Peter D. Looney
April 20, 2021
Virtual Event via Facebook Live
When I was a little kid growing up on the farm, the eight of us would pile into the car and make the occasional special trip into Cedar Rapids. Picture a skinny little kid, on an older sister's lap, nose pressed up against the car window, gazing in wonder at the tall buildings. And look at all these people – there must be HUNDREDS of them!
Later, as an adult living in Cedar Rapids with my own family, I'd wonder about all the landmarks I kept hearing about – the Majestic, the Allison, the Montrose, the Masonic Temple, the Union Depot, Star Wagon – where had they been? Where did they go? What's there now?
That island in the middle of the river, in the heart of downtown – why are there buildings on it? Did there REALLY used to be a roller coaster on it? I'd hear about this outdoor movie theater, only it was a walk-in, not a drive-in. And all these other grand old theaters, and crazy dance halls, and magnificent hotels, and I'd hear people talk about four different amusement parks, and five different racetracks. Where were they, and when were they there, and WHERE DID THEY GO???
So I started collecting old pictures that I'd come across, in newspapers, magazines, books, and eventually, on the internet. I'd study them with a magnifying glass. I made lists of those old places, and their addresses, and the years they were there, and what was there before them, and what is there now. Followed by hundreds and hundreds of hours probing and researching old newspapers, phone books, and city directories, to find accurate dates of existence and operation... resulting in a book, Lost Cedar Rapids.