Independent Destinations

Our Independent Destinations are made up of people and places dedicated to sharing their history with the Quad Cities. When you visit each of these destinations, you are stepping into places where history was made, where new communities were built and public institutions were forged. It’s a vital part of the human experience to honor the legacies of those who came before us, and to remember the history of the people and places we live and visit today.

The Rock Island Public Library is Quad Cities historical destination for QC PastPort.

Rock Island Public Library

The roots of a library in Rock Island date back to the 1850s, when it was one of the first cities in Illinois to have a fee-based library. On November 25th, 1872, the Rock Island Public Library opened its doors. Rock Island was the first public library in Illinois to actually open after the passing of the Local Library Act, which made tax-supported public libraries possible. Miss Ellen Gale was the first library director, a job she would hold for another 64 years! The cornerstone of this permanent home for the Rock Island Public Library was set in 1902, and the library opened its doors December 15, 1903. Much has changed since that opening. A major expansion was added in 1986 and branch libraries have come and gone over the years. The most dramatic change is how we use the library and what it contains. Yet through it all, this location with its rich history stands tall as the Rock Island Downtown Library.

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception

St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is considered the cradle of Catholicism in Rock Island County.  Its first resident priest was Father John George Alleman, the legendary missionary priest who traveled for miles through Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa sharing his message with settlers and Native Americans alike.  Here on the corner of Rock River and Dock Streets (4th Avenue and 22nd Street), Father Alleman laid the foundation for a strong congregation who would work to build and enhance their house of worship, provide quality education for their children, and follow the inscription on the schoolhouse wall, “Welcome to All.” 


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