In the United States 44 men have served as president. The first, being George Washington. Washington and Lincoln (number 16) are considered to be the two greatest presidents in the history of the United States. So, there is no surprise when numerous states in this country choose to use these two presidents’ names as names for their towns and cities.
There are 311 cities and towns having “Washington” in their names and 205 having “Lincoln”. The first town to be named after George Washington is located in NC and was founded in 1776, and the first town to be named after Abe Lincoln, even before he became president, is right here in Illinois.
The City of Lincoln, Illinois was officially named such in August of 1853. While it is said that Lincoln himself did not want his name to be associated with the town ‘saying that in his experience, "Nothing bearing the name of Lincoln ever amounted to much”, nonetheless the towns people honored him due to his law practice there from 1847 to 1859 and his involvement in platting the land.
While it is not a very big city, population of 13,969, it does have two colleges; Lincoln College, a private four-year liberal arts college, and Lincoln Christian College, a four year co-educational Christian University.
Lincoln, like many urban areas in this region has a city square, called the Logan County Courthouse Square. The Courthouse (built 1905), which is centrally located is constructed of stone and is three stories high. This is not the original courthouse where Lincoln practiced law. This courthouse building replaced the earlier Logan County Courthouse (built 1858) because the structure had fallen into serious decay and could not be restored. A replica of the original courthouse was constructed in 1953 and is still standing as a tourist attraction.
Another attraction in the area is the phone booth located on top of the City hall roof. The story has it that the phone booth was an early tool used by the Lincoln Fire Department, to provide a lookout position for severe weather spotters. Firefighters, usually a young new firefighter, would report to the phone booth with a radio or at the time, a direct hard wire phone line connected to the apparatus bay. If severe weather such as wall clouds, funnel clouds, or tornadoes were spotted, the fire fighter would call downstairs and have the storm siren activated. With the advancement of technology the phone booth is no longer used for this purpose and was on the list for removal in 2009. But because of the historic value and the tradition, citizens spoke up and the historic conversation piece was kept in place.
Lincoln was at one time located directly on U.S. Route 66 from 1926 through 1978, (the route now being called I-55). This is its secondary tourist theme after the connection with Abraham Lincoln.
Many of the building surrounding the square have been in existence since the 1800's. Some have been restored while others have remained dilapidated.
Stay tuned for more pictures of Lincoln, Illinois in the next blog entry.