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City of Bloomington
Country United States
State Illinois
County McLean
Elevation 797 ft (242.9 m)
Coordinates 40°29′03″N 88°59′37″W / 40.48417°N 88.99361°W / 40.48417; -88.99361
Area 22.5 sq mi (58.3 km2)
 - land 22.5 sq mi (58 km2)
 - water 0.0 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 74,975 (2006)
Density 2,880.3 /sq mi (1,112.1 /km2)
Founded 1857
Mayor Steve Stockton
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61701, 61704, 61705
Area code 309
Location of Bloomington within Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States

Bloomington is a city in McLean County, Illinois, United States and the county seat. It is adjacent to Normal, Illinois, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal Metropolitan Statistical Area[1] which is often referred to simply as "Bloomington-Normal." A 2006 special census indicated that Bloomington's population was 74,975 [2]. Bloomington is the host of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, which is a nationally recognized Shakespearean festival.[3]



Bloomington is located at 40°29′03″N 88°59′37″W. The city is at an elevation of 797 feet (243 m) above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.5 square miles (58.3 km²), all of it land.


As of the census[4] of July 2007, there were 72,416 people, 26,642 households, and 15,718 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,880.3 people per square mile (1,112.1/km²). There were 28,431 housing units at an average density of 1,263.6/sq mi (487.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.92% White, 8.64% African American, 0.18% Native American, 3.02% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.42% from other races, and 1.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.32% of the population.

The City of Bloomington and McLean County comprise the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Illinois. The area's population has grown 28% from 1990 through 2006. The fastest growth has been in Bloomington, as the U.S. Census Bureau conducted a special census of that city in February, 2006, showing a population of 74,975, a 15.7% increase in less than six years.

In 2000, there were 26,642 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.0% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 12.5% from 18 to 24, 33.3% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $46,496, and the median income for a family was $61,093. Males had a median income of $41,736 versus $29,077 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,751. About 4.3% of families 7.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.5% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.


Looking northwest from the east side of the downtown square, about 1910

Prior to the 1820s, the area of today's Bloomington was at the edge of a large grove enjoyed by the Kickapoo people before the first Euro-American settlers arrived in the early 1820s.[5] Springing from the settlement of Keg Grove, later called Blooming Grove, Bloomington was named as county seat on December 25, 1830, when McLean County was created.[6]

When the County of McLean was incorporated a county seat was established. However, the legislation stated the site of Bloomington "would be located later." James Allen, who was one of the promoters of the new county, offered to donate 60 acres (240,000 m2) of his own land for the new town. His offer was accepted and Bloomington was laid out. Its lots were sold at a big party on the 4th of July 1831. At this time there were few roads, but rich soils brought new farmers who began commerce by conducting their business in the newly formed county. People came from all over to trade and do business at the town's center, known today as Downtown Bloomington, including Abraham Lincoln who was working as a lawyer in nearby Springfield.[5]

In 1900 an officer on patrol discovered a fire in a laundry across the street from the old City Hall and Police Station. He sounded the alarm but the fire eventually destroyed the majority of the downtown, especially the areas north and east of the courthouse. However, the burnt area was quickly rebuilt from the designs of local architects George Miller, Paul O. Moratz and A.L. Pillsbury.

During the first two decades of the 20th century Bloomington continued to grow. Agriculture, the construction of highways and railroads, and the growth of the insurance business (mainly State Farm Insurance) all influenced the growth of Bloomington and its downtown area. The downtown area became a regional shopping center attracting trade from adjoining counties. Labor unions grew in strength. This trend has continued to the present day, where expansion has included many restaurants and other businesses.[citation needed]


The downtown State Farm Insurance Building, part of the Bloomington Central Business District.

The top ten employers located in Bloomington include State Farm Insurance, which was founded in the city, COUNTRY Financial, Electrolux North America, Normal based Unit 5 schools, AFNI Inc., OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, County of McLean, and the City of Bloomington.[7] Bloomington is also home to Illinois Wesleyan University, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, a convention center at the McLean County Fairgrounds, U.S. Cellular Coliseum, and Beer Nuts.


