Davenport is a city located along the Mississippi River in Scott County, Iowa, United States. Davenport is the county seat of and largest city in Scott County; it is also the largest of the Quad Cities, a metropolitan area with a population estimate of 382,630 and a CSA population of 474,226, making it the 90th largest CSA in the nation. Davenport was founded on May 14, 1836 by Antoine LeClaire and was named for his friend, George Davenport, a colonel during the Black Hawk War stationed at nearby Fort Armstrong. According to the 2010 census, the city had a population of 99,685 (making it Iowa's third-largest city). However, the city is currently appealing this figure, arguing that the Census Bureau missed a section of residents that would place the total population over 100,000, and indeed, even the Census Bureau's own estimate for Davenport's 2011 population is 100,802.
Located approximately half way between Chicago and Des Moines, Davenport is on the border of Iowa and Illinois. The city is prone to frequent flooding due to its location on the Mississippi River. There are two main universities: Saint Ambrose University and Palmer College of Chiropractic, which is where the first chiropractic adjustment took place. Several annual music festivals take place in Davenport, including the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, The Mississippi Valley Fair, and the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. An internationally known foot race called the Bix 7 is run during the festival. The city has a Class A minor league baseball team, the Quad Cities River Bandits. Davenport has 27 parks and over of recreational paths for biking or walking.
Four interstates and two major United States Highways serve the city. Davenport has seen steady population growth since its incorporation, with an exception being the 1980s, when the population decreased due to job loss. Davenport has a declining crime rate and a low rate of unemployment, and was ranked as the most affordable metropolitan area in 2010 by Forbes. In 2007, Davenport, along with neighboring Rock Island, won the City Livability Award in the small-city category from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In 2012, Davenport as well as the Quad Cities Metropolitan Area was ranked among the fastest-growing areas in the nation in the growth of high-tech jobs. Notable natives of the city have included jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Susan Glaspell, and former National Football League running back Roger Craig.
The current mayor of Davenport is Bill Gluba.
The land was originally owned by the Sauk people, Meskwaki (Fox), and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) - indigenous peoples of the Americas. In 1803 France sold it to the United States under the Louisiana Purchase. Lieutenant Zebulon Pike was the first United States representative to officially visit the Upper Mississippi River area. On August 27, 1805, Pike camped on the present day site of Davenport.
In 1832, a group of Sauk, Meskwaki, and Kickapoo people were defeated by the United States in the Black Hawk War. The United States government then concluded the Black Hawk Purchase, sometimes called the Forty-Mile Strip or Scott's Purchase, by which the US acquired lands in what is now eastern Iowa. The purchase was made for $640,000 on September 21, 1832 and contained an area of some 6 million acres (24,000 km²), at a price equivalent to 11 cents/acre (26 $/km²). Although named after the defeated chief Black Hawk, he was being held prisoner at the time. The purchase was therefore agreed to by Sauk chief Keokuk, who had remained neutral in the war. It was made on the site of present day Davenport. Army General Winfield Scott and Governor of Illinois, John Reynolds, acted on behalf of the United States, with the future Davenport founder, half-Native, Antoine LeClaire serving as translator.
Chief Keokuk gave a generous portion of land to Antoine LeClaire's wife, Marguerite, who was a granddaughter of a Sauk chief. Antoine built their home on the exact spot where the agreement was signed, as stipulated by Keokuk or he would have forfeited the land. Antoine did so, finishing the 'Treaty House' in the spring of 1833. Davenport was established on May 14, 1836 by LeClaire, and named after his friend Colonel George Davenport, who was stationed at Fort Armstrong during the war. They city was incorporated on January 25, 1839. The area was successively governed by the legislatures of the Michigan Territory, the Wisconsin Territory, Iowa Territory and finally Iowa.
Scott County was formed by an act of the Wisconsin Territorial legislature in 1837. Davenport and neighbor Rockingham both campaigned to become the county seat. The city with the most votes from Scott County citizens in the February 1838 election would become the county seat. On the eve of the election, Davenport citizens acquired the temporary service of Dubuque laborers so they could vote in the election. Davenport won the election with the help of the laborers. Rockingham supporters protested the elections to the territorial governor, on the grounds the laborers from Dubuque were not Scott County residents. The governor refused to certify the results of the election. A second election was held the following August. To avoid another import of voters, the governor set a 60-day residency requirement for all voters. Davenport was again the victor by only two votes. Because the margin of victory was so close a third election in the summer of 1840 was held. As the August election drew nearer, Rockingham residents grew tired of the county seat cause, and the efforts of Davenporters were difficult to challenge. Davenport easily won the third election. Consequently, to ensure that the county seat issue would not be played out again, Davenport built the first county courthouse.
Rock Island Railroad built the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River in 1856. It connected Davenport to Rock Island, Illinois. This railway connection caused transportation and commerce with Chicago to significantly improve.The addition of new railroad lines to Muscatine and Iowa City, and the acquiring of other lines by the Rock Island Railroad, caused Davenport to became a commercial railroad hub.
Steamboat companies saw nationwide railroads as a threat to their business and on May 6, 1856, just weeks after the bridge was completed, a steamboat captain deliberately crashed the Effie Afton into the bridge. The owner of the Effie Afton, John Hurd, filed a lawsuit against the Rock Island Railroad Company. Abraham Lincoln was the lead defense lawyer for the railroad company. The decision of the United States Supreme Court upheld the right to bridge navigable streams, therefore the bridge was allowed to remain.
Prior to the start of the Civil War, Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood declared Davenport to be Iowa's first military headquarters and five camps were set up in the city to aid the Union.
The Davenport City Hall was built in 1895 for the meager price of $100,000 ($ in dollars). Architectural journals of the time poked fun at the project due to the small amount of money budgeted. The skyline began forming in the 1920s with the building of the Kahl Building, the Parker Building, and the Capitol Theatre during an economic and building expansion.
By 1932 thousands of Davenport residents were on public relief due to the Great Depression. A shantytown grew in the west end of the city along the Mississippi River. Sickness, hunger, and unsanitary living conditions plagued the area. The situation would soon change, as many citizens went to work for the Works Progress Administration and Davenport experienced a boom after World War II. Oscar Mayer, Ralston Purina, and other companies built plants in west Davenport. The Interstate highway network was brought to Davenport in 1956. By 1959 more than 1,000 homes a year were being constructed. By the late 1970s the good times were over for both downtown and local businesses and industries. The farm crisis of the 1980s negatively affected Davenport and the rest of the Quad Cities, 35,000 workers lost their jobs throughout the entire Quad Cities area. The Caterpillar plant on the city's north side closed, causing the loss of employment for many residents. The 1990s showed the beginnings of a resurgence for the city. In recent years, many renovations and building additions have occurred to revitalize the downtown area, including repairing Modern Woodmen Park, the building of the Skybridge and the Figge Art Museum. In 2011, the Gold Coast and Hamburg Historic District was named as a 2011 America's Great Place by the American Planning Association.