Trivia Facts about Peoria
by Steve Slaughter

WATER STREET was so named because it fronted the Illinois River.

PERRY AVE was named after Commodore Perry who won a naval victory on Lake Erie in the War of 1812.

LAURA AVE honored the daughter of Lydia Moss Bradley, benefactor of Bradley University and the source of names for 2 other avenues: Moss Ave and Bradley Ave.

TOBIAS St. was named after Lydia's husband, Tobias, but was renamed SOUTH MAPLEWOOD AVE. for some unknown reason.

A group of Boston speculators, MONSON, SANFORD, FISHER, GOODWIN and SHIPPER, named east-west streets on their property in numerical order (First through Seventh Aves) and left their names on the rest.

City developers, VORIS and LAVIELLE, also left their mark, plus that of their wives, MARY and CAROLINE, on the city map.

Charles Ballance, Peoria County surveyor who laid out the Ballance Addition [part of his estate] in 1834, named his streets after trees: WALNUT, CHESTNUT, OAK, ELM, LOCUST, PERSIMMON, PECAN, CEDAR and LINDEN.

FREDONIA AVE was the residence of a family named Howard from Fredonia, New York. They started a watch factory in Peoria.

FRINK ST. was named after Frink & Walker, a stage coach line West of Peoria.

NEW ST. was named by John Wickman who said he would give land for the street to the city, ... if he was allowed to name it! The city agreed & Wickman had his claim to fame in the records of the City of Peoria.

GOOSE LAKE designates the area formerly covered by a part time lake of that name along the foot of the bluff between Western Ave and Main St.

BARTONVILLE was dubbed Dog Town in the mid 1880's when it was a miner's settlement which had a heavy population of dogs. Once Bartonville became respectable, Dog Town shifted to indicate the river bank colony at the foot of Morgan Street.

DUBLIN was the district near Irving School. CAREY'S PATCH was in Averyville on North Adams St. Both were styled from the predominance of Irish residents.

DUTCH HILL was far out on Starr St.

PLEASANT VALLEY was in the hollow on Farmington Rd. - just outside the city limits in 1944.

LONGSHORE PARK is on the upper river just past Peoria Heights.

TONTI was a "whistle stop" on the Rock Island Railroad near TONTI and was renowned as a notorious roadhouse.

SYLVAN PARK, once a popular amusement place and ball field, was above Perry Ave near Lavielle.

LAKE VIEW PARK where auto and horse races were formerly run became a circus grounds and later a factory site.

COWTOWN was a section near Glen Oak Park where a number of dairies once stood.

SAND HILL was on the far South side in the lower part of 8th Ward.

JACKSON'S CORNERS was the early name for the settlement at Knoxville and McClure Aves. It was named for the blacksmith shop and general store operated by a Mr. Jackson.

MECHANICSVILLE was a section to the West of what is now Sheridan Ave (formerly ELIZABETH ST) and North of Richmond Ave where a group of mechanics first built their small homes.

CINDER POINT was at the foot of Sanger St.


SLOPTOWN, the distillery district at the foot of South St. was symbolized by a home-owner lugging a bucket of distillery slop to his hogs.

NO MAN'S LAND was an unclaimed strip of land between the City of Peoria and South Peoria. It was known as a legally safe haven for law-breakers fleeing from the police of either city/village.

BLUMTOWN was named after "Old Man" Blum, a nestor of lower Bond St.

TURTLE ISLAND was at the foot of Caroline St before it was dredged.

PLUM POINT is the current Water Works Point.

CENTRAL PARK used to house the sulfur ponds (currently City Link Bus Station) and beer gardens.

GYPSIE HILL was the Northeast corner of Wisconsin Ave and Glen Oak Ave.

Old Aiken Alley & Prairie St were known for prostitution from early in 1920 to the early 1970's. Prairie St was notorious for gangsters and bootleggers who housed their goods in house of ill-repute. Tunnels (original photos in personal file) connected houses through the basements and root cellars. Most were 4 to 5 feet wide and approx 5 feet tall made of red brick domed at the top and laying about 1 foot beneath the surface of the ground. Most were double layered red brick.

