|City of Princeton|
|• Mayor||Joel Quiram|
|• Total||8.24 sq mi (21.34 km2)|
|• Land||8.24 sq mi (21.34 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2) 0%|
|Elevation||780 ft (240 m)|
|• Density||950.49/sq mi (367.00/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (CST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
Princeton is part of the Ottawa Micropolitan Statistical Area. Due to its location where Interstate 80 meets the Amtrak system, as well as its well-preserved main street and historic housing stock, Princeton has become a popular satellite town for Chicago and the Quad Cities.
Bureau County was a New England settlement. The original founders of Princeton consisted entirely of settlers from New England. These people were "Yankees," descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. They were part of a wave of New England farmers who headed west into what was then the wilds of the Northwest Territory during the early 1800s. Most of them arrived as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal. When they arrived in what is now Bureau County there was nothing but a virgin forest and wild prairie; the New Englanders laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. They brought with them many of their Yankee New England values, such as a passion for education, fueling the establishment of many schools, as well as staunch support for abolitionism. They were mostly members of the Congregationalist Church though some were Episcopalian.
Culturally Bureau County, like much of northern Illinois, would be culturally very continuous with early New England culture for most of its history. During the time of slavery, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad at the home of Owen Lovejoy.
The name of Princeton was supposedly determined by drawing from a hat:
"The naming of the township of Princeton was the privilege of the three trustees, Roland Moseley, John Musgrove and John P. Blake...each one had a favorite name to present.. but could come to no agreement; finally it was decided that it should be settled by lottery. Each man was to write the name of his choice upon a piece of paper and place it in a hat, and a stranger, being blind-folded, should make the drawing. Mr. Musgrove, coming from New Jersey, and being loyal to his classic institution, wrote upon his slip Princeton, and as it had been agreed that the first name drawn should settle the question..(on) the slip of paper drawn by the blind-folded man, Princeton was plainly written, and so we today have the classic name of Princeton for the legal center of Bureau county. Princeton, for many years has enjoyed the distinction of being one of the literary centers of the state. She has the proud record of organizing and putting in successful operation the first township high school in Illinois. It is surely a city of quiet and pleasant homes."— George B. Harrington, Past and Present of Bureau County, 1906
Princeton's former nickname was "The City of Elms" because of the large number of elm trees the city had during the middle of the 20th century. However, an epidemic struck the elm trees of Princeton in the mid-1960's and killed off almost every elm. Soon after, Princeton's slogan was changed to "Where Tradition Meets Progress".
Princeton is located at (41.378481, −89.466924).
According to the 2021 census gazetteer files, Princeton has a total area of 8.24 square miles (21.34 km2), all land.
|Climate data for Princeton, Illinois (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1987–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||68
|Average high °F (°C)||30.3
|Daily mean °F (°C)||22.1
|Average low °F (°C)||13.8
|Record low °F (°C)||−26
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.96
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||8.6
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||7.9||7.5||8.2||10.4||11.3||9.7||7.7||8.1||7.5||8.8||8.2||8.0||103.3|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||5.1||4.2||1.9||0.5||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.2||1.0||4.0||16.9|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2020 census there were 7,832 people, 3,453 households, and 2,047 families residing in the city. The population density was 950.49 inhabitants per square mile (366.99/km2). There were 3,832 housing units at an average density of 465.05 per square mile (179.56/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.60% White, 1.12% African American, 0.37% Native American, 1.29% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 1.11% from other races, and 4.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.75% of the population.
There were 3,453 households, out of which 41.15% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.96% were married couples living together, 12.08% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.72% were non-families. 36.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 20.59% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 2.13.
The city's age distribution consisted of 19.9% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 20.1% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 27.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 77.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 76.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $51,844, and the median income for a family was $66,473. Males had a median income of $41,096 versus $23,266 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,187. About 8.5% of families and 13.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.9% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.
Princeton's major employers include L.W. Schneider, Inc. Firearms Components Manufacturer, Ace Hardware Retail Support Center, LCN Closers, (a division of Allegion), MTM Recognition, formerly Josten's, makers of several world championship rings including the 2005 Chicago White Sox, all of the Chicago Bulls Championships, and the 1985 Chicago Bears. Champion Pneumatic manufactures air compressors, Pioneer Hi-Bred International (DuPont Co) and Perry Memorial Hospital.
Princeton's Main Street is lined with independent shops and restaurants. The south end, or downtown, is the historic retail center of town and still contains the city's only movie theater (The Apollo), the courthouse, the Bureau County Historical Society, historic Matson library building, main bank offices, as well as more service-oriented businesses. The north end, also referred to as The Art District, is located about a mile uptown, north, and contains its own business district, park, and the city's historic Amtrak depot. In the past several years this area has undergone a transformation with the addition of upscale clothing stores and the restoration of a historic hotel building.
