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Gov. Plans to Wake Up Sleepy Springfield

By Olivia Leigh in News on Oct 26, 2006 4:25PM

Over the summer, Chicagoist went to Springfield for the first time since the ubiquitous 7th grade state capital field trip. While we didn’t remember Springfield ever being particularly thrilling, we had heard some positive reviews of the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and just assumed that we didn’t get to see all that the capital had to offer last time we were down south.

But my, were we wrong. Springfield, instead, struck us as curious, with an eerily ghost-towny feel at night, the Lincoln home tour being far too short and far too dry, and Applebee’s and Wendy’s being our only dining options past 10 p.m.

The Governor has apparently recognized the tourism problems facing our capital, as he recently called for more action to attract tourists to the city, appointing Patrick Coburn, former publisher of the (Springfield) State Journal-Register, to lead a group called Destination Springfield, which will study the possibilities to attract more tourists.

Some of the governor’s ideas for turning Springfield from a relic of the past into a place that brings the past to life include: turning parts of the city into a living history museum (á la Colonial Williamsburg), designating some areas as national parks and doing more to tie the city to Abraham Lincoln in preparation for the president’s 200th birthday in 2009.

If you are planning a trip to Springfield in the near future, check out the Springfield Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website, which seems to suggest that plethora of fun and exciting events are just waiting to be discovered. If none of those activities tickle your fancy, rest assured that some pleasure can be found. When Chicagoist was last in town, we saw the grand opening of a Cold Stone Creamery, automatically making Springfield just a bit more desirable in our minds.

Photo of a bustling Sunday afternoon in Springfield during our summer trip.