Galesburg, Illinois

Galesburg, Illinois

name = Galesburg
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category = City
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image_caption = "Welcome to Galesburg" sign
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country = United States
state = Illinois
region = Knox
region_type = County
district = Galesburg City
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timezone = CST
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postal_code = 61401
area_code = 309
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map_caption = Location of Galesburg within Illinois
map_background = Illinois - background map.png map_locator = Illinois2
commons = Galesburg, Illinois
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Galesburg is a city in Knox County, Illinois, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 33,706. It is the county seat of Knox County.GR|6 Galesburg is home to Knox College, a private four-year liberal arts college, and Carl Sandburg College, a two-year community college.

Galesburg is the principal city of the Galesburg Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Knox and Warren counties.


Galesburg is located at coor dms|40|57|8|N|90|22|7|W|city (40.952292, -90.368545).GR|1 According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.1 square miles (44.2 km²), of which, 16.9 square miles (43.8 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.5 km²) of it (1.05%) is water.


Galesburg was founded by George Washington Gale, a Presbyterian minister from New York state, who dreamed of establishing a manual labor college which became Knox College. A committee from New York purchased 17 acres (69,000 m²) in Knox County in 1835, and the first 25 settlers arrived in 1836. They built temporary cabins in Log City near current Lake Storey, just north of Galesburg, having decided that no log cabins were to be built inside the town limits.

Galesburg was home to the first anti-slavery society in Illinois, founded in 1837, and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. [] The city was the site of the fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate, on a temporary speaker's platform attached to Knox College's "Old Main" building on October 7, 1858. Knox College continues to maintain and use Old Main to this day. An Underground Railroad Museum and Lincoln-Douglas Debate Museum are planned for Knox College's Alumni Hall after it is renovated.

Galesburg was the home of Mary Ann Bickerdyke, who provided hospital care for Union soldiers during the American Civil War. After the Civil War, Galesburg was the birthplace of poet, author, and historian Carl Sandburg, poet and artist Dorothea Tanning, and former Major League Baseball star Jim Sundberg. Carl Sandburg's boyhood home is now operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as the Carl Sandburg State Historic Site. The site contains the cottage Sandburg was born in, a modern museum, the rock under which he and his wife Lilian are buried, and a performance venue.

Throughout much of its history, Galesburg has been inextricably tied to the railroad industry. Local businessmen were major backers of the first railroad to connect Illinois' (then) two biggest cities—Chicago and Quincy—as well as a third leg initially terminating across the river from Burlington, Iowa, eventually connecting to it via bridge and thence onward to the Western frontier. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad sited major rail sorting yards here, including the first to use hump sorting.

In the late 19th century, when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway connected its service through to Chicago, it also laid track through Galesburg, making this city one of relatively few to be served by multiple railroads and even fewer to have multiple railroad depots. (Indeed, it was not until the 1990s that Amtrak finally closed the old Santa Fe depot and consolidated all passenger operations at the site of the former Burlington Northern depot.) A series of mergers eventually united both tracks under the ownership of BNSF Railway, carrying an average of seven trains per hour between them. As of the closing of the Maytag plant in fall of 2004, BNSF is once again the largest private employer in Galesburg.

In addition, Galesburg was home to the pioneering brass era automobile company Western, which produced the Gale, named for the town. [Clymer, Floyd. "Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925" (New York: Bonanza Books, 1950), p.51.]


Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Galesburg, operating the "California Zephyr", the "Illinois Zephyr", the "Carl Sandburg", and the "Southwest Chief" daily in both directions between Chicago and points west from Galesburg (Amtrak station).


footnote= [ Decennial US Census]
As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 33,706 people, 13,237 households, and 7,902 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,994.9 people per square mile (770.1/km²). There were 14,133 housing units at an average density of 836.5/sq mi (322.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.23% White, 10.20% African American, 0.22% Native American, 1.03% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 2.46% from other races, and 1.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.01% of the population. 17.4% were of German, 12.6% American, 11.5% Irish, 11.3% Swedish and 9.1% English ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 13,237 households out of which 26.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.3% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.24 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.1% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 27.0% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 100.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,987, and the median income for a family was $41,796. Males had a median income of $31,698 versus $21,388 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,214. About 10.7% of families and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.4% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.

Galesburg will soon be home to the National Railroad Hall of Fame. Efforts are underway to raise funds for the $30 million project which got a major boost in 2006, when the United States Congress passed a bill to charter the establishment. It is hoped that the Museum will bring tourism and a financial boost to the community.


Galesburg is the home of the Railroad Days festival held on the fourth weekend of June. The festival began in 1978. During the festival, Carl Sandburg College hosts one of the largest model railroad train shows and layouts in the U.S. Midwest. Labor Day weekend in September hosts the Stearman Fly in. Also held in September are the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta and the Annual Rubber Duck Race held out at Lake Storey. The third weekend of every August a Civil war and Pre 1840's Rendezvous is held at Lake Storey Park.