Bloomington's public school district, District 87, has one high school, Bloomington High School, one junior high school, Bloomington Junior High School, and numerous elementary schools. Bloomington is also home to several private schools, including Central Catholic High School, Holy Trinity Elm./Jr. School, St. Mary's Catholic School, Trinity Lutheran School, and Cornerstone Christian Academy.

The city of Bloomington is home to one university:

  • Illinois Wesleyan University, founded in 1850, is a private residential university with an enrollment of 2,100 and a student/faculty ratio of 12 to 1. Historically, it was affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The University consists of the College of Liberal Arts , with 17 academic departments; the College of Fine Arts, comprising professional Schools of Art, Music, and Theatre Arts; and the School of Nursing. In the past decade, Illinois Wesleyan has added the five-story Ames Library, the Center for Natural Science, and the Shirk Center for Athletics and Recreation. An NCAA Division III school, Illinois Wesleyan has had more than 100 athletes elected into the Academic All-American team since 1970.[8],[9]


Statue of statesman Adlai Stevenson in the CIRA terminal

Interstates 39, 55 and 74 intersect at Bloomington, making the city a substantial transportation hub. US highways 51 and 150 and Illinois state route 9 also run through Bloomington. The former highway, U.S. Route 66, once ran directly through the city's downtown and later on a bypass to the east. The Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System operates Bloomington-Normal's internal bus system, and several intercity bus lines operate both north-south and east-west service through the city.

Bloomington is serviced by passenger rail.

  • Amtrak, from its Bloomington-Normal station, operates five daily trains each way, both north to Chicago and south to St. Louis, with one southbound train (the "Texas Eagle") continuing on to San Antonio TX and connecting to Los Angeles CA (as the "Sunset Limited"). The Amtrak passenger count in Bloomington-Normal is fourth-highest in the region, behind Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis (Amtrak statistics for 4th quarter, 2007). The station is located just east of the Illinois State University campus in Normal.

Central Illinois Regional Airport provides Bloomington with commercial airline service.


Most of the city's retail is concentrated in downtown and east of town on Veterans Parkway, including Eastland Mall.

Recreation and entertainment


  • The Shirk family began producing Beer Nuts in Bloomington in 1937. Today, Beer Nuts are produced using the same unique formula at its 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) manufacturing facility.[8]
  • The Challenger Learning Center at the Heartland Community College offers an interactive, simulated space/science experience through scheduled team missions for students, public and corporate groups.[8]
  • Grady’s Family Fun Park is Bloomington-Normal’s only amusement park. It features an 18-hole miniature golf course, batting cages, bumper boats, go carts and kiddie rides. Also included is a restaurant with a full menu, soft serve ice cream and an arcade.[8]
  • The Pepsi Ice Center is an indoor public ice skating facility operated by the Bloomington Parks & Recreation Department, featuring a full-size sheet of ice: 200’ x 85’. The facility offers ice skating lessons, public skating sessions and a comprehensive hockey program, along with skate rental and a concession stand.[8]
  • The U.S. Cellular Coliseum in downtown Bloomington hosts a variety of sporting events, concerts, ice shows, family shows, conferences and much more. It is also home to the Bloomington Extreme of the Indoor Football League and the PrairieThunder of the International Hockey League. With over 180,000 square feet (17,000 m2) of space, the Coliseum boasts a fixed seating capacity of 7,000 for sporting events but can seat over 8,000 for concerts and other special events.[8]
  • Upper Limits Indoor Rock Climbing Gym has more than 21,000 square feet (2,000 m2) of climbing, including routes up to 110 feet (34 m) tall, a wave wall, bi-level cave and a unique outdoor bouldering area. Upper Limits accommodates all ages and skill levels, offering introductory and advanced classes, parties, group rates, scout programs, team building exercises and portable walls.[8]

