A city located in the northern part of Illinois, Rockford is known for its manufacturing heritage. It also has a reputation of being a significant contributor to the automotive and aerospace industries. However, there are many lesser-known facts about Rockford that make it an interesting place to explore. Here are some of them:
1. The birthplace of the Sock Monkey
Did you know that Rockford is the birthplace of the iconic Sock Monkey? The Sock Monkey is a popular children’s toy made from red-heeled socks, and it has a long history. In the early 20th century, the Nelson Knitting Company started using its leftover red-heeled socks to make stuffed monkeys.
Thus, the sock monkey was born. Today, this city is still known as ‘Home of the Sock Monkey’. You can learn about the history of this beloved toy at the Midway Village Museum. It has an exhibit dedicated to the Sock Monkey.
2. The oldest music club in the United States
Rockford is home to the oldest music club in the United States. The club we’re talking about here is the Mendelssohn Club. Founded in the late 19th century, the Mendelssohn Club is a choral group. It has been performing for more than a century. The club has a rich history of bringing classical music to Rockford. The performances of this club continue to be a popular cultural attraction in the city.
3. The auto racing connection
This city in Illinois has the Rockford Speedway. It is one of the oldest racetracks in the United States. This speedway has been hosting races since 1948 and is known for its thrilling stock car racing events. In addition to the Rockford Speedway, the city also has the Historic Auto Attractions museum.
It features a vast collection of classic and historic automobiles. They include the ones owned by famous personalities such as Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy.
4. A city of gardens
Owing to its numerous public gardens and parks, Rockford is often referred to as the ‘city of gardens’. Among the most famous gardens is the Anderson Japanese Gardens. It is one of the top Japanese gardens in North America.
This 12-acre garden features winding paths, serene waterfalls, and meticulously maintained landscapes. A visit to this garden allows you to escape the hustle bustle of the city’s life. Other popular gardens in Rockford are the Sinnissippi Rose Garden and the Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
5. Home to a rich cultural heritage
The diverse population of Rockford has contributed to its vibrant arts and music scene. The city is home to several theaters, art galleries, and music venues. Among them are the Coronado Performing Arts Center. This historic theater has hosted famous performers like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
The Rockford Art Museum is yet another cultural gem in the city, featuring a collection of modern and contemporary art. Rockford also celebrates its cultural diversity through events such as the Rockford International Festival. It showcases the city’s different cultures through food, music, and dance.
6. Invention of the electric kitchen stove
In the late 19th century, Rockford resident George A. Brackett invented the first electric kitchen stove. His invention revolutionized the way people cooked and paved the way for modern kitchen appliances. Today, the city is still home to several manufacturing companies that produce kitchen appliances, including the Swedish company Electrolux.