The Historic City and Its Architecture
By Christian Narkiewicz-Laine
Photographs by Lary L. Sommers
This remarkably beautiful American city is located in the Driftless Zone
, an area that was not covered by glaciers
during the recent ice ages. This area, which includes the far northwestern corner of Illinois, escaped glaciation, while almost the entire state was glaciated, nearly to its southern tip.
It is named for the mineral galena
, which was mined by Native Americans
in the area for over a thousand years. Owing to these deposits, Galena was the site of the first major mineral rush in the United States
. The first American settler arrived in 1821, and by 1828, the population was estimated at 10,000. The city emerged as the largest steamboat
hub on the Mississippi River
north of St. Louis, Missouri
. Galena was the home of Ulysses S. Grant
and eight other Civil War
generals. Today, the city is a tourist destination known for its history, architecture, and resorts.
One of the most important architects was Father Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli, a Dominican missionary that came to the area in the 1830s from his native Italy, and designed and built many outstanding churches up and down the Mississippi River, including the first County Building for Jo Daviess County.
Today, the city is a stunning example of mid-19th Century America and the only city in the United States where one enters through a gate. The remarkable Victorian and classical buildings have withstood the odds of modernization and stand today and a magnificent collection of the best of early American Architecture.
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