Bloomington, Illinois facts for kids
McLean County History Museum (formerly McLean County Court House) in Downtown Bloomington
|Official name: City of Bloomington|
|Elevation||797 ft (242.9 m)|
|Area||27.23 sq mi (70.5 km²)|
|- land||27.22 sq mi (70 km²)|
|- water||0.01 sq mi (0 km²)|
|- urban||132,600 (US: 243rd)|
|- metro||191,067 (US: 223rd)|
|- summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|Postal code||61701, 61704, 61705|
Bloomington is a city in Illinois, United States and the county seat of McLean County. It is adjacent to Normal, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area.
The 2010 census showed the city had a population of 76,610, making it the 12th most populated city in Illinois, and the fifth-most populous city in the state outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Combined with Normal, the twin cities have a population of roughly 130,000.
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 2010 census, Bloomington has a total area of 27.229 square miles (70.52 km2), of which 27.22 square miles (70.50 km2) (or 99.97%) is land and 0.009 square miles (0.02 km2) (or 0.03%) is water.
Climate and weather
|Weather chart for Bloomington, Illinois|
|temperatures in °F
precipitation totals in inches
source: The Weather Channel
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Bloomington have ranged from a low of 14 °F (−10 °C) in January to a high of 86 °F (30 °C) in July, although a record low of −23 °F (−31 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 114 °F (46 °C) was recorded on July 15, 1936 during the 1936 North American heat wave. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.71 inches (43 mm) in February to 4.52 inches (115 mm) in May.
The Bloomington area was at the edge of a large grove occupied by the Kickapoo people before the first Euro-American settlers arrived in the early 1820s. 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.
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 Allin, one of the new county's promoters, offered to donate 60 acres (240,000 m2) of his land for the new town. His offer was accepted, and Bloomington was laid out. Its lots were sold at a well-attended and noisy auction 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, Illinois.
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 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 and Paul O. Moratz.
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.
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 76,610 people and 30,454 households within the city. The population density was 2,814.8 people per square mile (1,099.5/km²). There were 34,339 housing units at an average density of 1,261.5 per square mile (492.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.5% White, 10.1% African American, 0.3% Native American, 7.0% Asian, 1.42% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.6% 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 2010, there were 34,339 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.1% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the city, the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 20, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 45, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $58,662, and the median income for a family was $81,166. Males had a median income of $56,597 versus $39,190 for females. The per capita income for the city was $32,672. About 5.7% of families and 11.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.6% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
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 legendary 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 north-south and east-west service through the city.
Bloomington is serviced by passenger rail, bus service, and several airlines.
- Amtrak, from its Bloomington-Normal station, operates five trains in each direction between St. Louis and Chicago each day. The station also serves connecting bus service to Peoria and Amtrak stations in Galesburg and Champaign/Urbana. It is Illinois' second busiest Amtrak station after Chicago, servicing more than 209,000 passengers in fiscal year 2010.
- Greyhound Lines provides service to/from Chicago and St. Louis. Burlington Trailways offers service from the Amtrak station and the Greyhound station to/from Peoria, Quad Cities, Illinois/Iowa, Champaign, and Indianapolis
- The Central Illinois Regional Airport on Route 9 is served by three airlines (Delta Air Lines, American Eagle, and Allegiant Air in order of market share), five rental car agencies, and has direct daily flights to Atlanta (Delta), Chicago (American Eagle), Dallas-Ft. Worth (American Eagle), Detroit (Delta), and Minneapolis/St. Paul (Delta). Additional service includes nonstop flights to Sanford, Florida (Allegiant) and St.Pete/Clearwater (Allegiant). A record 559,481 passengers flew to or from CIRA in 2010.
Recreation and entertainment
- 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, a comprehensive hockey program, learn to curl and curling leagues, skate rental and a concessions stand.
- Upper Limits Indoor Rock Climbing Gym has more than 21,000 square feet (2,000 m2) of climbing space, 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.
- The U.S. Cellular Coliseum in southwest downtown Bloomington opened in 2006 and home to the former Bloomington Extreme,now renamed the Bloomington Edge after the sale of the team in 2011, of the Indoor Football League and formerly the home of the PrairieThunder and Blaze of the Central Hockey League. Beginning in 2014, it is the home rink of the Bloomington Thunder of the United States Hockey League, as well as hosting certain games of Illinois State University's club hockey team and local youth hockey programs. With over 180,000 square feet (17,000 m2) of space, the Coliseum boasts a fixed seating capacity of 7,000 but can seat over 8,000 for special events. The facility can also be set up as a theatre with a retractable curtain, and enables shows to seat 2,500-5,000 in a more intimate atmosphere. Since the Coliseum’s opening, the facility has hosted an array of events including concerts, family shows, ice shows, motorsports and tradeshows.
