The area encompassing modern-day Davenport has been involved in some of the most significant moments in American history—beginning with its acquisition. “Iowa” was one of 15 current U.S. states (and parts of two Canadian provinces) that were part of the Louisiana territory sold by France to the United States in a deal known as the Louisiana Purchase.
Shortly after, the area served as a combat zone in the War of 1812 with the British battling the Americans. As part of those efforts, a small outpost was established at nearby Fort Armstrong, and that station would go on to house George Davenport (the town’s namesake) and his good friend Antoine Le Claire (the city of Davenport’s principal founder).
Fort Armstrong also served as the venue for the signing of a treaty—in which Le Claire acted as an interpreter—to end the Black Hawk War, a battle between the United States and the Native Americans. As a sign of respect, Le Claire and his wife received three parcels of land, a gesture that would keep the couple rooted in the area and seal Antoine’s fate as a town founder. George Davenport would later gather a group of wealthy investors, including Le Claire despite his lack of riches, to develop the new town in 1836.
Development was initially slow, but the late 1800s saw monumental arrivals in Davenport. First, the town witnessed the construction of its city hall in 1895. Then, in 1897, the Palmer School and Cure (later renamed Palmer College of Chiropractic) opened as the world’s first chiropractic school—which still exists today.
Though the Great Depression affected Davenport in many ways, some of the buildings constructed in the 1920s and 1930s are still around and in use today. Industrialization following World War II helped the local economy to recover as new factories employed thousands of locals.
The farm crisis of the 1980s again stunted growth, but the city rebounded nicely, revitalizing and renovating many portions of the town. In 2007, Davenport was a recipient of the City Livability Award in the small-city category, an award bestowed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Entertainment/things to do
Davenport is known as a member of the Quad Cities, a region of five different cities within Iowa and Illinois (Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; and Rock Island, Moline and East Moline, Illinois). As a result of these cities being so closely clustered, there is an abundance of entertaining things to do in and around Davenport.
For art lovers, there is an assortment of world-class museums, with the Figge Art Museum perhaps serving as the most popular. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport, this museum with 100,000 square feet of space is one of the premier modern art destinations in the Midwest. Visitors can enjoy nine permanent collection galleries, traveling exhibits, art studios for guests of all ages, a family activity center, 140-seat auditorium and much more. Meanwhile, history buffs can spend hours in Davenport’s German American Heritage Center & Museum, while science enthusiasts flock to the Fryxell Geology Museum in Rock Island to get a close look at the museum’s 1,500 rock, mineral and fossil specimens.
If you’re looking to try your hand at Lady Luck, the Quad Cities has three large casinos. The Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport has over 800 slots and 14 table games, and Jumer’s Casino & Hotel (Rock Island) and Isle Casino Hotel and Conference Center (Bettendorf) also offer great restaurants and non-stop gaming action.
For those who would rather get their thrills from watching games instead of playing them, the area is a haven for sports lovers. The legendary Quad Cities River Bandits—an affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros—play their home games at Davenport’s Modern Woodmen Park, voted by USA Today as the best minor league ballpark in America. There is also professional golf, drag racing and hockey in the area.
But if there’s one thing that is uniquely Quad Cities, it’s the area’s affiliation with John Deere. Guests can see where it all began at the John Deere Historic Site in Dixon, Illinois, interact with tractors and other fun exhibits at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, and check out vintage and modern John Deere equipment at its nearby world headquarters.
The Davenport economy and what you need to know about moving there
Davenport is the county seat of Scott County and is situated on the eastern border of Iowa along the Mississippi River. The city comprises 66 square miles and sits halfway between Chicago and Des Moines, Iowa.
When it comes to employment by industry in the city of Davenport, educational services and health care top the charts, employing more than 20 percent of residents. Manufacturing and retail are two other industries that provide jobs to thousands in the area, with John Deere alone employing more than 7,000 locals.
Across the river, the Rock Island Arsenal is nearly 1,000 acres and has been in use since 1862. The U.S. Army controls the facility, which is now the largest government-owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the country. As a result, it also serves as a significant economic contributor and job provider for those in the Quad Cities.
Interstate 80, Interstate 280 and Interstate 74 are the three main interstate highways that serve Davenport, though many locals use Interstate 88 as a corridor to Chicago. For air travel, the Quad City International Airport in Moline is the nearest commercial airport. It currently serves limited airlines but does connect passengers into major U.S. hubs like Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas.
Under climate classifications, Davenport has what is known as a humid continental climate, which means summers are quite warm with high humidity. Given its location in the Midwest, it should come as no surprise that cold temperatures are the norm for winter, with snow likely to take place from November through February.
Davenport public schools serve nearly 17,000 students throughout the city. In addition to the Palmer College of Chiropractic, the area is home to a few other centers for higher learning, including St. Ambrose University in Davenport. This small, private Catholic institution has just shy of 4,000 students and has been in existence since 1882.
Demographic Breakdown (source: City Data)
Estimated median household income in 2016: $45,964
Median resident age: 34.4 years
Estimated median house or condo value in 2016: $126,700
Median gross rent in 2016: $743
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Davenport Community Schools
Assumption High School
Diocese of Davenport Catholic Schools
Quad City Montessori School
Trinity Lutheran School
Clinton-Muscatine-Scott Community Colleges
Palmer College of Chiropractic
St. Ambrose University
Trinity Regional Health System