Presidential Sites in the Land of Lincoln
By Idoia Gkikas
The central part of Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln because of the many years Abraham Lincoln spent in the area and the many attractions linked to the country’s 16th president. The state’s capital, Springfield, is the site of many of the most famous attractions. Springfield is conveniently located right along Route 66, making it a perfect last stop on my road trip from Chicago to Springfield.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The main Lincoln site in Springfield is the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which quickly became the most visited presidential library and museum in the country after it opened in 2005. Marvel at artifacts, explore interactive exhibits including holographic presentations, watch live performances and come away with a new appreciation for the 16th president.
Historic Lincoln Family Home
Springfield was Abraham Lincoln’s home from 1837 to 1861, before he was elected president of the United States. Today, you can visit the house where he lived. Get a free ticket at the Visitor Center, tour the two-story house and watch a film about his “Journey to Greatness.” The four-block area around Lincoln´s house looks just like it looked in the 19th century – the streets are covered with gravel, and the sidewalks are built with wooden planks. Several nearby homes house exhibits about the Lincoln family’s life in Springfield and historic preservation efforts.
Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices and Old State Capitol
A short walk from the Lincoln home in downtown Springfield is the office where Lincoln practiced law from 1843 to 1852. An exhibit gallery and audiovisual theater are found on the first floor, federal courtrooms are found on the second floor and three lawyers’ offices take up the third floor. Watch an orientation video and take a guided tour with a costumed interpreter.
Across the street from the law offices, the Old State Capitol is a re-creation of the statehouse as it was during Lincoln’s years. This was the site of Lincoln’s famous “House Divided” speech.
Be sure to visit the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site in historic Oak Ridge Cemetery, where Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest after his life was cut short by an assassin’s bullet. His wife Mary and three of their four sons are buried there as well. Outside the entrance to the tomb, a bronze bust of Lincoln has a well-worn nose: Legend has it that rubbing Lincoln’s nose will bring good luck.