Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Peoria Park System

 “A Brief History of Peoria” by Democratic State Central Committee?  1896.
Transcribed by Genealogy Trails Staff

By Ben F. Cartwright, Sec. of Park Board

    The system of Parks was inaugurated in the spring of 1894, by the organization of the Pleasure Driveway A Park District of Peoria, under the general law.
    The district is five sections wide and ten sections long, including the city of Peoria, villages of North Peoria, South Peoria and Averyville and also part of Richwoods township. The assessed valuation of the property within the district for 1894 was something over $9,000,000. The law provides for a park tax of six mills on the 5100 valuation, thus the revenue derived from taxation each year is about $60,000, The Board of Trustees issued $200,000 of bonds due $50,000 in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years at 4 1/2 per cent. interest, this amount together with the taxes of 1895 and 1896 has furnished the means to carry on the work.
    At present there are four parks under the jurisdiction of the Board :
    Glen Oak Park, situated in the northern part of the district, contains 92 acres; most all the improvements made have been done at this park, as it is accessible to all. Cost of the land was $93,263.44, cost of improvements, tools and labor, $99,204.83. This park will be open to the public about the middle of July. A very handsome and commodious Park Pavillion [sic] is being erected for the benefit of the public and visitors, who will find there all kinds of light refreshments, meals, etc.
    Laura Bradley Park is situated in the center of the district, and contains 135 acres. This was a gift from Mrs. Lydia Bradley to the Park District. No great amount of improvements has been made as yet, but during the coming summer some work will be done at this park and when finished as designed it will be one of the finest parks in the west.

    Madison Park is situated at the intersection or Seventh and Lincoln avenues, on the brow of the Bluffs overlooking the city. It contains about ninety acres, cost of same $45,000; this tract of land is a beautiful and romantic site and affords a very desirable place to establish a Zoological park; its hills, valleys and ravines being all that could be desired for a display of this kind. No improvements of any kind have here been made as yet.

    South Park is located in the extreme southern portion of the Park District, in South Peoria. This park contains ten acres and cost $7,500. It is contemplated to improve this park as a family
park, it not being large enough for drives. A Pavillion [sic] for refreshments and shelter, swings and fountains will make it a very pretty little pleasure ground.


    The matter of laying out boulevards has not been taken into consideration as yet, except as to a discussion as to what should be done and where they are most desirable.
    One plan is to start on Madison avenue in the city, continue out, through Averyville, skirting the brow of the Bluffs at the Narrows, following the windings of the river until Prospect Heights is reached. This affords an ever changing view of scenery to the sight seer, being about 200 to 300 feet above the river; this view is in sight for about two miles. From Prospect Heights a boulevard is very prominently spoken of to lead down on a line with Thompson avenue to McClure avenue to North street or Elizabeth street: along either of these thoroughfares to Chambers avenue, thence along Chambers avenue to Laura Bradley Park; through Bradley Park along Western avenue to Aiken avenue to Madison Park; through Madison Park to Laramie street, down Laramie street to South Park and from South Park back up to the city. By taking the route through Glen Oak one would reach Perry avenue, which has a fine asphaltum pavement to Seventh avenue, which is also to be paved with asphaltum up on to Moss avenue, thence to either Bradley or Madison Park.
    When these ideas are completed and carried out Peoria will have one of the finest as well as one of the most complete Park and Boulevard systems in the west, if not in the United States.






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