Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Peoria

Posted: October 12, 2012 in Editorials/Local News, Entertainment
Tags: , , , ,

Maybe you have lived here all your life, or maybe you just moved here. Maybe you are in college, and when you say where you are from, people are like “Where?” Regardless, there are a lot of things that people don’t know about the “biggest small town” in the country (No, seriously- in a city of a 100,000+, how does everybody know somebody you know?) Read on for this edition of “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Peoria!”

1. The phrase “Will It Play in Peoria” started in the Vaudeville circuit all the way back around 1900. The meaning of the phrase is “Will middle America like it?” If it made it in Peoria, it could make it anywhere. Peoria was hailed as the ultimate icon for the mainstream culture. In other words: Peoria was seen as the most average city in America.
2. You probably know there is a Peoria, Arizona, but what you might not know is that it was named after our Peoria. The two people who founded Peoria, Arizona, were from our Peoria, and wanted to name it after their hometown!
3. Peoria Park District is the first AND the largest park district in the state of Illinois!
4. The tallest buildings in Peoria are the Twin Towers, which sit at 29 floors (284 feet).
5. RLI, Maui Jim, and Caterpillar all have their world headquarters in Peoria.
6. The health-care industry comprises at least 25% of the Peoria economy!
7. In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt called Grandview Drive (in Peoria Heights) the “world’s most beautiful drive.”
8. A USDA research lab in Peoria was the site of the first mass production of penicillin, effectively changing the course of history.
9. The Steamboat Classic, which is held every summer, is the world’s largest four mile race.
10. In 1813, there was actually a “Peoria War” between Native Americans and United States soldiers and settlers, as part of the larger War of 1812. “Fort Clark” was built in Peoria by the Americans, who were also fighting against British troops. Fort Clark (Peoria) was a very important stronghold at that time.

Bonus! Famous People from Peoria:

· Bruce Borland. Bruce was a golf course designer who died in the 1999 plane crash that took the life of storied golfer Payne Stewart.
· Tecumseh “Teck” Holmes III. A Real World cast member as well as an actor, rapper, and host.
· Jim Thome. First basement for the Baltimore Orioles.
· Camryn Manheim. Actress from wildly successful show “The Practice.”
· Dan Fogelberg. Musician. Fogelberg’s father was a band director that worked at both Woodruff High School and Pekin High School.
· Mudvayne. A successful metal band.
· Joe Girardi. Catcher and manager of the New York Yankees.
· Susan G. Komen. The namesake for the Race for the Cure, named by her sister Nancy Brinker, also from Peoria.
· Richard Pryor. One of the most successful comedians of all time. He grew up in his grandma’s brothel, where his mother was a prostitute. His mother abandoned him at age 10, and he was raised by his violent grandmother. There are report he was molested. His comedy was dark, and he often spoke of racism and other disturbing events of his childhood in Peoria. He battled many personal demons, including a widely-publicized accident where he set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine and drinking 151-proof rum. Peoria has struggled over the years with whether to honor Pryor or downplay his roots, mostly because of his controversial life. Lately, though, Peoria has embraced Pryor and even named a stretch of Sheridan Road after him.


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