River District offers Historical Walk-Abouts, Open Markets

The downtown Rockford River District offers a number of events throughout July to help keep you busy, including Historical Walk-Abouts and Open Markets.

Historical Walk-About July 17

River District Association will host the fourth in a series of seven Historical Walk-Abouts on Saturday, July 17.

Once a month (third Saturday of the month), residents and visitors are invited to attend free outdoor walking tours. Rockford has more than 150 years of history, and individuals are invited to join a volunteer guide to discover the rich architectural and historical legacy of Rockford’s downtown River District. They will see the beautiful urban landscape with the gorgeous Rock River, and the exterior of businesses, shops, restaurants, residences, churches, theaters, parks, and more. Plus, this is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise.

Those interested in attending the Walk-About should meet at 10 a.m. on the north side of the Main Street Pedestrian Mall (West State and North Main streets). Parking is available on the street, in surface lots, and parking decks. The July 17 route will tour the Rockford Meat and Produce District. There is no cost, and reservations are not required. Other Walk-Abouts are scheduled for Aug. 21, Sept. 18, and Oct. 16. Info: 964-6221.

This month’s Historical Walk-About features the Meat and Produce District in Northeast River District and will cover the area from the Rock River east to Second Street and East State Street north to Hill Street. Like other areas of the River District, the river’s edge primarily attracted commercial and industrial development. North Water Street was home to produce and meat wholesalers. The Meat and Produce District route will take you through a diverse section of downtown Rockford. Here, old brick commercial buildings have become artists’ studios and lofts. There are graphic design offices, architectural planning offices, social service agencies, grand old churches, and public recreation facilities like parks and marinas. You will see both public and private landscaping efforts along the river. A photo from the 1970s of the area north of State Street on Water showed several paved parking lots. Today’s outdoor eating area and café, landscaped walking paths, parks, and Millennium Fountain are a vast improvement. You will also see traditional residential neighborhoods right alongside manufacturing buildings. Italian immigrants settled the residential area of the northeast side. The social clubs they established can still be found in the neighborhood on Madison Street, the Verdi and Lombardi clubs. This is urban Rockford at its most diverse!

Some sites on the route include: Gerlinde’s Water Street Café, Waterside Building, Millennium Fountain, Rever’s Marina, Rockford Marina & Water Sports/The Brewhouse, Cellusuede manufacturing facility, Witwer House, St. James Church, The Ing, The Learning Center, Trinity Lutheran Church, 317 Market St. Gallery & Lofts, The Carriage House, and RAMP, formerly Cudahy Packing Co. For a complete list of buildings and information on each one, please contact River District at 964-6221.

River District Open Market Saturdays

In addition to the Walk-About fun is the Open Market in River District located on the Main Street Mall, north side, between State Street and Mulberry Street. This is where the group meets to start the Walk each month. A variety of vendors set up on the mall and sell an assortment of items from food to arts and crafts. The Open Market goes from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays and runs July 17, 24, 31.

Trash pick up

In addition to this month’s walk there will be a TRASH PICK UP along the route of the Historical Walk-About. Start time is 9 a.m. on Saturday (July 17) at the corner of State and Main. Gloves, bags, and bright orange vests are provided. Anyone is invited to participate, and it is another great way to get some exercise and do something positive for the community.

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