Cramer take off in Greater Rockford airplane for Stockholm, Sweden via Northern Circle route. Flight ends in a cornfield crash.

 

August 16, 1928 -- Second takeoff of Greater Rockford plane is successful. Fliers are lost in the Greenland area between Aug. 18 and Sept. 2, but return safely to a welcoming reception on Oct. 18.

 

Sept. 1, 1928 -- Rockford Morning Star, recently moved to new quarters at the southeast corner of N. Wyman and Mulberry Streets, merges with the afternoon Rockford Register-Gazette, founded in 1855.

 

Sept. 14, 1928 -- Southeast end hit by tornado; in three minutes, 14 are dead, 36 injured, four factories and 360 dwellings demolished or damaged, and damage is estimated at more than $2 million.

 

1929 -- New St. Thomas High School for boys was completed on Mulberry Street, staffed by Christian Brothers. In September, Bishop Edward Hogan dedicates new Catholic high school for girls, named Muldoon in honor of Rockford's first bishop. Rockford Screw Products Company and American Cabinet Hardware Corporation add to the county's industrial growth.

 

April, 1929 -- Faust Hotel is opened. It is named for Levin Faust, who was born in Sweden in 1863, came to Rockford in 1887, and helped found the Mechanics Machine Company. Faust also helped organize the Rockford Park Commission.

 

Early 1930's -- Rockford hit hard by depression; census figure drops from 85,828 in 1930 to 84,687 in 1940. Banks close, car sales dip, and thousands of families go on relief. Levings Lake and Keith Creek flood control work and sanitary district trunk lines are among WPA projects. C. Henry Bloom serves as mayor during tough years 1933-1937.

 

Sept. 29, 1930 -- Rockford Morning Star, Rockford Daily Republic, and Register-Gazette merged into Rockford Consolidated Newspapers, Inc. with Mrs Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms as publisher and T. Barney Thompson as editor. Register-Gazette and Daily Republic consolidated into one afternoon newspaper, the Rockford Register-Republic. Morning Star continues as the only morning newspaper.

 

1931 -- Widening of Wyman Street completed at cost of $651,000. Central Illinois Electric and Gas Co. takes over operation of Rockford's gas, electric and traction transportation lines.

 

February, 1932 -- Rockford Sanitary Distric disposal system is completed at cost of $2.5 million. Also in 1932, the Gas-Electric Building is completed and, on Oct. 11 and 12, the Rockford News Tower is opened for housewarming.

 

Nov. 5, 1932 -- President Herbert Hoover is heard by 50,000 persons as he brings his campaign against Franklin D. Roosevelt to Rockford and Winnebago County.

 

April, 1933 -- C. Henry Bloom is elected mayor of Rockford.

 

1934 -- Centennial of settlement by Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake.

 

Feb., 1935 -- Famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart visits Rockford, addresses Woman's Club.

 

April 1, 1936 -- Public art museum and gallery opened at 737 N. Main St., through generosity of Harry B. and Della Burpee. First Union Good Friday services held in Coronado Theater.

 

July 4, 1936 -- Buses replace electric streetcars on Rockford streets. Occasion preceded by burning at midnight of old streetcar No. 805 at Broadway and 10th Street as thousands look on.

 

July 12, 1936 -- WROK becomes a full-time radio station.

 

July 14, 1936 -- Nine die in one day as mercury hits 112. Ninth straight day of 100-plus temperatures.

 

Sept. 14, 1936 -- Illinois Governor Henry Horner opens Jefferson Street link to 7th Street.

 

Dec., 16, 1937 -- Area known as Loves Park votes 538-194 against incorporation. Similar election on March 27, 1946, defeated 721-656. In second 1946 vote, Loves Park rejects annexation to Rockford - a proposal also defeated in 1928, 1931, 1937, and 1939.

 

March 27, 1938 -- Rockford observes New Sweden tercentenary in new Armory building; crowd estimated at 6,700.

 

Nov. 5, 1932 -- President Herbert Hoover is heard by 50,000 persons as he brings his campaign against Franklin D. Roosevelt to Rockford and Winnebago County.

