Rockford History: 1942-1949


1942 ----- Illinois Bell Telephone Company completes new building on N. Main St. Saddening reports of Winnebago County casualties flow in as war expands.

Feb. 24, 1943 ------ Most Rev. John J. Boylan, D.D., begins duties as third bishop of the Rockford Catholic Diocese.

May 23, 1943 ------ Rockford Civic Symphone Orchestra gives its first concert.

Sept., 1943 ------ Kindergarten made an integral part of city's school system.

Nov. 16, 1943 ------ Voters approve formation of Greater Rockford Airport Authority. Law later found unconstitutional, but authority is approved and created two years afterward.

April, 1945 ------ Mayor C. Henry Bloom is re-elected to another four-year term.

July 2 - Nov. 1, 1945 ------ Worst polio epidemic in Rockford area history; 382 stricken in the city and county.

Sept., 1945 ------ Rockford begins a three-month experiment with sanitary landfill disposal of garbage and rubbish. In 1946, city begins collection and disposal on a year-round basis.

Sept. 2, 1945 ------ V-J Day marks end of Second World War and beginning of post-war building boom. War figures show that more than 16,000 men and women - about 11.8 per cent of the county's population - served in the armed forces during the four years. Of these, 1,081 - or 6.7 per cent - were killed, wounded, taken prisoner, missing in action, or dead from non-combat causes.

Oct. 14, 1945 ------ Memorial Forest Preserve dedicated on Alpine Road; honors Winnebago County men and women who served in the armed forces in World War II.

1946 -------- Birth and building rates jump tremendously in Rockford and Winnebago County.

May 21, 1946 ------ City-Council Planning Commission names Lloyd T. Keefe city-county planner; his first job is to direct the conversion of Camp Grant into an airport.

Aug. 7, 1946 ------ Central Illinois Electric and Gas Company completes changeover in city homes to natural gas piped in from Texas.

Jan 8, 1947 ------ Wayne E. Swanson, 38, succeeds Thomas D. Blake as Rockford Fire Chief. Blake had retired in 1946 after 44 years in the department and nearly 25 years as chief.

March 12, 1947 ------ Five Harrison Avenue plants destroyed by a $750,000 fire that sweeps an entire block; blaze concentrated in three-story Haddorff Furniture Co. building and fed by oil, rubber and lacquer.

April 1, 1947 ------ Rockford votes 15,138 to 4,418 against parking meters, but the City Council orders installation of about 1,000 meters in August, 1949.

April 30, 1947 ------ Loves Park approves incorporation and becomes a city. First mayor is Homer E. Burton. Special council meeting held July 7, first regular Loves Park City Council meeting July 21.

Aug. 13, 1947 ------ Selmer H. Berg resigns as superintendent of Rockford public schools. Parmer L. Ewing named to succeed him on Aug. 26.

Fall, 1947 ------ Camp Grant buildings are torn down. More than 1,200 acres of camp property are turned over to the Greater Rockford Airport Authority for development into airport.

Sept. 13, 1947 ----- Dial telephones supplant manual phones.

May 1, 1948 ------ State Street Bridge is closed; construction begins on a new span.

June 8-10, 1948 ----- Prince Bertil of Sweden makes second visit to Rockford and Winnebago County, this time with official Swedish pioneer centennial delegation. The prince turns the first shovel of dirt for a $1.25 million addition to Swedish-American Hospital.

April 5, 1949 ----- C. Henry Bloom elected to a fifth term as mayor of Rockford; former Mayor Charles F. Brown wins Rockford Township supervisor post. Frank S. Larson elected mayor of Loves Park.

Oct. 20, 1949 ----- State Street bridge is completed.

October 21, 1949 ----- New State Street bridge is dedicated by Governor Adlai E. Stevenson.

December, 1949 ------ Huge, multi-million-dollar Sabrooke power plant of Central Illinois Electric and Gas Co. begins furnishing power. Formal completion is in May, 1950.

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