What’s a landmark? I suggest it’s a valued and/or visible item that is unique to an area. Critically, a landmark creates a sense of place. It’s one of those things you have in mind when you tell someone where you’re from.
In Peoria, Northwoods Mall and The Shoppes at Grand Prairie are highly visible, but franchise conglomerations are not at all unique. Not landmarks.
The shuttered Madison Theatre remains visible, though its value is sadly untapped. The Peoria Heights water tower, complete with 10-foot woodpecker, is highly visible and unique, and its contents course through every house and business, making it highly valued as well. Landmarks.
The Sheridan Village “Shop” sign was highly visible. The old Peoria County Courthouse, torn down in the 1960s, was the subject of countless picture postcards from Peoria. The operation of the Franklin Street bascule bridge was entertainment for everyone at the Steak ‘n Shake in East Peoria. Landmarks no more.
In 2014, Peoria will gain an increasingly rare item: a new landmark, one of special interest to people who walk and bicycle, the Rock Island Greenway overpass, the major missing link in terms of active transportation between Pioneer Park, Peoria Heights and downtown Peoria.
The supporting columns are in place, the eastern approach is under construction and the bridge itself will be installed in 2014, which means right now, for the vast majority of people in cars and trucks who pass close by the construction scene, it’s almost completely invisible.
It will span a high-speed five-lane road–or stroad, for followers of Strong Towns–south of the intersection at Knoxville and Prospect and just north of a building that may have housed the highest number of failed bars and restaurants in Peoria history.
When construction is complete, both the intersection and the empty building will be described in terms of their distance from the overpass.
And that will be a ridiculously overdue, but landmark, achievement.