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Alton, Illinois, is a river town in Southern Illinois, about 30 miles north of St. Louis. Alton was the birthplace of Miles Davis, one of the greatest jazz musicians ever. Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in recorded history, was raised and died in Alton. It was founded by attorney Colonel Rufus Easton in 1817, and named after one of his sons. It was the birthplace and home of the tallest man who ever lived, Robert Wadlow (8' 11.1"), and a life-size statue commemorates him there.[1]

Once overwhelmingly Democratic, Alton and neighboring communities have slowly shifted to be more supportive of Trump Republicans. Alton features a private high school, Marquette, which is a magnet for families on both sides of the adjacent Mississippi River.

A project called "AltonWorks" seeks to revitalize downtown Alton and is preparing a nomination to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places: [2]

Buildings in the [proposed historical] district date from 1835 to 1962. [An historical expert] identified 84 historically significant structures, including hotels, banks, storefronts, office buildings, fraternal organizations, and automotive-related businesses.

Catfish is a local specialty as caught in the river. Flooding of the river each year can be a spectacle, as in 1993 when records were set and the levee nearly breached.


In the first part of the 1800s, Alton was more significant than nearby St. Louis, and in 1858 was the location for one of the famous debates between senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. At the turn of the century into 1901, Alton supported four rival newspapers.

The murder in Alton of Elijah Lovejoy in 1837 for publishing an anti-slavery newspaper caused outrage in the northern states and helped eventually precipitate the American Civil War. A pro-slavery from Missouri crossed the river to commit the murder, and throw his printing press in the river. It was recovered and put on display decades later by the Alton Telegraph.