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What are the best places for a visit to a historic university or college in Illinois?

Exploring Illinois’ Historic Halls of Learning

Illinois, a state steeped in educational history, is home to some of the most storied universities and colleges in the United States. Visitors seeking a blend of academia and history can explore several institutions that have left indelible marks on the landscape of American higher education.

Northwestern University: A Blend of Gothic and Modernity
Located in Evanston, Northwestern University, founded in 1851, offers a picturesque campus along the shores of Lake Michigan. Its Gothic-style buildings, such as University Hall and Deering Library, are architectural gems that house centuries of scholarly pursuit. The campus seamlessly integrates modern facilities, making it a must-visit for architecture and history enthusiasts.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Land-Grant Legacy
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, established in 1867 as a land-grant institution, is known for its significant contributions to research and education. The historic Main Quad, surrounded by ivy-covered halls and the Altgeld Hall bell tower, provides a quintessential collegiate atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.

Loyola University Chicago: Lakeside Jesuit Institution
For those interested in the Jesuit tradition in education, Loyola University Chicago, founded in 1870, offers a stunning campus along the waterfront. The Madonna della Strada Chapel and the Cudahy Library stand as testaments to the university’s rich heritage and commitment to faith-based education.


Q: Are these campuses open to the public for tours?
A: Yes, all three universities welcome visitors and offer campus tours, though it’s best to check their websites for the latest information on tour availability.

Q: Can visitors access the libraries and historic buildings?
A: Access varies by institution and building, but many historic sites are open to the public. Specific visitor policies can be found on each university’s website.


Gothic-style: An architectural style characterized by pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses, commonly used in European cathedrals and universities.
Land-grant institution: A college or university designated by a state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890, which provided federal land to states to finance higher education.
Jesuit tradition: An educational approach based on the principles of the Society of Jesus, emphasizing rigorous academics, social justice, and holistic development.