Illinois ranks 19th 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 all of them have entries in this database. In Illinois we have discovered historical markers in 492 cities and towns lying in 508 different ZIP Codes.
There are at least 2,823 historical markers in Illinois, by our count. We have cataloged 2,742 historical markers and 425 war memorials—each individually presented on 3,102 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 81 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 2, 2022, and titled Lovejoy Assassination Site. It is in Alton in Madison 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—580 of them—than about any other historical topic. It is followed by Settlements and Settlers with 500 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 also was submitted on December 2, 2022, and titled Lovejoy Assassination Site. It had been erected in Alton in Madison 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. This year so far, the most viewed Illinoisan entry is located in Rondout in Lake County. It is The Rondout Train Robbery.
The Illinois county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Cook County, with 399 of them. It is followed by Madison County with 203 markers. The Chicago area of Cook County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 327. In Madison County the area with the most markers, 45, is Alton.
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 327 markers in or near it. It is followed by Springfield in Sangamon County with 144 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 62701 at the top of the list with 91 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 62701 is assigned to Springfield IL.) It is followed by ZIP Code 62298 with 77 markers. (62298 is assigned to Waterloo IL including the Burksville, Floraville, Foster Pond, Lou del, Madonnaville, Monroe City, New Hanover, Paderborn, Saint Joe, St Joe, Tipton, and Wartburg 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 October 18, 2022, and is titled You Are Now Entering Site A, near Willow Springs. 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: Adams Street added on June 15, 2022. It had been erected in 2018. 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 442 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 Fulton County, Stark County and Putnam County. We've only found one historical marker in each. 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!