 

April, 1933 -- C. Henry Bloom is elected mayor of Rockford.

 

1934 -- Centennial of settlement by Germanicus Kent and Thatcher Blake.

 

Feb., 1935 -- Famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart visits Rockford, addresses Woman's Club.

 

April 1, 1936 -- Public art museum and gallery opened at 737 N. Main St., through generosity of Harry B. and Della Burpee. First Union Good Friday services held in Coronado Theater.

 

July 4, 1936 -- Buses replace electric streetcars on Rockford streets. Occasion preceded by burning at midnight of old streetcar No. 805 at Broadway and 10th Street as thousands look on.

 

July 12, 1936 -- WROK becomes a full-time radio station.

 

July 14, 1936 -- Nine die in one day as mercury hits 112. Ninth straight day of 100-plus temperatures.

 

Sept. 14, 1936 -- Illinois Governor Henry Horner opens Jefferson Street link to 7th Street.

 

Dec., 16, 1937 -- Area known as Loves Park votes 538-194 against incorporation. Similar election on March 27, 1946, defeated 721-656. In second 1946 vote, Loves Park rejects annexation to Rockford - a proposal also defeated in 1928, 1931, 1937, and 1939.

 

March 27, 1938 -- Rockford observes New Sweden tercentenary in new Armory building; crowd estimated at 6,700.

 

June 9, 1938 -- Board of Education embarks on a $3 million program to build two new senior high schools and a third junior high school.

 

July 15, 1938 -- Prince Bertil of Sweden visits Rockford.

 

1939 -- Theodore and John Sachs found Rockford's Blue Star potato chips business.

 

March 18, 1939 -- Rockford becomes first high school to win the state basketball title three times. Paris High falls 53-44 in a championship game.

 

1940 -- Peaches, girls' professional baseball team, organized in Rockford and use high school stadium for home games.

 

Sept., 1940 -- East and West Senior High Schools are opened. Old central high school is abandoned, to be used by the board of education. Washington Junior High School also opens. Selective Service goes into effect.

 

Oct. 1940 -- Camp Grant is re-activated as a replacement center and medical training post for draftees. Renovation begins.

 

Nov., 1940 -- Col. J. H. Davidson arrives as commanding officer of Camp Grant. Voters reject, 19,897 - 15,665, a school tax rate increase of 43 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

 

March, 1941 -- National Guard units are federalized and sent to Camp Forrest.

 

April, 1941 -- C. Henry Bloom defeats Charles F. Brown in municipal election to return to the mayor's chair after four years. Brown had defeated Bloom in 1937.

 

Nov. 1, 1941 -- Rockford's first public-housing project is started by the Winnebago County Housing Authority. Two hundred units are built and named Black Hawk Court. Nokomo Heights later erected to house non-commissioned officers at Camp Grant, as Rockford suffers through a severe housing shortage.

 

Nov. 7, 1941 -- School board of Rockford orders all schools closed, cites shortage of operating funds.

 

Dec. 7, 1941 -- Attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese and subsequent declarations of war shock city. Rockford becomes a war workshop. More than 16,000 enter military service.

 

Dec. 16, 1941 -- Special school election; Rockford votes 8,824 to 3,989 for increasing educational-fund tax from $1.40 to $2 per $100 assessed valuation.

 

1942 -- Illinois Bell Telephone Company completes new building on N. Main St. Saddening reports of Winnebago County casualties flow in as war expands.

 

Feb. 24, 1943 -- Most Rev. John J. Boylan, D.D., begins duties as third bishop of the Rockford Catholic Diocese.

 

May 23, 1943 -- Rockford Civic Symphony Orchestra gives its first concert.

 

Sept., 1943 -- Kindergarten made an integral part of city's school system.

 

Nov. 16, 1943 -- Voters approve formation of Greater Rockford Airport Authority. Law later found unconstitutional, but authority is approved and created two years afterward.

 

April, 1945 -- Mayor C. Henry Bloom is re-elected to another four-year term.

 

July 2 - Nov. 1, 1945 -- Worst polio epidemic in Rockford area history; 382 stricken in the city and county.

