Last week I discussed the architectural side of our road trip to Illinois, but Springfield has a lot more to offer (actually, this second part is the last, there isn’t THAT much in Springfield). Even though Kentucky and Illinois fight over Lincoln like Leiden and Amsterdam fight over Rembrandt -although the latter wasn’t only born, but also started painting in Leiden, so Leiden beats Kentucky in bragging rights- the Lincoln memorial, Lincoln park, Lincoln library and Lincoln house are all in Illinois. And they know it. Everything is named after Lincoln, and the old state capital was even besieged by Civil War reenactment folks, who must have felt like Muslims in Mecca.
My favorite part of Illinois was Lincoln’s neighborhood. Four blocks of renaissance fair in a Lincoln theme, with his house proudly taking the spotlight. I was impressed with how much fun the house was for all ages; normally those exhibits are either so child-friendly that it’s like watching Sesame Street, or so boring that even adults will have an acute case of narcolepsy, but I truly liked the balance. Lincoln’s home looks like it does in the original pictures, and some of the furniture is still intact. Our tour guide really took this opportunity to dampen our thoughts about Mary Lincoln by pointing out how she was not the usually portrayed awful anti-wife, but merely a framed First Lady, “Any woman cooking in this tiny kitchen in the Illinois summer heat would be irritated rather easily”. I think most problems arose when Mrs Lincoln had someone cook for her in a giant white house, but I won’t bash the girl too much.
After visiting the Lincoln house, we walked around in the pedestrian neighborhood, where we learned about some of the neighbors living around the president-to-be. The whole area is really nice to walk around in, and I truly enjoyed the experience.