Centennial Bridge Visitor Center
The Centennial Bridge Visitor Center opened on May 23, 2008 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The City of Rock Island received a grant from the federal government for the renovation of the old Centennial Bridge Commission Building. The Preserve America grant is a White House initiative geared toward saving America’s unique natural and cultural identities. The Visitor Center is the first such grant to be given in Illinois. Former City Manager John Phillips and then-5th Ward Alderwoman Evie White accepted the grant personally from First Lady Laura Bush. The grant was matched by the City of Rock Island with numerous financial partners through cash or in-kind donations.
Dr. Curtis Roseman, who has done extensive research on the bridges in the Quad City area, gave a significant amount of his time and money to help the Visitor Center. The Center has rare historic photos and documents displayed in the gallery. These include images of all Quad City bridges, not just Centennial Bridge. The building itself is a Rock Island local landmark and is eligible for being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Visitor Center is an important entry point for tourists to Rock Island. The Center also sells postcards, books, Quad City memorabilia, and other souvenirs. Tourists are made aware of other special heritage sites in the Quad Cities and Rock Island in particular, such as Chippiannock Cemetery, Broadway Historic District, Arsenal Island, a National Historic Landmark, and Blackhawk State Historic Site, which was named one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois.