Veterans Way Walk

This 30 minute loop will highlight redevelopment of downtown and the vision for Veteran’s Way, an art & history walk linking existing sites which honor the service of Waterloo Veterans and new artistic features to create an attractive destination for visitors and residents.   Estimated time: 30-minute loop starting from Expo Plaza and back again (1.5 miles).Veterans 2
RiverLoop Expo Plaza
The two-block downtown plaza is composed of a series of integrated public exposition spaces that serve as flexible outdoor vendor, market, and activity spaces.  These spaces and uses provide the Waterloo Convention Center with needed outdoor event space as well as other civic program uses such as farmers markets, auto shows, sports shows, and festival event space.  Spaces complement the public market building in a building renovated as part of the original Expo project.  The building now houses Verve Kombucha Kitchen & Bar.  Complementary streetscape renovations surrounding the Expo site were installed in conjunction with the $4.5 million Expo Plaza development, and the site serves as the visual front door and connection with the Waterloo Riverwalk. The design incorporates irrigated event lawns and vibrant brick plaza areas to hold events.  Specialty lighting and banner features provide color and event signage while acting as sources of power throughout the site.  A series of sign and light towers equipped with programmable LED lighting draw visitors to and through the site and serve as gateways to the Riverwalk amenities beyond.

Waterloo Public Library
Founded in 1896, Waterloo Public Library began service in two rented rooms, one on the east side and one on the west side of the Cedar River.  In 1906, the Library moved to its new Carnegie buildings which saw extensive remodeling and additions over time.  The Library’s current building, constructed in 1938, began as Waterloo’s post office and federal building.  It served as such until 1979 when the post office was relocated.  In 1977, Waterloo voters approved a $3.65 million bond issue to renovate the building for use as a library.
This renovation preserved the modified Italian Renaissance architecture.  Two murals on the Library’s first floor, painted in 1940 by Edgar Britton, were retained during the renovation.  A student of Grant Wood, Britton received $2,500 in payment for his work under a New Deal program which funded art in federal buildings.  “Exposition” depicts the National Dairy Cattle Congress; “Holiday” is a picnic scene.  The murals are tempera applied directly on the walls utilizing the fresco technique.  They are considered good examples of the 1930’s Midwestern style of regional art.  Multiple renovations have taken place since to accommodate new technology and increase collection space.

SingleSpeed Brewing
The former Wonder Bread factory closed its operations in November 2012 amidst bankruptcy proceedings.  City officials worked with several stakeholders, including the historic preservation committee and Main Street Waterloo, to identify a potential re-use to transform the 0.94-acre site.  Built in 1927, the vacant building occupied an entire block within Waterloo’s urban core.  In 2015, SingleSpeed owner Dave Morgan purchased the building from the city of Waterloo for $1 with plans of registering it on the National Register of Historic Places while transforming the facility into an open, welcoming beer and dining hall.  The massive rehabilitation of the former Wonder Bread factory returned the building to its 1950s glory.  It re-opened its doors in April 2017 as SingleSpeed Brewing Company featuring a beer production operation, restaurant, and tap room.  The facility was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification status of Gold in October of 2017.

Art Bloc
This 72-unit mixed residential and commercial development is located on the riverfront overlooking Commercial Plaza and the RiverLoop Amphitheatre.  The seven-story building was constructed in a former parking lot next to the elevated walkway at the RiverLoop Amphitheatre.  This long-planned apartment and commercial building was originally conceived in 2000. After multiple delays and failed developer agreements, developer Brent Dahlstrom stepped forward in 2015 to take on the project.  The building is anticipated to be completed in 2021.

