Robert De La Salle, along with a fleet of canoes and 33 men is believed to be one of the first European explorers to visit the area. In 1680, his crew constructed a winter refuge in what is now the southeast quarter of Section One in Pekin Township.
In 1829, a County Surveyor named William Hodge laid out what was to become Pekin. He called it “Town Site”, indicating the land was suitable for settlement. The town was named Pekin, after China’s City of the Sun – Pekin(g).
Commercial development had begun as early as 1827. Pekin built its first school in 1831 and the Pekin post office opened in 1832. By 1837 The community had a school and post office, three stores, two taverns, a church, a ferry service and a railroad, the Pekin and Terminate. Steamboat trade was also a growing factor in the local economy.
By 1849 the population of Pekin had swelled to 1,500 and residents unanimously agreed to organize under a City charter.
Pekin Public School District #108 includes the following: www.pekin.net
Preschool Family Education Center
Primary: C.B. Smith, Dirksen, Jefferson, Starke, Sunset, and Willow
Intermediate: Washington and Wilson
Junior High: Broadmoor and Edison
Pekin Public School District #303 includes the following: www.pekinhigh.net
High: Pekin Community High School
Other schools servicing the Pekin area include:
- Faith Baptist Christian School
- Good Shepherd Lutheran School
- Rankin School District #98
- St. Joseph Catholic School
- Schramm Education Center
Colleges & Universities
- Bradley University
- Eureka College
- Illinois Central College
- Illinois State University
- Monmouth College
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Recreation & Attractions
Pekin is a sports destination for everyone from golf enthusiasts to softball and hockey teams.
There are four golf courses including nationally recognized Lick Creek Golf Course. If you’re the outdoors type, the Illinois River is ideal for boating, skiing and fishing. Local lakes such as Powerton Lake produce trophy bass and numerous other types of game fish. There are several locations available for open hunting also. For the more active enthusiast, there are several bike trails and the Xtreme Skate Park. Rockin ‘P Ranch offers horseback riders opportunities for trail rides.
The Dragon’s Dome sports complex gives Pekin an unlimited amount of possibilities to hoste a multitude of sporting events. The Dome includes indoor soccer and football fields, a textured walking track, pitching machines and batting cages, as well as conference areas available for trade shows, meetings or any other large event. The outside of the Dome offers four regulation ball diamonds.
The Pekin Park District also offers a wide range of recreational activities for the whole family. DragonLand Water Park, paddleboats, frisbee golf, and Putt The Magic Dragon Miniature Golf are just a few of the possibilities for fun.
Pekin is home to several annual events and festivals that draw visitors from all over the Midwest including The Marigold Festival, Derby Days, and a Winter Wonderland Festival.
Shopping in Pekin means everything from small intimate boutiques to large shopping pavilions and well-known chain stores. Antiques, crafts, jewelry, specialty gifts and more can be found in Pekin.
Sources of information: Pekin Chamber Of Commerce