 

Sept., 1945 -- Rockford begins a three-month experiment with sanitary landfill disposal of garbage and rubbish. In 1946, city begins collection and disposal on a year-round basis.

 

Sept. 2, 1945 -- V-J Day marks end of Second World War and beginning of post-war building boom. War figures show that more than 16,000 men and women - about 11.8 per cent of the county's population - served in the armed forces during the four years. Of these, 1,081 - or 6.7 per cent - were killed, wounded, taken prisoner, missing in action, or dead from non-combat causes.

 

Oct. 14, 1945 -- Memorial Forest Preserve dedicated on Alpine Road; honors Winnebago County men and women who served in the armed forces in World War II.

 

1946 -- Birth and building rates jump tremendously in Rockford and Winnebago County.

 

May 21, 1946 -- City-Council Planning Commission names Lloyd T. Keefe city-county planner; his first job is to direct the conversion of Camp Grant into an airport.

 

Aug. 7, 1946 -- Central Illinois Electric and Gas Company completes changeover in city homes to natural gas piped in from Texas.

 

Jan 8, 1947 -- Wayne E. Swanson, 38, succeeds Thomas D. Blake as Rockford Fire Chief. Blake had retired in 1946 after 44 years in the department and nearly 25 years as chief.

 

March 12, 1947 -- Five Harrison Avenue plants destroyed by a $750,000 fire that sweeps an entire block; blaze concentrated in three-story Haddorff Furniture Co. building and fed by oil, rubber and lacquer.

 

April 1, 1947 -- Rockford votes 15,138 to 4,418 against parking meters, but the City Council orders installation of about 1,000 meters in August, 1949.

 

April 30, 1947 -- Loves Park approves incorporation and becomes a city. First mayor is Homer E. Burton. Special council meeting held July 7, first regular Loves Park City Council meeting July 21.

 

Aug. 13, 1947 -- Selmer H. Berg resigns as superintendent of Rockford public schools. Parmer L. Ewing named to succeed him on Aug. 26.

 

Fall, 1947 -- Camp Grant buildings are torn down. More than 1,200 acres of camp property are turned over to the Greater Rockford Airport Authority for development into airport.

 

Sept. 13, 1947 -- Dial telephones supplant manual phones.

 

May 1, 1948 -- State Street Bridge is closed; construction begins on a new span.

 

June 8-10, 1948 -- Prince Bertil of Sweden makes second visit to Rockford and Winnebago County, this time with official Swedish pioneer centennial delegation. The prince turns the first shovel of dirt for a $1.25 million addition to Swedish-American Hospital.

 

April 5, 1949 -- C. Henry Bloom elected to a fifth term as mayor of Rockford; former Mayor Charles F. Brown wins Rockford Township supervisor post. Frank S. Larson elected mayor of Loves Park.

 

Oct. 20, 1949 -- State Street bridge is completed.

 

October 21, 1949 -- New State Street bridge is dedicated by Governor Adlai E. Stevenson.

 

December, 1949 -- Huge, multi-million-dollar Sabrooke power plant of Central Illinois Electric and Gas Co. begins furnishing power. Formal completion is in May, 1950.

 

1950 -- Census figure for the city is 92,927. W.R. McIntosh becomes superintendent of Rockford Public Schools.

 

Feb. 22, 1950 -- Rockford's 24 public schools are closed Wednesday, Feb. 22, through Friday in wake of soft-coal strike that creates a severe shortage and rationing; wood sawed to heat courthouse.

 

April 12, 1950 -- Rockford voters approve continued use of parking meters; vote is 9,101 - 6,256.

 

Oct. 3, 1950 -- Gov. Stevenson returns to Rockford to dedicate the newly rebuilt, 104-bed munical tuberculosis sanatorium.

 

Sept., 1951 -- $650,000 school built to serve the growing Rolling Green area.

 

1952 -- Special census places population of City of Rockford over 100,000 mark - at 105,438. City annexes 2,819 acres, or 4.4 square miles, including the entire Rock River and West View School Districts.

 

March, 1952 -- Main and Church Streets are made one-way, north-south traffic arteries. One-way traffic had been tried earlier on Jefferson and Walnut-Chestnut Streets.

