Local History and Genealogy Blog

Parks in Urbana, Illinois

The city of Urbana has grown and changed a lot over the years. There always seems to be something new and different. One thing that hasn’t changed is that Urbana has a lot of parks with fun activities for families and individuals to enjoy.

Party with the Library

This Saturday, July 7, 2018, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Library’s landmark building, which opened to the public in July 1918. It was designed by Joseph W. Royer, with a $35,000 gift from Mary E. Busey, as a memorial to her husband, Samuel T. Busey. We will have exhibits, music, special remarks, cake and specialty drinks from the Café, games and activities from the early 1900s, and more.

Urbana's First Fire Chief - William H. Roughton

It might be hard to believe – but for the first 67 years of it's history, Urbana did not have a fire department.

That changed in 1900, when William H. Roughton organized a volunteer fire department, the town’s first.

Urbana Fire Department, early 1900s


Kmart in Champaign-Urbana

The cities of Champaign and Urbana have had countless big-box store closings over the years. One such loss was Kmart. The location of the original Kmart store in Champaign-Urbana was at 800 Bloomington Road where the current Home Depot is located.

Boating at Crystal Lake Park

Beginning today, Saturday, May 5th, you can go to Crystal Lake Park and rent a boat on the weekends. Perhaps you might be interested in what this same activity looked like over a hundred years ago. I’ve compiled some photos of people boating on Crystal Lake over the past century.

Eat more ice cream? Yes, please!

Champaign Ice Cream Co. truck, not dated

With summer coming (slowly, but surely!), I get in the mood for ice cream.

William Dye: A Local Trailblazer

In 1975, William Elliot Dye became Champaign’s first black Chief of Police. Dye’s appointment was an important moment in the city’s history, as officials struggled to bring diversity and fairness to local government.William E.</body></html>