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Pekin
City
Country United States
State Illinois
County Tazewell
Coordinates 40°34′4″N 89°38′13″W / 40.56778°N 89.63694°W / 40.56778; -89.63694
Area 13.8 sq mi (36 km2)
 - land 13.8 sq mi (36 km2)
Population 33,857 (2000)
Density 2,574.8 /sq mi (994 /km2)
Mayor Rusty Dunn
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61554
Area code 309
Location of Pekin within Illinois
Location of Pekin within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Pekin, Illinois

Pekin is a city in Tazewell County, Illinois. Located on the Illinois River, it is the county seat and largest city of Tazewell County, and a key part of the Peoria metropolitan area.[1] As of the 2000 census, its population is 33,857.[2]

Pekin has a large park with a lagoon, Mineral Springs Park, located near Pekin Hospital and a senior center. Pekin is home to a high-rise residential facility of the United Auto Workers. It is the home of the minimum-security Pekin Federal Correctional Institution. A regional insurance company, Pekin Insurance, has its home office in Pekin.

Contents

History

In Illinois as other areas, various cultures of indigenous peoples lived along the rivers, for transportation, water and fishing. At the time of European contact, the several historical tribes in the area were of the Anishinaabe-language family, within the larger Algonquian-speaking tribes.

In January 1680, Robert de LaSalle and 33 fellow explorers landed their canoes on the eastern bank of the Illinois River. They built a winter refuge in what is now the southeast quarter of section 1 of Pekin Township. They encountered historical Kickapoo peoples to the east near the Wabash River.

Pekin has a rich American Indian heritage. It was the site of Lebourse Sulky's Village in 1812. This was how it looked to a European American of the time:

At Little Makina, a river on the south side of Illinois, five leagues below Peoria, is a band, consisting of Kickapoos, Chippeways, Ottaways and Pottowottamies. They are called warriors, and their head man is Lebourse of Sulky. Their number is sixty men, all desperate fellows and great plunderers.
— Ninian Edwards, letter of May 1812, Elvirade, Randolph County, Illinois Territory[3]

Sulky oversaw a village with a mixed population of the Anishinaabe-speaking Potawatomi, Kickapoo and Ojibwa people. He fought with Tecumseh in the War of 1812, as did most of chiefs of the Illinois Valley area. Later, this area was the site of Chief Shabbona's village during the Black Hawk War.

Farmer Jonathan Tharp was the first non-Indian resident, building a log cabin in 1824. For some time after the arrival of European-American settlers, a large Indian village, populated primarily by Pottawatomi, was still situated along the ridge of what is today Pekin Lake.

After a county surveyor laid out a "town site," an auction of the town plat and site was held in Springfield, Illinois. The village site was awarded to Major Isaac Perkins, Gideon Hawley, William Haines and Major Nathan Cromwell. Mrs. Cromwell selected the name of the city, naming it after Beijing, China, then spelled "Peking" or "Pekin". Such spellings are still common in German and French.[4]

Pekin is known as the site where Lincoln and other ambitious politicians struck a deal in the 1840s. Lincoln was among several local Whig politicians who wanted to serve in the U.S. Congress. To keep from splitting the Whig vote, the competitors agreed to support each other for one term each in Congress. The pact is called the Pekin Agreement in Lincoln biographies. Lincoln ran and was elected to the 30th United States Congress in 1846, and retired at the end of the term. This single term in Congress was Lincoln's only experience in Washington before being elected President.[citation needed]

A group of 11 men gathered in Pekin on 25 June 1862 to establish the first council of the Union League of America, to promote patriotism and loyalty to the Union in the Civil War. Its members hoped to counter Northern disillusionment with President Lincoln's military policies after early Union defeats in the American Civil War. Although closely allied with the Republican Party, the League sought to enroll all Union supporters, regardless of party.

