The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency operates its own historic sites and monuments, but that’s not the agency’s only way of recognizing the Prairie State’s special buildings and neighborhoods. Many other designations highlight the heritage communities that Illinoisans should enjoy and protect.
- Almost 2,000 places in Illinois have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. They include entire towns such as Galena, segments of Route 66 and literally hundreds of individual structures from all eras of Illinois history.
- National Historic Landmark status is America’s highest level of recognition for places of exceptional significance. In Illinois, these include several places associated with Abraham Lincoln but it also includes the site of the world’s first self-sustaining nuclear reaction.
- Illinois is proud to have one site, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, recognized as having global importance on the World Heritage List.
- A national program offers the status of Certified Local Government to communities that protect their historic assets. Approximately 78 such communities qualify for federal grants.
- Many communities have created Main Street organizations to promote traditional downtowns and urban neighborhoods, including older buildings that define their architectural identity. You can see a map of Main Street Communities.
- The private Illinois State Historical Society has erected more than 400 historical markers statewide. Many connect with surviving historic places and some are on the locations where noteworthy events took place. Find out more in the “ISHS Markers” section of their website.
- The Illinois Council of the American Institute of Architects created a list of 150 Great Places. Many of Illinois’s most notable architectural structures are included and, because it includes buildings constructed within the last 50 years, it can also be used to predict some future historic places.