Friday, June 27, 2014

#102: Alton City Hall

Alton is one of three Illinois cities that got five cakes (the others being East St. Louis and Belleville). Actually, six if you count the Piasa Bird, which is located just a few miles outside the city. A lot of people questioned why one at Alton City Hall. I don't know the answer, but I do believe it was a way to represent the strong connection between St. Louis and the town known as 'the riverbend', Alton.
I may as well share what I know about Alton, Illinois. Where to start? Alton has so much rich history, and I would hate to leave out so much. A man named Rufus Easton started the city in 1818 (same year Illinois was admitted into the union). At one time (50 years ago) Alton was the largest city in Madison County, but unfortunately it has lost many residents each decade since the 1960s. But locals still are proud to show what the city has to offer. Besides the Piasa Bird, one of the earliest stories of Alton was the possible early site of the American Civil War. Illinois was a free state and Missouri was still a slave state in the 1830s, and many believed it was an independent journalist and publisher, Elijah Lovejoy, who sparked the whole thing. Lovejoy printed out several papers and pamphlets about anti-slavery, which angered and alienated several people. His printing presses were destroyed and thrown in the river, and he was shot by a pro-slavery mob while trying to defend his newer printing press. The Lovejoy Monument in Alton was in honor of him, and his philosophy on free speech and speaking out is always reminded on the front page of the Alton Telegraph (its newspaper).
Alton is also one of the Top 10 haunted towns in America, as noted by paranormal enthusiasts. I have heard several stories about personal experiences with ghosts. Not just from my peers, but from interviews I have done with people as well as several books that point out Alton's creepiest places. Several old buildings in downtown Alton have claimed ghost sightings. The Meridian Coffeehouse and the McPike Mansion are known to be the two most haunted places in Alton. Cemetaries including the Lovejoy and Confederate, are also noted to be very haunted.

Throughout the 20th century to today, Alton has been a manufacturing city and working-class place. In 1954, Alton was one of three cities selected for the site of the United States Air Force. A little town called Colorado Springs got it instead, and the town grew to become Colorado's 2nd largest city. Just think what would have happened if they put it in Alton?! Alton has also seen its struggles, including the Great Flood of '93.
Famous 'Altonites' (I call them that!) include:
  • Robert Wadlow - the world's tallest person
  • Miles Davis - the 'king of cool' jazz music; Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (there is a statue of him that will be placed in Alton in the future)
  • Phyllis Schlafly - conservative activist and writer
  • James Earl Ray - assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King
  • Bonnie Bramlett - rocker who sang with the Ikettes and Delaney & Bonnie, later played Roseanne's friend Bonnie on TV's Roseanne

Alton City Hall

Behind the grand ol' fountain across from Alton City Hall. Look closely and you'll get a nice view of the Clark Bridge (which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year) and the Mississippi River

The welcoming staircase inside Alton City Hall
And the cake:

Left side of the cake

Right side of the cake

NOTE: This cake has since been removed to the outside of the building, possibly due to cake-hunters' complaints about the limited hours the City Hall is open.
City of Alton Official website
101 E. 3rd St., ALTON, IL, 62002
Cake artist: Screwed Artist Collective

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