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North Center Street, circa 1935 Downtown Bloomington

Street view of downtown Bloomington, 1935.

This lovely view of the 300 and 400 blocks of North Center Street, looking north, offers plenty of “eye candy” for the local history buff. For instance, on the far left is the Illinois Hotel, now known as the Illinois House. The hotel also included a barber shop, cafe (note the sign), and cigar stand. The building to the immediate north (or right), as indicated by the vertical sign, was the old location of Bloomington-Normal’s Sears Roebuck and Co. store. Today, this building’s tenants include Fox and Hounds Day Spa.
In 1935, the white building indicated by the red arrow and the adjacent one-story building were home to the Alhambra billiard hall and saloon. Note the partially obscured Kingsbury sign. Alhambra offered Kingsbury (“The Aristocrat of Beer”) on tap and in bottles. The building indicated with the blue arrow, which is the northwest corner of Center and Monroe streets, was torn down in the late 1950s / early 1960s to make way for a municipal parking deck and U.S. Post Office. Back in 1935, this building’s occupants included barber John McGraw and veterinarian Oscar Kyle. You can see the Google Street View of the block today in the upper right hand corner.

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History

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