Quad Cities Paints the Outdoor Canvas with Lights
In the Quad Cities, nighttime lightscaping has created colorful and inviting experiences over the Mississippi River, in park settings, and at area attractions.
Lightscaping has been used for years to highlight architecture and water features and add ambiance to outdoor public settings. One of the newest and most impressive lighting experiences in the Quad Cities can be encountered driving or walking over the Mississippi River or watching from the riverbank, a unique LED light show crossing the span of the new I-74 River Bridge.
Connecting Iowa and Illinois, the new Interstate 74 bridge is the biggest and most visible transportation construction project in Quad Cities history. The basket-handle, true-arch twin bridge is lit at night by color-changing LED lights. Take a walk or a bicycle ride on the bridge’s pedestrian path. It is one of the few such paths on interstate bridges across the country.
At the middle of the path is a scenic overlook with a glass oculus providing a unique view of the Mississippi River. The 10-foot diameter oculus is made of thick, tempered glass that is safe to stand on, and is lit at night with uplighting.
The public can access the path at River Drive in Moline, Ill., and Grant Street/US 67 in Bettendorf, Iowa. While State Street and 12th Street are under construction in Bettendorf, bicyclists and pedestrians should watch for signage directing them through the area to get from the river bridge path to the Riverfront Trail. For more information, visit I74RiverBridge.com.
The Centennial Bridge crosses the Mississippi River and connects Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa. Completed in 1940, the Centennial Bridge was the first four-lane bridge to cross the Mississippi. Five arches grace the bridge and represent the five major cities in the Quad Cities region. As historian Robert Jackson said in the Historic American Engineering Record: “The Centennial Bridge is a technologically significant structure as the first tied-arch span across the Mississippi River and is also regarded as one of the most striking bridges ever built across the ‘Father of Waters.'”
It was the first bridge to have decorative lighting in the QC. In 1988, lamps were installed on the five arches providing a beautiful view from the riverfront, especially when reflected on the river’s surface. At night, the lights create one of the well-known images captured of the Quad Cities.
Within sight of the Centennial Bridge, Schweibert Riverfront Park in downtown Rock Island is a community gathering spot on the riverfront. Color-changing fixtures at the zero-depth pool provide sparkle year-round, and locally commissioned sculptures have dedicated feature lighting. The project won Midwest Construction Magazine’s 2010 Project of the Year in the Government/Public Building category. Lighting at Schweibert Park provides a balance of comfortable evening illumination while not interfering with enjoying the river and sky views. The stage lighting at the park pavilion accents the canopy structure in homage to the former armory silhouette that was located on the site where the park is now.
The Davenport Skybridge is a pedestrian-only, cable-stayed bridge that has color-changing kaleidoscope lighting with 228 LED fixtures. It connects downtown Davenport, Iowa, with LeClaire Park, 400 Beiderbecke Dr., and the Mississippi Riverfront. There is an observation deck with a view of the Mississippi River, and the downtown skybridge entrance is located right next to the River Music Experience, 131 W. 2nd Street. For more information, visit www.cityofdavenport.com.
Two blocks from the Skybridge is the newly-renovated Kaiserslautern Square pocket park, 115 E. 3rd Street in Davenport. Stroll by and check out lighted walls, overhead lights, shade trees, different elevations for seating and events, and improved accessibility. There is an interactive water feature with nozzles that produce an extremely fine spray of water. At night, this water feature is accentuated with colored LED lighting that colors the fog wafting up from the square. Kaiserslautern Square is often shorted to K-square by locals and is named after Davenport’s partner city in Germany. For more information, visit www.downtowndavenport.com.
The 90-foot tall Ferris Wheel at Modern Woodmen Park illuminates the riverfront skyline in the Quad Cities with color-changing LED lights. It is the only Ferris Wheel in a minor league ballpark in the country. The park also has other amusement rides that operate on game nights. Ballpark Digest recently honored the club as its Minor League Baseball “Team of the Year” as well as earning the title “Best Minor League Ballpark in America” from USA Today and 10Best.com. for more information on their schedule, visit www.riverbandits.com.
Have you tried practicing the aim of your golf drives? You’ll want to try this at the Cosmic Golf driving range at Duck Creek Golf Course, 3000 E. Locust St., Davenport, Iowa. You can take a shot in the dark every Friday and Saturday evening from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at this night golf amenity for all levels. There are a series of gigantic smart targets that respond with light and sound when hit.
The practice range has 14 stations, and each station uses the latest artificial surface technology allowing golfers to place their tee directly into the surface. The driving range is downhill, allowing golfers to better see their practice drives. Target areas are set along the range at 100, 150, and 200 yards. For more information, visit www.golfdavenport.com.
The Vander Veer Botanical Park is a 33-acre botanical garden, located at 215 W. Central Ave. in Davenport. Established in 1885 and modeled after New York City’s Central Park, it is believed to be one of the first botanical parks west of the Mississippi River. The park grounds are home to an extensive collection of gardens and trees, including many planted during the early 1890s. The Conservatory is famous for its 100-year tradition of different flower displays rotating throughout the year.
The Grand Allée, a prominent walkway of trees and gardens, leads to the popular Stone Fountain. The stone fountain is the second fountain built in the park and dates back to the 1930s. The fountain shoots up water in dancing, billowing patterns and has changing lights making that make for some beautiful nights in Vander Veer Park. The fountain runs from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. May through October.
Surrounding the fountain are the Old World Gardens, circa 1900. They are a display of carpet beds of the style popular in many European countries.
During the holiday season, Vander Veer Park and the indoor Vander Veer Conservatory are decorated with beautiful lights. The Poinsettia and Lights display begins at Thanksgiving and continues until early January. For more information about Vander Veer Park, visit www.davenportparks.com.
The outdoor gardens of the Quad City Botanical Center are in winter bloom from mid-November to early January with over 160,000 glowing lights during Winter Nights Winter Lights. Showcasing the largest light display in the QC, you can bundle up and stroll the gardens at night and then warm up with hot chocolate. For more information, visit www.qcgardens.com.
The Quad Cities is a family of communities located on the Mississippi River. The area is just a 2-½ hour drive from Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois. It is easily accessible via I-80, I-74, I-88 and several major state highways.
Founded in 1990, Visit Quad Cities is the official Destination Management and Marketing Organization (DMMO) for the region. Visit Quad Cities is a private 501(c)(6) non-profit engine charged with driving economic opportunity through tourism, improves quality of life and markets the Quad Cities brand by attracting visitors, meetings/conventions, sporting events, and group tours to the area. For more information, visit us online at www.visitquadcities.com, call 800-747-7800 and be sure to connect with us on social media.