Illinois ranks 20th among states and provinces with markers in this database. Illinois is a state in the United States of America located in the American Midwest. It is also in the Great Lakes region. Illinois is some 58 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 12.7 million people. The state is divided into 102 counties and 100 of them have entries in this database. In Illinois we have discovered historical markers in 443 cities and towns lying in 462 different ZIP Codes.
There are at least 2,469 historical markers in Illinois, by our count. We have cataloged 2,366 historical markers and 321 war memorials—each individually presented on 2,637 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Pages for historical markers from this state make up 1.5% of our total. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another 103 historical markers in Illinois that we don’t yet have, and instead show on our Want List. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.
The first Illinois marker in the database, Reagan Home, was added July 9, 2007. It was photographed in Dixon in Lee County and was erected in 1999. The last one added was submitted on December 1, 2021, and titled Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County. It is in Quincy in Adams County. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in Illinois was erected in 1864. It was this one: Firefighters Memorial, and one of our correspondents found it in Chicago in Cook County on April 30, 2016.
Illinoisans don’t want to forget their Industry and Commerce history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from Illinois about Industry and Commerce—512 of them—than about any other historical topic. It is followed by Settlements and Settlers with 433 markers.
The first marker added to the database with the Industry and Commerce topic was Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, added January 10, 2008. It had been erected in 1991 in Springfield in Sangamon County. The last one submitted was submitted on November 20, 2021, and titled Lower Ferry Street. It had been erected in Metropolis in Massac County. The earliest marker erected with the Industry and Commerce topic that we have listed was erected in 1915. It is Site of Barbour Inn, found in Greenup in Cumberland County on July 14, 2020.
What is the most interesting historical marker in Illinois? What we know is that In Honor of All Who Served is the most viewed entry in the database from Illinois since it was added in 2008. It is located in Hoopeston in Vermilion County. It is also the most viewed entry so far this year.
The Illinois county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Cook County, with 298 of them. It is followed by St. Clair County with 179 markers. The Chicago area of Cook County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 253. In St. Clair County the area with the most markers, 48, is Scott Air Force Base.
Checking the database for the city or town in Illinois with the most markers we again find Chicago at the top of the list with 253 markers in or near it. It is followed by Springfield in Sangamon County with 120 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s a tie for first: 61701 (assigned to Bloomington IL including the Barnes, Bloomington Heights, Bloomington Normal Airport, Eastland Commons, Eastland Shopping Center, Fletcher, Gillum, Kerrik, Oldtown, and Yuton delivery areas), each with 76 markers in their delivery areas. It is followed closely by ZIP Code 62301 with 76 markers. (62301 is assigned to Quincy IL including the Burton, and Marblehead delivery areas.)
Getting back to Cook County, the first marker added to the database from there, Victory, World War I Black Soldiers’ Memorial, was added January 12, 2008. It was erected in 1927 in Chicago. The last one submitted was uploaded on November 30, 2021, and is titled Wrigley Field and was erected in 2021, in Chicago. The earliest marker erected in Cook County that we have listed was erected in 1864. It was Firefighters Memorial, found in Chicago on April 30, 2016.
And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Springfield. The first: The Lincoln Depot, was added January 6, 2008. It had been erected in 1966. The last: Robert Stuart Fitzgerald Boyhood Home added on October 26, 2021. It had been erected in 2010. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1874: Lincoln’s Tomb, added on January 20, 2008.
State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is currently in charge of the familiar dark brown and silver official historical markers found all over the state. You will also find official markers erected by the the Illinois State Historical Society, a predecessor. We have 402 of their markers in the database. Also, a number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.
Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.
You’ll find that even the smallest, least populated, or most rural areas of Illinois have been marked with history. Check out Brown County, Stark County and Fulton County. We've only found two historical markers in the first and one in each of the other two. Visiting one or more of these parts of Illinois might make for a pleasant road trip, and maybe you’ll discover more historical markers while you’re there. If you do, perhaps you’ll take the time to photograph them and, when you get home, become an HMdb correspondent by adding them to the database. Happy Hunting!