Springfield

I lived in the state capital for the first 40 years of my life, and observed it for more than a half-century in pieces written for  Focus, Atlantis, The Phoenix, Illinois Times, and The Reader of Chicago.  Here you will find many of those articles about my home town—its culture and history, its social life and government, its tourist sites and notable residents as they appeared mainly in Illinois Times. Articles whose principal focus is the state government that happens to be based in Springfield appear here.

There are of course two Springfields, as there are two Albanies or two Sacramentos. Because it is the state capital, "Springfield" to Illinoisans means state government (and, metaphorically, the taxpayers' vexation about state government); to people in and around Springfield, that Springfield means jobs and contracts. 

 

The other Springfield, the mid-sized Midwestern backwater, was described by Andrew Ferguson in his 2007 book Land of Lincoln as “a clapped out old burg." Us natives protested that this was inaccurate, Springfield being not all that old. I recently found an undated manuscript in my files, probably from 1975, in which I averred, "My perspective on Springfield history can be stated as follows: the study of Springfield’s past is fueled by the same curiosity that causes a pathologist, when confronted by a corpse, to wonder how it died." Yes, imitation Mencken, but no less true for that.

 

Springfield is redeemed by the long-ago presence of Abraham Lincoln. Articles solely about the great man can be found here. See also Springfield boy.

 

I published more than a thousand columns about Springfield. Trust me, not all of them deserve to be reread. The worthy ones make up quite a pile, and my long-time Springfield readers who are looking for old favorites might have to wait a while before they can all be posted. If you have a request for a particular favorite, let me know at  CornLatitudes@outlook.com. 

Posting every Springfield title on a single page would make it unwieldy, so links to many pieces have been grouped by topic and appear on their own pages, links to which appear here. To return to this page after visiting one of the subtopic pages, use your browser's return button. 

 

All other Springfield pieces appear below, in no particular order.

Click on the title for the full article.

To leave an article and return to this page, click on your browser's back button or on "Springfield" in the Topics menu

In a Can

In which Springfield’s canned “chillis” pass a test

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  December 2, 1982

A Stiller Quietude

When the statehouse sleeps, Springfield snores

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  April 9, 1981

Tourism

Springfield, IL

A jaundiced guide for curious Chicagoans

Reader  June 30, 1989

Fair to Middling

Springfield Day at the state fair

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  August 22, 1980

A New Old Street

The NPS plans for the past of the Lincoln Home

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  January 19, 2010 

Parade Unrest

State Fair week reminds me again why I hate a parade

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  August 20, 1987

A Penny Here, a Penny There . . . 

Will a monumental Lincoln penny bring in tourist dollars?

"Dyspepesiana"  Illinois Times  March 14, 2013

Ghost Houses 

A plan for the Lincoln home neighborhood

"Prejudices" Illinois Times November 11, 1990

Faithful to the Period

The NPS plans the next 20 years at Lincoln’s home

"Dyspepesiana"  Illinois Times  September 2, 2010    

Hat Trick

What lies beneath Abe World’s Lincoln hat?