Nature and wildlife
- 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 including: Airport Park, Alton Depot Park, Angler’s Lake Nature Preserve, Atwood Wayside, Bittner Park, Brookridge Park, Buck-Mann Park, Clearwater Park, Eagle Crest Park, Emerson Park, Evergreen Park, Ewing Park 1, Ewing Park 2, Ewing Park 3, Fell Avenue Park, Forrest Park, Franklin Park, Friendship Park, Highland Park Golf Course, Holiday Park, Lincoln Leisure Center, Marie Litta Park, McGraw Park, Miller Park, Miller Park Zoo, Northpoint School Park, Oakland School Park, O’Neil Park, Pepperidge Park, Pepsi Ice Center, PJ Irvin Park, Prairie Vista Golf Course, R.T. Dunn Fields, Rollingbrook Park, Sale Ban Soccer Fields, Stevenson School Park, Suburban East Park, Sunnyside Park, The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course, Tipton Park, White Oak Park and Withers Park. 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. These facilities often contain water spray parks, elaborate playgrounds, miniature golf, baseball/softball diamonds, soccer fields, cricket grounds, and lighted tennis courts. The Evergreen Racket Club provides indoor tennis courts. Outdoor public swimming pools are located at O'Neil Park (west) and Holiday Park (east). The YMCA, YWCA, and private health clubs operate indoor pools.
- Miller Park Zoo offers many exhibits and zookeeper interaction opportunities. Zoo inhabitants include a Sumatran tiger, river otter, Galapagos tortoise, Amur leopard, sun bears, reindeer, sea lion, red pandas, lemus, bald eagles, pallas cats and red wolves. The zoo features many exhibits including Wallaby WalkAbout, ZooLab, Children’s Zoo, Animals of Asia, and the Katthoefer Animal Building. The Zoo’s newest exhibit is the Tropical America Rainforest.
- The Bloomington-Normal Constitution Trail is a 24-mile (39 km) jogging, walking, cycling, and rollerblading trail that operates on dedicated right-of-way through much of the city. Bridges and tunnels are used to separate the trail from traffic when crossing the busiest streets. The north-south segment of the trail follows the abandoned Illinois Central Gulf (ICG) railroad from Kerrick Road in Normal to Grove 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.
- The Genevieve Green Gardens at Ewing Cultural Center were dedicated in 2007 as part of the Illinois State University’s 150th anniversary celebration. Several architects and landscape designers contributed to the extensive project of creating the gardens, including input from the late Bruce V. Green, an avid gardener whose generous $5.2 million donation spearheaded the project. The gardens include a new public entry which directs visitors to a formal plaza, the entrance to the manor, grass patio, theater walk with a widened walkway and additional plantings.
In 2005, Golf Digest ranked Bloomington-Normal as the Fifth Best American City for Golf in their "Best in America" Metro Golf Rankings. Golf Digest ranked America's largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas on four different criteria: access to golf, weather, value of golf, and quality of golf.
- 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 Boys' Golf State Tournament and COUNTRY Youth Classic each summer.
- 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. The Highland Park Golf Course hosts the COUNTRY Youth Classic each summer.
- 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 Skills Challenge portion of the COUNTRY Youth Classic each summer.
- 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 Boys' Golf State Finals, Prairie Vista hosted the 1997 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf East Regional.
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
Bloomington-Normal ranks competitively in Richard Florida's creativity rankings. Most noteworthy is Bloomington-Normal’s creative class share of the workforce, which resulted in a No. 1 rating for Bloomington-Normal’s creativity rank.
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Community Players Theater located on Robinhood Lane off of Towanda Avenue is one of the oldest community theaters completely staffed by volunteers. Opened in 1923, the theater celebrated its 88th season in 2011.
- The Castle Theatre first opened in 1916 as a 1,000-seat theater, created by the legendary theater builders Balaban & Katz, original inventors of the classic movie palace. For decades, the property served as one of the area’s premier destinations. The Castle has recently been restored to its former glory with a $1.5 million renovation. Today the Castle presents of live music, corporate, public and private events.
- The Illinois Wesleyan University School of Theatre Arts houses its talent within the Jerome Mirza Theatre at McPherson Hall. Four main stage plays are performed here annually, selected from a playbill including everything from Shakespeare to musicals. McPherson Hall, completed in 1963, is named for IWU's 10th President, Harry W. McPherson, and contains a 300-seat theatre, scene shop, classrooms and other facilities.
- The Illinois Wesleyan University Westbrook Auditorium serves approximately 200 music majors and several hundred IWU students each year. Several musical performances of all style periods are featured each semester, and most concerts are free with general seating.
