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Pontiac Community Profile & Itinerary
Description
Centrally located in Illinois, Pontiac offers its visitors a unique collection of interesting places and great things to see. The population was 11,931 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Livingston County. Home of the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum, the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center, the Livingston County War Museum, and the Museum of the Gilding Arts, Pontiac has something to suit every taste.

Illinois was admitted as a state into the Union on December 3, 1818. For the most part, the area around Pontiac was sparsely populated during the early years of statehood. There were a few traders of European descent who traveled through the territories prior to the arrival of the first wave of new settlers in about 1829. Livingston County was established by an act of the Illinois congress in February of 1837. One of the provisions of the act establishing the county decreed that a commission be created to find a suitable location for the county seat. The commission met and selected a site on land owned by three of the early Pontiac settlers: Henry Weed, Lucius W. Young, and Seth M. Young.

The three settlers laid out a townsite and agreed to contribute $3,000 for the erection of public buildings.  They further agreed to donate land for a public square and a jail, and another parcel of land for a pen to hold stray domestic animals.  Finally, the three men promised to build a bridge across the Vermilion River. The name of Pontiac was suggested by landowner Jesse Fell, who admired the great Indian chief.

Old City Hall & Fire Station built in 1900 & Original County Courthouse Built in 1842
(Photos and history provided by Pontiac Tourism)

Until the 1850s and the coming of the railroad to Pontiac, the city remained a quiet community, home to about 25 settlers.  With the completion of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, the city and the county experienced a population explosion.  Only 6 years after the railway was completed, the city had grown to 733 people and the county had expanded from 1,500 citizens in 1850 to over 11,500, according to the 1860 census. The 10,000 new settlers were a combination of new immigrants and former citizens of northeastern portions of the United States.

Today, Pontiac has transformed itself into a premier tourist community, driven, literally by Route 66! That includes free trolley rides, shopping in the historic downtown district, fine dining, museums, murals and much much more. Perfect for bus tours and car clubs!




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ATTRACTIONS:


Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum
Housed in a historic firehouse, this facility tells the story of the people and places that have been inducted into the hall of fame. The museum displays significant Illinois artifacts from along Route 66.The upstairs features “Route 66 - A Photo Journal,” a series of pictures by Michael Campanelli, that captures the true spirit of Route 66. Summer Hours, April – October, 9 – 5 daily. Winter Hours, November – March, 10 – 4 daily. Open 7 days a week excluding the following: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day. A Route 66 Association of Illinois site. One of many "must-see" attractions in the city of Pontiac.
110 West Howard Street
(815) 844-4566
Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum Official Website


Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum & Resource Center
This museum is one of the world’s greatest collections of Pontiac and Oakland brand automobile artifacts located in downtown Pontiac. Enjoy antique and classic cars, dealer memorabilia, and a full library of print resources. Free admission.
205 North Mill Street
(815) 842-2345
Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum Official Website


Murals on Main Street Tour
A unique collection of more than 20 outdoor murals located in and around the historic downtown district. The murals, created in four days during the Walldog’s Summer Bash in June 2009, honor the commercial, social and political history of the city. Enjoy beautiful art in a Norman Rockwell town like setting.
Downtown Pontiac
(815) 844-5847
Murals on Main Street Tour Official Website


The International Walldog and Sign Art Exhibit
Dedicated to the preservation of the history, techniques and stories associated with the development of outdoor advertising. The exhibit contains images, videos, artifacts, and a small library which will help the visitor understand how the early outdoor wall advertisements evolved.
Pontiac Museum Complex
110 West Howard
(815) 844-5847
The International Walldog and Sign Art Exhibit Official Website


The Museum of the Gilding Arts
The focus of the Museum of the Gilding Arts is the history, craft, and use of gold and silver leafing in architecture and in decoration throughout a history that dates back to the days of the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt. There are examples of gold and silver leaf, artifacts used in the application of the precious metal leaf, and displays showing how leaf was manufactured. The museum features items from the Society of Gilders’ Swift Collection. The M. Swift and Sons company manufactured gold leaf in Hartford, CT, and began its operations in 1887.
217 North Mill Street
(800) 835-2055
The Museum of the Gilding Arts Official Website


Livingston County War Museum and Dal Estes Education Center
Educational displays interpret World War I to the present. It is staffed by veterans and is located in the Old City Hall next to the Route 66 Museum.
321 North Main Street
(815) 842-0301
Livingston County War Museum Official Website


Home Again

Located next to the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum are several souvenir and antique shops in Pontiac’s Old 1900 City Hall. The shops offer Route 66 souvenirs. Formerly named Old City Hall Shoppes.

