History Center Tours

The History Center offers fun and informative walking tours January through October. Special walking tours may occasionally be scheduled, so keep an eye out for any announcements.

If you are interested in joining multiple tours this season or planning to bring the whole family, our histoury hopper is a great way to save money. It also makes a great gift for history buffs of all ages.

Tickets for Walking and Biking Tours are sold on the day of the tour at the meeting place.

Tickets are not sold in advance. 

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To view our severe weather guidelines, click here

Tour Admission
$5.00 for History Center Members
$7.00 for General Public

HISTOURY HOPPER

Available for purchase at The History Center or when purchasing tour tickets.

 

2020 Walking Tours

March 3, 2020

Skywalk North Route

Time: 1:00 PM

Meeting Location: Cedar Rapids Public Library, Second Floor, 450 5th Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Learn about the history and architecture of downtown Cedar Rapids from the Skywalks! The North Route Skywalk tour looks at areas between 4th Avenue and First Avenue. The tour starts and ends on the second floor of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

March 24, 2020

Skywalk South Route

Time: 1:00 PM

Meeting Location: Cedar Rapids Public Library, Second Floor, 450 5th Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Explore the South Route of the Downtown Cedar Rapids Skywalk system starting from the Cedar Rapids Public Library. This route focuses on viewing areas along Fourth and Fifth Avenue SE between the train tracks and the Cedar River from the special viewpoint of the skywalk system. This tour showcasing architecture and history features sections of the Wholesale District as well as areas redeveloped over the past 35 years that are not seen on the North Route Skywalk Tour.  The tour starts and ends on the second floor of the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

May 6, 2020

Lisbon

Time: 6:00 PM

Meeting Location: Lisbon History Center, 102 E Main Street, Lisbon, IA 52253

This new History Center tour takes a closer look at the unique Linn County community of Lisbon, started in part by early members of the Hershey family from Pennsylvania.

 

Highlights include details about Lisbon’s important connections to Linn County railroad and Lincoln Highway history as well as a look at Main Street architecture. There is a special visit to a historic Lisbon church structure associated with the famous Wright Brothers.

 

This tour is in partnership with the Lisbon History Center and the Lisbon Historic Preservation Commission. 

June 9, 2020

Downtown (Museum Week)

Time: 6:00 PM

Meeting Location: The History Center, 800 Second Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403

Discover the oldest section of the city!  This walking tour includes information on 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.

June 23, 2020

Historic Mount Vernon in Linn County

Time: 6:00 PM

Meeting Location: front side of King Chapel on the Cornell Campus, 600 First Street, Mt Vernon, IA 52314

This walking tour will take us through parts of the Cornell College Historic District and the Commercial Historic District. Cornell’s entire campus is listed on the National Historic Register, as well as many fine homes that were built surrounding the campus. The Commercial district highlights the architectural detail of landmark buildings that continue to serve Mount Vernon residents. As we stroll the tree lined streets peppered with historic homes, we may even encounter some of Mount Vernon’s early pioneers out for their evening stroll. You’re also invited to stay for the community band concert that begins at 7:30 in the Memorial Park Gazebo. Audience members are asked to bring a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on during the concert.

Parking is available behind Cole Library.

July 7, 2020

Mays Island

Time: 6:00 PM

Meeting Location: 101 First Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

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 landmark “skyscrapers” and a close look at surviving historic warehouse structures including the Smulekoff and Hach buildings.

July 21, 2020

Kingston Village

Time: 6:00 PM

Meeting Location: Popoli Ristorante, 101 3rd Avenue SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Experience the rich history of the area along the west side of the Cedar River that was originally the town of Kingston before being annexed as West Cedar Rapids in1870.  Learn about new developments and stories of restoration and preservation in this area that was named Kingston Village following the devastating effects of the June2008 Flood.

  

Highlights of this tour include a rare Art Deco former police station, the first west side high school building and a special look at the famous Louis Sullivan designed Peoples Bank building.

August 4, 2020

Automobile Row/Mansion Hill

Time: 6:00 PM

Meeting Location: The History Center, 800 Second Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403

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.

August 18, 2020

College District/Mound View Neighborhood

Time:  6:00 PM

Meeting Location: Whipple Firehouse, 1424 B Avenue NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

Enjoy a closer look at this incredibly historic neighborhood nestled between the campuses of Coe College and Mt. Mercy University in northeast Cedar Rapids. Discover the unusual history of the first name for this area.

 

The tour features an eclectic mix of residential, commercial and early industrial historic sites. Highlights of the tour include many places associated with celebrated artist Grant Wood including a close look at his Cedar Rapids childhood home where he lived starting in 1901.

September 1, 2020

IA BIG Religious Structures

Time: 6:00 PM

Meeting Location: TBA

NEW TOUR!  This tour was designed by IA BIG students.  Explore some of Cedar Rapids oldest places of worship. 

September 15, 2020

Linwood Cemetery

Time: 6:00 PM

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

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.

October 20, 2020

Creep the Alleys

Time: 6:00 PM

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

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 for 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.

October 27, 2020

Creep the Alleys

Time: 6:00 PM

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

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 for 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.

Walking Tours are generously sponsored by:

 

2020 Biking Tours

Bring your bicycle and join us on a truly unique way to experience Cedar Rapids history! Two tours are scheduled with two routes: a North Route and South Route.  All bike tours begin and end at Hall Bicycle, 419 Second Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401.
 
Bike rentals are available for free, provided by Hall Bicycle Company. To reserve a free bike rental for a tour, please call (319) 362-1052.

July 25, 2020

North Route Bike Tour

Time: 10:00 AM

Highlights include the old hotel and entertainment district of downtown Cedar Rapids, a look at the railroad yards and Cedar Lake areas as well as stops near the old Magnus Brewery and "beer caves" site.

August 29, 2020

South Route Bike Tour

Time: 10:00 AM

Highlights include stops throughout the historic Wholesale and Warehouse District as well as segments of the New Bohemia and Czech Village neighborhoods.

Biking Tours are generously co-sponsored by:

Hours

Tuesday - Saturday

10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Admission

$7.00 for general public

$5.00 for students (with ID)

Free for children ages 4 and younger

Free for members of The History Center

All galleries and exhibits are self-guided.

The History Center

800 Second Avenue SE

Cedar Rapids, IA  52403

office@historycenter.org

Tel: 319-362-1501