MOLINE, Ill. — This week, the City of Moline is celebrating its sesquicentennial with food, live music and events that highlight the city's unique businesses and history.
To mark the occasion, we thought we'd take a look back at the history of some of Moline's most iconic landmarks and features, including the Interstate 74 bridge, Whitey’s Ice Cream, John Deere and more.
Old I-74 Mississippi River Bridge (completed 1960):
Although it is no longer in use and demolition has begun, the twin green bridges linking Iowa and Illinois have been iconic structures along the Quad Cities skyline for decades.
The westbound bridge, running from Illinois to Iowa, was completed and opened back in 1935. A quarter-century later, the bridge going from Iowa to Illinois was completed in 1959 and finally opened in 1960, according to the Iowa and Illinois departments of transportation.
New I-74 Mississippi River Bridge (completed 2021):
Coming in 2.5-times wider and 84 feet taller than the old bridge, the new I-74 bridge was fully opened to drivers in December.
The bridge is a product of 30 years of work and $1 billion. It includes new and exciting features, such as an oculus glass, color-changing lights and a bike and pedestrian pathway.
Moline City Hall (completed 1914):
A defining building in the downtown district and home to many city administrators, Moline City Hall was completed in 1914, according to the city. This was around the same time other institutional buildings began popping up along 5th and 6th avenues, including the Carnegie Library, Elks Club and Unitarian Church.
Prospect Park Pavilion (completed 1891):
The pavilion at Prospect Park was built by the park's original owners, the Moline Central Railway Company, in 1891 and has seen many renovations and attractions over the years. The park was eventually sold to the City of Moline in 1911. In January 2021, the pavilion was designated as a historical landmark.
Whitey’s Ice Cream (established 1933):
When you ask people in the Quad Cities where to get ice cream, Whitey’s is probably the first place that comes to mind. According to its website, the local ice cream chain was established in 1933 in Moline by Chester “Whitey” Lindgren.
Whitey’s Ice Cream was a one-store business until 1977 when the company opened its second store and manufacturing facility. Since then, the chain brought its famous “dips” to the other side of the Mississippi River, with locations in Davenport, Bettendorf, Coralville, Iowa City and Eldridge. Its wholesale department also distributes its freezer treats to grocery stores across the Midwest.
Deere & Company (incorporated 1868):
Blacksmith John Deere developed the first commercially successful, self-scouring steel plow in 1837 and founded the company bearing his name, according to the John Deere website.
Deere moved his growing operation to Moline in 1848 on the east bank of the Mississippi because the river provided water power for running a factory and river boats for bringing in materials and moving completed plows to the market. He was active in the city's politics, and in 1973, Deere became Moline's second mayor.
WQAD News 8 (established 1963):
Moline’s TV news station, WQAD News 8, officially signed on the air on Aug. 1, 1963. The ABC affiliate station was the third television powerhouse to enter the Quad Cities, as WOC (now KWQC) was airing NBC programs and WHBF was airing CBS programs.
While WQAD has seen many changes and faces over the years, it is still located in its original building on Park 16th Street.
WQAD is a sponsor of the City of Moline's weeklong 150th birthday celebration. Click/tap here for a full schedule of events, bands and more happening this weekend.
WATCH | 150 or 174? The birthday discrepancy behind Moline's sesquicentennial: