The Civil War era Soldiers' Monument and the Stephenson County Courthouse in Freeport.
|Nickname: Pretzel City, USA|
|Elevation||778 ft (237 m)|
|Area||11.79 sq mi (31 km2)|
|- land||11.78 sq mi (31 km2)|
|- water||0.01 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Density||2,316.9 / sq mi (895 / km2)|
|Wikimedia Commons: Freeport, Illinois|
Freeport is the county seat and largest city of Stephenson County, Illinois. The population was 25,638 at the 2010 census, and the mayor of Freeport is George Gaulrapp, elected in 2005. Freeport is known for hosting the second Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858, and as "Pretzel City, USA", named after the heritage of its Germanic settlers in the 1850s, as well as the pretzel company that started as a result of their arrival. The high school's mascot is the Pretzel to honor this unique heritage.
Originally called Winneshiek, the municipality when it was incorporated took its name from the generosity of Tutty Baker, who was credited with running a "Free Port" on the Pecatonica River. The name 'Winneshiek' was later adopted, and is preserved to this day, by the Freeport Community Theatre Group.
In 1837, Stephenson County was formed and in 1838, Freeport became its seat of government. Linked by a stagecoach with Chicago, the community grew rapidly. In 1840, a frame courthouse was erected and the first school was founded. Within two years, Freeport had two newspapers and in 1853, the two were joined by a third which published in German. By then, the community had a population of 2,000.
On August 27, 1858, the second debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas took place in Freeport and gave the nation direction in the following years. Although Stephen Douglas won the election and retained his U.S. Senate seat, his reply to a question on slavery alienated the South, which called it the "Freeport Heresy", and split the Democratic Party. This enabled Abraham Lincoln to win the Presidency in 1860.
A monument to the debate was dedicated in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt and stands at this site. A life size statue recreating the event was dedicated in 1992. Another renowned statue, "Lincoln the Debator." by Leonard Crunelle, is a focal point in the city's Taylor Park. Each year there is also a reenactment of the debate, which has been shown on C-SPAN.
Freeport is known as the Pretzel City, and its public high school's team is named the Pretzels. The nickname is a reminder of Freeport's ethnic heritage; in the late 1850s, many Germans, both from Pennsylvania and from their European homeland, resettled in Stephenson County. They brought with them their love of pretzel snacks, and a pretzel bakery started up.
Before February 1893, a large square of land was purchased from the former Keller-Wittbecker farm in "East Freeport". Some of this land had recently been subdivided and platted as the "Arcade Addition". The Arcade Manufacturing Company had been in operation since 1885 when the previous Novelty Iron Works had gone out of business at the corner of Chicago and Jackson streets. That earlier company began as early as 1868. After the 1892 fire, the Arcade Manufacturing Company built an entirely new factory in the Arcade Addition of East Freeport, where they produced coffee mills and other metal products.
Local Freeport media include WFRL Radio (1570 AM), WFPS Radio (92.1 FM) and The Journal Standard daily newspaper.
According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 11.79 square miles (30.5 km2), of which 11.78 square miles (30.5 km2) (or 99.92%) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.026 km2) (or 0.08%) is water.
U.S. Route 20 is a four-lane divided highway that skirts the community's northern edge. At Rockford, it links with Interstates 90 and 39, giving Freeport residents access to the entire Interstate system. I-90 is the major route between Chicago and Seattle. I-39 extends from Rockford to Bloomington, where it links with I-74 and I-55. From Freeport, U.S. 20 continues west to Galena, and the metropolitan area of Dubuque, Iowa.
|Climate data for Freeport, Illinois|
|Average high °F (°C)||25
|Average low °F (°C)||9
|Precipitation inches (mm)||1.331
|Census Quickfacts |
As of the census of 2000, there were 26,443 people, 11,222 households, and 6,845 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,316.9 people per square mile (894.8/km²). There were 12,471 housing units at an average density of 1,092.7/sq mi (422.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.77% White, 13.81% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.97% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.00% from other races, and 2.22% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.12% of the population.
There were 11,222 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 12.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 33.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,399, and the median income for a family was $43,787. Males had a median income of $35,870 versus $25,095 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,680. About 9.9% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.6% of those under age 18 and 9.5% of those age 65 or over.
Notable people 
- Dan Balz, reporter for the Washington Post
- Frederick H. Buttel, sociologist, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Ken Behring, former owner of the Seattle Seahawks
- John Callahan, pitcher for the St. Louis Browns
- Richard Wayne Dirksen, former organist and choirmaster of Washington National Cathedral
- Calista Flockhart, the star of Ally McBeal
- Charles Guiteau, assassin of U.S. President James A. Garfield
- Corky Hale, jazz musician
- Clare Winger Harris, science fiction author
- Homer Hillebrand, pitcher and first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates
- Robert L. Johnson, founder of BET
- Gerald McClellan, former middleweight champion boxer
- Jimmie Mattern, world record setting aviation pioneer
- Louella Parsons, the famous Hollywood gossip columnist
- Jason Pearson, pitcher for the Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals
- Preston Pearson, football running back with the Baltimore Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Dallas Cowboys
- William Thomas Rawleigh, state congressman
- William Avery Rockefeller, father of American oil tycoon and billionaire, John D. Rockefeller
- Howard Zehr, "grandfather" of the restorative justice movement
- George Kingsley Zipf, Harvard linguist, philologist and statistician
Public - Freeport District 145 Schools 
- Six elementary schools (1st - 4th grade)
- Carl Sandburg Middle school (5th - 8th grade)
- Freeport Middle school (5th - 8th grade)
- Immanuel Lutheran
- Established 1877
- Daycare, Latch-key, Preschool - 8th grade
- Lutheran School
- Principal Mr. Micheal Welton
- Aquin Catholic Schools
- Established September 27th, 1923
- Preschool - 12th grade
- Catholic School
- Principal Mrs Dianne Potts
- Tri-County Christian Schools
- Established 1983
- Preschool - 8th grade
- Non-denominational Christian School
- Principal Mrs. Wendy Schardt
- Open Bible Learning Center
- Established January, 1970
- Daycare, Latch-key, Preschool - 6th grade
- Non-denominational Christian School
- Principal Jennifer Fuller
Highland Community College 
- Serving thousands of students at the Freeport campus and at satellite locations throughout the district, Highland Community College offers 68 degree and certificate programs.
