Our City’s History

  • Founding a New City

    Champaign was founded in 1855, when the Illinois Central Railroad placed its tracks two miles west of downtown Urbana. Originally called “West Urbana”, it was renamed “Champaign” when it acquired a city charter in 1860. Both the city and county name were derived from Champaign County, Ohio.

  • History of Champaign's City Buildings

    After a little more than a decade of meeting in private or semi-private locations, the Champaign City Council decided upon a more formal setting for its deliberations.  Learn about the history of the two “City Buildings” that City leaders used to conduct business both then…and today.

  • Local Landmarks

    Several Champaign buildings and residences are designated as either local landmarks or are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more about Champaign’s important historical landmarks.

  • Historic Preservation

    Champaign supports the preservation and restoration of local historic buildings and landmarks.  Use the link below to see more historical information, photos, and other resources for residents interested in researching the history of a home or business, or nominating their property for landmark status.

  • History Videos

    To help the City celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2010, local PBS station WILL-TV produced the series “Illinois Pioneers”, which examines different aspects of Champaign’s rich history. Click on an image below to watch any of these informative videos.

    The Illinois Central Railroad

    The Illinois Central Railroad

    Downtown Department Stores

    Downtown Department Stores

    Theatres

    Theatres

    Media

    Media

    Schools

    Schools

    Vice and Bootlegging

    Vice and Bootlegging

    Streetcars and the Interurban

    Streetcars and the Interurban

    History of the University of Illinois

    History of the University of Illinois

    Presidential Visits

    Presidential Visits

    History of Parkland College

    History of Parkland College

    African American History

    African American History

    Athletics

    Athletics

    Business and Industry

    Business and Industry