The [ Black Earth Film Festival] has been a part of the Galesburg art community since 2004. Affiliated with the Galesburg Civic Art Center, the festival receives entries from all over the world. The Black Earth Film Festival takes place in September and presents the best in feature length, short subjects, documentaries, animation and foreign films. Awards are given for the aforementioned categories, as well as a peoples choice award for best overall film. Festival highlights include special guests from within the film industry. Past participants have included Director John D. Hancock ("Bang The Drum Slowly, Prancer, Let's Scare Jessica to Death",) Filmmakers Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank (subjects of the award Winning Documentary "American Movie")and Filmmakers Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos ("Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation".)

There is also a kite festival every May at Lake Storey Park.


*According to legend, it was in Galesburg, Illinois in 1914 where the four Marx Brothers (Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Gummo) first received their nicknames. Nicknames ending in "-o" were popular in the early part of the 20th century, and a fellow Vaudevillian, Art Fisher, supposedly bestowed them upon the brothers during a poker game there. Zeppo Marx received his nickname later.Verify source|date=July 2007

*Galesburg features prominently in The Mountain Goats' song "Weekend in Western Illinois" from the album "Full Force Galesburg".
*The Carr Mansion in Galesburg was the site of the first and only presidential cabinet meeting held outside of Washington, DC
*Galesburg is mentioned in the book "The Prestige".
*Writer Jack Finney, author of "The Body Snatchers", uses Galesburg as a setting for several of his time-travel tales in "About Time: Twelve Stories".


Galesburg has multiple radio stations and newspapers delivering a mix of local, regional and national news. WGIL-AM, WAAG, WLSR-FM and WKAY-FM are all owned by Galesburg Broadcasting while Prairie Radio Communications owns WAIK-AM. The "Galesburg Register-Mail" is the result of the merger of the "Galesburg Republican-Register" and the "Galesburg Daily Mail" in 1928. Those two papers can trace their roots back to the mid-1800s. A daily, it is the main newspaper of the city, and was owned by Copley Press out of San Diego until it was sold to Gate House Media in April 2007. "The Zephyr" was started in 1989, is published on Thursdays and is the only locally-owned newspaper. There is also "The Paper", which is delivered without subscription to all households every Wednesday and is also owned by Gate House Media.

FM Radio

* 90.7 WVKC "The Voice of Knox College", College Radio
* 92.7 WLSR "92.7 FM The Laser", Active Rock (RDS - Artist/Title)
* 94.9 WAAG "FM 95", Country (RDS - Artist/Title)
* 95.7 WVCL, Religious
* 97.7 WMOI "Sunny 97.7", Adult Contemporary (RDS)
* 100.5 W263AO (Translates 91.5 WCIC), Christian AC (RDS)
* 105.3 WKAY "105.3 KFM", Adult Contemporary (RDS - Artist/Title)

AM Radio

* 1330 WRAM, Classic Country
* 1400 WGIL, News/Talk
* 1590 WAIK, News/Talk/Sports


* "The Paper", local weekly (free) newspaper
* "Register-Mail", local daily newspaper
* "The Zephyr", local weekly newspaper

Notable residents

*Mary Ann Bickerdyke, also known as "Mother Bickerdyke," famous American Civil War nurse for the Union Army
*George Radcliffe Colton, Governor of Puerto Rico, 1909–1913
*Edwin H. Conger, congressman, diplomat, lawyer
*Ira Clifton Copley, publisher and statesman, founder of the Copley Press
*George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., inventor of the Ferris wheel
*Aaron Fike and A. J. Fike, NASCAR drivers
*Todd Hamilton, professional golfer
*Phil Hare, congressman
*Tim Lawson, author
*Jewel De'Nyle, female pornstar
*Emily Arnold McCully, children's book author, winner of the 1993 Caldecott Medal
*Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States
*George Reeves, actor, played Superman in popular 1950s television show (brief residency in infancy)
*Paul W. Robsky, member of Eliot Ness' Untouchables, born in Galesburg, 1897
*Carl Sandburg, American poet, historian, novelist, and folklorist
*Jim Sundberg, Major League Baseball player
*Dorothea Tanning, American painter, printmaker, sculptor and writer
*Charles Rudolph Walgreen, founder of Walgreens
*Pete Weber, sports broadcaster
*Sewall Wright, evolutionary biologist, a founder of modern population genetics


External links

* [ Economic Development]
* [ Mr. Lincoln and Freedom: Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Galesburg]
* [ City of Galesburg]
* [ A Research Website for Sandburg Studies]
* [ Carl Sandburg Historic Site Association]
* [ The Galesburg Project lists famous Galesburgers and visitors. Links to Galesburg history articles]
* Local papers:
** [ "The Register-Mail"] (daily)
** [ "The Zephyr"] (weekly)
** [ "The Paper"] (weekly, free)Mapit-US-cityscale|40.952292|-90.368545

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