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Logan County Courthouse Illinois.JPG
Logan County Courthouse in Lincoln
Country United States
State Illinois
County Logan
Elevation 589 ft (180 m)
Coordinates 40°9′0″N 89°22′3″W / 40.15000°N 89.36750°W / 40.15000; -89.36750
Area 6.40 sq mi (17 km²)
 - land 6.40 sq mi (17 km²)
 - water 0.00 sq mi (0 km²)
Population 14,284 (2013)
Density 2,596.6 /sq mi (1,003 /km²)
Mayor Martha Neitzel
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 62656
Area code 217

Lincoln is a city in Logan County, Illinois, United States. It is the only town in the United States that was named for Abraham Lincoln before he became president; he practiced law there from 1847 to 1859. First settled in the 1830s, Lincoln is home to three colleges and two prisons. The three colleges are Lincoln College, Lincoln Christian University, and Heartland Community College. It is also the home of the world's largest covered wagon.

The population was 14,504 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Logan County.


The town was officially named on August 29, 1853, in an unusual ceremony. Abraham Lincoln, having assisted with the platting of the town and working as counsel for the newly laid railroad which led to its founding, was asked to participate in a naming ceremony for the town. On this date, the first sale of lots took place in the new town. Ninety were sold at prices ranging from $40 to $150. According to tradition Lincoln was present. At noon he purchased two watermelons and carried one under each arm to public square. There he invited Latham, Hickox, and Gillette, proprietors, to join him, saying, "Now we'll christen the new town.", squeezing watermelon juice out on the ground. Legend has it that when it had been proposed to him that the town be named for him, he had advised against it, saying that in his experience, "Nothing bearing the name of Lincoln ever amounted to much." The town of Lincoln was the first city named after Abraham Lincoln, while he was a lawyer and before he was President of the United States.

Lincoln College (chartered Lincoln University), a private four-year liberal arts college, was founded in early 1865 and granted 2 year degrees until 1929. News of the establishment and name of the school was communicated to President Lincoln shortly before his death making Lincoln the only college to be named after Lincoln while he was living. The College has an excellent collection of Abraham Lincoln related documents and artifacts, housed in a museum which is open to the general public.

The City of Lincoln was located directly on U.S. Route 66 from 1926 through 1978. This is its secondary tourist theme after the connection with Abraham Lincoln.

American author Langston Hughes spent some of his early years in Lincoln. Later on, he was to write to his eighth-grade teacher in Lincoln, telling her his writing career began there in the eighth grade, when he was elected class poet.

American theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and Helmut Richard Niebuhr lived in Lincoln from 1902 through their college years. Reinhold Niebuhr first served as pastor of a church when he served as interim minister of Lincoln's St. John's German Evangelical Synod church following his father's death. Reinhold Niebuhr is best known as the author of the Serenity Prayer.

The City of Lincoln features the stone, three-story, domed Logan County Courthouse (1905). This courthouse building replaced the earlier Logan County Courthouse (built 1858) where Lincoln once practiced law; the earlier building had fallen into serious decay and could not be saved. In addition, the Postville Courthouse State Historic Site contains a 1953 replica of the original 1840 Logan County courthouse; Postville, the original county seat, lost its status in 1848 and was itself annexed into Lincoln in the 1860s.

Lincoln was also the site of the Lincoln Developmental Center (LDC); a state institution for the developmentally disabled. Founded in 1877, the institution was one of Logan County's largest employers until closed in 2002 by former Governor George Ryan due to concerns about patient maltreatment. Despite efforts by some Illinois state legislators to reopen LDC, the facility remains shuttered.


Lincoln is located on I-55 (formerly U.S. Route 66), between Bloomington and Springfield. In addition Illinois Route 10 and Illinois Route 121 run into the city and Illinois Route 121 now ends in Lincoln; former Route 121 north of the city is now Interstate 155.

According to the 2010 census, Lincoln has a total area of 6.4 square miles (16.58 km2), all land. Lincoln's Amtrak train station is on the Amtrak line between St. Louis and Chicago. Lines of the Union Pacific and Canadian National railroads run through the city. Salt Creek (Sangamon River Tributary) and the Edward R. Madigan State Fish and Wildlife Area are nearby.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 5,639
1890 6,725 19.3%
1900 8,962 33.3%
1910 10,892 21.5%
1920 11,882 9.1%
1930 12,855 8.2%
1940 12,752 −0.8%
1950 14,362 12.6%
1960 16,890 17.6%
1970 17,582 4.1%
1980 16,327 −7.1%
1990 15,418 −5.6%
2000 15,369 −0.3%
2010 14,504 −5.6%
Est. 2015 13,966 −3.7%
U.S. Decennial Census
2013 Estimate
Lincoln, Illinois (2015)
Kickapoo Street in Lincoln

According to the 2010 United States Census, Lincoln had 14,504 people. Among non-Hispanics this includes 13,262 White (91.4%), 528 Black (3.6%), 118 Asian (0.8%), and 227 from two or more races. The Hispanic or Latino population included 336 people (2.3%).

There were 5,877 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.1% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with children & no husband present, and 40.1% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 29.7% had someone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.25 and the average family size was 2.83.

The population was spread out with 78.5% over the age of 18 and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.0 years. The gender ratio was 47.9% male & 52.1% female. Among 5,877 occupied households, 64.6% were owner-occupied & 35.4% were renter-occupied.

As of the census of 2000, there were 15,369 people, 5,965 households, and 3,692 families residing in the town. The population density was 2,596.6 people per square mile (1,002.4/km²). There were 6,391 housing units at an average density of 1,079.8 per square mile (416.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.79% White, 2.82% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.89% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.45% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.19% of the population.

There were 5,965 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.1% were non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.89.

The town's population is spread out with 21.6% under the age of 18, 13.8% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 90.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $34,435, and the median income for a family was $45,171. Males had a median income of $33,596 versus $22,500 for females. The per-capita income for the town is $17,207. About 8.5% of families and 10.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.9% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

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