 

April 5 and 6, 1952 -- Prime Minister Tage Erlander of Sweden visits Rockford and dedicates Erlander Home Museum.

 

June 5, 1952 -- Rockford College and Rockford Memorial Hospital each receive about $500,000 under terms of the will of Mrs. Mary Emerson Lathrop, daughter of pioneer Rockford industrialist Ralph Emerson. Mendelssohn Club of Rockford also received valuable piece of property on N. Main St., directly behind its new building which was erected on N. Church St. Site donated by Mrs. Lathrop, who had died May 28 in Orlando, Florida.

 

June 7-13, 1952 -- Rockford observes its centennial as a city. Among the events is a giant parade.

 

July 18, 1952 -- Eleven inches of rain fall to create Rockford's worst flood and trigger a multi-million-dollar drainage program; two persons drown, property damage set at $1 million.

 

Nov. 30, 1952 -- YMCA residence hotel and administration building are dedicated.

 

1953 -- Dangers of Dutch elm disease are first recognized; municipal officials are warned, but fail to take positive action. Voters approve $4.39 million in school building bonds, including funds for Jefferson Junior High School.

 

March 1, 1953 -- Thomas P. Boustead is named chief of police.

 

April, 1953 -- C. Henry Bloom bows out as mayor of Rockford after serving 16 years. Milton Lundstrom wins election and is inaugurated on May 4. This was the year Republicans entered a municipal slate under the national label.

 

May, 1953 -- Rockford's first television station. WTVO, begins operation on UHF channel 39. Harold Froehlich is station manager.

 

July 16, 1953 -- Ground broken for Rockford's second television station, WREX-TV, channel 13. Telecasts begin in December. Joseph Baisch becomes manager.

 

July 19, 1953 -- Bishop John J. Boylan dies while visiting his native Rhode Island.

 

October, 1953 -- Dedication of new Harlem High School on Windsor Road; old school property at N. 2nd St. and Harlem Road to be used by Hamilton Junior High School.

 

1954 -- City Building permits total $14,725,695; figurs is $23,945,905 for the county. Martin H. Hawkinson begins $4.5 million housing development on E. State St.

 

July 10, 1954 -- Rockford Memorial Hospital occupies new 237-bed building on N. Rockton Ave.

 

Oct. 31, 1954 -- Gov. William G. Stratton attends dedication ceremonies for Greater Rockford Airport.

 

1955 -- Record 4,552 babies born in the city. Building permits also set records - $29,582,000 in the county and $19,217,410 in the city. Rockford Board of Education buys 110 acres of farmland between School and Auburn Streets for $55,000. Wilson Junior High School and Auburn High School now occupy the site. Morristown incorporated as a village.

 

March 19, 1955 -- Nolden Gentry's tip-in just before the gun gives Rockford West High School the state basketball title in a 61-59 thriller over another Big Eight entry, Elgin. West had roared back from a 10-point deficit to win.

 

July, 1955 -- Construction begins on $5 million American Chicle Co. plant. Work is completed in 1956.

 

1956 -- Plans for Alternate U.S. 20 route south of Harrison Avenue approved by city and county officials. Commission form of government again turned down. National Lock Co. begins work on $5 million plant covering 14 acres under roof on 167-acre Kishwaukee St. tract.

 

April 10, 1956 -- Robert R. Canfield defeats Charles W. Baker for GOP state senator nomination. John B. Anderson wins Republican nomination for State's attorney. Voters approve Rockford Park District public recreation tax.

 

Sept. 22, 1956 -- Governor William G. Stratton launches construction of 193-mile, $415 million toll road system east of Rockford, at Bell and Lyford Roads.

 

Sept. 29, 1956 -- Elco Tool and Screw Corporation begins $2.5 million plant on Samuelson Road. Completion is in 1957.

 

Oct. 26, 1956 -- Vice-President Richard M. Nixon, campaigning with President Dwight D. Eisenhower for re-election, lands at Greater Rockford Airport and gives talk at National Guard Armory.

 

Nov. 20, 1956 -- Rt. Rev. Loras Thomas Lane becomes bishop of the Rockford Catholic Diocese.

