Pekin, Illinois

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Pekin is a city in Tazewell County, Illinois. Located on the Illinois River, it is the county seat and largest city of Tazewell County, and a key part of the Peoria metropolitan area.[1] As of the 2000 census, its population is 33,857.[2]

Pekin has a large park with a lagoon, Mineral Springs Park, located near Pekin Hospital and a senior center. Pekin is home to a high-rise residential facility of the United Auto Workers. It is the home of the Pekin Federal Correctional Institution. A regional insurance company, Pekin Insurance, has its home office in Pekin.



In Illinois as other areas, various cultures of indigenous peoples lived along the rivers, for transportation, water and fishing. At the time of European contact, the several historical tribes in the area were of the Anishinaabe-language family, within the larger Algonquian-speaking tribes.

In January 1680, Robert de LaSalle and 33 fellow explorers landed their canoes on the eastern bank of the Illinois River. They built a winter refuge in what is now the southeast quarter of section 1 of Pekin Township. They encountered historical Kickapoo peoples to the east near the Wabash River.

Pekin has a rich American Indian heritage. It was the site of Lebourse Sulky's Village in 1812. This was how it looked to a European American of the time:

Sulky oversaw a village with a mixed population of the Anishinaabe-speaking Potawatomi, Kickapoo and Ojibwa people. He fought with Tecumseh in the War of 1812, as did most of chiefs of the Illinois Valley area. Later, this area was the site of Chief Shabbona's village during the Black Hawk War.

Farmer Jonathan Tharp was the first non-Indian resident, building a log cabin in 1824. For some time after the arrival of European-American settlers, a large Indian village, populated primarily by Pottawatomi, was still situated along the ridge of what is today Pekin Lake.

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