The Originals

April 22, 2016

Firm Foundation

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) is a local program which has served employers including cities, villages, counties, school districts, townships and various special districts, such as parks, forest preserves and sanitary districts, since 1941.

Today, we work with 2,972 local units of government across Illinois. Recognized this year as one of the largest pension plans in the United States – earning a top 50 ranking out of 1,000 plans – IMRF started with a mere five employers.

As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we’re proud to salute the historic “First Five” organizations that helped lay the foundation for our valuable, shared partnerships. These original employers include the City of Evanston, the City of Galesburg, the Village of Riverside, the City of Rockford and the Rockford Park District.

Here are some fun facts about our First Five:


A North Shore community in Cook County, Evanston is home to Northwestern University, the birthplace of Tinkertoys, and the locale for several major motion pictures by the late film director, John Hughes. With Northwestern’s celebrated journalism, film, and theater arts programs, many celebrities and famous faces have called Evanston “home,” as they resided either on or off campus.


A historic railroad town in Knox County, Galesburg was founded by a Presbyterian minister in 1835. It's also the home of Illinois’ first anti-slavery society. The city’s most famous native, is world-renowned author and poet, Carl Sandburg, whose childhood home is a state historic site.


Another Cook County member of IMRF, Rockford is located just west of Chicago. With its picturesque water tower and nostalgic train station, historians peg this slice of suburbia as one of the nation’s first “planned” communities. Notable natives include Chicago Bulls legend, Johnny “Red” Kerr, reputed Al Capone associate Frank Nitti, and Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, known as the last descendant of Abraham Lincoln.


The third-largest city in Illinois, Rockford is the seat of Winnebago County. Nicknamed the “Forest City,” this riverbank city is known for a long-standing history of industry and manufacturing. It’s also recognized for contributions to arts and culture, and is home to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, Cheap Trick, actress Susan Saint James, and singer Michelle Williams of the R&B group Destiny’s Child.

Rockford Park District

Rockford has the second-largest park and recreation system in the state. Operating for more than 100 years, the district is a National Gold Medal for excellence winner and in parks and recreation management.

Today, even as we work with our neighbors from urban areas to farming towns, and manage more than $35 billion in assets, we’re excited to recognize our first professional partnerships that continue to thrive and flourish, more than seven decades later.

From our humble beginnings with five pioneering partners and a $5,000 U.S. Treasury Bond, IMRF is locally funded, financially sound, and ready for the next 75 years of service to our neighbors in the Land of Lincoln and beyond.