 

Dec. 5, 1956 -- Jos. Behr & Sons salvage plant at 100 Seminary St. is swept by $750,000 fire. ---- Also in December, 1956

 

-- Voters approve $1,647,000 school building bonds for addition to Washington Junior High School, the new Maud E. Johnson school, and rehabilitation of older school buildings.

 

-- New Chamber of Commerce headquarters open at 815 E. State St.

 

-- Rockford College trustees vote to remove the college to a new campus for 1,200 students. Development of campus at E. State St. and Alpine Roads estimated at $8.9 million.

 

-- Merger of CIO and AF of L into Rockford United Labor, following national pattern.

 

1957 -- Continued industrial expansion and relocation; Amerock Corporation moves into new $4 million plant at 400 Auburn Street .... YMCA moves into new building... So does Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Sundstrand Corp. starts work on $2 million addition to its Newburg Road plant..... National Lock Company moves into new Kishwaukee St. plant on July 13, 1957.

 

Feb. 27, 1957 -- Workmen dismantle Palace Theater, which opened in 1915 and was center for vaudeville in Rockford.

 

April 2, 1957 -- Benjamin T. Schleicher is elected mayor of Rockford. Elected city clerk is Robert J. Lindley and city treasurer Emil P. Olson.

 

April 23, 1957 -- Alan C. Mattison is named president of the Rockford Board of Education.

 

May 5, 1957 -- Open house and dedication of Jefferson Junior High School, occupied since Sept., 1956.

 

June, 1957 -- Voters approve $3.88 million bond issue of Wilson Junior High School and Conklin and Lathrop grade schools.

 

July 29, 1957 -- James E. Blue retires as West High School principal; he began career as principal in 1928 at the old Rockford High School.

 

November, 1957 -- Immediate start is ordered on drawing up plans for new $10 million Rockford College campus on 304-acre E. State St. site, east of Alpine Rd.

 

June, 1958 -- Voters approve $4,235.000 in school bonds to erect Auburn High School (city's third senior high school), Whitehead and Haskell Schools and Bloom and West View additions. Johnson, Conklin and Lathrop grade schools are completed.

 

July 1, 1958 -- Key site for city parking system - property on S. Wyman St. -- is purchased for $487,700. Funds also are released for other parking areas.

 

Aug. 20, 1958 -- Gov. William G. Stratton, at Rockford opens 76-mile section of Northwest Rollway between Elgin and South Beloit.

 

Mid-December, 1958 -- "Little Rockford" base in Antarctic is named by Admiral George J. Dufek. The United States and Rockford flags are raised at the site.

 

January, 1959 -- St. Anthony Hospital announces plans for a new hospital building, and Swedish-American Hospital reveals plans for a 10-story wrap-around addition. Work starts on the men's dormitory cluster at the new Rockford College campus.

 

March 14, 1959 -- Plans announced for the construction of a Central Catholic High School.

 

September, 1959 -- Wilson Junior High School and Haskell and Whitehead elementary schools are opened.

 

1960 -- Rockford officially becomes the second largest city in Illinois. Census sets city's population at 126,706, deadlocking it exactly with Madison, Wisconsin, but later figures boost the Rockford population over the 130,000 mark.

 

March, 1960 -- Heavy snowstorms followed by floods; 1.700 left homeless north and south of Rockford.

 

April, 1960 -- State's Attorney John B. Anderson wins Republican nomination for Congress in 16th District after Leo E. Allen, U.S. representative since 1933, decides to retire. Anderson, 38, wins election over Edwin M. Nelson in November, 1960, to become first congressman from city of Rockford in many years.

 

June 28, 1960 -- Rockford hit by its worst hailstorm in history; damage to buildings is estimated at $1.25 million.

 

July 29, 1960 -- Catholic Chancery office announces the new Central Catholic High School in Rockford will be named for the Most Rev. John J. Boylan, D.D., third bishop of the Rockford Diocese.

 

Aug. 16, 1960 -- Cornerstone laid at 4100 N. Main St. for new Boylan Central Catholic High School. A $2.5 million institution. Plans call for continuation of Muldoon High School for girls.