Each year the city of Princeton holds its annual Homestead Festival the second weekend in September. There are usually over one hundred entries in the parade. The homestead festival hosts a variety of events including the famous pork chop barbeque, a beer garden with local bands, children's events, craft show, and tasting booths. The festival, which began in 1971 as a celebration of the restoration of the Owen Lovejoy Homestead, now comprises a weekend of food, celebration, and the famous Homestead Parade.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Princeton, operating the California Zephyr, the Illinois Zephyr, the Carl Sandburg and the Southwest Chief each daily in both directions between Chicago and points west from Princeton.
Princeton is home Princeton High School, the oldest township high school in the state, founded in 1867. Its mascot is the Tiger. The high school enrollment fluctuates between 550 and 650 students. The school recently finished adding on an addition to meet the students' needs. The new addition houses a larger library as well as several new classrooms. The school is home to the Frank and Marion Rathje track which hosts high school football and track and field teams from around the region.
Princeton's library history dates back to March 1886 when a location for the library was decided upon and secured. The first library was located at the building at what now is 529 South Main Street. In 1890 the Matson Public Library, located on South Main, was first opened for use by the public. It remained in use for 22 years. In 1912 the construction of larger Matson Public Library building was begun. It was located at 15 Park Avenue East. On March 21, 2006, a referendum was passed for the renovation of 698 East Peru Street, formerly known as Bogo's, to become Princeton Public Library. Princeton Public Library opened on August 1, 2007, replacing an older facility, the Matson Public Library, and has a book collection of 45,000 items, with about 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2) of usable space. The library is located on East Peru Street (U.S. Route 6). In March 2009, the Princeton Public Library was one of only three libraries in the state of Illinois to host Between Fences, an exhibit sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibits Service (SITES) and the Illinois Humanities Council. Additional exhibits include Bookstock: Celebrating 40 Years of Woodstock, and Cherry Mine Disaster Revisited, a showcase commemorating the lives lost during the Cherry Mine Disaster of 1909.
- William Bascom, folklorist, anthropologist
- E. Leslie Conkling, educator and Illinois state legislator
- James E. Dabler, Illinois state representative and businessman
- Henry C. Doolittle, state assemblyman from Wisconsin
- William Dyke, Wisconsin judge and politician
- Aleta Fenceroy, LGBT activist and musician
- Virgil Fox, one of the greatest organists of the 20th Century
- Billy Garrett, auto racer
- Gary Green, guitarist for the band Gentle Giant
- Thomas P. Gunning, dentist and Illinois state senator
- Madison Gonterman, head football coach at Indiana University 1896–97
- Kathryn Hays, television actress (birth name Kay Piper), was on As The World Turns from 1972 to 2010.
- Frank Fernando Jones, Iowa state legislator
- Keith Knudsen, drummer with the Doobie Brothers
- Owen Lovejoy, Congressman, key supporter of Abraham Lincoln, and a leader in the Underground Railway movement to free slaves
- Asa Mercer, founder of the University of Washington
- Bruce Nickells, harness racing driver and trainer; grew up in Princeton
- Ben Parr, author of Captivology, former co-editor of Mashable and columnist for CNET
- Joseph R. Peterson lawyer and Illinois state legislator
- Robert Petkoff, noted Broadway and television Actor, graduated from Princeton High School
- Joseph "Joe" Ruklick, NBA basketball player with the Philadelphia Warriors
- Eliza Suggs, temperance activist
- Josh Taylor, actor in Days of Our Lives and television features, including The Hogans TV series for 6 years.
- Justin Tranchita, actor and artist
- William V. Thompson, bowler
- Richard Widmark, Oscar-nominated actor of 61 movies, he was senior class President when he graduated from Princeton High School
- Milo Winter, children's book artist
- Nick Young, radio newscaster with CBS and WBBM
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- History of Princeton Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
- Past and Present of Bureau County, Illinois: Together with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Prominent and Leading Citizens and Illustrious Dead, Volume 1 by George B. Harrington page 103
- A., Belden, David (2010). Princeton. Bureau County Historical Society. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia. p. 7. ISBN 9780738578187. OCLC 648936368.
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- "40th Annual Homestead Festival - September 8th-11th 2011 - Princeton Illinois". Archived from the original on 2011-07-12. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
- "Amtrak – Stations – Princeton, IL (PCT)". Amtrak.com. Retrieved 2007-04-03.
- "Princeton High School Student Handbook". phs-il.org. Archived from the original on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2007-04-13.
- "Parr Builds a Mission With Words and Technology". Bureau County Republican. 2009-12-28.
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- "Joseph Ruklick". databaseBasketball.com. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2012.