The History of Blono
What is the history of Bloomington-Normal?
I think that before we dive into the restaurants and businesses of Bloomington-Normal, it is important to understand the rich history of this area we call home.
Throughout the early 1800's the Native American tribe of the Kickapoo were the first to inhabit the land of Bloomington-Normal. Their tribe fled from Wisconsin to Illinois, and they named their land "Keg Grove." It wasn't until the late 1820's that the first non-native settlers came to the area. The Hendrix and Dawson family were apart of the first non-native settlers, and they renamed the area to Blooming Grove. There was some tension and hostility between the Native Americans and the new settlers at the beginning of their relationship; however, tensions subsided as time went on. Slowly, Blooming Grove became an area rich in agriculture, and downtown began to grow.
1830's to Late 1800's
Some time in the 1830's the town name of Bloomington came about, and several key pieces of infrastructure came up such as a police department, a jail, and a city government. A greater amount of farmers grew attracted to the area, and Bloomington found itself growing at a fairly quick pace. In 1865, Illinois State Normal University, a school for becoming a teacher, was introduced to the area, and "North Bloomington" became the town of Normal.
Going into the early 1900's, Bloomington-Normal was growing fast, especially with the addition of many railways and highways. In 1922, State Farm was founded by George Jacob Mecherle, and this company became one of the largest employers of Bloomington-Normal. In addition to State Farm, Highway 66 was formed and brought many people through Towanda, a small town just east of us.
Fast fowarding to the time we are in now, Bloomington-Normal is the home of not just Illinois State University but also Illinois Wesleyan University and Heartland Community College. Bloomington-Normal additionally hosts several business headquarters such as State Farm, Country Financial, Rivian, Growmark, and many more. It has become one of the fastest growing cities outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area, and is on the path of continuous growth in the future.
It's very important to me to understand how Bloomington-Normal came about before we dive into the food of the area because nothing influences food more than culture, and by understanding the roots of Blono, we can appreciate our food so much more!!
What is to come?
Uptown Normal is the hub for several restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops, and it is set in a great location, just a short walk from Illinois State's campus. Uptown has its pillar businesses that have assumed residence in this area for quite some time, but what can we expect to come in the future?
Starting off with some of the construction that we have seen recently, it is rumored that a brewery is coming to the building that is under construction neighboring D.P. Dough. I believe that this will be an excellent addition to Uptown's nightlife as well as another great place for local and college students to enjoy.
I also wanted to touch on the, not so recent anymore, transition from Emack & Bolio's to Theo's Microcreamery. Although I loved Emack & Bolio's, I thought that this was a great move to seek some growth in Uptown and see a change of decor/pace. I wonder if we will see more transitions similar to this in the near future.
Personally, if I had to predict what was coming to Uptown Normal, I would guess maybe a bar or two as well as a quick, "grab a bite to eat" type of restaurant. I believe with the closeness of proximity to Illinois State's campus, businesses need to attract college students, and a quick, cheaper option will definitely draw students to their establishment. With the addition of a new bar, I think that we could generate more business Uptown compared to Downtown Bloomington, and it would be great adding another option for a night out!
As I continue to spend out the rest of my college career here at Illinois State, I really hope to see more and more come to Uptown. It is such a special place, and with the right businesses, it can become an even more popular location.