 

1961 -- City annexes 270 acres. First cluster of men's dormitories is occupied on the new Rockford College campus.

 

April 4, 1961 -- Benjamin T. Schleicher re-elected mayor of Rockford for a second term.

 

Nov. 22, 1961 -- Gust G. Larson & Sons awarded a $710,544 general contract for construction of addition to Harlem High School.

 

December, 1961 -- New Rock River Savings building opened downtown.

 

April 12, 1962 -- 100-acre tract on N. Main St. is purchased for $270,000 as site of an $8 million state mental health clinic.

 

May, 1962 -- St. Thomas High School graduates 50 seniors and closes after more than 52 years of service to Rockford education.

 

Aug., 1962 -- Public Building Commission prepares plans for $8 million City-County Building.

 

Sept., 1962 -- Opening of school finds students attending classes in Guilford, Rockford's fourth senior high school.

 

Sept. 5, 1962 -- Rock Cut State Park dedicated and opened by Gov. Otto Kerner; Pierce Lake in the park is named for State Rep. William Pierce, who was instrumental in bringing the facility to the area.

 

Nov. 5, 1962 -- Kirk S. King, in political comeback, wins election as sheriff of Winnebago County; Congressman John B. Anderson re-elected to a second two-year term.

 

January, 1963 -- Gates Rubber Co. of Denver announces plans to build factory in Rockford, and city council sells the company 27 acres of War Memorial tract. St. Anthony Hospital moves into new building; old hospital structure is renamed St. Clara Continuing Care Center. It later is torn down.

 

March 1, 1963 -- Bloomington Broadcasting Corp. buys Rockford radio station WROK from Rockford Newspapers, Inc.

 

March 13, 1963 -- Rockford's new state mental health clinic is given a name --- the Singer Mental Health Center -- in honor of Dr. Douglas Singer, and Englishman who in 1908 founded the Illinois State Psychopathic Institute, forerunner to the State Psychiatric Institute.

 

March 14, 1963 -- Rockford's official population is announced at 132,835.

 

March 26, 1963 -- Sweden's Prince Bertil kicks the cornerstone into place at dedication of the new $5.5 million addition to Swedish-American Hospital.

 

July 8, 1963 -- Winnebago County farm officials decide to seek federal disaster aid because of severe drought conditions. Rain finally falls on July 13, and more is predicted.

 

July 29, 1963 -- Winnebago County, one of five Northern Illinois counties declared disaster areas by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, after the worst drought in nearly 30 years.

 

Nov. 14, 1963 -- Chrysler Corp. announces it is considering the Rockford area for the new assembly plant that would employ 4,500 persons and turn out 900 vehicles daily; estimated cost of the proposed facility is $50 million.

 

Nov. 22, 1963 -- Rockford and Winnebago County joint the nation in sorrow and stunned disbelief at the assassination in Dallas, Tx, of President John F. Kennedy.

 

Nov. 26, 1963 -- Site east of Rockford and south of Belvidere, in Boone County, is chosen for the multi-million-dollar Chrysler Corp. assembly plant.

 

Feb. 10, 1964 -- Plans are announced for a $2,450,000 expansion program at St. Anthony Hospital's new E. State St. facility. A fourth floor and 75-bed acute care unit included in the plans.

 

June 15, 1964 -- Plans for a $6 million expansion program to make Rockford Memorial Hospital a 401-bed facility, are announced by Frank D. White, chairman of the board of trustees.

 

June 26-30, 1964 -- Sheriff Kirk S. King and state police warn local officials to close all Bingo games or face raids.

 

Aug. 3, 1964 -- Consulting engineers recommend to the Rockford City Council that the Jefferson Street Bridge be rebuilt from its archway supports up, at a cost of about $710,000.

 

Aug. 30, 1964 -- Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve, north of Rockford at Old River and Gleasman Roads, is dedicated; its donor, Rockford industrialist Seth B. Atwood, gives the main address.

 

Sept. 11, 1964 -- Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, Republican candidate for president, brings his campaign to the Rockford area.

