Presidents in Peoria


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It’s not an uncommon sight to spot a President here in the Greater Peoria Area. Throughout the years, our nation’s leaders have visited for many reasons–from attending dedications and giving campaign speeches to staying in our hotels and visiting large employers. Enjoy this bit of history we have compiled in honor of President’s Day! 

If you’re a historic fact fanatic, don’t miss checking out our amazing museums or the tours our Peoria Historical Society offers! 

Barack Obama   // On February 12, 2009 // President Obama visited the Caterpillar plant in East Peoria, previously visited by President Bush. While in Peoria, President Obama was pushing for his Economic Stimulus Package.

George W. Bush // On January 30, 2007 // George W. Bush visited Caterpillar in East Peoria to give a “State of the Economy” Speech. Prior to his speech, President Bush flew into Peoria International Airport and ate breakfast at a local diner.

Bill Clinton //  April 8, 1992 // President Clinton visited Peoria as the Democratic front-runner in the 1992 presidential campaign. While here, he walked the Caterpillar picket line in East Peoria and later spoke with Caterpillar management urging them not to replace striking workers.

Ronald Reagan  // May 9, 1982 // President Reagan visited his Alma Mater, Eureka College, on the 50th anniversary of his graduation. While there, he introduced the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty now famously known as the “Eureka Speech”. This speech is remembered to be the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Richard Nixon  // June 15, 1973 // President Nixon visited Pekin for the dedication of the Dirksen Congressional Center. This was one year prior to President Nixon leaving office and was one of eight visits that he made to the Greater Peoria Area.

John F. Kennedy  // October 24, 1960 // Prior to being elected, President Kennedy gave a campaign speech in the Peoria Courthouse Square with the message that the upcoming years were going to be challenging but also very rewarding. He was then elected President two weeks later.

Harry S. Truman  // October 26, 1944 // President Truman visited Peoria in passing. President Truman was in Chicago for a Democratic Convention and on his way to Independence, Missouri he stopped for an overnight stay at the Pere Marquette in downtown Peoria.

Theodore Roosevelt  // October 10, 1910 // President Roosevelt visited Peoria and while being escorted around the city he dubbed Grandview Drive as the “World’s Most Beautiful Drive”. This tagline is still used to describe Grandview Drive in Peoria Heights and is the acronym for WMBD TV/Radio. 

William McKinley // October 6, 1899 // President McKinley visited Peoria to dedicate the new Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Courthouse Square. It is said that after the dedication President McKinley visited whiskey baron, Joseph Greenhut, in his mansion on High Street for the evening.

Abraham Lincoln  // October 16, 1854 // President Lincoln visited Peoria to give his famous “Peoria Speech”. This speech argued against slavery and vaulted him into national prominence. President Lincoln was a frequent visitor of Peoria and it is said he visited the city on 17 different occasions.

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