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In 1929, an “air marker" was placed atop The Daily Pantagraph building in downtown Bloomington. Why then did this sign tell pilots that Bloomington is five miles further to the north? The answer is simple. The sign was intended to guide pilots to the Bloomington Airport, which at that time was located in rural Normal Township north of the Town of Normal.

This airport, dedicated May 30, 1928, was replaced in late 1934 when the much larger and more modern Bloomington Municipal Airport (now known as Central Illinois Regional Airport—or CIRA) opened on Bloomington's east side.

Back in the days before navigation aids such as beacon radar—to say nothing of today's Global Positioning System (GPS)—these air marker signs played a helpful role guiding pilots to their chosen destinations.

In 1935, The Pantagraph razed its three-story 1887 building (seen here) and built a new two-story, Art Deco-style building in its place. The newspaper's press remained in operation during the construction, and the new building was built around and above it!

Like so much of downtown Bloomington, many of the lovely buildings depicted here have long since fallen to the wrecking ball, sacrificed for surface parking lots. The old Daily Bulletin newspaper building (to the immediate right, or north, of The Pantagraph); the Illinois Traction System depot (to the north of The Bulletin); and the YWCA building (occupying the northwest corner of the block) are all gone.


Written By

Torii Moré

Torii Moré

Torii Moré is the Curator of Digital Humanities at the McLean County Museum of History.

Posted in Historic Photos

September 25th, 2013

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