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Thursday, June 3, 2004 12:57 pm

Welcome to Springfield

Early in 2007, several hundred journalists from around the globe came to record U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s announcement of his intention to seek election to the U.S. presidency. In the weeks that followed this media frenzy, thousands of images of our fair city appeared on countless television programs and in magazines across the continents, serving as an invitation to the world to come explore our historic past and experience our thriving present. Whether you’ve traveled a few days or just a few hours to visit us, we sincerely hope that you find Illinois’ capital city a warm and welcoming place. For many, a visit to Springfield centers on our most famous and favorite resident. The cornerstone of the Lincoln experience is the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, with its interactive displays, live performances, and re-creations of Lincoln’s world. The library is a haven for scholars and students from around the globe. To complete the Lincoln experience, visit the only home Abraham Lincoln owned; the office where he practiced law; the church where he and his family worshiped; the Old State Capitol building, where he gave his famous “House Divided” speech; and the tomb where his and his family’s remains are interred. A short drive from Springfield is New Salem, the rustic 1830s village where Lincoln lived. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Abe is the only attraction in town, though. On the west side of downtown is the recently refurbished new Illinois State Capitol, open to tourists daily. Just around the corner is the Illinois State Museum, which provides a glimpse into the cultural and natural history of Illinois, including all the fossils your kids can handle. Turn yet another corner to find an excellent example of world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style, in the Dana-Thomas House. Fans of the famous Route 66 have Bill Shea’s Gas Station Museum, the original Cozy Dog Restaurant, and dozens of other Mother Road attractions nearby. The legacy of landscape pioneer Jens Jensen lives on at Lincoln Memorial Garden.
If it’s a party you’re after, Springfield will not disappoint. Downtown streets come alive each summer with countless weekend events, including the Old Capitol Art Fair, a wide array of July 4 events, the Taste of Downtown, and numerous festivals featuring jazz and blues. Each Wednesday and Saturday during the warmer months, local farmers and craftspeople sell their wares at the downtown farmers’ market. Springfield also hosts the Illinois State Fair in August, the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival in September, and the weeklong International Carillon Festival in October. Along with a whole lot of history, Springfield offers eclectic restaurants, art galleries, amusement parks, theaters, parks, nature preserves, and golf courses. The city has a vibrant music scene boasting jazz, blues, country, rock, and other live-music venues. For a fresh weekly guide to local entertainment, pick up Illinois Times, the capital city’s newsweekly. The paper is free at more than 475 newsstands across the area or online at www.illinoistimes.com. Have fun!

— Sharon Whalen, Publisher
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