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150 or 174? The birthday discrepancy behind Moline's sesquicentennial

The City of Moline's history is longer than its 150th birthday celebration would suggest, and that's due to the technical difference between a town and a city.

MOLINE, Ill. — If you're someone very familiar with the history of Moline, you might wonder something to yourself as you walk down the streets of the sesquicentennial celebration.

"We celebrated in 1998! And we thought that was the big event!" said Barbara Sanberg from Moline's Historic Preservation Commission.

Despite the 150th anniversary being plastered across the city for the celebration, Moline's history actually goes back a bit further than that.

"You see on my pin, August 29, 1872, and it's on our seal, on the podium that you see us speak from. So that's where the discrepancy lies," said Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati. 

As a town, Moline was first established in 1848 as settlers banded together next to the Mississippi River.

However, in 1872, Moline was reformed to become the City as we know it, alongside the new local government that came with the transition. 

Sanberg says that the difference lies in the important distinction between a town and a city.

"But then 24 years later, the state had matured, the cities had matured, and the state decided that, 'no, that was not significant.' You needed to be a city to be officially incorporated."

Historians say that the time period between those two dates was pivotal to Moline's development. 

"Those were kind of difficult years for Moline. They had difficulties with states' rights. And then following that, we had the Civil War."

At the same time, immigrants were moving to the riverside town and industry began to grow, eventually culminating in the town that about 42,418 Quad Citizens now call home.

"We were a melting pot. Now we have a Hispanic neighborhood, which is so very strong and thriving, too.," Sandberg added. "So we have found that we can work together. And if we do work together, it's that much better."

So when it comes to how old Moline really is, it doesn't really matter to her.

"I consider this 150. Why argue the point? Everything is printed 150. I'm certainly not gonna argue with that, no," Sandberg said, laughing.

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