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
TOBIAS St. was named after Lydia's husband, Tobias,
but was renamed SOUTH MAPLEWOOD AVE. for some
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
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
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
TONTI was a "whistle stop" on the Rock Island
Railroad near TONTI and was renowned as a notorious
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
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.
FLATBOAT CITY was a part of CINDER POINT.
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.
MOVIE HOUSES/THEATERS IN THE CITY OF PEORIA:
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
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,
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