Illinois August 24, 2017
Here Are The Oldest Photos Ever Taken In Illinois And They’re Incredible
If you’ve ever rifled through Grandma’s old photo albums, you may have come across some ancient pictures from a time long gone. We did some digging ourselves and found several shots you need to see. Black and off-white, blurry, and sometimes a little odd, these are 10 of oldest photos taken in Illinois.
We became a state two years after cameras were first invented, so much of our history is properly preserved in still shots. Keep scrolling to see ancient images of Illinois.
This is an image of Illinois' first state capital building taken in 1880, making it truly one of Illinois' oldest photos. Kaskaskia was the capital until 1820 before it was moved to Vandalia. It is believed that this image was taken mere months before the building was swallowed up by the Mississippi River.
Taken in 1915, this image of a coal miner is slightly haunting. The fact of the matter is, though, this is how much of our country was built before we started utilizing natural energy. In 1673, the Illinois territory was the first in North America that was found to contain coal, but mining didn't start until the 1800s.
This is an image of the Old United States Custom House, now the Cairo Custom House Museum, located at 1400 Washington Avenue in Cairo. The building was constructed after the Civil War, and this photograph was shot in 1907. The federal establishment was originally used to collect duties and tariffs on international imports heading to the Mississippi River.
This old photo of the Midway Plaissance, today mostly just called the Midway, was taken in 1912. The park is famous for hosting the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 which brought to town a plethora of interesting amusements. It was envisioned by one of the creators of New York's Central Park.
This beautiful old building is the Old North Side School in Geneseo, which was then known as Township High School. It was built next to a church and city park. The image was taken in the early 1900s, but, around the 1990s, the school was demolished for extra park space as it was no longer in use.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this iron furnace is located in the Shawnee National Forest. It was used to smelt iron that was mined nearby but went into ruin after many decades of use. This image was taken in 1936 before the furnace was restored. It is now a roadside attraction.
This image depicts Market Day in Blue Island, which used to occur the first Thursday of every month. This image is from 1915 and depicts many horses and wagons with people lined up to buy and sell. Many items could be had including produce, livestock, and farm equipment.
One of the oldest photos taken in Illinois, this image of the Seymour School in Blue Island is from 1917. The school was built in 1892 and the third floor was added in 1896. As it fell into ruin, it became a hazard to children and was torn down during a modernization effort.
Again in Blue Island, this is St. Francis Hospital in 1909. It originally opened in 1905 and was run by nuns who wished to serve the disadvantaged in the community. Eventually, it went into financial decline and was picked up by a another company, and the facility relocated to a new area under a new name.
We know this one is a little creepy, but it was possibly shot in Metcalf, Illinois. This ancient image was taken in 1911 and depicts three young girls all dolled up and sitting on a cow. It's part cute and part something out of a horror movie.
Speaking of Illinois’ early days, check out
10 of the state’s oldest, most historical towns.
What old images of Illinois have you come across? Share your oldest photos and stories below!