Nature and wildlife

  • The Bloomington-Normal Constitution Trail is a 24-mile (39 km) jogging, walking, cycling, and rollerblading trail. The north-south segment of the trail follows the abandoned Illinois Central Gulf (ICG) railroad from Kerrick Road in Normal to Washington Street in Bloomington. The east-west segment intersects the north segment at Normal City Hall Annex and continues east to Towanda-Barnes Road. The Liberty Branch begins at Commerce Drive and ends at Old Farm Lakes Subdivision. The Freedom Branch begins at Lincoln Street and ends at Route 9 West. Parking is available at adjoining lots throughout the area. The trail is open to walkers, runners, in-line skaters, skateboarders, cyclists, wheelchair users, and other non-motorized forms of transportation. During winter months, it is not cleared of snow, and is available to skiers; weather permitting.[8]
  • Miller Park Zoo offers many exhibits and zookeeper interaction opportunities such as a Wallaby WalkAbout, ZooLab, Children’s Zoo, Animals of Asia, and the Kattheoefer Animal Building. The Zoo’s newest exhibit is the Tropical America Rainforest.[10]
  • The Bloomington Parks & Recreation Department is composed of four divisions: Parks, Recreation, Golf, and the Miller Park Zoo. The Department maintains over 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) of land including 44 park sites and 3 golf courses. Parks are open from 6:00am to 10:00pm, alcoholic beverages and smoking are prohibited and pets are allowed in all parks on a leash.[11]


Bloomington-Normal has been ranked the “Fifth Best American City for Golf” by Golf Digest for two consecutive years.[8]

The golf course at the Bloomington Country Club.
  • The Den at Fox Creek: 6,926 yards (6,333 m), Par 72, 18 holes.

The Den at Fox Creek is a 4-star, Arnold Palmer Signature Designed Golf Course that opened in 1997, and features bent grass tees, greens and fairways. Amenities include GPS-equipped carts, club rental, pro shop and snack bar. There are nine holes with water hazards, 131 sand traps and a unique alternative shot closing the 18th hole on this par 72 course. Practice facilities include a large bent grass driving range and tees with practice chipping and putting greens. The Den is home to both the IHSA Boy’s Golf State Tournament and COUNTRY Youth Classic.[8]

  • Highland Park Golf Course: 5,725 yards (5,235 m), Par 70, 18 holes.

Located in South Bloomington, the Highland Park Golf Course has numerous challenges including creeks, three lakes, well-placed sand traps and tree-lined fairways. Highland Park sports a pro shop, carts, club rental and snack bar, and offers individual or group lessons.[12]

  • The Links at Ireland Grove: 1,590 yards (1,450 m), Par 29, 9 holes.

The Links at Ireland Grove is Bloomington’s newest public golf facility and first executive course. This nine hole course consists of seven par 3’s and two par 4’s. The driving range has weather protected hitting bays, plus over 1-acre (4,000 m2) of target greens, several bunkers, two fairways and nearly 2 acres (8,100 m2) of natural grass hitting area. In addition, The Links Golf Academy offers a 4-acre (16,000 m2) short game practice facility. The Links’ complex also includes Golf Etc., a pro shop selling everything golf related. The Links is also home to the COUNTRY Contest portion of the COUNTRY Youth Classic.[13]

  • Prairie Vista Golf Course: 6,745 yards (6,168 m), Par 72, 18 holes.

Prairie Vista sports 16 water hazards, a wave bunker, two-level greens and fairways, lots of sand, a pro shop, carts, club rental, snack bar, banquet room and driving range. In addition to annually hosting the COUNTRY Youth Classic and IHSA Boy’s Golf State Finals, Prairie Vista hosted the 1997 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf East Regional.[14]

  • Bloomington Indoor Golf Club offers full swing golf simulators. Players use their own clubs, driver to putter, playing challenging courses from around the world. The Bloomington Indoor Golf Club features six golf simulators along with beer, wine and a limited menu. Players have the choice of playing nine or 18 holes, seven days a week. The Indoor Golf Club offers private lessons and golfing parties. Specials include weekly meal specials, senior breakfast specials, lunch, family night and late night specials.[15]

There are two private country clubs within Bloomington: Bloomington Country Club and Lakeside Country Club. A third, Crestwicke Country Club, is just south of the city. All three have golf courses.

