The City of Alton, Illinois is located in Madison County, Illinois along the Mississippi River. The city was founded in 1837 and is rich in history. Three areas of Alton have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Christian Hill, with homes built in the 1830's; Middletown, the largest of the three with homes built from the 1830's to 1890's; and Upper Alton, the smallest district having been established as a separate village in 1821 but annexed by the City of Alton in 1911.
Alton was an important city in the Abolitionist movement. The Underground Railroad was in operation for many years before and during the Civil War. Alton's Mississippi riverfront location in "free" Illinois, made it ideal for helping slaves escape to freedom from the slave state of Missouri and others in the south. Abolitionists and free blacks were "conductors" that helped slaves get from one "station" to the next. Although the Undergound Railroad's activities were secret in nature and are now hard to document, several sites in Alton and the surrounding area have connections to the Underground Railroad and can still be seen today. The Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument is located in the Alton Cemetery and honors Elijah Lovejoy, an abolistionist and martyr for the causes of freedom of speech and freedom from slavery. The Old Rock House in Alton was a station on the Underground Railroad and also was where the Anti-Slavery Society was founded by Elijah Lovejoy. The Lewis and Clark Community College Campus, just north of Alton in Godfrey Illinois is said to have tunnels existing under the campus buildings that were used by conductors to aid slaves in gaining their freedom. The Alton Museum of History and Art has an exhibit featuring the Underground Railroad and displays a "message quilt" and another exhibit that features Elijah Lovejoy's printshop. Lyman Trumbull, a US Senator and friend to Abraham Lincoln, wrote the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery in America. His home can still be seen in Alton near the College Avenue Presbyterian Church where Lovejoy was the minister.
Alton has many other historic sites. There are ruins of what is left of a prison that was used to hold Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The soldiers who died while imprisoned there were then buried in the Confederate Cemetery located in Alton. The Lincoln Douglas Square commemorates an historic event that occurred in Alton. The square is located where the debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place during their political race for the same US Sentate seat. Another interesting site is the depiction of the legendary Piasa Bird that can be found on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in Piasa Park. An unique resident of Alton was Robert Wadlow who was the tallest man in the world at 8 feet, 11 inches and still growing when he died at the age of 25. The Alton Museum of History and Art has an exhibit featuring Robert Wadlow. His life-sized statue is located across the street from the museum. Standing next to the statue really gives visitors a feel of what Mr. Wadlow's friends must have felt like!
Alton, Illinois is also home to many recreation and entertainment sites. The Argosy's Alton Belle Casino is located along the Mississippi Riverfront. The Alton Marina is there, as well, and open year round which gives access to the many boating opportunities the Mississippi River provides. Gordon Moore Park features athletic fields and picnic grounds and the beautiful Nan Elliot Rose Garden and Oriental Garden. The Spencer T. Olin Golf Course, an 18 hole public golf course, can also be found in the Park.
Alton, Illinois City Hall
101 E. 3rd Street
Alton, IL 62002