Waterloo has an interesting history dating all the way back to when it was first settled in 1845. Back in the day, it was known as Prairie Rapids Crossing, when the original settlers, George and Mary Melrose Hanna and their children arrived and staked out a claim near the Cedar River. 

According to Wikipedia, Waterloo saw an extended period of growth from 1895 to 1915, where the population increased from 8,490 to 33,097, a 290% increase. It was a booming time for the city, as Rath Packing Company began to take off along with the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company and the Illinois Central Railroad.

New housing additions were springing up, including the very popular among cultural elite, the Highland Historic District.

Interestingly, I always thought that it might be named "Highland", because of its elevation and how far away it is from the Cedar River (so there was never any worry about flooding).  However, the name actually came from one of the original developers, Lewis Lichty, whose family homestead in Pennsylvania had been named "Highlands".

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Now, let's take a look at some of the history behind this historic part of Waterloo and scroll through photos of some of the century-old houses that are still around to this day.

Waterloo's Oldest Neighborhood-Highland Historic District-Photo Gallery

Check out some the homes from yesteryear, in Waterloo's first suburban residential development. Many of them are over a century old, and have survived the test of time. You'll find that most of them are well kept up and are still in pretty good shape.

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In its heyday, the Rath Packing Company employed 8,500 people. It's still thought of fondly by many as what helped put Waterloo "on the map" and giving many area families a good income to raise their families. When rumors of bankruptcy started in 1979, the company became employee-owned in 1980. Despite many attempts to save it and massive amounts of money invested (from employees and loans from the city of Waterloo) all of those efforts ultimately failed, leading to its demise and liquidation in 1985.

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