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Quincy, Illinois, known as the "Gem City", is a city on the Mississippi River and county seat of Adams Countymarker, Illinoismarker, United Statesmarker. As of the 2000 census the city had 40,366 people. The community is a river city and was built on top of the bluffs. Quincy serves as the economic and cultural hub of West-Central Illinois and is the primary city of the Quincy, IL–MOmarker Micropolitan Statistical Area.

During the 1800s the city was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It also sheltered hundreds of Mormons during their exile from Missourimarker. Today, Quincy is a thriving mid-sized industrial city that prides itself on its German heritage as well as its artistic expressions.


Early history

Quincy sits on the banks of the Mississippi River. For centuries the site was home to Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo Native American tribes.

Quincy’s European-American founder, John Wood, came west from Moravia, New York in 1818 and settled in the Illinois Military Tract. Wood purchased from a veteran for $60. The next year he became the first settler in what was originally called "Bluffs", and by 1825 would be known as Quincy (named for the city of Quincy, Massachusettsmarker, as most of the early settlers were from New England). Wood was elected Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 1856. He became Governor in 1860 upon the death of elected Governor William Henry Bissell.

In 1825 Quincy became the Adams County seat, both named in honor of the newly-elected U.S. President, John Quincy Adams. The town square was originally named John Square (to complete the name John Quincy Adams) on April 30, 1825, but was eventually renamed Washington Square.

Quincy’s earliest 19th century settlers were primarily from New Englandmarker, Yankees who moved west in a continuing search for good land. They brought a culture of progressive values, such as support for public education. In the 1840s they were joined by a wave of Germanmarker immigrant, who left Europe after the Revolutions in German provinces. The new residents brought with them much needed skills for the expanding community.

The Mormon Exile & the Civil War

During the winter of 1838-1839, five thousand members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, on their way west, were driven from their homes in Missourimarker and arrived in Quincy. Though vastly outnumbered by the new arrivals, the residents of Quincy provided food and shelter for the Mormons. Joseph Smith then led his followers up river to the settlement of Nauvoo, Illinoismarker. The kindness by the people of Quincy is still remembered by Mormons today. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir gave a benefit concert in Quincy, from which collected proceeds were donated to the city as an expression of gratitude.

Quincy grew rapidly in the 1850s. Steamboat arrivals and departures made Quincy’s riverfront a beehive of activity. In 1858, Quincy was a site for the sixth Senatorial debate by U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas and his challenger, Abraham Lincoln. Quincy was the largest city in which Lincoln and Douglas appeared.

Lincoln and Douglas again competed during the 1860 Presidential campaign. Although there was substantial support for Douglas in the County, Quincy had a local chapter of the Wide Awakes, the para-military organization that supported Lincoln and the other Republican candidates. The Quincy Wide Awakes were involved in a violent confrontation in a monster political rally on August 25, 1860, in Paysonmarker.

The matter of slavery was a major religious and social issue in Quincy’s early years. The Illinois city’s location, separated only by the Mississippi River from the slave state of Missouri, made Quincy a hotbed of political controversy. Dr. Eells House, at 415 Jersey, was considered station number one on the Underground Railroad from Quincy to Chicagomarker.

The Civil War brought increasing prosperity to Quincy. It also brought another connection to Mormons, as most Mormon migrants to Utahmarker in the 1860s came by rail to Quincy; they then boarded steam boats to cross the Mississippi River and continue their journey.

By 1870, Quincy passed Peoriamarker to become the second largest city in Illinois. A massive railroad bridge across the Mississippi River had been completed, and Quincy was linked by rail to Omahamarker, Kansas Citymarker and other points west. These connections greatly increased its trade and shipping.

Contemporary history (1980 to present)

Over the past several decades, the city has worked to redevelop Quincy while holding onto its German roots. It has identified several historic districts within the city, and created an extensive park system. Quincy is known for having a large population of dogwoods and has been a member of Tree City USA since 1986. Quincy is the home to many performing arts organizations including the Quincy Symphony Orchestra, Quincy Community Theater and the Muddy River Opera Company.

During the Mississippi River flood of 1993, riverside businesses and industries suffered extensive damage when the river crested at a record 32.2 feet (9.81 m), above flood stage. For a time, the Bayview Bridge, one of Quincy's two bridges, was the only bridge open across the Mississippi River between Alton, Illinoismarker and Burlington, Iowamarker. The Memorial Bridge was closed since the end of June, due to water over its western approach. On July 16, 1993, the Bayview Bridge closed for 40 days when the river submerged the land on the west side of the Mississippi River at West Quincy, Missouri.

