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Cedar Rapids Historic Markers

The Cedar Rapids Historic Markers project is a collaborative community history project that seeks to highlight notable historic sites throughout the city. 
1885 news clipping of court case

Roller skating rinks opened across the U.S. in the late nineteenth century, including one on Cedar Rapids’ Fifth Avenue. Though local newspapers advertised this rink as “open to all,” in 1885 rink manager Herman Lyon refused to admit Joseph Bowlin solely because he was black. Bowlin sued Lyon, who claimed that this private business could refuse anyone it pleased. The Iowa Supreme Court sided with Lyon—a change from earlier decisions that ruled that public schools, hotels, and transportation had to be open to all. Bowlin v. Lyon (1885) became an important precedent in local and national civil rights cases.

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