Bloomington is a city in McLean County, Illinois, United States and the county seat. It is adjacent to Normal, Illinois, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal Metropolitan Statistical Area which is often referred to simply as "Bloomington-Normal". A 2006 special census indicated that Bloomington's population was 74,975. Bloomington is the host of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, which is a nationally recognized Shakespearean festival.
Bloomington is located at 40°29′03″N 88°59′37″W. The city is at an elevation of above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.5 square miles (58.3 km²), all of it land.
As of the census of July 2007, there were 72,416 people, 26,642 households, and 15,718 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,880.3 people per square mile (1,112.1/km²). There were 28,431 housing units at an average density of 1,263.6/sq mi (487.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.92% White, 8.64% African American, 0.18% Native American, 3.02% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.42% from other races, and 1.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.32% of the population.
The City of Bloomington and McLean County comprise the fastest-growing metropolitan area in Illinois. The area's population has grown 28% from 1990 through 2006. The fastest growth has been in Bloomington, as the U.S. Census Bureau conducted a special census of that city in February, 2006, showing a population of 74,975, a 15.7% increase in less than six years.
In 2000, there were 26,642 households out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.0% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 12.5% from 18 to 24, 33.3% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $46,496, and the median income for a family was $61,093. Males had a median income of $41,736 versus $29,077 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,751. About 4.3% of families 7.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.5% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.
Prior to the 1520s, the area of today's Bloomington was at the edge of a large grove enjoyed by the Kickapoo people before the first Euro-American settlers arrived in the early 1820s. Springing from the settlement of Keg Grove, later called Blooming Grove, Bloomington was named as county seat on December 25, 1830, when McLean County was created.
When the County of McLean was incorporated a county seat was established. However, the legislation stated the site of Bloomington "would be located later." James Allin, who was one of the promoters of the new county, offered to donate of his own land for the new town. His offer was accepted and Bloomington was laid out. Its lots were sold at a well-attended and noisy auction on the 4th of July 1831. At this time there were few roads, but rich soils brought new farmers who began commerce by conducting their business in the newly formed county. People came from all over to trade and do business at the town's center, known today as Downtown Bloomington, including Abraham Lincoln who was working as a lawyer in nearby Springfield.
In 1900 an officer on patrol discovered a fire in a laundry across the street from the old City Hall and Police Station. He sounded the alarm but the fire eventually destroyed the majority of the downtown, especially the areas north and east of the courthouse. However, the burnt area was quickly rebuilt from the designs of local architects George Miller, Paul O. Moratz and A.L. Pillsbury.
During the first two decades of the 20th century Bloomington continued to grow. Agriculture, the construction of highways and railroads, and the growth of the insurance business (mainly State Farm Insurance) all influenced the growth of Bloomington and its downtown area. The downtown area became a regional shopping center attracting trade from adjoining counties. Labor unions grew in strength. This trend has continued to the present day, where expansion has included many restaurants and other businesses.