Introduction to Decatur, Illinois
Decatur, Illinois, in Macon county, is 109 miles NE of St. Louis, Missouri. Decatur is located in Central Illinois and it's situated along the Sangamon River and near Lake Decatur. The city features historic neighborhoods and a restored downtown area. Decatur's economy has changed from being manufacturing based to being powered by the service sector. The region is called the "Soybean Capital of the World" due to being home to the major agricultural companies, ADM and Tate & Lyle North America.
The city was established in 1836 and was named in tribute to Stephen Decatur, a hero during the War of 1812. The Great Western Railroad arrived in 1854 followed by the arrival of the Illinois Central. Due to the two railroads, the city became a flourishing manufacturing center. The first place of residence in Illinois for Abraham Lincoln was very near Decatur. One of his first political speeches was given in the city. Decatur was host to the Illinois Republican State Convention in 1860 where Lincoln was provided with his first endorsement for the presidency.
Decatur Higher Education
Decatur is home to Millikin University and Richland Community College.
The city is home to Decatur International Airport. A Bus-trolley system provides transportation in the downtown and college campus areas.
- The Children's Museum of Illinois includes numerous interactive exhibits.
- Macon County Museum Complex showcases exhibits of life during the "Prairie years" as well as the Victorian era. It also includes the historic log courthouse where Abraham Lincoln tried several law cases.
- The Lincoln Trail Homestead Memorial features the home of Thomas Lincoln and his son Abraham Lincoln.
- The historic Richard J. Oglesby Mansion includes historic furnishings.
- Millikin Homestead features an impressive brick mansion.
- Bethel School is a restored one room school house located at Friends Creek Conservation Center.
- The Wabash Depot Antique Center was the headquarters of the Wabash Railroad company. The attractive restored building is popular for antique shopping.
- Transfer House is an historic Victorian building.
- Madden Arts Center features a wide variety of art exhibits.
- The Kirkland Galleries & Kirkland Fine Arts Center is located in Millikin University and showcases art created by nationally know artists.
- Scovill Zoo showcases Timberwolves, cheetahs and camels.
- Kirkland Fine Arts Center auditorium features opera, Broadway touring groups, music and a variety of performances.
- Central Illinois Jazz Festival is a notable event.
- Downtown Madri Gras features a parade and Cajun food.
- Decatur Celebration is one of the largest family street style festivals in the Midwest.
- Downtown Decatur features numerous art galleries, pubs, unique shops, a variety of restaurants and nightlife.
- Hickory Point Mall is a popular shopping location.
- Blues in Central Park features prominent performers.
- Avon Theater is a popular venue.
Lake Decatur provides opportunities for boating, fishing for bass and walleye and bird and wildlife watching. Fishing enthusiasts enjoy Sportsman's Park. The Rock Springs Conservation Area includes wetlands and bluffs. The Spitler Woods State Natural Area contains two scenic hiking trails and areas filled with white oak and hickory trees. Friends Creek Conservation Area includes three scenic nature trails and a diverse landscape.
The Decatur/Forsyth area features 39 parks. Residents and visitors enjoy hiking, bicycle riding, horseback riding and golfing at the local courses. The Decatur region was ranked number 18 by Golf Digest Magazine for factors such as accessibility and affordability. The Rock Springs/Fairview Bikeway is a popular destination for bicycle riders. During the winter, cross-country skiing, ice skating and sledding are popular activities.