RiverLoop Parks & Trails
This $23 million project has dramatically changed the appearance and function of the Cedar River in downtown Waterloo and consists of three elements.  The Cedar River Plaza and Amphitheatre, which opened in the summer of 2012, is an iconic feature along the Cedar River.  It was designed with the goal of bringing area residents, tourists, and energy to a formerly industry – and levy – dominated riverfront.  The unique steel-frame structure with fabric cover, sound system, and lights has become a popular performance venue on the river’s edge. Nearby Mark’s Park is a hot spot for children with a splash pad and play structures.  The space is named after Mark Young, the son of Rick and Cathy Young, who died in a March 2003 motorcycle accidentThe Riverwalk Loop consists of new and existing recreational trails that serve as a link in the vast metropolitan trail network.  The downtown segments of the RiverLoop include an integrated network of bike paths and pedestrian walkways, scenic overlooks with interpretive signage, and enhanced features such as decorative paving, lighting, signing, shade structures, informational kiosks, and landscaping.  The Cedar River Dam and adjacent river walls were also rehabilitated and new inflatable gates on the dam allow an increase of the pool elevation behind the dam by approximately four feet to enhance recreational boating opportunities.

Park Avenue Bridge
The Waterloo Park Avenue Bridge over the Cedar River was built in 1938.  It is the only bridge that has been built at this location.  Originally the bridge carried U.S. Highway 63 across the river, however by 1970 the highway designation was removed from this corridor. The city of Waterloo was able to obtain funding and resources through the Public Works Administration (PWA) to build the Park Avenue Bridge.  PWA was a Federal New Deal program of the Great Depression era specifically created by the national Industrial Recovery Act of June 1933.  The structure was designed by Sverdrup & Parcel and built by A. Guthrie and Company.  The bridge retains its original railings, lamp post bases, and concrete pier supports under the bridge.  The bridge needs replacement due to its age and condition.  Park Avenue Bridge (along with the 11th Street Bridge) will be reconstructed starting in the winter of 2021.  Reconstructing these two bridges will provide vital and resilient links in the downtown area that improve mobility, especially during future flood events, and provide better connectivity to both sides of the Cedar River for all modes  Masonic Temple Lofts
Waterloo was in the midst of a period of economic growth that would see its population double each decade from 1890 to 1910.  By 1918, the local Masons felt the need for a new larger facility.  Property at the intersection of E. Park Avenue and Mulberry Street was acquired in 1920.  Local architect John G. Ralston - a fellow Mason - was chosen to design the new building in what has been termed the “Phoenician Revival” style.  The exterior walls were completed in 1925, but the interior was never fully completed.  The building’s upper two levels were never finished, leaving one large, cavernous space with a series of walkways and catwalks, with massive iron-girder structural work.  The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.In 2013, the Waterloo Masonic Lodge sold their downtown building to move to a more modest accommodation at 607 Bishop Avenue.  Park Avenue Lofts LLC purchased the building for $550,000.  The developer completed a historic renovation of the century-old building in 2021, creating urban lofts with character, charm, and modern amenities.  Key features include 27 loft-style residential units, co-working space for professionals, and common lounges and fitness center. 

 Elks Club
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks is a nationwide organization whose membership, over 13 decades, has consisted of tens of millions of American citizens.  The Waterloo Elks Lodge first opened its doors in Waterloo on October 12, 1894.  After being located in several downtown buildings in its early years, the Lodge constructed its present facility in 1924.  The stately building was designed to reflect the character of the Old Italian Villas.  Extensive use of marble, tile, Bedford brick, black walnut, and stained glass enhance the architectural decor which is still preserved today.  In 2007, the Waterloo Elks Lodge facility underwent renovations to preserve its grand and magnificent architecture and make the Lodge operate more efficiently.  The Waterloo Elks Lodge continues to be a favorite gathering place for local business and community groups, celebrations, and weddings. 

 Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park was established in 1854 as a downtown gathering place and remains one of Waterloo’s busiest parks, hosting scores of events annually.  In 2020, the City completed a $1 million renovation project including.  Key design elements include new park entrance signs, widened decorative concrete and brick walkways, new traditional style benches and light fixtures, bronze dance chimes,  and human scale checkerboard.