321 North Main Street
(815) 844-5847
Home Again Official Website


Dargon Park Sculptures
Large metal sculptures entitled “All Things Change and We Change with Them” depict the changes that humans experience while growing. Barry Tinsley, sculptor and artist, completed the design, construction, and erection of the figures in 1998.
Madison and Fountain
(815) 844-5847
Dargon Park Sculptures Official Website


Illinois State Police District 6 Headquarters
Built in 1941, the old Illinois State Police District 6 headquarters was inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2000. The unique building was constructed in the shape of a pistol, and served as the base for state troopers who patrolled roads from Dwight to McLean. It was vacated in 2004 when a new state police headquarters was built nearby.
Route 66 South of Pontiac
(815) 844-5847
Illinois State Police District 6 Headquarters Official Website


Swinging Bridges of Pontiac
Pontiac is the only city in central Illinois with three swinging bridges. The bridges span the Vermilion River and were originally built so residents could get to work. The bridges were constructed in 1898, 1926 & 1978.
Throughout Pontiac over the Vermilion River
(815) 844-5847
Swinging Bridges Official Website


Livingston County Courthouse
Located on the square, the courthouse was built in 1875 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. J.C. Cochrane designed the historic edifice of the county’s third courthouse. An Abraham Lincoln statue on the south side of the courthouse lawn memorializes the numerous visits Lincoln made to Pontiac between 1840 and 1860.
112 West Madison Street
(815) 844-2006
Livingston County Courthouse Official Website



Yost House Museum
Built in 1898, this Queen Anne style home contains the history and family artifacts from the Yost family who lived in the home for nearly 100 years. Visiting the house is truly stepping back into time.
298 West Water Street
(815) 844-5847
Yost House Museum Official Website


Jones House
A Gothic Revival brick house built in 1858. It is named for Henry C. Jones, founder of the Pontiac Ice & Fuel Company, and is the oldest brick home in Pontiac. It is maintained by the Livingston County Historical Society.
314 East Madison Street
(815) 844-5847
Jones House Official Website


Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center
The new Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center in Pontiac provides dinner theater productions by the Vermillion Players, as well as concerts, meetings, and other events. The Eagle motion picture house was originally built in the 1930s as the city’s second movie theater.
319 North Plum Street
(815) 844-1187
Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center Official Website



Dongbai International Airbrush Art School
Tang Dongbai, an internationally known, award winning artist, opened his art school in Pontiac, Illinois in April 2012. At his school, Dongbai offers classes in basic, intermediate, and advanced airbrush painting techniques. He also instructs students in his unique UV Invisible Art style. Dongbai is a native of Beijing, China.  He graduated from the prestigious Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts and is the founder of Dong Ning UV Painting and the originator of the UV Pretty Dress Painting process.  He has been creating masterpieces on cars, motorcycles, trucks, helmets, t-shirts, and murals for years.  His company published the first Chinese language books on fine art automobile painting techniques and created the first DVD airbrush painting courses. 
425 W Madison St.
(815) 842-1848
Dongbai International Airbrush Art School Official Website


Three Roses Bed & Breakfast
This Victorian home, built circa 1890, boasts "where breakfast is an event!" Guests have their choice of four guest rooms on the second floor as well as a selection from a large breakfast menu where everything on the menu is made from scratch! Three Roses B&B is the recipient of the Guest Favorite Award for 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2013 from BnBFinder.com and is the only B&B in Illinois to win the award 4 times. Three Roses was also awarded the Property of Distinction award for excellence in the bed and breakfast category.
209 East Howard Street
(815) 844-3404
Three Roses Bed & Breakfast Official Website


Old Log Cabin Restaurant
Built in 1926, the restaurant originally faced the older Route 66 alignment. It is claimed to have been lifted and turned 180 degrees when the alignment changed at the intersection of Pontiac Road (two-lane 66) and the four-lane 66 on the north edge of town. The building has been expanded over the years. It is a classic example of the economic significance that Route 66 had on roadside businesses. The restaurant still serves food to travelers.
18700 Old Route 66
(815) 842-2908
Old Log Cabin Restaurant Official Website


DeLongs’ Casual Dining and Spirits
DeLongs’ Casual Dining and Spirits located in beautiful downtown Pontiac, IL offers the highest quality food in a relaxed setting. DeLongs’ food is made-to-order with homemade recipes using the freshest, local ingredients. The steaks and chops are cut onsite, the salads are crisp, and the frozen custard is homemade. DeLongs’ uses a frozen marble top so you can make your own frozen creation. You select the candies, nuts, and other treats and then they use the frozen top to mix them into the custard of your choice. Be sure to also ask your server about their famous Chicken Pot Pie and Hand Patted Burgers!
201 North Mill Street
(815) 844-1983
DeLongs’ Casual Dining and Spirits Official Website


