By Kristy Wilson
I was born in a small town outside of Springfield. I moved to Champaign-Urbana when I was just 7 years old. I don’t know if there is some sort of formula or formal rule about how long you have to live in a city before you consider yourself a “townie,” but I think that I meet the criteria. My general rule of thumb is that if you have spent more than half of your life (given that you are an adult over the age of 18) in a place, then you are fairly qualified to be “from” that place. While I won’t reveal my age, let’s just say that since I have lived here all but one year since I was 7 years old I am a “townie.” So, the question is how else do you know that you are “from” Champaign-Urbana? Check out our list of ideas below.
1. You know that Kirby Avenue and Florida Avenue are the same street and you know that the changeover happens along the area in front of the UI tennis and baseball facilities.
2. You know that Neil Street and Dunlap Street are the same road and you know that the changeover happens at the intersection of Windsor Road.
3. You can drive to Candlestick Lane and can describe where it is to people, but you could never find it on a map.
4. No matter what pizza place you eat at you crave the red dressing from Monical’s Pizza for dipping!
5. When you are talking with someone and they say they are at “5 points” you know that they are sitting at the intersection of University and Cunningham.
6. You only go to campus restaurants when the students are not in session to avoid the crowds.
7. You avoid campus like the plague on “Unofficial” (St. Patrick’s Day).
8. You remember when Lincoln Square Mall was actually more of a mall. At one point there was a Bergner’s in that building.
9. You remember when the Chancellor was the premier hotel in town.
10. You remember restaurants like Aunt Sonya’s, Bagelmans and Ritzy (their shoe string French fries were amazing!).
11. You remember that there was a movie theatre on campus (OK, confession, I think that this is before my time even, but my parents remember it!)
12. You know that quite a few famous people hail from here. Ludacris, REO Speedwagon, Alison Krauss, and Roger Ebert to name a few.
13. You know that Larry Hanks, brother of actor Tom Hanks, is an Entomology professor at the University of Illinois. At the height of the Forrest Gump movie craze the rumor floated around that Larry was Tom’s double for some of the running sequences in the movie. However, upon investigating this fact a bit it appears that it was their younger brother Jim who acted as the running double.
14. You remember Robeson’s — the large department store in downtown Champaign.
15. You remember when Green Street was primarily made up of bars and fast food restaurants and the only “high-rise” on campus was the now-called “Tower at Third” (formerly known as University Inn and several other names).
16. You can get to North Prospect Avenue using Mattis Avenue and back roads, Prospect Avenue, Neil Street and/or interstates. How you choose your route to North Prospect depends on the time of day and traffic patterns.
17. The people closest to you dread going to certain events with you because they know that you will see 5-10 people you have either worked with, gone to school with, or both!
18. You know what streets divide towns and change zip codes. The most common of these:
- Champaign and Urbana is divided by Wright Street on campus. Everything to the east of Wright is Urbana and everything to the west is Champaign.
- Prospect Avenue divides several things in Champaign. The zip code “61821” in Champaign falls to the west of Prospect. The zip code “61820” is on the east side of the road. Everything on the west side of Prospect south of Windsor Road is Savoy, however the neighborhoods on the east side of Prospect are still Champaign (and yes, “61821”… see above for that rule).
19. You remember the various locations that Target (Glenn Park Drive next to County Market and its current location) and Hobby Lobby (Glenn Park Drive next to County Market and its current location) have been.
20. You remember when Home Depot was Kmart.
21. You know what roads to avoid on Illinois game days (primarily football and basketball). Further, you know to avoid those areas after big concerts.
22. You still call State Farm Arena the Assembly Hall … and you always will!
So there you have them! What else would you add?
Kristy Wilson considers herself a “townie” having lived in the community for more than 26 years. She grew up in Unit 4 schools and attended the University of Illinois. Kristy is passionate about her professional work as a social worker. In her spare time she enjoys food! In particular she loves to try new recipes and sample new dishes at local eateries.