Vietnam Memorial
The Black Hawk County Vietnam Memorial, a black monolith designed by Vietnam veteran R.J. Lundgren of Hudson, bears the names of all Black Hawk County residents killed in Vietnam and two more listed as missing in action.  The memorial is located at Paramount Park which was once home of the Paramount Theatre which opened in 1927 and was razed in 1972.

4th Street ConWay Pedestrian Bridge
Perhaps nothing signifies “downtown Waterloo” as much as the iconic covered pedestrian walkway on the 4th Street Bridge.  The arched steel canopy, constructed for $500,000 in 1976, was a focal point of the “ConWay Plaza” downtown revitalization project, which included a new 4th Street Bridge, streetscaping, and what is now the Waterloo Convention Center.  ConWay was a play on “connection”, as the bridge was designed to connect the east and west sides of downtown while the covered walkway encouraged convention center users to frequent east-side businesses.  Designed by consulting architect Fedon Petrides and built by John. G. Miller Construction Company, the lighted canopy originally included windows made of Lexan, a transparent plastic.  The side windows were ultimately removed by the 1990s to help move the air and improve views.  Renovations including painting and canopy window replacements were completed in 2017.

Veterans Memorial Hall
Veterans Memorial Hall was constructed in 1915 to recognize the service of soldiers who fought in the Civil War.  The effort was led by the Grand Army of the Republic, made up of veterans from the war.  Designed by architect J.G. Ralston and built by H.A. Maine Construction, the building was dedicated in January 1916.  The audience was full of graying Civil War veterans and their families, whose memories reached back fifty years to remember the cost of war.  In two years, they would send another generation off to war. The hall is used for meetings and public events and hosts the solemn “decorating the waters” ceremony on Memorial Day.  The beauty of the hall, however, was marred in the past by a ravine and millrace that flowed into the river next to the building.  In 1928, the depressions were filled.  The Sons of the Union Veterans raised the funds to build the fountain in the new area called Soldiers and Sailors Park.  In 1950, the Boy Scouts of America donated a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and in 2000, a veteran’s memorial brick walk was established.

Sullivan Brothers Plaza
In May 2021, the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center changed names to the Waterloo Convention Center.  The name change was unanimously approved by City Council to provide easier recognition.  The plaza surrounding the center was named the Sullivan Brothers Plaza.  The five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo died in November 1942 when the ship USS Juneau sank off Guadalcanal during World War II.  The City worked with the Sullivan family to develop plans for this new plaza.

Lou Henry Hoover Garden
Born in Waterloo, Iowa in 1874, Lou Henry Hoover is best remembered as the wife of U.S. President Herbert Hoover.  She was, however, much more than what one expected from a first lady of her time, earning her the distinction of “First Modern First Lady”.  To celebrate Lou Henry Hoover and her Iowa roots, the Church Row Neighborhood Association and the Public Art Committee of the Waterloo Cultural and Arts Commission commissioned a site-specific sculptural installation of bronze sculptures and interpretive cast bronze relief panels.  The garden was officially dedicated and opened in 2017.The site of the garden was the childhood home of Lou Henry.  Sidewalks and trees cross through the park.  Two bronze sculptures bookend the park which sits across Washington Street from the Grout Museum.  Three-sided pillars feature plaques detailing the history of Hoover’s life.  Wife.  Mother.  Scholar.  Traveler.  First Lady.  

Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum
For more than 150 years, Iowa men and women have stepped forward to take an oath to preserve the union, safeguard democracy, and defend against terrorism in times of peace and war.  Iowans gave this service in numbers proportionally larger than most states and without the expectation of fame and fortune, a tradition that continues to this day. Whether as National Guards, as Reservists, or regulars in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Or Coast Guard – most returned home to continue their lives.  But for some families, there was nothing more than the painful image of a cemetery in a distant land. The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum is dedicated to ensuring that an appropriate house is established to hold their stories and related artifacts in trust so they will be remembered and preserved for generations to come.  Opened in 2008, the Museum consists of over 35 interactive exhibits.  Interviews collected via the Voices of Iowa Oral History Project total over 1,500.