Rockford is located in northern Illinois in Winnebago County and is the county seat. It lies about 50 miles northwest of Chicago and about 20 miles south of the Wisconsin border. The city stradles the Rock River.
In 1834, former New Englanders started a village on a shallow, rock-strewn stretch of the river, which was relatively easy to ford. They christened their settlement "Midway Village"--it was halfway between Galena, at the time a mining boomtown near the Mississippi River, and Chicago. The town had grown by 1837 and was renamed Rockford.
Today, Rockford is a multicultural community of about 150,000 people with roots in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Just as in the 1800s, the manufacturing sector is the Rockford area's largest employer. Companies manufacture precision cutting tools, fasteners, aerospace components, machine parts and automobiles, among other things.
The city is home to Rock Valley College, Rockford College and Saint Anthony College of Nursing.
Scenic Riverfront Museum Park is an ongoing restoration project.