Who first developed the area known as Cook’s Point?
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Looking downstream from here is an area known as Cook's Point. In the mid-1830's, Captain Ira Cook and his four sons settled on a farm here, giving the area its name. At that time several islands were located in the river. In the 1800's, lumber mill waste filled in some of the channels which separated the islands from the riverbank. Houseboats and fishing shacks were located here in the 1800's.
Around 1925, Hispanic families moved into the neighborhood, which reached a maximum of 50 families with almost 300 people. The families lived in shacks with no running water, electricity or sewer system. A single water hydrant supplied water for the families. Flooding also was a problem and some houses were built on stilts to keep them out of the river. Most homes were rented, although a few families owned their property.
Following World War II, students from then St. Ambrose College surveyed conditions at Cook's Point in an effort to help the families and encourage the city to improve conditions. When the landowner expressed a desire to construct a warehouse on the site, some families moved out.
In 1952, the landowner and city forced the remaining Cook's Point residents to relocate. St. Ambrose students and other community members helped the families find housing. This included building several homes in west Davenport with mostly donated labor and materials.
In 1963, many of these families were again surveyed and all were living in better conditions and many had become homeowners. During the relocation controversy, Cook's Point residents such as Mary Terronez and Henry Vargas spoke up for their fellow residents, seeking help and an equitable solution for the housing situation. They became leaders in the Hispanic community, working on various social, economic and labor issues.