 

Sept. 12, 1964 -- Goodwill Industries announces purchase at $225,000 of the industrial plant once occupied by Anderson Bros. Mfg. Co. at 1907 Kishwaukee St.

 

Oct. 2, 1964 -- Sjostrom & Sons, Inc. is awarded a $58,141 contract to remove domes and repair the roof of the Winnebago County Courthouse.

 

Oct. 10, 1964 -- Voters in Winnebago and Boone Counties approve plan to create a community junior college and finance it with an 8-cent per $100 assessed valuation tax levy. The new institution, later to be named Rock Valley College, will be governed by a seven-member board.

 

Oct. 12, 1964 -- FCC authorizes a third television station for the Rockford area, to operate on channel 23.

 

Oct. 21, 1964 -- a 65-ton crane brings to earth the 12-ton Winnebago County Courthouse dome, which on May 11, 1877, had collapsed, killing nine and injuring 12 workers.

 

Oct. 30, 1964 -- President Lyndon B. Johnson becomes the third United States president to visit Rockford.

 

Nov. 3, 1964 -- Democratic Gov. Otto Kerner wins re-election over the GOP's Charles Percy, but Percy carries the county. Congressman John B. Anderson is elected to a third two-year term.

 

May, 1963 -- Alma Nelson Manor Nursing Home on Mulford Road, south of E. State St., opens to first patients. Open house at the $1.25 million facility June 22-23 attended by 3,980 persons.

 

May 22, 1963 -- Planning Director Michael Meehan reports Rockford population at 135,175.

 

May 25, 1963 -- Rockford Board of Education, meeting to adopt 1963-1964 budget of $13,344,923, makes it official: kindergarten will be eliminated at the close of the current school year.

 

Dec. 21, 1964 -- Illinois' new school fire safety code is rule unconstitutional by Chief Circuit Judge Albert S. O'Sullivan.

 

Jan 5, 1965 -- Mayor Benjamin T. Schleicher accepts the All Rockford Party nomination for a third term.

 

Jan. 17, 1965 -- Dr. Thomas A. Shaheen, 47, chief school administrator in Commack, Long Island, N.Y., becomes superintendent of the Rockford School District on a three-year contract at an annual salary of $25,000.

 

Feb. 27, 1965 -- Rockford College launches $5 million fund drive for two years to finance construction of buildings on the new campus.

 

March 9, 1965 -- Rockford Lutheran High School Association votes to purchase a 65-acre high school site just outside the northeast city limits, east of Alpine Road and north of Spring Creek Rd.

 

March 18, l965 -- Rockford Board of Park Commissioners awards a $432,700 pact for preparation of the new Earl F. Elliot Park 18-hole golf course on east side of Lyford Road, south of E. State St. and southeast of the Northwest Tollway entrance.

 

April 7, 1965 -- Mayor Benjamin T. Schleicher elected to a third consecutive term by Rockford voters.

 

April 14, 1965 -- Clifford G. Erickson, executive dean of the eight-campus Chicago City Junior College, is name president of Rock Valley College.

 

April 16, 1965 -- Rockford Board of Education votes unanimously to restore kindergarten, effective with the opening of school in fall, 1965.

 

April 30, 1965 -- Rockford's downtown becomes the brightest in the world as the new street lighting system is turned on. System installed at a cost of $252,535.

 

May 13, 1965 -- Rock Valley College's Board of Education takes an option on a 217-acre farm northeast of Rockford, at the northeast corner of Spring Brook and Mulford Rds.

 

June 29, 1965 -- Rock Valley College Board of Education approves a $550,000 contract for the purchase of Dr. J. J. Rogers' 217-acre farm at Spring Brook and Mulford Roads.

 

Aug. 16, 1965 -- Rock Valley College board approves lease for use of Harlem High School on a temporary basis; classes to open Sept. 29.

 

Aug. 17, 1965 -- Delbert E. Peterson is chosen by Rockford Board of Fire and Police Commissioners as the new chief of police. Thomas P. Boustead, named to the post on March 1, 1953, retires Oct. 1.

 

Sept. 7, 1965 -- Aldermen annex Five Points area east of city. First annexation of July 19 nullified because residents were not given sufficient advance notice.

