I heard that Pekin has taken a spiral...

I heard that Pekin has taken a spiral down fall

Posted in the Peoria Forum


United States

#1 Nov 25, 2009
My cousins lived there and we used to visit every year in the summer in the early 80's. I was 18. Coming from Chicago it was a little strange but nice in its own way. I could never understand why people in central Il had southern accents! I mean I expected the good ole boy accent in Tennessee not a town a couple hundred miles from Chicago. The fashion was a little different and it seemed a lot of people had caps on. Like the ones that say Cat or a feed store. I kind of liked that back woods hick town mentality. It was cool to visit. Now the mall....OMG it was a little strange. Weird colors and they had a Lums! Drinking age was 18 and we would get loaded at a bar called the Ivanhoe in the mall. My brothers and male cousins would go to a bar called The hole in the Wall (I’m sure long gone) but wouldn't take us girls because it was "too rough". There was a parking lot in the park and kids would park there playing loud music and smoking weed. They called the place "head hill". It was really a riot visiting Pekin. I had to take pictures and show my friends back home. Had to show a disbelieving black friend a restaurant called something like "Little black Sambo's! OMG! It was like a Denny's and was near that dawn of the dead mall. Wanted to visit there again even though the cuz's moved long ago but it seems the town has really changed. It's seen a lot of tragedy and is a Killbilly haven . Least that’s what they say up in Chicago. Everybody's leaving except for the diehards.
I'm going to get down there with some friends anyway. Want to walk that mall, have a drink or 2 at the Ivanhoe and get some pancakes at Little Black Sambo's LOL. Just for that it will be worth the trip.

Pekin, IL

#2 Nov 25, 2009
The original mall has been torn down. There is a new "mall" there now, however it is not an enclosed mall anymore. The Ivanhoe is no longer in business, and there's an Applebee's where Sambo's used to be. The Hole in the Wall is still here and for the record, I have never set foot in that place. Definitely not the crowd I like to hang out with. LOL! When I was in H.S., the river was the place to hang out, or Main Street in Peoria. Peoria has changed ALOT. This is too funny. I had a friend who moved here from Chicago in the early 80's, and I used to think she had a funny accent and wore weird clothes. She was from a Polish/Check family, and her mom spoke yiddish all the time. "Oy Vey!" LOL! Loved her family. I guess you could consider me a "diehard". I have lived in the Pekin area all my life and am raising a family here. It's not like I've never seen the world though. Been to NYC, Cali, Fla, Mexico, the islands, etc, I'm always glad to get back to my little Shire in Pekin. Yes, Pekin has seen it's fair share of changes since the 80's. The drug scene is still here, but that's nothing new. Pekin has always had drug issues. There are plenty of people here who don't live that lifestyle (me included).

Morton, IL

#3 Nov 25, 2009
LOL......Well the mall is no longer here. The Ivanhoe has moved to downtown Pekin. But the Hole In The Wall is still here. Ive never heard of Little Black Sambos but I was pretty young in the early 80s.

La Puente, CA

#4 Nov 25, 2009
You may be dissapointed about the great mall, but come on down.

In the 1980's the drinking age was 21, however not surprising an 18 year old would be allowed to drink in the Ivanhoe.

The Ivanhoe is closed, the Hole in the Wall remains.

The mall closed for about 10 years or so, and has been replaced with an outdoor shopping center, no bar there anymore.

Killbilly heaven was much more true in the early 80's than it is today. A lot has changed on the racial front.

The population of Pekin is probably close to 40,000 if not more, so I don't see a bunch of non "diehards" packing their bags and leaving town. There was a huge housing boom from the mid 1990's til about 2007.

So sure, come back and spend some of your big man Chicago money down here for all us hicks. The local goverment could use your tax money.

Pekin, IL

#5 Nov 25, 2009
Is the Ivanhoe still here?! I didn't know that. LOL! I guess that tells you I'm not into the bar scene much anymore. Ha-ha!

I lived in Mackinaw for a while during my teen years in the late 70's/early 80's. I moved to Pekin my Jr. Year in H.S. Went from a school of 300 or so to a school with 2,500. Culture shock for sure.

I miss the good old days in Peoria too. Big John's BBQ (the original place). I remember going there when I was about three and I asked the lady who waited on us why she was black. She smiled a big beautiful smile and said "Honey...people come in all different colors." I thought my poor mother was going to crawl under the table that day. That has stuck with me my whole life, and it's a quote I will live by and teach my children. I think Pekin and the area gets a bad rap for racism. I wasn't raised that way, and I know alot of people in Pekin who weren't either. I hope this doesn't open a can of worms by discussing this, but I think it should be known that there are GOOD people who live in Pekin. I babysat for a family of color when I was a teen. The lady's name was Grace, she worked at CAT with my mom, and they were awesome people. We used to go to Kmart in Morton and my Chicago friend and I would yell out "Hey Mom!!!" across the store to get a reaction out of people ... LOL. She would be like, "Hey you two quit yelling at me!" and we would dissolve into fits of giggles and give her a big bear hug. Wow this post has brought back alot of wonderful memories.

United States

#6 Nov 27, 2009
Thanks for the replys. It sounds like there are a lot of nice people still in Pekin! I will definitly like to see the place again. Goodness, what a shame that original mall is gone. Hey, I found a link about the mall thats pretty funny. It has pictures and all. check it out:


Hollywood, FL

#7 Dec 18, 2012
Is there still a Hole in the Wall bar in Pekin?? That place was pretty cool. A lot of fights though. I remember a stabbing or 2.
in mo now

Saint Louis, MO

#8 Dec 29, 2013
I remember Perkin from around that time.had a lot of good times.I left there about 1985 .I also remember the mall and the ivanhoe and the hole in the wall also the bars on court st .time has flew by.a lot of good people there

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