|Founded in 1833, Dubuque is the oldest city in Iowa. A port on the upper Mississippi River, it is situated along scenic bluffs facing the river, and has its roots in a mining and trading settlement established in the area by Quebec-born entrepreneur Julien Dubuque in 1788. The city's population is 57,686 (2000 Census). Dubuque grew rapidly during the 19th century, due to its lead-mining, lumber-milling, brewing, metal-working, and river-trade-related industries. It was Iowa's largest city for most of the 1800s, and as a result contains many historically significant structures, many of which have been carefully maintained or restored. Much of the city's character was established by heavy German and Irish immigration from the 1840s to the 1890s, with the Germans tending to settle in the "North End" and the Irish in the "South End." Large Catholic parishes associated with each group were established, and large, impressive 19th-century church buildings remain to this day. |
The large Catholic presence caused Dubuque to be elevated to the status of a Catholic archdiocese in 1893, and it is still the smallest US city to hold this distinction. Noteworthy church buildings include St. Raphael Cathedral, St. Mary (with its jewel-like Bavarian stained-glass windows), Sacred Heart, Holy Ghost, St. Columbkille, and the Basilica of St. Francis in nearby Dyersville. St. Luke's Methodist Church contains a significant collection of Tiffany-designed stained-glass windows in a striking Romanesque Revival structure. Beer drinking, fishing, euchre-playing (card game), and the Chicago Cubs are especially esteemed in Dubuque. Dubuque, as a small industrial center, saw its economy falter in the 1980s as industries downsized or relocated. The city has made a concerted effort to attract tourists, with the establishment of historic districts, museums, a greyhound racing park, a casino, a riverside hotel and conference center, and a new (2003) Smithsonian-affiliated museum devoted to the history and biology of the Mississippi River.
• National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium
• Ham House Museum Preserved Italianate mansion of early river baron, with period furnishings.
• Fenelon Place (4th Street) Elevator Historic cable-car ride from Dubuque's river level to top of bluff.
• Eagle Point Park Splendid city park high on bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, renovated in the 1930s with many interesting Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired structures.
• Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens 52-acre garden with emphasis on irises, dahlias, lilies, dwarf and unusual conifers; rose and herb gardens.
• Mines of Spain State Recreation Area Nature trails and an interpretive center.
• Crystal Lake Cave Limestone cavern first discovered by early lead miners.
• Field of Dreams Movie site 19 miles west of Dubuque, near Dyersville, Iowa.
• National Farm Toy Museum 30,000 toy tractors and other farm toys, 19 miles west of Dubuque in Dyersville.
• Dubuque River Rides Sightseeing and dinner cruises on the Mississippi River.
• Heritage Trail Scenic 26-mile bike/snowmobile trail from Dubuque to Dyersville, built on old Chicago Great Western railroad bed.
• Sundown Mountain Ski Iowa, Dubuque's varied terrain makes it possible!
• Diamond Jo Casino
• Dubuque Greyhound Park and Casino
Breitbach's Country Dining, 563 Balltown Road, Balltown, Iowa; (563) 552-2220. Opened in 1852 and in the hands of the Breitbach family since 1891, this is the oldest eating and drinking establishment in Iowa. In a country village just north of Dubuque, Breitbach's offers classic Midwestern farm food -- all made from scratch, including the excellent pies. Sauerkraut, sausage, ham, coleslaw, homemade noodles to die for -- they've got the classic stuff, plus a nice list of Midwestern and national beer brands. Interesting local memorabilia line the walls -- look for the "You can always tell a German . . . but you can't tell him much" plaque in the bar. After eating, walk up the street, and take in the grand view of the Mississippi River valley from the Balltown heights.
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Dubuque is 183 miles west of Chicago via I-90 and US 20, 90 miles southwest of Madison, Wisconsin, via US 151, 70 miles north of the Quad Cities via US 61, and 189 miles northeast of Des Moines via US 65, US 30, and US 151. Although Dubuque is not on the Interstate Highway System, US Highways 20, 61, and 151 are modern, four-lane, divided highways which connect the city to the interstate web. Dubuque is served by American Airlines' American Eagle service at the Dubuque Regional Airport .
• Loras College (Catholic)
• Clarke College (Catholic)
• University of Dubuque (Presbyterian)
• Wartburg Theological Seminary (Lutheran)
• Dubuque Chamber of Commerce
• Grand River Center (conference center)
• Telegraph Herald (newspaper)
• City of Dubuque
• Dubuque County Conservation Board (parks and nature preserves)
• Carnegie-Stout Public Library