I'm always impressed with communities with the spirit and drive to keep and renovate rather than to tear down and build. Muscatine is doing an excellent job with both renovation and creation of new.
They have accomplished a great deal with Project Pear of the Mississippi I and II. It was financed by a one million dollar state community-attractions grand, and locally they matched that grant with another eight million dollars. With that amount, they completed an aquatic center, restored riverfront buildings, built a new boat launch, continued development of their extensive trail system, built a skateboard park, and had the "Mississippi Harvest Sculpture" created at Riverside Park.
We were also impressed with the fact they took seven old buildings and turned them into Pearl Plaza [see separate tip]
Project Pearl of the Mississippi II has created an interactive water and play area, done creative historic lighting. This has certainly added to their goal of keeping the 40 acre riverfront "unencumbered public space".
Fondest memory: We also noticed that the former Muscatine Hotel has been completely renovated and is being sold as the Pearlview Condominiums. What a view of the Mississippi River and the Riverside Park they have. (See photographs)
There is also the Muscatine Appearance Projects [MAPs] that is hanging plaques on locations of historical and architectural interest. It's a collaboration of efforts between several local organizations and property owners: [MAPs, Muscatine Rotary Club, and Muscatine's Historic Preservation Commission.
Some of these plaques are:
1. Corner of Cedar and Second Streets on the Cedar Street wall of the Avenue Emporium store...a plaque to commemorate CARRY A NATION"S visit to Muscatine in 1901.
2. Pioneer Drug Store  is one of Muscatine's 1st business houses. Today it is Books and More at 124 E. 2nd Street. (See photographs)
3. Oscar Grossheim Studio at 317 E. 2nd St.; hung on the Wester Drug Inc. building.
4. Papoose Creek (1890s) is the brick sewage system. A major part of the development of the downtown business district. The plaque at The Flower Gallery Building at 131 E. 2nd St.
More plaques will be hung. It's a great way to show Muscatine's rich history and restoration.
I know that many "seasoned travelers" do not take local United States travel seriously, especially when you travel in the Mid West such as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, or Iowa. Well, I have news for those people: They just don't know the value of what the real American way of life can be. The history, the architecture, the friendly people, and the natural beauty all abound here in the middle of this big country, and Muscatine, Iowa really represents all the reasons I find it so fascinating.
In this River Town of about 23,000 people, we enjoyed the historic downtown and its beautiful surrounding neighborhoods. There were lovely old homes that were built as early as 1840. These gave us a glimpse into the past. One such home has become the Muscatine Art Center. It's an Edwardian home that is the Musser Mansion. It's been fully restored and, lucky for all of us, it's open to the public. There are architectural styles of nineteenth century America found in Muscatine's historic neighborhoods.
You are able to take an annotated walking tour of such historic homes that overlook the Mississippi River at the Muscatine History and Industry Museum. There are 13 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There's the wonderful Wild Cat Den State Park with the Pine Creek Grist Mill, the Melpine One-Room Schoolhouse, and the spectacular hiking trails.
In addition, Muscatine's County Courthouse with its beautiful mural and stained glass dome can be viewed as well as the Statue of the Civil War Soldier standing guard outside. Truly, an Americana vision.
Fondest memory: Muscatine's lovely Riverside Park with its interactive water feature, its new "Mississippi Harvest Statue", its aquatic center, boat launch, skateboard park. I also really enjoyed the Historic Downtown area with its historic lighting, revitalized buildings, especially the Pearl Plaza.
Perhaps the most unique of all the sites in Muscatine is the Muscatine History & Industry Center which has preserved the vital part of Muscatine's history that pertains to the Pearl Button Industry that began in 1887.
I almost forgot about Lock and Dam #16 that is located across the Highway 92 Bridge from Muscatine. It's open to the public for watching barges and tows lock through.
If you are in Muscatine during May through October, you can enjoy the Muscatine Island Produce Markets where you are able to purchase homegrown beans, corn, and tomatoes. In late July, you are able to relish their famous watermelons and Cantaloupe.
I could go on and on about this marvelous riverside town in Iowa.