CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Thursday marks an important anniversary for the City of Champaign: its 168th birthday.
Champaign was founded in 1855 when the Illinois Central Railroad placed its tracks two miles west of downtown Urbana. The town was initially named “West Urbana” before adopting its permanent name five years later with the acquisition of a city charter. The document provided rights and privileges to create a new governance system.
The name Champaign is derived from Champaign County, Ohio, which is why it is spelled that way instead of “Champagne.”
Lisa Fancher has lived in Champaign for over 50 years, and it used to be a small town that didn’t have much.
“When we were young, Champaign was really just the main streets. Prospect, Neil, Lincoln, Cunningham, Mattis. But now all the subdivisions that go around, it just keeps getting bigger, bigger and bigger.”
Champaign started out as 80 percent prairie, with the remaining 20 percent being timber. The growth took a while for it get where it is now.
Now a population of more than 80,000 people lives in the Champaign area.
More information about Champaign can be found on the city’s website.