Julie Green Oral History

Dublin Core


Julie Green Oral History


A UIUC alumni's oral history of the development of the area.


Rocky Khoshbin


Julie Green
History Harvest 2019




Rocky Khoshbin


In Copyright








Champaign, Illinois
Urbana, Illinois

Oral History Item Type Metadata




I = Interviwer
J: Julie Green

I: Can you start by stating your full name again?

J: Julie Green

I: Julie, how long have you lived in Champaign-Urbana?

J: Umm, I don’t currently, I was a student here from 1980 until to 1984.

I: Okay, and did you move out of Champaign after that?

J: Yes, yeah

I: Okay, do you have any memories from, I guess 1980 to 1984 about what downtown Champaign was like or downtown Urbana?

J: My general impression from my time here in Champaign is that downtown Champaign was very depressing. I didn’t tend to spend time here. It was a lot of vacant properties, derelict buildings, and about the only thing I used to regularly have to is that I would have to come in on the bus and I would come into the Greyhound station or come into the train station and even though campus was very close, I didn’t walk. I had to make sure to have somebody picking me up, or have… or take a cab. Because it just wasn’t safe for those first few blocks coming out of downtown heading towards campus. So it was that bad in those days. And it’s delightful to see how much life there is now around the downtown area here.

I: And do you know who was using those spaces?

J: Much of it was vacant. There weren’t any stores that appealed to anybody you know. Student-wise they just weren’t, umm… further out I remember going to some, you know, businesses that were off the beaten track from downtown. We used to go to a printer that was like, way off the beaten track I think it was a few miles south of campus off of Neil St. or something. Kinda, headed out towards farmland (laughter). But the businesses weren’t even coming in this area because, you know, their clientele didn’t feel safe coming. So, they didn’t even put their businesses near at the time. Now, Urbana we used to walk to all the time. You know, the square, you know, around the mall and Jumers and all that stuff. I don’t even think Jumers is there anymore is it?

I: Umm, I don’t think so.

J: (Laughter) It was kind of the landmark inn at the time I was here kinda, where fancy people stayed (laughter).

I : I guess, yeah it is it just has a different name.

J: Okay (laughter). It’s kind of a Tudor-style?

I: Mhm.

J: Okay, ummm, so you know around that there was a mall and they had the other stuff and y’know cute little shops and things like that so when you wanted a downtown area that wasn’t campus you went to Urbana.

I: Okay, were there any businesses in downtown Urbana that you utilized a lot or that you have any memories associated with?

J: Not really. That I remember specific. It’s a long time ago (laughter). I do remember the one in Champaign it was the Courier Cafe which I understand is still here. It is good. It started not long before I came I think. It is good to hear it is still there. So...

I: It is. Is there anything you want to tell me about urban development in Champaign-Urbana that, I guess, you noticed from comparing when you were in school to being back in Champaign?

J: A lot of developments since I was here obviously. But specifically yeah I used to live at FAR at Lincoln and Pennsylvania Avenue at the residence there and you know, it was FAR because we were far from everybody else (laughter). We were, you know, the south quarter of campus. Nobody-nothing, was past us. From our windows we looked out and saw the farm, you know, the south farm, and that is all that there was. So it’s kind of amazing to see all the build up that has happened south of Kirby and down there. Because it was nothing. But one of the things I was just talking to… that I remembered and I understand it hasn’t changed a whole lot, and I would’ve hoped in all this time it would have, is Illini Grove. That’s right at Lincoln and Peabody. It’s you know, one block long woods, that was, I’ll call it devastatingly dark at night. Because even the street lights they kinda stopped before it got to that woods area because there really weren’t any residences on the east side of the street and on the west side there was this little woods between the health center and PAR. It was just the woods. And at night it just wasn’t safe to drive there because it just wasn’t safe woods because a lot of it was evergreens that were very bushy and full and it unfortunately got the reputation of getting called “rape woods” because too many students had gotten attacked there. It was just standard practice that if you had to walk home from Urbana down to Par or FAR that you had to make sure you had an escort because it just was not safe to be alone there. Of course, one night I had to go help a friend at the hospital… but, what do you do? You have to. And, uhh, I understand that they haven’t really corrected that, I don’t know if the woods are as dense as they used to be maybe it’s better but I understand that it hasn’t gotten much better in the lighting. But I haven’t driven past there, I haven’t been down here since… 2000? 2000 we drive down here once?

Unknown third party: It was about then, yeah.

J: Yeah '99-2000 we were down here for a day.

I: During your time here in school were there any other vacant spaces that students kind of stayed away from like on campus or off campus?

J: I’m trying to remember… Well yeah we stayed away from McKinley, we called it Mc-Kill-Me (laughter). Still do. I literally had to break in there one night to save a friend. (laughter) Again, most of what I saw because of where I lived was that whole south area. And it’s all different. You know. There is so much built up now. I used to walk to the assembly hall or the stadium or stuff and there was nothing in between the stadium and FAR besides the cemetery. You know, they were the only residents (laughter), they weren’t going anywhere. It certainly wasn’t a terminal building like this. My nephew had said, you know, we were on the fourth floor of the bus terminal and I was going “that dingy grey concrete thing? (laughter). I didn’t know it went up that high.

I: I didn’t either, actually, yeah. (laughter).

J: But yeah, it was nothing like this. But, to see all the high rises and life around here is terrific. Yeah, I haven’t even walked around campus this time so I haven’t even seen what’s there now, so. So, I mean, we had our usuals, some of them are here I’m sure and some of them are not.

I: What kind of places were your usuals?

J: My usuals? Garcia’s. Umm, what else… Zorba’s. I understand that Zorba’s closed, right?

I:Yes, yeah. I think they moved.

J: That was our favorite. They had moved, then had a fire, then they closed, then they reopened, and then I think they moved, and then I think they are gone now. Unless they reopened again.

I: I think they reopened again, yeah.

J: That’s good.

I: Yeah, I think they reopened again.

J: One of our favorites… what else… umm, I spent a lot of time at 610, I’m sure that doesn’t exist anymore, it was an art supply store.

I: Where was 610?

J: I’m trying to remember. It wasn’t on Green. What’s the next one down? Daniels? I think it ws 610 Daniels. I wasn’t much for the campus bars. I’m not grieving Kam’s like others are (laughter). Can’t remember which is the one I used to go to. Used to have a Western night once a week. My floor people liked to go and I would get dragged out every once in a while. We would take occasional trips out to market place, you know, Bergener’s. Merle Norman. That was the best because they did free makeovers (laughter). Nothing like freebies for students. And Bergeners was great because back in those days they used to let you open up a credit card. So that was the first credit card I got, and so, y’know, how else do you start developing a credit rating? You know, somebody has to trust you with one. Y’know, without it being in your parents’ name. And they let you do it. A store credit card. And that is how I started building credit. Lots of stores won’t do it anymore. So it was nice.


Julie Green


MTD City View


Rocky Khoshbin, “Julie Green Oral History,” Omeka, accessed April 24, 2024, https://historyharvest.web.illinois.edu/omeka/items/show/52.

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