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Walking Tours

The History Center offers fun and informative walking tours March through October. Special walking tours may occasionally be scheduled, so keep an eye out for any announcements. Private walking tours are also available for your group or special occasion, click here for more information on private walking tours and historian presentations.

 

Tour Admission

$5.00 for History Center Members

$7.00 for General Public

Please note: For the safety of guests and staff, walking tours will be postponed when the temperature or heat index is 100° or more.

Walking tours are sponsored by: Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust

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Skywalk - North Route

March 5, 2024

10:30 a.m.

Learn about the history of downtown Cedar Rapids from the Skywalk. The North Route Skywalk tour looks at areas between 4th Avenue and 1st Avenue. 

Tour Guide: Jenny Thielman

Meeting location: Second floor of the Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Avenue SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52401.

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Downtown Tour

June 4, 2024

6:00 p.m.

Discover the oldest section of the city!  This walking tour includes information on the development history of the evolving city center, its famous retail past as “Eastern Iowa’s Shopping Center”, railroads and streetcars, and the area known as Greene Square.

Tour Guide: Kyle Patrick

Meeting location: Third Avenue side of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art,

410 Third Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

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Mansion Hill/Auto Row

July 23, 2024

6:00 p.m.

This tour begins and ends at The History Center! Learn about the area originally known as “Mansion Hill” along Third, Second and First Avenues East. Get a closer look at the very few surviving19th century residences on the“Hill”.  

 

Discover how this section of Cedar Rapids was transformed into “Automobile Row” following the routing of the Lincoln Highway as early as1913. See many of the restored “Auto Row” structures and get updates on how the area is changing with the expanding MedQuarter District. 

Tour Guide: Jenny Thielman

Meeting location: The History Center, 800 2nd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA  52403

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Linwood Cemetery

September 10, 2024

6:00 p.m.

Experience the history of the oldest cemetery on the west side of Cedar Rapids. Highlights include visiting the final resting site of some of the infamous Cherry Sisters and a look at the memorial to many of the victims of the May 1919 Douglas Starch Works Explosion in Cedar Rapids. Participants are invited inside the funeral home for refreshments and a short presentation on the history of Murdoch Funeral Homes.

Tour Guide: Jenny Thielman

Meeting location: Linwood Cemetery, 520 Wilson Avenue SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

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Creep the Alley 1

October 17, 2024

6:00 p.m.

Downtown alleys reveal a great deal of history about Cedar Rapids buildings and they can be a little spooky too! Come explore the dark side of downtown architecture with this unique historic alley tour. 

 

Included are stories of how alleys function as service and utility access, how they provided secret entrances for Prohibition era businesses as well as clever retail store designs. There will be a few surprises along the tour as well! Please wear alley appropriate footwear.

Tour Guide: Jenny Thielman

Meeting location: Town Centre Plaza, Third Avenue & Third Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

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Skywalk - South Route

March 19, 2024

10:30 a.m.

Learn about the history downtown Cedar Rapids Skywalk. This route focuses on areas along 4th and 5th Avenue SE between the train tracks and the Cedar River.

Tour Guide: Jenny Thielman

Meeting location: Second floor of the Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Avenue SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52401.

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Douglas Co. 1919 Explosion Area & South Kingston Village

June 18, 2024

6:00 p.m.

On May 22, 1919 the Douglas & Co. Starch Works factory of Cedar Rapids exploded, causing the deaths of over 40 persons. This fascinating new walking tour looks at the immediate areas affected by this disaster 100 years later.  

 

In addition, this tour includes the history of buildings and sites in the south end of the Kingston Village neighborhood. Highlights include the Mott and Chelsea buildings as well as the oldest surviving house from the old town of Kingston. 

Tour Guide: Kyle Patrick

Meeting location: Jean Oxley Building, 935 2nd St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA  52404

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Mays Island

August 20, 2024

6:00 p.m.

Learn about the early history of Mays Island and how Cedar Rapids transformed it into the only island government center in the Western Hemisphere. Following a tour of the island, experience the history of what was originally known as “Commercial Street”. 

 

This tour along several blocks of First Street SE will reveal details about the earliest downtown retail locations before the Civil War period, the construction of land mark “skyscrapers” and a close look at surviving historic warehouse structures including the Smulekoff and Hach buildings. 

Tour Guide: Kyle Patrick

Meeting location: City Hall, 101 1st Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA  52401

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Mt. Calvary Cemetery

September 24, 2024

6:00 p.m.

Founded in the 1850's. Mt. Calvary actually began along a wagon trail — a place of reverence where settlers buried loved ones lost along the way. Today Mt. Calvary is not only the community's largest Catholic cemetery, but also one of the oldest Catholic cemeteries in Cedar Rapids.

Tour Guide: Jenny Thielman

Meeting location: Mt. Calvary Cemetery, 375 32nd Street Drive SE, Cedar Rapids, IA  52403

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Creep the Alley 2

October 24, 2024

6:00 p.m.

It's so popular we do it twice! Same tour, different day.

Tour Guide: Jenny Thielman

Meeting location: Town Centre Plaza, Third Avenue & Third Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

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