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Princeton's heritage dates back to 1831, when this fertile prairie welcomed Massachusetts church members making their way west to seek religious freedom.
Among early settlers were John and Cyrus Bryant, brothers of William Cullen Bryant of American literary fame. It was John who was Princeton's first anti-slavery activist in those pre-Civil War days.
Soon following was Owen Lovejoy, new minister to the town's Hampshire Colony Congregational Church. Lovejoy, a fiery abolitionist and later influential statesman, joined the movement, and the Lovejoy Home became one of the most important stations in the "Underground Railroad" in Illinois. Now restored, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Princeton, named county seat of Bureau County in 1837, continued to grow and prosper as a hub of activity. Abraham Lincoln, a friend of Lovejoy, spoke at anti-slavery rallies here. The coming of the railroad in 1854 expanded the growth, lengthening the business district to meet the rails which fell slightly to the north.
Much of Princeton's colorful heritage is preserved for visitors through the city's various historic sites. The Bureau County Historical Museum celebrates Princeton's past with a wealth of treasures from early settlers to the area.
The city of Princeton is ideally located for easy access. Interstate 80 lies on the city's northern door and provides direct access to Chicago, 115 miles to the northeast, and the Quad Cities, 60 miles due west.
U.S. Route 6, another east-west highway, passes directly through the downtown area, intersecting with Illinois Route 26, the city's important north-south connection.
Just a few miles east is Interstate 180 which conveniently links Interstate 80 to Illinois Route 29, a scenic highway that follows the Illinois River to Peoria, 60 miles south.
And twenty miles east of Princeton, Interstate 80 connects to U.S. Route 51 and Interstate 39, providing direct routes to Rockford, 90 miles to the north, and Bloomington, 90 miles south.
All these major market links make a critical difference for area industry in their ease of transporting product. With a common carrier regional dispatch terminal located right in Princeton, country-wide freight service is an easy matter.
Princeton is served by Amtrak rail passenger service, as well as Burlington-Northern Railroad freight service.
Air service for the Princeton area is provided by the Illinois Valley Regional Airport, equipped with a hard-surface, 4,000-foot runway, instrument landing system, modern hangar-terminal and ground services for business jets, commercial and chartered flights, or private aircraft. Larger airports are in Moline, 60 miles west, and Peoria, 60 miles south.
River transportation is available on the Illinois River, 10 miles southeast.
While agriculture is a major area industry, the economic vitality of Princeton is drawn in large part from the city's business and industrial partnerships. This community's progressive and cooperative attitude supports commerce in its endeavors, assisting in the success and growth of existing businesses while providing numerous incentives attractive to new business and industry.
From production of door closers, air compressors and cutting fluids; to gas valves, fine jewelry and business forms; to resistors and even mushrooms - there is great diversity among Princeton's industrial partners.
Business district development is a priority of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce, and retail area improvement and beautification receives ongoing attention. This community's active Chamber also sponsors a busy calendar of promotions, events and activities - all designed to foster and promote civic, commercial, industrial, agricultural and cultural interests for the citizens of Princeton and Bureau County.
Community pride is reflected in no small part in a long-standing tradition of progress among businesses that are located here. In fact, nine Princeton businesses have been designated Illinois Centennial Businesses, a recognition going to Illinois firms with one hundred years or more of continuous operation.
Princeton itself offers a number of financial and tax incentives for businesses and industries interested in building here. The city offers impressively low industrial rates for its municipal electrical service. Tax abatement considerations and special low-cost loan programs can be made available depending on the site and scope of proposed building projects.
Princeton offers firms varied transportation links, easy accessibility to trade and market centers, reasonable property taxes and quality city services. In combination with a versatile and stable labor force - one that can provide technical and professional expertise as well as skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers - there is no doubt that Princeton is an excellent choice for any business, company or industry considering location or relocation. The people of Princeton welcome you.
Princeton operates under a mayor-council form of government, with five elected officials including the mayor and a city administration staff headquartered at City Hall. Under this leadership, the city implements a variety of programs and services to benefit the community while maintaining a sound fiscal policy. As county seat, Princeton benefits from its proximity to county government and the resulting opportunities to cooperate in areas of mutual concern.
Princeton operates its own water and electric utility. The electric utility provides electricity to the entire city and offers low industrial rates. The water supply is drawn from deep wells, with a water plant designed for a capacity of over two million gallons per day and average consumption considerably less. In addition, Princeton furnishes residents with sewer and garbage collection. Each is self-supporting. Only the city's general fund is tax-supported.
The rich farmland of Bureau County surrounding Princeton is some of the most fertile in the Midwest. In fact, Bureau County carries the distinction of annually ranking among the top 100 counties in the entire nation for total agricultural revenues. With 92 percent of the county's land area in farms, it is little wonder that agriculture provides an important economic base for both Bureau County and Princeton.
Princeton's and Bureau County's location holds a great advantage to farmers with its easy access to the agricultural trade channels of the world. Complete highway systems plus access to rail make transport of commodities to the Chicago area and other markets a simple task. Illinois River barge systems allow easy transport of grain down river to important trade ports and terminals.
The area's thriving agricultural interests are served by numerous agri-businesses and ag services located in Princeton.
The residents of Princeton have an excellent hospital, quality clinics, numerous health-related agencies and a full range of private health, dental and medical professionals to capably serve their health care needs.
Perry Memorial Hospital is a modern 98-bed medical care center licensed by the State of Illinois and fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.
The hospital's comprehensive services include general surgery, physical and respiratory therapy, pathology, intensive care, a radiology department utilizing the latest in radiological equipment and techniques, and a fully-equipped emergency room staffed around the clock by emergency medicine physicians.
Available, too, are various hospital-sponsored health programs such as pre-natal classes and programs for diabetic, cancer and cardiac patients and their families, as well as other education and support programs. Perry Memorial works cooperatively with area industry to develop appropriate safety and health programs to serve their industrial and employee needs.
Located at the hospital are other home care and mental health agencies, including the Quad-County Counseling Center which serves residents of Bureau, Marshall, Putnam and Stark counties. The center provides marriage and family counseling, drug and alcohol dependency programs, follow-up care for discharged psychiatric patients, and a variety of other support and education services.
Princeton's concern for health care is also shown by a number of long-established private service providers, including centers serving handicapped and disabled adults and children, and quality convalescent, intermediate care and nursing home facilities.
The community's dedication to the education of its children is reflected in its excellent schools. Princeton's public schools feature extensive facilities, diverse curriculums and well-trained staffs - all aimed at developing each young person's full potential. The school system has a combined enrollment of over 1800 students served by three elementary, one middle, one junior high, and one senior high school. In addition, two parochial schools combine to provide quality elementary education to approximately 150 students.
The Princeton public school curriculum is designed to challenge students at all ability levels. A favorable pupil-to-teacher ratio of 17 to 1 is maintained in elementary grades, while secondary grades have a 15 to 1 ratio. In addition, various special education programs and pre-schools capably serve community needs.
The instructional quality at Princeton High School is reflected in the consistently outstanding performance of its students on national scholastic tests, and the fact that a very high percentage of its graduates go on to college. Instructional resources complement a curriculum of college prep, tech prep, vocational courses, and an accelerated program for gifted students. The school is also the center for special needs students of the area. Numerous clubs and organizations, excellent athletic programs, and outstanding music and cultural activities round out students' education.
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