Jacksonville was founded by groups of “Yankees,” from New England, many of whom were graduates of Yale University. I can’t help but think the influence of the large town commons and greens of cities such as New Haven played a part in the design of Central Park, the outsized town square of Jacksonville.
The center of the park is anchored by a Civil War Memorial (more about that tomorrow) and the towering Farmers State Bank and Trust Company, whose historic skyscraper is a landmark in the downtown area.
The square is lined with various commercial buildings, some of which are occupied, and many of which were remodeled in the 1960s and later.
A cool looking movie theater is tucked into the northeast corner of the square, as well.
East State Street proceeds off to the east off from Central Park and is lined with restaurants.
It is only two lanes wide, which is more humanely scaled.
I was a little disappointed in the shear width of the street that wraps around Central Park; it is a detriment to the life of the center of town. A “road diet” would not affect traffic patterns and activate pedestrian life around the middle of town. I think it would be a boon for businesses and safety.
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Chris, thanks for the great posts on Jacksonville. I was born there and lived there until we moved to my grandparents farm near Jerseyville.. we visit family in Jacksonville annually. My father worked at Eli Bridge company, which produces Ferris wheels and carnival rides. My mom was a nurse at the old state hospital. I have great memories of shopping at stores on the town square around Central Park, there used to be a Woolworths store , which had everything, and survived until the 1980’s. There was also a department store called the Emporium, we looked forward to Christmas shopping there as a young kid. There were also several good restaurants around the square. I’m happy to see that the old Illinois theatre is still alive. It’s been there for a long time
It’s a beautiful town! I will most likely make another visit sometime soon.