Arts and theatre

A bronze Abraham Lincoln statue, created by the well-known local artist, Rick Harney, sits on the grounds of the Old McLean County Courthouse.

According to, Bloomington-Normal is ranked in the top 1% among national creative workforces.[8]

  • American Passion Play, now in its 85th season, is the oldest continuously performed Passion Play in the United States. Performed at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, the Passion Play is set in Palestine, 30 AD, and portrays the life of Christ in its entirety. The play runs March through April.[16]
  • The Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts is the centerpiece of the city’s new Cultural District, which also includes the neighboring McLean County of Arts Center, and forthcoming festival park and creativity center for arts education. Featuring a 1,200 seat auditorium, the new center has state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment as well as a variety of improved patron services. Currently presenting a season of nationally acclaimed touring artists, the center is also home to over twenty area performing arts ensembles. More than 400 performances and community events take place at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts each year.[17]
  • The Illinois Shakespeare Festival includes productions performed in an open-air, Elizabethan-style theatre within historic Ewing Manor. The audience is encouraged to picnic on the grounds before each performance to be entertained by strolling Madrigal singers, jesters, and other entertainers as well as a Green Show performance.[18]
  • The Illinois Symphony Orchestra performs at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts where they hold five Masterworks concerts, two Pops concerts and three Chamber Orchestra concerts annually.[19]
  • The McLean County Arts Center is one of the oldest arts organizations in the Midwest, serving Central Illinois for over 130 years. Each year 12 art exhibitions are held including the Holiday Treasurers exposition and sale, and the annual Amateur Competition and Exhibition which, for over 70 years, has showcased the best amateur artists in Central Illinois. The Arts Center also sponsors a number of community events, such as the Sugar Creek Arts Festival in Uptown Normal and the Spring Bloom Arts Festival in Bloomington.[20]
  • The Community Players theater located on Robinhood Lane off of Towanda Avenue is the only community theater in the twin cities. Opened in 1923, the theater celebrated its 86th season in 2008.[21]


Historic sites

  • Ewing Manor, located on the Sunset Hill estate of the late Hazle Buck Ewing, sits majestically in the wooded landscape at the northwest corner of Towanda Avenue and Emerson Street. Completed in 1929, Ewing Manor was designed by Bloomington architect Phil Hooten in the Channel-Norman style so favored by the affluent in the post-Victorian period. The surrounding gardens were created by noted landscape architect Jens Jensen, who also designed Springfield’s Lincoln Memorial Gardens. The theatre on the grounds play host to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival each summer.[8]
  • The McLean County Museum of History traces its roots back to 1892, the year the McLean County Historical Society was founded. Housed inside the old McLean County Courthouse, the Museum features permanent and rotating exhibits that explore the history of Central Illinois. The Museum also offers educational programming, library and archive resources, and sponsors many community events. Being showcased now through August 2010 is A Turbulent Time: Perspectives of the Vietnam War. [1] The Museum also provides a driving audio-tour highlighting Lincoln historic sites in Bloomington-Normal as part of their inclusion in the Looking For Lincoln attraction listing. [2] This location is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[8]
Miller Park Pavilion
  • The Miller Park Pavilion & War Memorial was restored in 1977 and was dedicated in May 1988. The black granite memorial is surrounded by red sidewalks that list the names of Central Illinois residents killed or missing in action in the Korean and Vietnam battles.[8]
  • The Prairie Aviation Museum has a collection of preserved aircraft on display, revolving aviation exhibits and memorabilia, a mini-theatre, and much more. Exhibit highlights include a Bell Sea Cobra, Huey Helicopter, the only F-14 Tomcat on display in Illinois, as well as T-33, T-38, A-4, A-7, F-4 and F-100 aircraft.
  • The Evergreen Memorial Cemetery also known as the Evergreen Cemetery is the burial site of many notable Bloomington-Normal citizens including the Stevenson family. Adlai E. Stevenson I was Vice President to Grover Cleveland and Adlai E. Stevenson II was Governor of Illinois, Ambassador to the United Nations and twice Democratic candidate for the United States Presidency. Also buried there are Adlai’s wife, Letitia Green Stevenson, who was the second National President-General of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and her sister, Julia Green Scott, the seventh National President-General of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Other historical figures buried there include David Davis, friend and mentor to Abraham Lincoln; Charles Radbourn, 19th Century baseball’s greatest pitcher; and Dorothy Gage, inspiration for the main character in the Wizard of Oz and niece of author L. Frank Baum.[8]
  • The David Davis Mansion offers a glimpse into the life friend and mentor to Abraham Lincoln, David Davis who served as a United States Supreme Court Justice and was a key component during Lincoln’s bid for the 1860 Presidential nomination. The Davis Mansion, completed in 1872, combines Italianate and Second Empire architectural features and is a model of mid-Victorian style and taste. His Bloomington home, which remained in the Davis family for three succeeding generations, contains the most modern conveniences of that era; a coal-burning stove, gas lighting and indoor plumbing. Groups of ten or more must pre-arrange a visit. [3] The David Davis Mansion is listed as a Looking For Lincoln location [4] as well as a historic landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.[8]
  • The Vrooman Mansion, built in 1869, is available for special events, including weddings, receptions, rehearsal dinners, showers, reunions, etc. The Mansion also holds cooking classes, fashion shows, and an annual Holiday Open House. Group lunches are available with advanced reservations, which include a tour. [5] This location is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [6] [8]
  • Other historical landmarks listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
    • Rubin Benjamin House
    • George H. Cox House
    • David Davis III House
    • Robert Greenlee House
    • John M. Hamilton House
    • Holy Trinity Rectory
    • McLean County Courthouse
    • George H. Miller House
    • Miller-Davis Law Building
    • Stevenson House
    • White Building