By December 1863, the Union League claimed 140,000 members in Illinois and almost one million nationwide. The Union League movement focused on providing medical supplies to the Army, training nurses, and advocating equality for slaves. As the War gradually turned in favor of the North, the Union Leagues shifted to political endorsements, favoring Republicans who advocated full equality and voting rights for African Americans. The Union League played a prominent role in supporting Lincoln in his closely contested re-election in 1864. By the end of the Civil War, membership in the Union League of America grew to two million. Most of the clubs continue today, often in prominent civil roles. For example, the Union League Club of Chicago has been credited with founding many of the city's major cultural organizations and venues, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Orchestra Hall, the Auditorium Theater, and the Field Museum.

Pekin Marigold Festival

Marigold, Tagetes erecta

The Marigold Festival was started in 1972 to honor one of Pekin's "favorite sons", Senator Everett Dirksen. While in the United States Congress, Dirksen tried to have the marigold named as the national flower. In support of Dirksen, the community began growing marigolds. While unsuccessful in the national flower contest, Dirksen's hometown of Pekin became known as the "Marigold Capital of the World".[5]

The Marigold Festival is an annual celebration held the first weekend after Labor Day in September. Its activities include the annual Marigold Parade, the crowning of Miss Marigold, live music, and an arts and crafts fair that attracts exhibitors from five surrounding states.

The Pekin Chamber of Commerce annually appoints an executive coordinating committee, but most of the work is done by more than 1,000 volunteers. They present the events and concessions to the public. All financial proceeds beyond administrative costs go to charity and not-for-profit organizations in the Pekin area.[6]

In the early years of the festival, volunteers and residents planted more than two million marigolds throughout the city, creating displays to be judged by the garden club. Today the goal of the festival is to encourage community pride, displayed through marigold plantings and additional events such as a Medallion Hunt, 5 kilometer run/walk, Carnival, Art in the Park, Friday Night Family Fest, and live music.[6] These events bring the people of Pekin together and highlight area businesses.

Food concessions at the Marigold Festival are run by non-profit organizations. Most of the Festive Food booths are located in Mineral Springs Park. Many groups use this as a major fundraising event. They include local churches and Boy Scout Troops, Kiwanis Club of Pekin, Pekin Community High School JROTC Boosters, Pekin Community High School show choir "Noteables", local firefighters, Pekin Lions Club, the Salvation Army, and United Way of Pekin.[5] Over the years the Marigold Festival has grown to attract more than 100,000 people annually.

Other festivals in the local area include the Washington Cherry Festival, Morton Pumpkin Festival, Tremont Turkey Festival, and East Peoria Festival of Lights.

Pekin Community High School

Pekin Community High School teams were officially known as the Pekin Chinks until 1980 when the school administration changed the mascot to the Pekin Dragons. The team mascot was a student dressed as a Chinaman wearing a coolie hat, who struck a gong when the team scored. An earlier attempt was made by a visit of Chinese-American groups to change the name from Chinks during the 1974–1975 school year; this was voted down by the student body. The event received national attention.

In the 1960's the campus was split into two buildings, with the freshman and sophomores at one campus (West Campus) and the juniors and seniors at another (East Campus). East Campus was expanded in 1997–1998, after which date West Campus closed and all four classes were reunited at the newer campus.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.8 square miles (35.6 km²), of which, 13.1 square miles (34.1 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km²) of it (4.36%) is water.

Pekin lies on the Illinois River, and its John T. McNaughton Bridge connects the city to a small area of land the city has annexed in Peoria County.

Nearby towns include North Pekin, Marquette Heights, Creve Coeur, Groveland, Tremont, Morton, Washington, Lincoln, East Peoria, Peoria, Bartonville, Mapleton, Manito, Delavan, Dillon, Green Valley, Hopedale, and South Pekin.

Demographics

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 33,857 people, 13,380 households, and 8,804 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,574.8 people per square mile (994.1/km²). There were 14,038 housing units at an average density of 1,067.6/sq mi (412.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.80% White, 2.55% African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.18% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.31% of the population.

There were 13,380 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.7% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.2% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,972, and the median income for a family was $46,346. Males had a median income of $35,906 versus $21,705 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,616. About 6.8% of families and 9.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.6% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people born or raised in Pekin

See also

References

Coordinates: 40°34′N 89°38′W / 40.567°N 89.633°W / 40.567; -89.633

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