During the 1990s, Quincy was known to be a skydiving hub; it hosted the World FreeFall Convention (WWFC) from 1990 to 2001. The event was moved to Rantoul, Illinoismarker after problems with drinking, deaths, and nudity prompted the city council to ban the event. As of 2007, the WFFC was put on hiatus.

A flood in June 2008 submerged much of Quincy's riverfront and low-lying regions not protected by the bluffs. Record Mississippi River levels occurred on 22 June 2008. The Red Cross accepted donations for Quincy and other communities in Adams County, as natural disaster funds were recently depleted.


As of the census of 2000, there were 40,366 people, 16,546 households, and 10,109 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,761.2 people per square mile (1,066.0/km²). There were 18,043 housing units at an average density of 1,234.2/sq mi (476.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.02% White, 4.65% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.54% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.36% from other races, and 1.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.94% of the population.

There were 16,546 households out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 19.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,956, and the median income for a family was $40,718. Males had a median income of $30,734 versus $20,748 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,479. About 9.2% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.


Quincy is located at (39.932335, -91.388737). It is adjacent to the Mississippi River and Quincy Bay, a large inlet of water fed by Cedar and Homan Creeks.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.6 square miles (37.9 km²), of which, 14.6 square miles (or 4 acres) (37.9 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.20%) is water.

Micropolitan area

Quincy is considered a micropolis, defined as an area surrounding the city within a certain distance that contains a population between 10,000 and 49,999 people. The micropolitan area also extends into Lewis County, Missourimarker and possibly Marion Countymarker including the city of Hannibalmarker.

A recent survey shown that within of Quincy, the population exceeds 55,000 people. The survey was extended to and showed that there are 112,000 people in the area. The Sansone Group conducted the survey when constructing the Prairie Crossings Shopping Complex on the east side of Quincy.

Nearby communities

The city has four suburbs within 10 miles (16 km), all unincorporated or technically annexed into Quincy.
  • North Quincy, Illinoismarker is a fairly large village north of Quincy. The city was never annexed, but just grew out of the subdivisions over time. The border between Quincy and North Quincy is Koch's Lane or Locust Street, which travels from U.S. 24 to 36th street. U.S. 24 and Illinois Route 96 run through the town, while the Quincy train station is to its northeast.
  • Hickory Grove, Illinoismarker is a small rural community east of Quincy, on the other side of Interstate 172. The town was annexed by Quincy in 2004 when development of a new shopping complex was being built on the other side of the interstate.
  • Marblehead, Illinoismarker is located south of Quincy on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. The town is located along Illinois 57 (Gardner Expressway) and has a population of about 1,000 people.
  • West Quincy, Missourimarker is a commercial city with no population along U.S. Route 24. The town was deserted in the Great Flood of 1993. During the summer, numerous tents selling fireworks are set up for the sale of fireworks, which are illegal in Illinois but legal in Missouri. The town is separated from Quincy by the Mississippi River.

Sister cities

Quincy, Illinois has two sister cities.


Quincy's media may model that of many larger cities. Its television market includes the cities of Quincy, Hannibal, Burlington, Macomb, and Keokuk. The market was widely served by Insight Communications through 2007. In January, 2008, Comcast took control of the cable television system. Satellite television services are provided by DirecTV or Dish Network.

The city is usually combined with Hannibal due to their proximity and labeled as the 171 market on the DMA chart. With regards to television service, Quincy and the surrounding region are served by affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the CW networks. STARadio Corporation and Quincy Newspapers own many of the local media in the region. Quincy Newspapers also owns the Quincy Herald-Whig, which is the most widely read newspaper in the region. In 2008, launched as a independent local news Website. As of February 2006, Quincy can receive 17 FM stations, 5 AM stations, and one NOAA Wideband Weather Radio station.


As the largest city between the Quad Citiesmarker, St. Louismarker, Springfieldmarker, and Columbiamarker areas, the Quincy area contains numerous architectural and historical destinations. Some of the featured attractions in the city include: the Quincy Museum, the John Wood Mansion, the Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design, the Quincy Art Center, and the Villa Katherine Castle.

During the year, the city holds numerous events. Events on the riverfront include the annual Fourth of July fireworks show, the U.S. Catfish Anglers Tournament, and "Movies on the Muddy", showings of recently released movies along the banks of the Mississippi River. In addition, Quincy hosts the Pepsi Little People's Golf Championships, an annual event that features talented young golfers from around the world.