Sister Cities


Club League Venue Established Championships
Bloomington Extreme IFL Indoor football U.S. Cellular Coliseum 2006  
Bloomington PrairieThunder IHL Ice hockey U.S. Cellular Coliseum 2006  


FM Radio

TeleCourier Tower in Downtown Bloomington

AM Radio

Analog Television

Digital Television (DTV)

  • 28 WYZZ-DT (43.1 - High Definition) "Fox 43", Fox
  • 40 WHOI-DT (19.1 - High Definition), ABC
  • 40 WHOI-DT (19.2 - Standard Definition), The CW Television Network
  • 46 WTVP-DT (47.1 - Standard Definition), PBS
  • 46 WTVP-DT (47.2 - High Definition), PBS HDTV
  • 46 WTVP-DT (47.3 - Standard Definition), Create
  • 56 WEEK-DT (25.1 - High Definition) "News 25", NBC
  • 56 WEEK-DT (25.2 - Standard Definition), NBC Weather Plus


Notable companies

Bloomington is home to Beer Nuts[23] and State Farm Insurance. [7]

Notable people

Sports teams


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ M.K. Guetersloh (2006-06-16). "Bloomington grows by 10,000". Pantagraph. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  3. ^ "About Us: Illinois Shakespeare Festival". Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ a b History of Bloomington, History of Bloomington
  6. ^ History of Bloomington (City Website), History of Bloomington (from city website)
  7. ^ "2006 Demographic Profile Bloomington-Normal, McLean County, Illinois" (pdf). Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB Website)
  9. ^ Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU Website)
  10. ^ City of Bloomington | Miller Park Zoo
  11. ^ City of Bloomington | Parks & Recreation
  12. ^ Highland Park Golf Course
  13. ^ The Links at Ireland Grove
  14. ^ Prairie Vista Golf Course
  15. ^ Bloomington Indoor Golf Club - Bogies Indoor Golf Club
  16. ^ The American Passion Play, Inc
  17. ^ Bloomington Cultural District | Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts
  18. ^ Illinois Shakespeare Festival
  19. ^ Home Page
  20. ^ The McLean County Arts Center
  21. ^ Community Players Theatre
  22. ^ Normal, Illinois website, Sister City Partnership
  23. ^ Beer Nuts located in Bloomington, Official Website

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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Simple English

Bloomington is a city in McLean County, Illinois, USA.

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