Throwback Thursday: The Quad-Cities USA Campaign

While adding items to our Ephemera collection, we found brochures for the Quad Cities U.S.A. campaign—and we couldn’t resist sharing!


“A typical Quad-Cities resident lives in one community, works in another and shops in a third city. It’s urban, but also rural; it’s Midwestern, but not small town; it’s sophisticated, but casual; it’s quality within quantity; and most of all, it’s friendly.”

The Quad-Cities U. S. A. promotion campaign began around 1980 when a local radio station wanted to promote our area. The Quad-City Development Group coordinated the program with help from local advertising, public relations agencies and industries.

One of the major purposes of the campaign was to promote unity and identity among the collective residents of the several cities that had merged geographically over the last century.  It was hoped that this sense of interdependent community would help promote the Quad-Cities as a place with the benefits of small town life and the advantages of the big city.

So, what are the “Quad-Cities”?

Officially, the counties of Scott (Iowa) and Rock Island & Henry (Illinois) make up the Davenport-Rock Island-Moline, Iowa-Illinois Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area, DRIM-SMSA.

But practically speaking, the Quad-Cities is the label for fourteen neighboring municipalities: Davenport, Bettendorf, Eldridge, Panorama Park and Riverdale in Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, East Moline, Milan, Silvis, Coal Valley, Carbon Cliff, Oak Grove and Hampton in Illinois.

So why aren’t we called the Tetradeca-Cities?

In the beginning, we were the  Tri-Cities:  Davenport, Rock Island, and Moline.

There are several theories about why “Quad” was added to our name:  Bettendorf finally grew up enough to join the party; a road atlas made a mistake and it stuck; or someone noticed that there were a lot of cities inside the quadrangle created by Interstate-80 and Interstate-280.

But whatever the real reason, as more towns and cities were absorbed, it became clear that it would be extremely inconvenient to upgrade our collective name every few years.

So we didn’t.

What happened during the campaign?

The Quad-City Development Group brought the creative talents and funds together for the project. Over $500,000 in Public service air time and advertising space went into the campaign as well as many hours of perception research and concept development.

Some of the taglines used in their brochures include:

“Quad Cities USA – Where the World’s Busiest Highway Meets The Heartland’s Mightiest Waterway”

“…Where The ‘Father of Waters’ meets ‘The Mother Of Invention’”

“…Where Urban Lifestyle And Rural Beauty Sing In Harmony.”QCUSA

A stylized “Q” to symbolize the union of cities was designed by the Deere & Company visual communications department, and a film mirroring Quad-Cities industry, lifestyle, recreation and agriculture was produced by Forward of Illinois Productions, of Morton.

There was even a song commissioned to convey “the upbeat spirit of our metropolitan life.”  Charlie Teague, of Warren, Anderson, Litzenberger & Teague, Inc., wrote the lyrics and Bob Jenkins Associates, of Chicago, composed the music.

But it wasn’t all fun and games.  Several serious incentives were offered to businesses considering relocation or opening branches in the Quad-Cities—or even transporting their goods through what was advertised as a “personal Port of Entry and Foreign Trade Zone.”

That’s pretty cool! You wouldn’t happen to have a copy of that Quad-City theme song around?

We have a copy on 7 inch vinyl in our collection, which we’ve digitized and posted on another blog post for your listening pleasure. We also have a brochure with the lyrics in our ephemera files.

I know a place
Where there’s work to be done
Where there’s room for me
and who I want to be.
Somewhere I can do the things
I’m good enough to do.
Where I can build my tomorrow.
Where I can live with the eagles.
Fly with the eagles and be free.
Quad Cities U.S.A.
Lookin’ better every day
Quad Cities, you’re the place I want to be.
I want to be.

There’s a river
A stream that works while it plays.
A road through history
Down to the shining sea.
This mighty, rollin’ river,
tells me that I’m home
Where I can build my tomorrow.
Where I can live with the river
Flow with the river and be free.
Quad Cities U.S.A.
Growin’ stronger every day
Quad Cities you’re the place I want to be.
I want to be.

On this good land
The seasons flavor my life.
And it’s good to know
Of things that live and grow.
I can raise my family
Where the good life’s gonna be.
And I can build my tomorrow.
Where I can live on the good land
Grow with the good land and be free.
Quad Cities U.S.A.
Growing better every day
Quad Cities you’re the place I want to be.

Where I can live with the eagles,
Fly with the eagles and be free.
Quad Cities U.S.A.
Lookin’ better every day
Quad Cities, you’re the place I want to be.
I want to be.
I want to be.

(Posted by Cristina)


McGowan, Susi. “Quad Cities USA.” Home & Away (AAA Iowa Motor News), 1982: 16f-16i.

“Quad Cities USA: Looking Better Every Day.” Davenport, Iowa: Quad City Development Group, 1982.

“Quad Cities USA: The Connection.” Quad-City Development Group, 1988.

This entry was posted in Local History and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Throwback Thursday: The Quad-Cities USA Campaign

  1. Peggy Johnson says:

    I grew up in the Quad-Cities. I was always told that the 4 cities were Davenport, Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline (added in 1920). When Bettendorf was added (1970’s) Quint-Cities was tried for a few years, but never “caught on”. That is why some of the businesses have Quint Cities in their name. After it reverted to Quad-Cities, when asked which 4 make up the Quad-Cities, all 5 are named.

    • SCblogger says:

      There are several stories about which city was the “Quad” in the “Quad-Cities”—for every source that claims it was East moline, another states it was Bettendorf!

      For the sake of this post, we’re following the information in the Quad-Cities USA Campaign materials, but it would be interesting to do further research on the East Moline versus Bettendforf issue for a future post!

  2. Scott says:

    I’d like to have a copy of the theme song.

  3. Lanza Teague says:

    My dad wrote the lyrics to this song and I wish there was a place online where it could be accessed digitally.

  4. Blaine says:

    At about the same time there was another song called “Looking Better Every Day” by Mike Guidici.

    The lyrics:

    “Well I grew up in the Midwest (record skips) that I had missed/Broadway lights, surfin’ nights and the California girls I wish I could have kissed…”

  5. Tom says:

    Does anyone have a copy of the commercial? I was in the crowd at the John O’Donnell Stadium and sang the song a bunch of times while they recorded to make the commercial. I haven’t lived in the Quad Cities in a long time but the song is always with me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *