Layers of Maquoketa?

Let me tell you a story...

Throughout 2016, Maquoketa was in the midst of major upheaval. Main Street -- pavement, sidewalks, utilities -- was torn up. This was a long-overdue much-needed project to rebuild and upgrade streets, sidewalks, amenities for pedestrians, and utilities and connections to downtown businesses. 

But there was a surprise. In excavating sidewalks, workers discovered long-hidden and mostly forgotten stairways that provided access to the basements of downtown commercial buildings. Not delivery access, but access for customers to those businesses.

In consulting with local historians, the community learned about -- or rather, revived the knowledge of -- how downtown businesses in the late 1800s and early 1900s were organized: barbers, shoe repair shops, and other trades in the basements; retail establishments (or saloons!) at ground level; lawyers, physicians, dentists, and other professionals on the second floors; and lodges or dance halls on the rare 3rd floors of buildings.

In observing this, we re-discovered that there is more to our community than might be apparent upon first look.

In uncovering the physical hidden layers of the downtown streetscape, we realized we could provide an opportunity for all the other Layers of Maquoketa, whether known or whether hiding in plain sight, to become re-surfaced and celebrated.


Layers of Maquoketa is a community-wide project...

...discovering and highlighting stories, thoughts, images, audio, video, etc. posted by people with a connection to Maquoketa about any aspect of life in Maquoketa - past, present, future, or something completely imagined.

It brings together people from all walks of life to talk about what gives us a sense of place about this city we call home.


The Layers of Maquoketa committee includes leaders from the Maquoketa Chamber of Commerce, the Jackson County Historical Society, Maquoketa Art Experience, Ohnward Fine Arts Center, the Hurstville Interpretive Center, the Maquoketa business community, and the University of Iowa's Office of Outreach and Engagement.

Layers of Maquoketa brings together people from all walks of life to talk about what gives us a sense of place about this city we call home.

We’ve talked about the rich history of agriculture and industry, the beauty and resources of the landscape, the cultural and recreational opportunities, the stories of people whose families trace back generations in this area and those who joined the community more recently.

These discussions about what makes us “us” have morphed into concrete plans to celebrate Maquoketa. Over the months, with assistance from U of I staff, different groups have been working on projects that involve creative art projects, interviews with everyday people, research into historical buildings, personal stories about special memories and much more.

We want everyone to please mark their calendars for the first week of May when all kinds of fun, interesting and exciting events are scheduled to showcase layer upon layer of what makes Maquoketa a reflection of the the people who live here, the history of the city and and land that defines it.

The Layers of Maquoketa event will culminate Saturday, May 5th when downtown will be transformed into a festival marketplace with many family activities.

 Exhibits start on Tuesday and run through Saturday, include a display about native Robert Millikan, United Church of Christ 175th year celebration, High School Art, Woman in Agriculture and a "farm Progress" displays , along with the Jackson County Extension Services display with a "hands on" youth activity!

And there’s more! A coffee house featuring local musicians, poetry and story readings  Quit  and antique tractor displays, quilting demos, Chalk the Walk and Spring Photo competitions, Timber City Bells and the Black Velvet Band.

There is much to celebrate here in Maquoketa. And this year’s event marks  the ongoing effort to peel back the layers for years to come.

We welcome anyone with a connection to Maquoketa (current and past residents, visitors, people living nearby) to submit stories, thoughts, images, audio, video, etc. about any aspect of life in and around Maquoketa - past, present, future, or something completely imagined.