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A Cosmopolitan Place (1854 - 1920)

With the arrival of the railroad, McLean County became a more cosmopolitan place with many ethnic communities. German, Irish, African Americans, Swedish, Italian, and Welsh people all came. McLean County's foreign-born population approached 7,500 in 1870 and remained around that number until the 1920s, when national immigration limits were established, and the rate of immigration began to drop.

Those arriving during this period traveled by steamship from Europe, then by train or riverboat. People from the eastern and southeastern United States continued to arrive as well, causing McLean County’s population to increase to 74,000 by 1920.