1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bloomington (Illinois)

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BLOOMINGTON, a city and the county-seat of McLean county, Illinois, U.S.A., in the central part of the state, about 125 m. S.W. of Chicago. Pop. (1890) 20,484; (1900) 23,286, of whom 3611 were foreign-born, there being a large German element; (1910 census) 25,768. The city is served by the Chicago & Alton, the Illinois Central, the Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati & St Louis, and the Lake Erie & Western railways, and by electric inter-urban lines. Bloomington is the seat of the Illinois Wesleyan University (Methodist Episcopal, co-educational, founded in 1850), which comprises a college of liberal arts, an academy, a college of law, a college of music and a school of oratory, and in 1907 had 1350 students. In the town of Normal (pop. in 1900, 3795), 2 m. north of Bloomington, are the Illinois State Normal University (opened at Bloomington in 1857 and removed to its present site in 1860), one of the first normal schools in the Middle West, and the state soldiers’ orphans’ home (1869). Bloomington has a public library, and Franklin and Miller parks; among its principal buildings are the court house, built of marble, and the Y.M.C.A. building. Among the manufacturing establishments are foundries and machine shops, including the large shops of the Chicago & Alton railway, slaughtering and meat-packing establishments, flour and grist mills, printing and publishing establishments, a caramel factory and lumber factories. The value of the city’s factory products increased from $3,011,899 in 1900 to $5,777,000 in 1905, or 91.8%. There are valuable coal mines in and near the city, and the city is situated in a fine farming region. Bloomington derives its name from Blooming Grove, a small forest which was crossed by the trails leading from the Galena lead mines to Southern Illinois, from Lake Michigan to St Louis, and from the Eastern to the far Western states. The first settlement was made in 1822, but the town was not formally founded until 1831, when it became the county-seat of McLean county. The first city charter was obtained in 1850, and in 1857 the public school system was established. In 1856 Bloomington was the meeting place of a state convention called by the Illinois editors who were opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Bill (see Decatur). This was the first convention of the Republican party in Illinois; among the delegates were Abraham Lincoln, Richard Yates, John M. Palmer and Owen Lovejoy. The city has been the residence of a number of prominent men, including David Davis (1815–1886), an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1862–1877, a member of the United States Senate in 1877–1883, and president pro tempore of the Senate in 1881–1883; Governor John M. Hamilton (1847–1905), Governor Joseph W. Fifer (b. 1840); and Adlai Ewing Stevenson (b. 1835), a Democratic representative in Congress in 1875–1877 and 1879–1881, and vice-president of the United States in 1893–1897. Bloomington’s prosperity increased after 1867, when coal was first successfully mined in the vicinity.

In the Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for 1905 may be found a paper, “The Bloomington Convention of 1856 and Those Who Participated in it.”