Aiken St was shortened to "alley" status in the early 1960's and ended at Briss Collins tavern fronting Franklin Street. This tavern was demolished in the very early 70's.



1) PEORIA ACADEMY OF MUSIC ....upper side of the 300 block NE Adams. Raised to make way for the new Interstate Highway in 1960.

2) GRAND OPERA HOUSE ............. formerly at 322 Hamilton ....... destroyed by fire on December 14, 1909

3) MAJESTIC THEATER ................ formerly at 212 SW Jefferson >>> later, WMBD TV/Radio Station. Jefferson Bldg added a portion fronting Liberty St, thus changing the marquee in the 1930's.

4) AUDITORIUM THEATER ......... formerly at 323 SW Adams....... destroyed by fire May 6, 1901

5) NICKELODEON THEATER ....... previously located in the 100 block NE Adams

6) EMPRESS THEATER ................. located at 415 Main St. This building is currently standing. Entrance was at the center of the 2 story building next to the Lehmann Bldg. Auditorium was razed in 1963

7) ORPHEUM THEATER ............... located at 114-16 NE Madison. Opened to the public in 1911 and operated for 16 years. Closed in 1927 and razed in 1952

8) LYCEUM THEATER .................. located at 328 Fulton St.. Razed & tore down in 1960

9) DUCHESS THEATER ................ located at 309 SW Adams..... razed & tore down in 1930

10) LIBERTY THEATER ................ located at 329 SW Adams. Later became the business of Rex Camera. Razed for the New civic Center.

11) PRINCESS THEATER ............. formerly located at 229 SW Adams. Razed in the late 1950's

12) COLUMBIA THEATER .......... formerly at 209 SW Adams .... razed 1953

13) CRESCENT THEATER ............ was at 311 Main St. Neighbors included Welte & Wieting Optical Co (307 Main), Charles C. Adams & Co. (309 Main - downstairs) Upstairs: Vose Pianoes -- circa 1920

14) APOLLO THEATER ................ located at 313 Main St opened in early 1920's. This building has been restored & still stands. (2001). Building was originally The Lawyers Bldg with Apollo auditorium in center. Neighbors included: Gately's Cigars (1920) & Mulford Clothing Store (west side of theater) & Nash Photo studios.

15) PASTIME THEATER ............. 517 Main St. neighbors: Phoenix Hotel & Rooms (1918)

16) HIPPODROME THEATER .... later became known as THE RIALTO THEATER .....located at 213 SW Jefferson. Razed in 1981 to make way for Twin Towers highrise

17) AVERYVILLE THEATER ...... formerly at 3004 NE Adams ........ razed in 1966

18) AVON THEATER ................... Originally known as THE IMPERIAL THEATER located in the 2200 block of SW Adams. In the 1970's, it became known as THE CIRCUS.

19) WARNER THEATER ............. located at 1201 SW Adams. Streetcars had stopping points near the theaters

20) STAR THEATER .................... 3116 SW Adams ......... razed by fire May 30, 1929

21) COLISEUM THEATER........... on Hamilton

22) VARSITY THEATER .............. located at 1216 West Main since WW II - razed in the 1980's

23) OLD ELISIUM THEATER ..... originally at 1113 West Main St. ....... when theater closed, building became Strapp Electric Co and finally The Pink Closet Shop

24) PALACE THEATER ................ located 400 block Main St. Razed to make way for the Twin Towers project.

25) MADISON THEATER ............ located 501 Main St. This building is currently standing (2001) and is a comedy club. Auditorium is intact. Opened October 16, 1920.

26) TABERNACLE THEATER .....located at the corner of Globe and Hamilton Sts. Popular Corn Carnival held here from 1880's through 1905.

27) STONE HILL GARDEN.......... popular in the 1890's and very early 1900's. Though not a theater as we know it today but rather a "county fair" featuring games of competition using horses and other related equipment.

28) AL FRESCO AMUSEMENT PARK .... located on North Galena Road and was extremely popular at the turn of the century. Noted nationally for its Roller Coaster. Razed by fire in 1925.

Any contributions, corrections, or suggestions would be deeply appreciated!

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Updated July 27, 2006