by Steven Streight
Have you ever asked yourself what you like most about Peoria? What are your favorite aspects of Peoria now? What do you like, or find most interesting, about Peoria's past?
If you spent your childhood in Peoria, you probably have some great memories that you share with your friends and children. I fondly recall drive-in theatres, Midget Studios (a novelty shop that sold fake rubber dog poop and vomit), Street Scene with John Day (a live TV news show that took place in downtown Peoria), Miracle Mart, Corral Smorgasbord, The Barn, Jethro Tull at Bradly Student Center, cruising Main Street with all the hippie head shops and jeans stores, Lums Restaurant and the Lumburger, milk delivered in bottles in the morning, and many other Peoriabilia.
As I post various photos, articles, and links on the Facebook page of Peoria Historical Society, I get an idea of what is most popular by checking the Facebook Insight statistics. You might be surprised to discover what gets the most likes, shares, and comments.
From January to October 2012, the most popular and viral PHS wall posts, according to Facebook Insights stats, were:
(1) Captain Jinks Show (51% virality)
(2) Bartonville State Hospital (l,503 reach)
(3) Sandy's hamburger restaurant
(4) Abe Lincoln
(5) St. Francis Hospital
(6) Beverly Theatre
(7) Peoria Camera Shop
(8) Steamer David Swain
(9) Peoria Mineral Springs
(10) John Moser & Sons Shoes
Of course, many people think of Old Peoria's legacy of liquor distilleries, breweries, vaudeville, prostitution, and gangsters. Peoria was also a major international center for bicycle races and manufacturing in the 1890s. Peoria has been a test market for products like Lemon Twist cigarettes and other innovations, as the phrase "Will It Play in Peoria?" suggests. When the bicycle racers came to Peoria to compete with the best in the world, "Prove It in Peoria" was the challenging cry.
If someone from out of town, faraway, another country perhaps, came to visit you for a week, what would you show them? Where would you take them? What would you want them to experience, for a memorable impression of Peoria? What locally owned restaurants would you take them to in the Peoria area?
I would want them to dine at Chanticleer in Eureka, Tyronis in Bartonville, Oliver's in Peoria Heights, and Davis Brothers for sure.