Columbia College-Freeport 
- Ranked in the top tier of "America's Best Colleges" by U.S.News & World Report and ranked in the top 20 of military friendly colleges , Columbia College-Freeport is located on the Highland Community College campus.
Points of interest 
Stephenson County Historical Society & Museum The mission of the Stephenson County Historical Society, in partnership with the Freeport Park District, is to preserve, present, and promote local and regional history. This is achieved by maintaining and collecting quality artifacts, by educating the community, by collaborating with other institutions and organizations, and by interpreting and professionally presenting our local history.
Don Opel Arboretum This botanical garden has 3,000 plantings representing over 3,000 different species of ground coverings, trees and shrubs.
Freeport Masonic Temple
Freeport Art Museum
- JETS, a student science club of Freeport High School, was established as a club for high school students to provide information regarding various careers in fields of science. The club provides a source of scientific recreation for high school students and the community of Freeport.
Parks Freeport Park District 
One of Freeport's claim to fame is its park system.
Krape Park 
- Awarded "Outstanding Multi-use Facility" award by Illinois Parks and Recreation Association.
- Heavily wooded Krape Park features a picturesque waterfall that tumbles down from a high limestone bluff.
- Krape Park's one-of-a-kind historical carousel
- Allan Herschell, 1959, Classic Metal (figures) Carousels, 2 row, Portable, 20 jumpers, 1 chariot, band organ no, original location,
- Alterations: One chariot space made wheelchair accessible. Rounding boards and shields replaced.
- Outdoor band shell, Koenig Amphitheater.
- Boat rental
- Tennis courts
- Nature trails
- Sledding hills
- Cross country skiing trails
- Bike path
- Baseball diamond
- Numerous picnic tables and a duck pond.
- Krape Park Kids Castle
- Yellow Creek Adventure Golf
- Krape Park's one-of-a-kind historical carousel
Bidwell Park 
- Size: 2 acres (8,100 m2)
- Presented by the heirs of Orlando B. Bidwell, Bidwell Park is located across the street from Freeport Memorial Hospital. It features a small shelter with restrooms, a softball field, and a playground.
Knowlton Park 
- Size: <1 acre (4,000 m2)
- Presented by the descendants of Dexter A. Knowlton to mark the 100th anniversary of his arrival to Freeport, Knowlton Park is located at the southeast corner of Broadway and Locust. It features a bronze tablet and tall Black Maple trees to shade benches and play equipment.
Read Park 
- Read Park features the Read Park Family Aquatic Center, complete with a zero-depth swimming pool, water slides, spray features, and sand volleyball area and a 11,000-square-foot (1,000 m2) concrete skate park (Sk8 Park) that features obstacles, ramps, rails, bowls and ledges for skateboard and in-line enthusiasts. One of the larger parks in Freeport, it also features a large pavilion, basketball courts, children’s playground, shuffleboard courts, tennis courts, and softball fields. It is also home to the newly added Little Cubs Field.
Oakdale Nature Preserve 
- Over 133 acres (0.54 km2) of forests, streams and restored prairies including more than four miles (6 km) of trails that wind through the Preserve as well as a 1/3-mile hard-packed accessible trail. In addition, Oakdale features a lodge, an auditorium and a nature center. Oakdale facilities are available for reunions, weddings, business meetings, retreats or gatherings.
Taylor Park 
- Size: 74 acres (300,000 m2)
- Freeport Park District acquired Taylor Park in 1911; it features three lighted softball fields, concession stand, basketball courts, picnic shelter and Abraham Lincoln statue. Taylor Park is home to the Park District's adult softball leagues and tournaments, which draw large crowds during summer nights.
Wilbur Park 
- Size: 1 acre (4,000 m2)
- Donated by local industrialist W.T. Rawleigh and named after his son (who died during WWI),Wilbur Park was deeded over to Freeport Park District on July 13, 1948. The park features nicely landscaped terrain and playground equipment.
Brewing history 
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Guelzom A. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The debates that defined america, page 162. Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-7432-7320-6
- Reference to the ebook History of Stephenson County Illinois, Arcade Manufacturing Company, page 510.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "2010 Census U.S. Gazetteer Files for Places – Illinois". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-05-03.
- "Monthly Averages for Freeport, IL". Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Freeport, Illinois|
- City of Freeport
- Freeport/Stephenson County Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Freeport Area Chamber of Commerce
- Stephenson County Historical Society
- Freeport Downtown Development Foundation
- Freeport Park District
- Freeport School District #145
- Northwest Illinois Development Alliance
- 1994 reenactment of Lincoln-Douglas Debate in Freeport televised by C-SPAN (Debate preview and Debate review)