The population of Rockford City is approximately 57,538 people. The city is known for its elm trees, parks, and boulevard street layouts. The older neighborhoods of the city are characterized by boulevards, while newer subdivisions were built on smaller streets. The city is home to a variety of museums and cultural organizations. Its museums and art galleries are among the most popular places to visit in the city.
The area has a strong aerospace industry, though the town has had a difficult time diversifying its economy. UTC Aerospace Systems and Woodward Aerospace Systems have been the major employers in the city. In fact, the city was one of five finalists in the competition to produce the Boeing 777X. Other notable institutions in the city include the OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center and the SwedishAmerican Hospital, which opened a $39 million regional cancer center in 2013.
Several freight railroad lines service the city. Union Pacific, Canadian National, Iowa, Chicago & Eastern, and Illinois Railway all have trains in Rockford. The Union Pacific line from West Chicago terminates in Rockford, as does the Illinois Railway. Despite its small size, Rockford has a well-developed public school system, including a public high school. Brick multi-grade school buildings were built in the city's central business district, which has remained the city's main campus.
As Life Magazine wrote in 1949, Rockford was a sleepy rural community. After the establishment of the post office and weekly newspaper, it was connected to the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad. This brought cheap power and transportation to the city, which transformed the city forever. By the 1860s, the city's industrial heritage produced numerous interesting inventions. The town was renowned for its ford in the Rock River.