The Public Square

Laurel Prussing on Urbana’s 175th Birthday


Hi, I'm Laurel Prussing, the Mayor of Urbana, inviting you to help celebrate Urbana's 175th Birthday this Sunday, March 30th.

In 1833 Urbana was founded to be the county seat for the newly created Champaign County. Isaac Busey donated the land for a courthouse and persuaded a committee of legislators to choose his land as the site for the new town.

For twenty years in the 1840's and '50's Abraham Lincoln traveled here to practice law in the Champaign County courthouse. Lincoln also delivered some famous speeches in Urbana in opposition to slavery.

In February 1867 Clark Robinson Griggs, Urbana Mayor and State Representative, ran a brilliant campaign to get the legislature to select Champaign County as the site for the University of Illinois. The following year, in March 1868, the University of Illinois opened as the Illinois Industrial University in Urbana.

This Sunday, March 30, we will celebrate the founding of the University and Clark Griggs' extraordinary effort. The event, co-sponsored by the City of Urbana and the Office of Chancellor Richard Herman, will be from 2 to 3 PM at Levis faculty center and will feature News-Gazette editor Tom Kacich and archaeologist/local historian Ilona Matkovszki presenting "The Man Who Brought the University of Illinois to Urbana: Clark Robinson Griggs, Urbana Mayor and State Legislator". Musician Michael Kaminn will provide musical interludes on guitar, and refreshments will be served. The event is free and the public is invited. Urbana's 175th Birthday commemorative calendar will be available for sale, with all proceeds going to support the arts.

For more information, please call 384-2319, or go to the City's website at