Quincy, Illinois, known as the "Gem City", is a city on the Mississippi River in Adams County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2000 census the city had 40,366 people and serves as the county seat of Adams County. The community is a river city and was built on top of the bluffs. Quincy serves as the economic and cultural hub of West-Central Illinois and is the primary city of the Quincy, IL–MO Micropolitan Statistical Area.
During the 1800s the city was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It sheltered hundreds of fleeing Mormons during their exile from Missouri. Today, Quincy is a thriving mid-sized industrial city that prides itself on its German heritage as well as its artistic expressions.
In 1825 Quincy became the Adams County seat, both named in honor of the newly-elected U.S. President, John Quincy Adams. The town square was originally named John Square (to complete the name John Quincy Adams) on April 30, 1825, but was eventually renamed Washington Square.
Quincy’s earliest settlers, primarily from New England in origin, were joined by a wave of German immigrants in the 1840s. The new residents brought with them much needed skills for the expanding community.
Five thousand members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, were driven from their homes in Missouri and arrived in Quincy during the winter of 1838-1839. Though vastly outnumbered by the new arrivals, the residents of Quincy provided food and shelter for the Mormons until Joseph Smith led his followers up river to the settlement of Nauvoo, Illinois. This kindness is still remembered by Mormons today, and has led to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir giving at least one concert in Quincy in which collected proceeds were donated to the city in an expression of gratitude.
Quincy grew rapidly in the 1850s. In the 1850s steamboat arrivals and departures made Quincy’s riverfront a beehive of activity. In 1858, Quincy was a site for the sixth Senatorial debate by U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas and his challenger, Abraham Lincoln. Quincy was the largest city in which Lincoln and Douglas appeared.
Lincoln and Douglas again competed during the 1860 Presidential campaign. Although there was substantial support for Douglas in the County, Quincy had a local chapter of the Wide Awakes, the para-military organization that supported Lincoln and the other Republican candidates. The Quincy Wide Awakes were involved in a violent confrontation in a monster political rally on August 25, 1860, in Payson.
The matter of slavery was a major religious and social issue in Quincy’s early years. The Illinois city’s location, separated only by the Mississippi River from the slave state of Missouri, made Quincy a hotbed of political controversy. Dr. Eells House, at 415 Jersey, was considered station number one on the Underground Railroad from Quincy to Chicago.
The Civil War brought increasing prosperity to Quincy. It also brought another connection to Mormons, as most Mormon migrants to Utah in the 1860s came by rail to Quincy and then boarded steam boats to cross the Mississippi river and continue their journey to Utah. By 1870, Quincy passed Peoria to become the second largest city in Illinois. A massive railroad bridge across the Mississippi River had been completed, and Quincy was linked by rail to Omaha, Kansas City and other points west.
The city over the past several decades has redeveloped Quincy while holding onto its German roots. It has established several historic districts within the city, as well as an extensive park system. Quincy is known for having a large population of dogwoods and has been a member of Tree City USA since 1986. Quincy is the home to many performing arts organizations including the Quincy Symphony Orchestra, Quincy Community Theater and the Muddy River Opera Company.
During the Mississippi River flood of 1993, riverside businesses and industries suffered extensive damage when the river crested a record 32.2 feet (9.81 m), above flood stage. For a time, the Bayview Bridge, one of Quincy's two bridges, was the only bridge across the Mississippi River open between Alton, Illinois and Burlington, Iowa. The other bridge, the Memorial Bridge, had been closed since the end of June, due to water over its western approach. On July 16, the Bayview bridge closed for 40 days when the river submerged the land on the west side of the Mississippi River, at West Quincy, Missouri.
During the 1990s, Quincy was known to be a skydiving hub and hosted the World FreeFall Convention from 1990 to 2001. The event was moved to Rantoul, Illinois after problems with drinking, deaths, and nudity prompted the city council to ban the event. As of 2007, the WFFC was put on hiatus.
A flood in June 2008 submerged much of Quincy's riverfront and low-lying regions not protected by the bluffs. Record Mississippi River levels occurred on 22 June 2008. The Red Cross accepted donations for Quincy and other communities in Adams County, as natural disaster funds were recently depleted.
There were 16,546 households out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 25.8% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 19.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,956, and the median income for a family was $40,718. Males had a median income of $30,734 versus $20,748 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,479. About 9.2% of families and 12.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 8.3% of those age 65 or over.
Quincy is located at (39.932335, -91.388737). It is adjacent to the Mississippi River and Quincy Bay, a large inlet of water fed by Cedar and Homan Creeks.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.6 square miles (37.9 km²), of which, 14.6 square miles (or 4 acres) (37.9 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.20%) is water.
