• LOCATION 70 | Interstate 55: St. Louis, MO to Springfield, IL

    Capitol of Illinois

    While the three tallest structures in Springfield are now behind us, in just a few moments, as we cross over Grand View Avenue, to our left, we will get our best and only glimpse of the highest building in Springfield, the State Capital Building. This is not only the tallest building in Springfield, but the tallest classically designed Capital Building in the United States, even taller than our Nation’s similarly constructed capital building in Washington D.C. Only two other States have taller capital buildings, Louisiana and Nebraska, but they look like skyscrapers and are not classically designed capital buildings.

    Springfield was chosen as Illinois’ third capitol city. When Illinois became a state in 1818, the village of Kaskaskia was named the first State Capitol. Kaskasia was located along the Mississippi River about 50 miles south of St. Louis and is the first European Settlement in Illinois established by the French in 1703.

    In 1820, just two years after Illinois became a state, the capital was moved to Vandalia, a city located about 100 miles northeast of Kaskaskia and much farther inland. Vandalia was chosen to encourage settlers to locate in more uninhabited parts of the State.

    In 1833, the same year that Chicago was officially incorporated as a town with its booming population of 350 people, the Illinois State legislature decided to allow the people of Illinois to decide the location of the next State Capital. The Legislature put 6 places on a ballot, including: Alton, Vandalia, Springfield, Jacksonville, Peoria, and the geographical center of Illinois, where a city did not yet exist but apparently would be built if that was the chosen location. After the votes were counted, Alton won by a narrow margin, but because the vote was so close, the legislature decided to ignore the results and never officially announced a winner.

    Several years later, in 1837, a group of Illinois State Congressmen known as the “Long Nine,” which included Abraham Lincoln, introduced a bill to move Illinois’ capitol to Springfield. These congressmen were called the Long Nine because each member was taller than 6 feet, at a time when the average height of a US Soldier was 5’7. The bill passed, and the Capitol of Illinois has been in Springfield ever since.

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Interstate 55: St. Louis, MO to Springfield, IL