- The Miller Park Outdoor Summer Theatre, an amateur theatre group sponsored by the City of Bloomington, performs two major theatre productions each year.
- USA Ballet is an international ballet company celebrating their 21st anniversary in 2011. USA Ballet provides children's workshops and outreach programs, and presents at Illinois Wesleyan University's McPherson Theatre three times a year.
- American Passion Play, now in its 92nd season, is the oldest continuously performed Passion Play in the United States. Performed each spring 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 Illinois Shakespeare Festival includes productions performed in an open-air, Elizabethan-style theatre within historic Ewing Manor each summer. 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.
- The Lincoln's Bloomington Festival is held each July in Downtown Bloomington and features Civil War re-enactors, traditional craft demonstrations, children's activities, musical performances, talks and tours.
- The Spring Bloom Arts Festival is hosted by the McLean County Arts Center in March each year. This indoor fine art festival features over 100 artists representing a wide range of media including woodworking, glass art, sculpture, paintings, prints, photographs and handcrafted jewelry.
- The McLean County Fair is billed as the '"Home of the World's Largest County 4-H Fair" taking place each August at the McLean County Fairgrounds in Bloomington. 4-H activities include: livestock shows, a film festival, and exhibits around food, nutrition & health, plant science, engineering & technology, and environment & natural resources. Evening Grandstand Entertainment features tractor pulls and various musical acts.
- 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.
- 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. The Museum provides a driving audio-tour highlighting Lincoln historic sites in Bloomington-Normal as part of their inclusion in the Looking For Lincoln attraction listing.  This location is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In December 2010, a Route 66 Wayside Exhibit was installed at the museum. The exhibit tells the story of Route 66's great significance and impact on the community.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.  The David Davis Mansion is listed as a Looking For Lincoln location  as well as a historic landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.
- 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.  This location is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
- The former building of the Montefiore synagogue is one of the few Moorish Revival buildings in Illinois and one of the Oldest synagogues in the United States.
- 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
Area attractions and businesses also offer a number of tours in Bloomington.
- The Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts offers Behind the Curtain Tours led by a group of specially trained docents. The tours showcase the neo-Classical interior design of the building and explain all of the building's updates and renovations.
- The David Davis Mansion offers tours for both groups and individuals of the 36-room estate of Judge David Davis. Docents use artifacts and stories about the Davis family to interpret the rich social and cultural history of America's western frontier from the 1850s through the 1880s. Specific themes include servant life, domestic life and technology at the dawn of the industrial age, family history (with a focus on children), and Victorian architecture. The mansion is a precursor of the modern homes and comfort systems that we take for granted today, and is a reminder of the role Illinois played in the nation's history when Abraham Lincoln was President. Arrangements can also be made for a special Tea Ladies Inc. program at the mansion.
- The McLean County Museum of History offers an audio driving tour titled Lincoln's Bloomington and Normal, Illinois. The CD-based audio tour presents President Abraham Lincoln as a returning visitor, talking about the places he visited and their meaning. Written and performed by James Keeran, the audio tour includes: Kersey Fell's Law office, where Jesse Fell suggested Lincoln run for the presidency; the home of Asahel Gridley, Lincoln's friend and client in a slander suit; the Miller-Davis Building, where Lincoln practiced law; and 14 other sites.
- The Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau offers monthly tours of Bloomington and Normal titled Twin City Tours. Tours depart from the McLean County Museum of History.
- Eastland Mall is the main shopping center in Bloomington. Featuring food, shopping and entertainment, Eastland Mall is the family friendly center with a wide variety of stores and activities including Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Applebee's, Buckle, Charlotte Russe, Finish Line, Justice, Limited, Old Navy, Rogers & Hollands, Talbot's, Victoria's Secret and more.
- Downtown Bloomington offers museums, banks, a legal and governmental center, residential living, a large artists' community, plus an assortment of specialty retail businesses and supportive services. There is an abundance of restaurants and a lively night scene. A number of special events such as Tour de Chocolat, Farmers' Market, Tour de Metro, Pub Crawl, and Once Upon a Holiday, offer a chance to experience the district. Downtown Bloomington is home to government offices of the City of Bloomington, McLean County, and major employers including State Farm Insurance and several specialty stores, bars, restaurants and art galleries.
- Bloomington, Illinois is the only town where BEER NUTS Brand Snacks are made. There are two BEER NUTS Company Stores in Bloomington, each offering a video tour of the Bloomington plant and history of BEER NUTS Brand Snacks.
Bloomington is home to State Farm Insurance. , Country Financial, and Beer Nuts. The original Steak 'n Shake restaurant was opened in Normal, Bloomington's adjoining city, in 1934.  It also has the largest Dairy Queen Restaurant.
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