Bernardi's II
123 N. Mill St.
(815) 842-1198
Bernardi's II Official Website


Edinger's Filling Station Cafe
423 W Madison St
(815) 419-2255
Edinger's Filling Station Facebook Page


Baby Bull's Family Restaurant
1025 W Reynolds St.
(815) 844-5757
Baby Bull's Family Restaurant Official Website
 


Pontiac Illinois Route 66 Wayside Exhibits
Pontiac has six different wayside exhibits located in the community. A Bridge to the Past - Learn how streets in small town America were created and helped to forge American history.  Protecting Travelers State Police Headquarters - Learn about the history of the State Police and the gun-shaped headquarters in Pontiac Illinois. Patrolling "Bloody 66" - Follow the stories of the Illinois State Police as they protected the travelers on the "Hard Road" even if it was from themselves. The Log Cabin Inn - When Route 66 moved many businesses opted to move with it, but some like the Log Cabin Inn were literally picked up and moved.  Find out how this was done and who did it here. An Underground Crossing - How do you protect school children from having to cross "Bloody 66" to get to school? Learn how Pontiac Illinois did it here. International Panel - On September 25, 2005, Illinois Route 66 was designated as a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Pontiac, Illinois
(217) 525-9308
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Interpretive Exhibits Official Website


Pontiac Illinois Route 66 Interpretive Statue
The Motor Police Patrolling Route 66. The Illinois State Police was formed in 1922 to protect motorists.  Twenty officers patrolled the state on surplus World War I Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  Radio-equipped cycles revolutionized communications in the 1930s.  The ISP shifted toward squad cars and ended motorcycle patrol in 1949. This exhibit is located at the old Illinois State Police District 6 headquarters.
Route 66 South of Pontiac
(217) 525-9308
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Interpretive Exhibits Official Website
 

 
Pontiac Illinois Route 66 Experience Hub
Route 66 in Pontiac - A Lingering Love Affair. Pontiac enjoys a long love affair with Route 66, but it's been an edgy relationship.  Four times the road alignment shifted away from the heart of the city as roadside businesses clogged highway flow.  Each time the town grew out to embrace it again. Although I-55 ultimately replaced Route 66, Pontiac continues to celebrate the spirit of the Mother Road. The "Walldogs," a group of sign and mural artists, came to Pontiac in 2009 and painted 18 murals in four days. Be sure to visit the World's Largest Route 66 Shield Mural. Thirteen "Route 66 Art Cars" were painted by local artists for the 2010 Downtown Art Project.  These kid-sized, fiberglass cars were placed around the downtown area. This exhibit is located in back of the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum.
Downtown Pontiac
(217) 525-9308
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Interpretive Exhibits Official Website


MAJOR EVENTS:


Central States Threshermen's Reunion
The annual gathering of steam and early gasoline powered agricultural tractors and implements is held in late-Aug-early-Sept. at Threshermen's Park, located just north of Pontiac on Illinois Route 23. The event will be filled with these powerful machines as well as many other attractions. There is a huge flea market, a number of historic exhibits, live entertainers, the daily "Parade of Power", and of course, the Sunday afternoon parade in downtown Pontiac.
14975 E 2200 N Rd
(815) 844-3574
Threshermen's Reunion Official Website


Annual GTOAA Car Cruise and Show
The Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum, in conjunction with the City of Pontiac’ Office of Tourism once again welcomes the annual GTO Association of America’s regional cruise and show. The two-day affair is held in mid-September. This event is hosted by the Museum, the Heart of Illinois GTO Club, the Gateway GTO Club, and the Windy City GTO Club. Last year’s event featured more than 220 classic Pontiac cars.
205 North Mill St.
(815) 844-5847
GTOAA Car Cruise and Show Official Website


Livingston County Ag Fair
Held annually in mid-July. Come out to the annual Livingston County Ag Fair and enjoy the daily and evening entertainment! Featuring agricultural fair entries, carnival rides, King & Queen Crowning, AG Olympics, Chainsaw Sculpting, Circus, Kiddie Tractor Pull, World Championship Rodeo, Demo Derby and more.
Livingston County Fairgrounds
18142 4-H Park Rd.
(815) 674-1444
Livingston County Ag Fair Official Website


Pontiac Cruise Night
Pontiac Cruise Nights are held the third Saturday of the month from May through August from 5-9pm, in Historic Downtown Pontiac. Check out all the great classic cars as the park around the courthouse square.
Downtown Pontiac
(815) 326-2354
Pontiac Cruise Night Facebook Page


