Downtown Quincy in 1858

Downtown Quincy in 1858 (HM13VY)

Location: Quincy, IL 62301 Adams County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 55.987', W 91° 24.551'

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Sixteen days of rain had laid a coat of mud over the macadam streets that wrapped the city's square. Called the "Model City" because of its beautiful setting on the bluffs, Quincy in 1858 occupied about five square miles within its corporate limits. Its largest manufacturing establishments were built on the shore of Quincy Bay, near the bustling waterfront and the station for the recently completed Quincy and Chicago Railroad. Washington Square was located three blocks uphill. Surrounding it were fifty-six buildings, ranging from single-story frame structures to three-story brick edifices packed with businesses on every level. The square offered dry goods, groceries, clothes, hats, shoes, jewelry, land offices, banks, insurance, rail ticketers, hardware, furniture, doctor, dentist, pharmacist, photographer, music and dance studios, and saloons—-ninety-eight businesses in all. With rapid growth due to the railroad, new buildings were being erected to keep pace with demand. Sidewalks in downtown Quincy were paved with brick. Macadamized streets had been laid, and street lights had been converted from oil to gas. Yet Quincy on debate day still lacked the amenities of a finished commercial district.

Abraham Lincoln saw the vibrant commercial district around Quincy's public square as he stood on the wooden platform erected for the sixth debate. Behind him on Fifth Street was the colonnaded Greek Revival Adams County courthouse. Just north and on the corner, Republican friends Abraham Jonas and Henry Asbury occupied one of seven law offices on the square. Looking over the crowd, Lincoln saw the Daily Whig and Republican, the only three-story building on the square's west side and the elegant Quincy House hotel on the southwest corner. Across the streets from the square on all sides, irregular wooden awnings jutted out from the stores.

With its booming population, land sales and commerce, Quincy deserved a grand hotel. In 1838 John Tillson, a land company agent, opened the Quincy House on the southeast corner of Fourth and Main. Judged the most elegant hotel between Cincinnati and St. Louis, it soon became the social and commercial center of early Quincy. Stephen A. Douglas maintained a room there during part of the time he lived in Quincy. He later stayed at the Quincy House on occasion, including before and after his debate with Lincoln. Lincoln's stay at the Quincy House followed his address at Kendall's Hall in 1854 on behalf of Archibald Williams. On April 15, 1865, the manager of the Quincy telegraph station delivered news of Lincoln's assassination to former Governor John Wood at the Quincy House. From there word spread to a stunned and heartbroken community.

HM NumberHM13VY
Series This marker is part of the Illinois: Looking for Lincoln series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 9:55pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 635927 N 4421545
Decimal Degrees39.93311667, -91.40918333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 55.987', W 91° 24.551'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 55' 59.22" N, 91° 24' 33.06" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)217
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 425 Hampshire St, Quincy IL 62301, US
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