Rockford, Illinois is situated in the northern section of the state and serves as the seat for Winnebago County. Running through this city of roughly 152,000 people is the Rock River. The city is the most populated within the state of Illinois outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area.
Normally called "The Forest City", Rockford was founded by Germanicus Kent in 1834 and referred to is as Midway, because of the village's location halfway between Kent's hometown of Galena and the bustling city of Chicago. In 1852 Rockford officially became a city with a growing population due to the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, which ran through it. By the early twentieth century, the city of Rockford had become a major industrial and manufacturing center. Some nationally recognized manufacturers established themselves here. Faced with a decline after World War II ended, the economy has in recent years recovered to concentrate on becoming an entertainment, commercial and cultural center.
The region has various manufacturing enterprises that manufacture machine tools and hardware, some of which supply the aerospace industry. A lot of chemical manufacturing businesses are situated here, also. Increasingly, high-technology companies are being attracted to the city. Most jobs within Rockford are provided by the following sectors: healthcare, education, metal products, manufacturing, government, accommodation and food services, insurance and finance.
The city of Rockford features a wide variety of cultural attractions. An essential place for world-renowned and local artists is the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center. The New American Theater mounts professional theatrical productions on an annual basis. The Burpee Museum of Natural History exhibits collections of animals, fossils, rocks and minerals. The Discovery Center Museum has fascinating exhibits and a planetarium. The Erlander Home Museum provides glimpses into the Swedish settlers in the region. The Ethnic Heritage Museum relates the history of the early Irish, Italians, African-Americans, Polish, Hispanics and Lithuanians. Beyond these urban draws, the natural surroundings of Rockford offer numerous outdoor recreational activities.