Quincy is considered a micropolis, defined as an area surrounding the city within a certain distance that contains a population between 10,000 and 49,999 people. The micropolitan area also extends into Lewis County, Missouri and possibly Marion County including the city of Hannibal.
A recent survey shown that within of Quincy, the population exceeds 55,000 people. The survey was extended to and showed that there are 112,000 people in the area. The Sansone Group conducted the survey when constructing the Prairie Crossings Shopping Complex on the east side of Quincy.
As the largest city between the Quad Cities, St. Louis, Springfield, and Columbia areas, the Quincy area contains numerous architectural and historical destinations. Some of the more featured attractions in the city include: The Quincy Museum, The John Wood Mansion, The Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design, The Quincy Art Center, and the Villa Katherine Castle.
During the year, the city holds numerous events. Some of these events are located on the riverfront, such as the annual Fourth of July fireworks show, the U.S. Catfish Anglers Tournament and "Movies on the Muddy"; an event that offers showings of recently released movies along the banks of the Mississippi River. In addition, Quincy hosts The Pepsi Little People's Golf Championships; an annual event that features talented young golfers from around the world. During the summer, Quincy features a Mid-Summer Arts Faire with food, decorations, and artwork for sale by local artists. Quincy's unique Christmas Candelight Tour is held in December and features a public walk through of several historic homes decorated for the holidays. The Dogwood Festival is held in spring. There is always a parade and usually the dogwood trees are in bloom throughout the city. These are just a few of Quincy's many events during the year.
The "Gem City" has been twice recognized as an All-American City, and Quincy has a vast collection of some of the most impressive architecture of any community in Illinois, including several Gothic style churches. The city is home to Quincy University, a Catholic Franciscan College founded in 1860, John Wood Community College, and several other smaller colleges.
As for education, Quincy has a number of institutions within the city or close by. One of the largest high schools in the state, Quincy Senior High School is located on Maine Street in Quincy. Quincy Notre Dame High School, a private Catholic high school, is also located in Quincy. Quincy University is Quincy's most highly decorated school, and was established in the 1860s. On the city's east side, John Wood Community College is the regional community college. A campus of the technical school Vatterott College is located on Quincy's north side. Gem City College is located in the heart of downtown Quincy and the Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing is located next door to Blessing Hospital. Regionally, Quincy is within driving distance of Western Illinois University in Macomb, Hannibal-LaGrange College downriver in Hannibal, Missouri, and Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri.
Quincy is home to Blessing Hospital, which is the leading hospital in the Tri-State. Blessing also operates the Blessing Rieman College of Nursing. Quincy Medical Group, the largest medical group in the tri-state area,is a multi-specialty group with a wide variety of surgical and medical specialists. Denman Medical Services call Quincy home, they supply hospitals and clinics alike with supplies.
Interstate 72 passes just south of Quincy. Its spur route, Interstate 172, passes just east of town. In recent years, the Prairie Crossings Shopping Complex has been a focal point for development in this area. Illinois Route 104 (Broadway) is a main east-west artery from the Mississippi River bridges to Interstate 172. Illinois Route 96 enters the city from the southeast and travels north (through the east side of Quincy) to U.S. Route 24. Illinois Route 57 branches south from U.S. 24 downtown and passes Quincy's Civic Center on its way to Interstate 172 southeast of the city. Illinois 96 also serves as the Great River Road, which follows the path of the Mississippi River. Eastbound U.S. 24 crosses the Mississippi River from Missouri on the Quincy Memorial Bridge, while westbound traffic uses the newer Bayview Bridge. Bayview bridge was constructed in 1986, but was not built as a 4-lane bridge because of budget cuts, as the cable suspension made it unaffordable to build a 4-lane bridge. Other groups claimed that business in the downtown part of Quincy would decline if the Memorial bridge was shut down.
On the Missouri side, U.S. Route 61 carries the Avenue of the Saints, a four-lane highway connecting Saint Louis and the Twin Cities. The Avenue of the Saints gets its name from Saint Louis and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The Quincy Regional Airport is to Quincy's east, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) outside of the city limits.
Quincy has a public bus line and taxi company.
Quincy is also an Amtrak community with a rail station on the north side of town. It is the terminus of two Amtrak routes, the Illinois Zephyr and the Carl Sandburg. Both trains follow the same track to Chicago's Union Station.
Ongoing projects will improve transportation links with nearby major cities. U.S. Route 36, south of Quincy and multiplexed with Interstate 72, is currently (as of August, 2007) being upgraded to a 4-lane highway, which will connect Quincy with Saint Joseph, Missouri and Kansas City, Missouri. With the continuing improvements to Illinois Route 336 north of the city, Quincy will also have a direct connection to Peoria in 2009.
There are four public companies headquartered in Quincy, IL: FBTT, GDI, MBR and TWI.