Metropolis, Illinois is on the very southern tip of the state, on the shore of the Ohio River. It would make a very long road trip from Chicago on the shore of Lake Michigan. According to the 2000 census, Metropolis had 6,482 residents, and is the county seat for Massac County. Here in Lake County, Florida, the town of Eustis I live in had 17,683 residents by the census. The nearby town of Umatilla, where I grew up has 2,502 residents, so Metropolis is somewhere in between. It is more like the fictional town of Smallville, than its comic book equivalent. The Massac County High School mascot is the Patriot, and the Massac County campus of the 5-County Vocational Syestem is also located in Metropolis.
On January 21, 1972 DC Comics declared Metropolis, Illinois as the "Hometown of Superman". On june 9, 1972 the Illinois State Legislature passed Resolution 572 declaring the same thing. This year, 2008, was the 30th anniversary of the annual Superman Celebration, held from Thursday, June 12 - Sunday June 15. A 15-foot Superman statue stands in front of the Massac County Courthouse, and the Metropolis newspaper was renamed the Metropolis Planet, after the newspaper in the Superman comic books. Harrah's riverboat casino and hotel is another nearby attraction.
According to the official city web site, it is believed Native Americans originally inhabited the area. French soldiers were the first Europeans to go to the area in 1757, when they built Fort Massaic during the French Indian War. They abandoned the post after the war. The British found only burnt ruins, believed to have been destroyed by the Chicasaw. During the Revolutionary War, in 1778 George Rogers Clark and his "Long Knives" regiment entered Illinois through Massac Creek. Gen. Washington ordered the fort rebuilt in 1794, and the post was manned for the next 20 years, until the New Madrid earthquake of 1811-12. In 1803 Lewis and Clark also camped at Fort Massac as they prepared for their Corps of Discovery. Metropolis was platted in 1839 about a mile north of the fort site. One of the city founders was a merchant who transported goods on the Ohio River. He picked the city site, high above the river, in hope that the city would develop into a transportation hub. The Illinois legislature formed Massac County in 1843, and Metropolis became the county seat. During the Civil War, union soldiers used the fort site as a training ground. The DAR rallied efforts to purchase the 24 acres surrounding the fort site in 1903, and in 1908 Fort Massac was officially declared the first state park. Every October over 100,000 visitors go to the Fort Massac Encampment, for a festival with mock military battles, fife and drum corps, period costumes, crafts and food.
The Metropolis Museum originated with Jim Hambrick, who originally lived in California. According to the web site www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2091 he began his Superman collection in 1959, when his parents bought him a Superman lunchbox. Since then he has amassed a collection of over 100,000 Superman items. He began operating a traveling Superman exhibit at county fairs. In 1985 he decided his collection belonged in Metropolis, Illinois. It took over a year to pack, and eight years to complete the move. The museum opened on Superman Square in 1993. The museum is behind a Superman souvenir and collectible store. The museum displays 20,000 items, spanning seven decades in comic books, serials, television and movies. there are props and costumes for the various supporting characters as well. Jim hopes to eventually expand the museum to display his entire collection.
The city of Metropolis planned to build a 1,000 acre $50 million Amazing World of Superman theme park, complete with a 200 foot Superman statue. The oil crisis forced the cancellation of those plans. The Limited Collectors Edition presents Superman oversided treasury ediion, published in 1974, contained drawings of the proposed park drawn by Neal Adams. In 1986 the city raised #1,000 to raise a seven foot Superman statue, which unfortunately became the target of vandals. The city raised $120,000 in 1993, through the sale of engraved bricks at $35 each, to raise a 15 foot, 2 ton bronze statue in full color. That same year Merv Griffin's Riverboat Casino opened.
The 2008 Superman celebration featured Allison Mack of Smallville, Ned Beatty of Superman The Movie and Superman II, Noel Neill of the Superman serials and the 1950's Adventures of Superman TV show from season two through the rest of the show's run (and who celebrated 60 years of first portraying Lois Lane in 1948), Superman artist Murphy Anderson, Michael Eury, author of The Krypton Companion, Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, Eddy Zeno, author of Curt Swan: A Life In Pictures, and other writers and artists.The Celebration also included a baseball game between the Metropolis Marvels and the Smallville Metoers, 1940's costume Hollywood Ball, an artist's alley, Q & A's, music, food, a fanfilm competition and autograph sessions. The official celebration website is www.supermancelebration.net.
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