Having received enthusiastic feedback from our readers, we once again present an issue focused on the great history of our region. It’s always fascinating to look back at old photos and read of those who have made the community what it is today—and it’s always good to remember how far we’ve progressed.

Too often, we’re so consumed by today’s to-do list, the bottom line and planning for the future that we fail to celebrate the great strides we have made. Conversely, without an occasional look back, we might forget the mistakes of the past… and be condemned to repeat them, as the saying goes.

This issue is full of fascinating stories, from accounts of Peoria’s early leaders, like Charles Ballance and Dr. Rudolphus Rouse, to the extraordinary tale of Ruth Robertson, a Peorian who rose to international acclaim as a photographer. In these pages, we celebrate the 180th anniversary of Peoria’s incorporation as a town, examine the impact of Prohibition on the region’s economy, and learn more about key historic figures like R.G. LeTourneau and John Gwynn, Jr.

We salute our libraries and historical societies for keeping these stories alive, and we appreciate the hard work of dedicated volunteers like Robert Wilson and Rebecca Mohr, who are painstakingly transcribing the often-illegible diaries of soldiers from the Civil War era. They have graciously shared some key entries with us, and once complete, all of them will be available at peoriahistoricalsociety.org.

History is also a key component of current downtown development efforts. With the recent designation of Peoria’s Warehouse District on the National Register of Historic Places—and the tax credits that come with it—that area is experiencing a renewed wave of expansion and growth. Our support of these efforts is critical to our community’s future.

I was particularly intrigued by Brandon Holmes’ article on “Place,” as I’ve used the word often the past few years in training our family dog. “Place,” to him, is a comfortable spot to sit and stay… to linger until the next command. For us, “Place”—with a capital “P”—goes beyond geography, referring to “places with allure… created to attract people and businesses, improve quality of life and increase economic competitiveness,” writes Holmes, executive director of Greater Peoria LISC.

I predict 2015 will be a phenomenal year of growth and change for the Peoria area. We at iBi will continue to bring you the stories of those who are making it a great “Place” to be—with a capital “P.” iBi