Taken from VisitAlton.com
Alton is one of America’s great river towns. It is filled with historic homes, great shops and diverse industry. More than 50 antique and specialty stores along Alton's “Antique Row,” as well as some of the best dining in Southwestern Illinois. Visitors are also amazed at the rich history and abundant historic sites that can be found here. Quaint bed and breakfast inns with pampering accommodations are a great place for those looking for a little rest and relaxation after a long day of shopping and sightseeing.
Abundant with historical figures and local legends, many threads of our nation’s history can be discovered right here in Alton, Illinois. The history of the region dates all the way back to the 1600’s. In 1673, while making their way down the Mississippi River, French explorers Marquette and Joliet first discovered the image of the Piasa Bird high above the bluffs. The Piasa Bird, an Illini Indian bluff painting of a dragon-like creature, has become an icon of the region and local legend revered by many.
Towering 250-feet above the Mighty Mississippi, supported by 44 steel cables looped over saddles and perched on top of 10-foot wide concrete pylons, the Clark Super Bridge is an architectural marvel. Alton is home to the tallest monument in the state of Illinois, the Lovejoy Monument, dedicated to abolitionist and martyr Elijah Lovejoy. Buried beneath the streets, the sounds of the footsteps of runaway slaves escaping to their freedom can be heard along the “Alton Route” of the Underground Railroad. Frozen in bronze, visitors can admire Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas standing in Lincoln-Douglas Square depicting the last of the great debates.
The Civil War brought with it more than 10,000 confederates—all prisoners who were held at the infamous Alton Federal Military Prison. Today, the remaining portion of the Alton Prison wall can be visited on Williams Street. At the Confederate Monument, families can still pay tribute to the 1,345 Southern soldiers perished in the Alton Prison. In 1918, Alton’s most famous son was born—Robert Wadlow. Visitors love getting their picture taken next to the life-size bronze statue of Alton's “gentle giant” who grew to become the world’s tallest man at 8 feet, 11.1 inches. Rich in heritage and alive with legend, Alton is a treasure trove of tales just waiting to be told.