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this past summer, we had the utmost pleasure to travel along the great river road through illinois in search of the united states’ hidden heart. we found it in many places across the state, which has so much more to offer than the fantastic city of chicago.

our first stop was in rockford, illinois’ third largest city and an industrial behemoth of yore that used to pop up regularly in lists detailing the most miserable places to live in within the us – a distinction the city marketing took on the chin and turned it into the slogan “misery loves company”. in any case, things have been looking up for the forest city, and while its lovely riverside is getting a boost out of several splashy developments, it was actually the rusty, rough charme of rockford’s downtown area that enthralled us, where gems of the city’s urban history can be found literally around every corner. these are our favorite shots…

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