Peoria surprised me. It was larger and more handsome than I’d expected. One of the earliest European settlements in Illinois, the city was named for the Peoria Indians.
Peoria hugs the Illinois River—which, as mentioned in the last post, was a key part of the “circuit” that connected Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River.
One chilly, February day, I was in Peoria with a friend to visit the Riverfront Museum—there was a Chihuly exhibit she wanted to see. But, though I enjoyed the Chihuly, I was there primarily because Peoria was once a huge part of the corn story. This city was once the biggest consumer of corn in the world. They had more than one use for corn, but the vast majority of it went to “feed” the distilleries that lined the river in old Peoria. When I tell people that Peoria was once the “Whiskey Capital of the World,” they find it hard to believe. But here, at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, were displays testifying to this one-time legendary aspect of this Illinois town. Things have changed – but it’s still fun to know how much things have changed.