During the summer, Quincy features a Mid-Summer Arts Faire with food, decorations, and artwork for sale by local artists. From June to September, there is a series of free "Blues In The District" concerts in Washington Park. Quincy's Christmas Candelight Tour is held in December and features a public walk through several historic homes decorated for the holidays. The Dogwood Festival is held in spring. A parade leads people to see dogwood trees in bloom throughout the city.


As Quincy's population exploded during the mass migration from Germany, its culture was changed by the new immigrants, who brought styles of their home country. The South Side German Historic District has much of the city's historical architecture. Other significant buildings exist: Temple B’nai Sholom‎ is one of America's earliest Moorish Revival synagogues. The Quincy Museum located on Historic Maine Street was featured on a cover of National Geographicmarker as one of the ten most architecturally significant corners in the United States. From 14th to 24th streets, Maine Street is notable for the number of restored homes dating back to the 1800s.

The Villa Katherine Castle is a small Moroccanmarker-styled castle situated on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. It is a rarity to find an example of Mediterranean architecture in the Midwest.

The "Gem City" has been twice recognized as an All-American City. It has a range of architecture, including several Gothic style churches. The city is home to Quincy Universitymarker, a Catholic Franciscan College founded in 1860, John Wood Community College, and several other smaller colleges.



As for education, Quincy has a number of institutions within the city or close by. One of the largest high schools in the state, Quincy Senior High School is located on Maine Street in Quincy. Quincy Notre Dame High Schoolmarker, a private Catholic high school, is also located in Quincy. Quincy Universitymarker is Quincy's most highly decorated school, and was established in the 1860s. On the city's east side, John Wood Community Collegemarker is the regional community college. A campus of the technical school Vatterott College is located on Quincy's north side. Gem City College is located in the heart of downtown Quincy and the Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing is located next door to Blessing Hospital. Regionally, Quincy is within driving distance of Western Illinois Universitymarker in Macombmarker, Hannibal-LaGrange College downriver in Hannibal, Missouri, and Culver-Stockton Collegemarker in Canton, Missourimarker.

Health and medicine

Quincy is home to Blessing Hospital, which is the leading hospital in the Tri-State. Specialty areas include a cancer center, cardiovascular center, outpatient surgery center, and rehabilitation. Blessing also operates the Blessing Rieman College of Nursing.

Quincy Medical Group, the premier medical group in the tri-state area,is a multi-specialty group with a wide variety of surgical and medical specialists and offers many other services, including a sleep lab, physical and cardiac therapy, imaging, etc. Quincy also is the home of Quincy Family Medicine Residency, one of the few residencies in the Tri-State area. Denman Medical Services call Quincy home, they supply hospitals and clinics alike with supplies.


Interstate 72 passes just south of Quincy. Its spur route, Interstate 172, passes just east of town. In recent years, the Prairie Crossings Shopping Complex has been a focal point for development in this area. Illinois Route 104 (Broadway) is a main east-west artery from the Mississippi River bridges to Interstate 172. Illinois Route 96 enters the city from the southeast and travels north (through the east side of Quincy) to U.S. Route 24. Illinois Route 57 branches south from U.S. 24 downtown and passes Quincy's Civic Center on its way to Interstate 172 southeast of the city. Illinois 96 also serves as the Great River Road, which follows the path of the Mississippi River. Eastbound U.S. 24 crosses the Mississippi River from Missourimarker on the Quincy Memorial Bridgemarker, while westbound traffic uses the newer Bayview Bridge. Bayview bridge was constructed in 1986, but was not built as a 4-lane bridge because of budget cuts, as the cable suspension made it unaffordable to build a 4-lane bridge. Other groups claimed that business in the downtown part of Quincy would decline if the Memorial bridge was shut down.

On the Missouri side, U.S. Route 61 carries the Avenue of the Saints, a four-lane highway connecting Saint Louismarker and the Twin Citiesmarker. The Avenue of the Saints gets its name from Saint Louis and Saint Paul, Minnesotamarker.

The Quincy Regional Airportmarker is to Quincy's east, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) outside of the city limits.

Quincy has a public bus line and taxi company.

Quincy is also an Amtrak community with a rail stationmarker on the north side of town. It is the terminus of two Amtrak routes, the Illinois Zephyr and the Carl Sandburg. Both trains follow the same track to Chicagomarker's Union Stationmarker.

Ongoing projects will improve transportation links with nearby major cities. U.S. Route 36, south of Quincy and multiplexed with Interstate 72, is currently (as of August, 2007) being upgraded to a 4-lane highway, which will connect Quincy with Saint Joseph, Missouri and Kansas City, Missourimarker. With the continuing improvements to Illinois Route 336 north of the city, Quincy will also have a direct connection to Peoriamarker in the near future.

See also

Notes and references

External links

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