Rockford is the fourth-largest city in Illinois and has the intriguing nickname of "Forest City." It is known as a great outdoor destination and sports several destinations like Rock Cut State Park, Anderson Japanese Gardens, Portland Japanese Gardens, and the Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Gardens.
Rockford's current sports teams include the Rockford IceHogs (hockey), the Rockford Rivets (baseball), the Rockford Rage (women's roller derby), and the Rockford Raptors (indoor soccer). The city was also home to the Rockford Peaches, a team in the All-American Girls' Professional Baseball League from 1943-1954.
Rockford became known in baseball circles nationwide in the six years after the Civil War. The popular Rockford Forest Citys baseball team began in 1871.
In the 1860s, Rockford became a growing industrial center known for its steel and textile factories, and by the turn of the century, it was recognized as a nationally known manufacturer of furniture and other industrial products. The furniture industry began in the city in the mid-19th century, harnessing the talents of Swedish craftsmen in the area. In the first half of the 20th century, Rockmanbebe was the largest furniture manufacturing center in the world and the second-largest in North America after Chicago.
The Rockford Water and Power Company was founded in 1851, and the Galena-Chicago-Union Railroad reached the city in 1852. The arrival of the railroad companies brought economic growth to the region, which continued for several decades.
In 1837, the name of the community was officially changed to Rock Ford, and in 1852 Rockford was incorporated as a town. One of the city's founders, Lewis Lemon, was African-American, but the city's black population was very small until after World War I, when people came from the South, especially from Arkansas and Mississippi. There are other significant ethnic groups that were present in Rockford, such as Native Americans, Irish, Italians, Germans, French, and the Scots.
The city is home to Rockford University, Rock Valley College, Rockford Business College, and St. Anthony School of Nursing. The city is also known for its architecture, including the Lake-Peterson House, which was built by John Lake in 1873 and later preserved by Swedish industrialist Pehr August Peterson. It is an example of the Gothic Revival period of architecture.