"Dyspepesiana"  Illinois Times  February 21, 2013

On Tour

My life as a guide at the Lincoln-Herndon law offices

"Dyspepesiana"  Illinois Times  November 5, 2009

Going to Mr. Lincoln's House

Authenticity and the tourist’s Lincoln

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  February 10, 1983

Lincoln’s Springfield House

The Lincoln home for the automobile tourist

Adventure Road September/October 1985

Stay with Me

Enticing tourists to linger an extra night

"Dyspepesiana"  Illinois Times  December 22, 2010

The Old State Capitol: Tarnished Jewel

Springfield squabbles over an inheritance

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  January 30, 1981

The Old Capitol: The Higher Vaudeville

They built it; they didn’t come

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  February 6, 1981

Tour-a-lura-lura

Spring, when the crocus and the tourist bloom

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  April 8, 1977

Making Lincoln Come Alive

From tiny acorns Presidential libraries grow

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  ca 1990

The Corrugated Lincoln

Our new sculptors don’t do justice to our history

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  October 12, 1979

Tag-teaming History

Fun and games on Lincoln's birthday

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times  March 1, 2012

Safe Passage

Getting tourists off at the Dana-Thomas house

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  April 1, 2010

Still Alternative After All These Years

Springfield and Illinois Times after 35 years

""Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times  September 30, 2010

Of Birthdays, Gracie Allen, and Exiles

Baby steps at Illinois Times

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  September 18, 1980

Black and White and Green

Racial change in 1970s Springfield

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  May 8, 1981

Boundaries

Race and friendship in 1960s Springfield

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  August 26, 1977

Why I Live Downtown

A paean to the crowded life

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  October 5, 1979

Aurora Uber Alles

Downstate's flagging population growth

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  March 31, 1994

Home Sweet Home

Springfield—unlovely and unloved

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  January 14, 1977

Fair Is Not Easy

Making fair housing fairer for the poor

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  August 6, 1981

Invasions

Economic colonization and the loss of the local

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July 13, 1979

Dodge-bashing Downtown

Springfield tries to have fun. It isn’t pretty

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July 10, 1981

Taking the Christian out of Christianity
The YMCA picks up a new name but sells an old idea

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  August 12, 2010

Bravo! Bravo!

Springfield’s city band marches into Salzburg

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  August 23, 1990

I’m Proud to Be a North Ender

Springfield's most Springfield neighborhood

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  September 5, 1980

Comas

What riot? Springfield still won’t talk about race

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  September 20, 1990

Click on the title for the full article.

To leave an article and return to this page, click on your browser's back button or on "Springfield" in the Topics menu

SITES

OF INTEREST

John Hallwas

Essential for anyone interested in Illinois history and literature. Hallwas deservedly won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society.

Lee Sandlin Author

One of Illinois’s best, and least-known, writers of his generation. Take note in particular of The Distancers and Road to Nowhere.

Chicago Architecture Center

See Home Page/Learn/

Resources for a marvelous building database, architecture dictionary, even a city planning graphic novel. Handsome, useful—every Illinois culture website should be so good.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago

 

The online version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago, Crammed with thousands of topic entries, biographical sketches, maps and images, it is a reference work unmatched in Illinois.

Illinois Great Places

The Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2018 selected 200 Great Places in Illinois that illustrate our  shared architectural culture across the entire period of human settlement in Illinois.

McLean County Museum

of History

A nationally accredited, award-winning project of the McLean County Historical Society whose holdings include more than 20,000 objects, more than 15,000 books on local history and genealogy, and boxes and boxes of historical papers and images.

Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois

 

Every Illinois town ought to have a chronicler like D. Leigh Henson, Ph.D. Not only Lincoln and the Mother road—the author’s curiosity ranges from cattle baron John Dean Gillett to novelist William Maxwell. An Illinois State Historical Society "Best Web Site of the Year."

Southern Illinois University Press

SIU Press is one of the four major university publishing houses in Illinois. Its catalog offers much of local interest, including biographies of Illinois political figures, the history (human and natural) and folklore of southern Illinois, the Civil War and Lincoln, and quality reprints in the Shawnee Classics series.

Chronicling Illinois

“Chronicling Illinois” showcases some of the collections—mostly some 6,000 photographs—from the Illinois history holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

Illinois Digital Archives

 

Created in 2000, the IDA is a repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library and other Illinois libraries and cultural institutions. The holdings include photographs, slides, and glass negatives, oral histories, newspapers, maps, and documents from manuscripts and letters to postcards,  posters, and videos.

[STILL A-BUILDING]

BOOKS

 OF INTEREST

Southern Illinois University Press 2017

A work of

solid history, entertainingly told.

Michael Burlingame,

author of Abraham 

Lincoln: A Life 

One of the ten best books on Illinois history I have read in a decade.

Superior Achievement Award citation, ISHS Awards, 2018

A lively and engaging study

. . . an enthralling narrative.

James Edstrom

The Annals of Iowa

A book that merits the attention of all Illinois historians

as well as local historians generally.

John Hoffman

Journal of Illinois HIstory

A model for the kind of detailed and honest history other states and regions could use.

Harold Henderson 

Midwestern Microhistory

A fine example of a resurgence of Midwest historical scholarship.

Greg Hall

Journal of the Illinois

State Historical Society

Click  here 

to read about

the book 

Click  here 

to buy

the book

Contact James Krohe Jr. at CornLatitudes@outlook.com

All material Copyright © by James Krohe Jr. unless otherwise indicated