Looking back at Peoria in the days before reform took hold, the Peoria Journal Star in 1956 viewed the earlier city as rough and wild, an “Empire of Vice.” Gambling, prostitution, “female impersonation,” and the drug trade  were everyday elements in the city. Ironically, the Peoria Journal Star‘s antecedents in the 1940s—the Peoria Star and the Peoria Journal-Transcript—often looked the other way at the Empire of Vice during its heyday.  

This article is part of a five-part series by the Peoria Journal Star in April 1956: