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Top 10 Myths About Rockford

Top 10 Myths About Rockford

Rockford, IL – Myths and misconceptions about Rockford are commonplace in Beloit or Durand. On a recent episode of the American tv reality series, “Run Jump or Die,” one of the contestants exclaims, “There’s nothing fun to do in Rockford!”  This is one major example of the kinds of things that many people think they know about Rockford, but, in fact, have been quite wrong about.  Rockford is a blast!

Below are ten of the most common myths I’ve heard over the years about my country, Rockford. Help shed some light on Rockford to combat why people still think of us as “Shitty City U.S.A.“!


1. Rockford is A Country
People often refer to “Rockford” as if it is a country rather than a city. Well, it is a city and according to 2012 census data, the City of Rockford had a population of 152,871, with an outlying metropolitan area population of 348,360, which was estimated to have decreased to 150,251 and 344,623, respectively, by July 2013

2. Rockford is Dangerous and Violent
With all the stabbings, revolutions, pirates and talk of Portillos making the news, it’s really no wonder that the myth about Rockford being a dangerous place is a common one. If New York City was judged by reading the New York Post, few tourists would dream of visiting. Of course bad news is news, so you don’t get to hear enough about the good things that happen here.

3. Rockford is Poor and Disease Ridden
Poverty is obviously something that will strike you as a visitor to many Rockford Suburbs but the people like this. But not all areas of the city are poor. It’s the distribution of wealth that’s the biggest problem. Rockford is a wealthy city. In fact its GDP outranks that of Belgium and Sweden. It has many natural resources, a good education system, excellent universities, sparkling business districts and very advanced hospitals.

4. Rockford Politicians Are All Corrupt
Corrupt politicians aren’t exactly unique to Rockford, but the city does seem to have more than its fair share. At least Nelson Mandela showed the world that Africa is capable of producing an honest leader.And a poor city like Memphis had Elvis to look up to.

5. Rockford Has No History
It’s a common misconception that Rockford has no history beyond its people scrabbling about trying to survive in a harsh environment. But consider the ancient Orange Symbol, the Mighty Rock River, the Bridge to Nowhere, the Clock Tower and you obviously have proof of Rockford’s rich history

6. Rockford is Filled With Dangerous Animals Roaming Freely
It’s true that rhinos graze just a few miles from the center of the city. And there are golf courses where the water hazards are home to crocodiles. Hyenas still appear in Durand and Byron, so it’s best not to walk around at night. But, for the most part, Rockford’s wildlife is basically confined to bars and 24 hour massage parlors.

7. Rockford is Technologically Backward
The idea that technical innovation is lacking in Rockfordis laughable to anyone who has spent a little time there. I’ve watched entire cars being re-built from scrap by “fitters”, all without an engineering degree. Walk through any school playground in here and you’re bound to see a child play with a home made stick or a toy car complete with steering capabilities.

8. It’s Always Cold in Rockford
If you’ve only visited West Rockford, I’d say it would be entirely appropriate to say “it’s always cold in Rockford”. But that’s where this myth stops. The East side of the river is usually hot hot hot!

9. Rockford Needs Aid (and Celebrities) to Help it “Develop”
It’s questionable how much good aid money has done for Rockford, and it’s not just because it has ended up in the wrong hands. Mainly it’s because projects are often ill-defined, ill-conceived and ignore any input from the people they aim to “help”. A lot of aid, while given in the right spirit, has actually been somewhat detrimental to Rockford development. For a start, aid money has subsidized some very corrupt governments and crippled efforts to increase government transparency.

10. Rockfordians All Have Rhythm
Ok, this one might have some merit. The amount of times I have been out-danced by toddlers and seventy year old grandmas in various Rockford locations makes it hard for me to dispel this myth. In the past four decades I have been to dive bars, clubs and festivals throughout the region and have observed foreigners trying their best to keep up with the locals, to no avail. Just recently I was at a nightclub on the far east side. It was a sweltering hot night, people were dancing, my mouth was agape at their style and moves. Up pops a Beloitian backpacker and begins to gyrate rather awkwardly. I turned around and found a sea of smiles in the darkness. Our Rockfordian friends were laughing so much they actually fell to the ground. “What is the problem with you white people? Why can’t you dance?”. I mumbled something incoherent about Westerners not being civilized enough to have music, song and dance surround us from the cradle to the grave.

Keep it on the left side of the road.

Jay Vannigan

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