 

April 4, 1963 -- Winds with gusts up to 58 miles an hour lash Rockford. At least four are injured; damage to buildings is placed at thousands of dollars. One powerful gust rips a chunk of rotted sheet metal from the giant dome atop the Winnebago County Courthouse and dumps it just west of the main entrance.

 

Oct. 25, 1965 -- Rockford City Council legalizes Sunday liquor sales in clubs by a 19-0 vote.

 

Jan 29, 1966 -- Twelve-year-old Janet Lynn of Rockford captures National Junior Ladies Figure Skating championship in Berkeley, California.

 

Jan. 31. 1966 -- Shappert Engineering Co. of Belvidere awarded a $994,470.30 contract for rebuilding Rockford's Jefferson Street Bridge.

 

March 14, 1966 -- Rockford City Council takes a big step toward fluoridation by voting 12-5 to purchase chemicals and equipment.

 

April 18, 1966 -- CATV of Rockford, a corporation headed by Harley Swanson, wins cable television pact for Rockford on a 16-4 city council vote.

 

July 13, 1966 -- Winnebago County supervisors vote 31-8 to create Public Building Commission again to build a new courthouse in Rockford.

 

July 14, 1966 -- Tornado devastates Rockford's north suburban area; three hangars are flattened and 20 planes damaged at Machesney Airport.

 

Oct. 13, 1966 -- Fluoridation of Rockford's water supply starts after years of debate.

 

Nov. 8, 1966 -- Congressman John B. Anderson wins a fourth two-year term.

 

Dec. 9, 1966 -- Central Illinois Electric & Gas co. officially becomes a part of the Commonwealth Edison Co. of Chicago.

 

Dec. 16, 1966 -- Greater Rockford Toll Bridge Committee Chairman Leif Ingebretsen tells Loves Park City Council the bridge will become free at midnight Jan. 31, 1967.

 

Feb., 1967 -- Electronic voting devices are used for first time in Rockford primary election.

 

April 11, 1967 -- All common stock of Rockford Newspapers, Inc. sold to Gannett Co., Inc. of Rochester, N.Y.; E. Kenneth Todd succeeded by Paul Miller as chief executive officer. William K. Todd, president, associate publisher and editor, to succeed father as publisher. Ownership change becomes effective April 19, 1967.

 

April 21, 1967 -- Killer tornado hits Belvidere in neighboring Boone County. High school is focal point; 17 students and a school-bus driver die at the new building. Highland Hospital also devastated. Loss in millions, more than 125 homes totally destroyed. Total death toll 22 by end of April. Rockford and Winnebago County pitch in to assist, and President Johnson declares Belvidere a disaster area.

 

May 31, 1967 -- Rockford aldermen vote 13-7 for ordinance permitting Sunday Liquor sales in restaurants.

 

June 12, 1967 -- Property in Five Points area annexed to city of Rockford awarded to Buckbee School District.

 

July 14, 1967 -- Demolition of old St. Anthony Hospital building begins. Nine-story, $3 million professional building to be constructed on site.

 

Aug. 21, 1967 -- Redistricting of Rockford's 10 wards approved.

 

Sept. 12, 1967 -- Commuter Air Service begins flights between Greater Rockford Airport and two Chicago airports, O'Hare and Meigs Field.

 

Sept. 20, 1967 -- U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awards Rockford $208,410 to plan downtown renewal and civic center on East Rock River bank and sets aside another $3.8 million to launch program.

 

Nov. 9, 1967 -- Ground broken by County Board Chairman Thomas Olson and other county officials for tower section of new courthouse on Courthouse Square.

 

Dec. 8, 1967 -- Rockford Housing Authority is proceeding with construction of 1,495 housing units including high-rise apartments for the elderly at Chamberlain and North Longwood Streets and in the 500 block of North Main Street, a low income housing complex immediately west of Fairgrounds Park; housing for elderly and low income groups on old Rockford College campus; and 238 low income housing units scattered through the city.

 

Dec. 13, 1967 -- Fire destroys historic building which once housed Paramount Roller Rink; more recently Beardsley & Piper Machine shop; loss $250,000

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