Pontiac Farmers Market
Held every Saturday from June thru October - Starts at 7am. The market takes place in Downtown Pontiac on the north and west side of the court house lawn (Madison and Mill street).  Some products to be sold: Fresh, high quality fruits, vegetables, herbs, vinegars, flowers, bedding plants, potted plants, and much more.
Downtown Pontiac
(815) 326-2354
Pontiac Farmers Market Facebook Page


Pontiac Parks & Recreation Events
Major events include: Touch-A-Truck in May - Fire Trucks, Tractor Trailer, Dump Trucks and more, and Park Palooza in July at Humiston-Riverside and Play Parks.
900 N Elm St.
(815) 844-6818
Pontiac Parks Events Facebook Page


Vermillion Players Events at Chautauqua Park
Vermillion Players, Inc., an amateur theatre troupe based in Pontiac, and which relies upon the talent throughout all of Livingston County, has been providing quality live theatre to Pontiac and surrounding communities for 50 seasons. Founded in 1965, the troupe stages musicals, comedies, melodramas, farces, revues, and serious drama in the summer of each year at the Chautauqua Park Pavilion in Pontiac, and every summer the pavilion comes alive with the sounds of music and laughter as performers delight audiences of all ages.
900 N Elm St.
(815) 844-6818
Vermillion Players Official Website


Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center Events
The Eagle features a variety of entertainment throughout the year, including dinner theatre productions by the Vermillion Players, and live music performances, including by The Route 66 Concert Band.
319 North Plum Street
(815) 844-1187
Eagle Performing Arts and Conference Center Events Website


Red Carpet Corridor Festival

The Annual Red Carpet Corridor Festival is held on the Saturday of the first full weekend in May and traverses 13 Communities from Joliet to Towanda along a 90-mile stretch of Old Route 66 that collectively celebrates the Mother Road. Each town puts together its own events for that Saturday, making for a great shopping and sight-seeing experience. Gather the family and take a trip down memory lane. Towns include Joliet, Elwood, Wilmington, Braidwood, Godley, Braceville, Gardner, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Chenoa, Lexington and Towanda.

(815) 844-5847
Red Carpet Corridor Official Website


Route 66 Association of Illinois Motor Tour
The Motor Tour has been traversing Illinois Route 66, alternating each year from North to South and South to North. The caravan makes passport stops at major attractions along the way (including in Joliet), and also includes the annual Hall of Fame Banquet. Held the second weekend in June.
(708) 444-1312
Route 66 Association of Illinois Official Website


AMENITIES:


City of Pontiac

115 W. Howard St.
Pontiac, IL 61764
(815) 844-3396
City of Ponitac Official Website


Pontiac Tourism
115 W. Howard St.
Pontiac, IL 61764
(815) 844-5847
Visit Pontiac Official Website
 

Pontiac P.R.O.U.D.
Pontiac Central Business District
213 N Mill St.
Pontiac, IL 61764
(815) 326-2354
Pontiac Proud Facebook Page


Pontiac Parks & Recreation
900 N Elm St.
Pontiac, IL 61764
(815) 844-6818
Pontiac Parks Facebook Page


Heritage Corridor CVB Visitors Center
30 N. Bluff Street
Joliet, IL 60435
(815) 727-2323
Heritage Corridor Route 66 Website

Pontiac Accommodations:

Hampton Inn
2000 Grand Prix Drive
Pontiac, IL  61764
(815) 844-4400
Number of Rooms: 79
Pool, Continental Breakfast, Free Wifi, Non-Smoking
Hampton Inn Pontiac Website

Best Western Hotel
1821 W. Reynolds St.
Pontiac IL  61764
(815) 842-2777
Number of Rooms: 58
Pool, Continental Breakfast, Free Wifi
Best Western Pontiac Website

Quality Inn Hotel
1823 W. Reynolds St.
Pontiac, IL  61764
(815) 844-4444
Number of Rooms: 54
Continental Breakfast, Free Wifi
Quality Inn Pontiac Website

Super 8 Motel
601 S. Deerfield
Pontiac, IL  61764
(815) 844-6888
Number of Rooms: 48
Pets Allowed, Continental Breakfast, Free Wifi
Super 8 Pontiac Website

Fiesta Motel
Route 66 & IL Route 116
Pontiac, IL  61764
(815) 844-7103
Number of Rooms: 53
Pets Allowed, Cable TV, Truck Parking

Three Roses Bed and Breakfast
209 E. Howard Street
Pontiac, IL  61764
(815) 844-3404
Number of Rooms: 4
Pets Allowed, Free Wifi, Full Breakfast. Cable TV
Three Roses B&B Website

Pontiac Dining Options
Pontiac Businesses
GOOGLE MAP:
Location
Alignment 1926||1930||1940
Northern Region

Pontiac, IL
61764

Contact
815-844-5847
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