ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — If a friend told you to meet them at “Five Points” in Rockford, where would you go?
It’s a question that caused quite a debate on social media. While many Rockfordians refuse to believe there’s an answer other than the intersection of Alpine Road and Broadway, a vocal minority insists the true “Five Points” is located at Rural and Prospect Street.
So, which one is it? Alderman Karen Hoffman, whose ward includes part of the Alpine/Broadway/Charles Street area, believes the answer is clear.
“Back in 1957, I moved to Rockford with my family,” said Hoffman. “We lived right down Charles Street, on Woodland Drive.”
The Alpine/Broadway intersection played an important role in the last century of Rockford’s history and eastward expansion, said Hoffman.
“[This intersection] was all we had back in 1957, because our city ended at Alpine,” she said. “There was no mall, this was it.”
Because it was on Rockford’s edge , the intersection was a popular spot for gas stations and other small stores, which offered the last chance to fill up before leaving the city.
As the city expanded east through the 1950s, so too did businesses along the intersection, culminating with the opening of Colonial Village Mall at the corner of Broadway and Alpine in 1962. Several businesses near the intersection adopted “Five Points” into their name over the years, including SwedishAmerican Five Points Clinic and 5 Points Realtors.
Colonial Village Mall would eventually contribute to significant changes to the area in the next decade, opening the door for another intersection to be crowned “Five Points.”
“When Colonial Village came in, everything changed,” said Hoffman.
Rob Wilhelmi also grew up near the intersection, on Quentin Road. As a redevelopment director working for the city of Rockford, Wilhelmi has researched the infrastructure and legacy of many historical sites in the area, including one near his childhood home. He explained how Colonial Village altered the roads significantly.
“You can just see the traffic, look at the cars stacked up here on Broadway, waiting to cross Alpine” said Wilhelmi, pointing to an aerial photo of the intersection.
In response to the growing traffic problem, engineers decided to make a major change. They would cut Charles Street at Broadway and redirect traffic to Center Terrace north of the intersection.
“In the mid 70s, when they did the realignment, the traffic engineers decided the best way to flow traffic was north on Alpine over to Center Terrace instead of having to cross two major roadways,” said Wilhelmi.
With Charles Street cut off at Broadway, the intersection ceased to be truly “Five Points.” In the years since, a genuine “Five Points” intersection — Rural Street, Prospect Street and Guilford Road — has earned the title from some residents. However, many believe history will always show Charles, Alpine and Broadway to be “Five Points.”
“This is the real ‘Five Points,'” said Wilhelmi. “There is no other ‘Five Points’ in town, they’re just pretenders.”