4 must-know facts about Illinois

chicago fun facts

The great state of Illinois is located in the Midwestern part of the United States, known as the Prairie State or the Land of Lincoln; almost 13 million people call it home. Filled with history, interesting facts, and stories, Illinois caught our attention, and we hope it will catch yours too.

Illinois is also home to 11 nuclear power plants. This amount of atomic reactors provides a little more than 50% of the state’s electricity, followed by almost 6.000 jobs for its residents. 

And slightly off the “carbon footprint” topic but still immensely important – capital of Illinois is Springfield, which has nuclear power plant, it has a lake called Lake Springfield and a tavern called “Moe’s” – if this isn’t proof enough that the Simpsons are from Illinois, I don’t know what is.

Land of Lincoln

Nickname Prairie state or Corn state is widely adopted in Illinois since it is a grassland state, part of the Great Plaines. It’s a heavily farmed and fertile land with proper hot summers and snowy cold winters. 

Farmlands in Illinois take about 75% of the total state’s area, creating a sustainable economy for both rural and urban areas, allowing this prairie to strengthen both regions further.

Land of Lincoln nickname came from, you guessed it, Mr. Abraham Lincoln as his career began in this state, and he was living here in the period leading to his election as president in 1861. Lincoln wasn’t born in Illinois, even though he lived there for 31 years, he was born in Kentucky; the president who was born in Illinois was Ronald Reagan, just 102 years later.

In 1865, after the end of the American Civil War, during Lincoln’s presidency, Illinois was the first state to adopt the 13th amendment officially. It took almost a year for all the states to ratify the 13th amendment, and by doing so in December of 1865, slavery in the United States was abolished.

Let us mention some of the Illinois foods that left a mark on the American food culture. The almighty Twinkie is a product of the Prairie state. A baker called James Dewar came up with this delicious treat by filling a shortcake with a sweet, creamy mixture in 1930, in Schiller Park, Illinois. Also worth mentioning is that the oldest McDonald’s that is still operating is in Des Plaines, Illinois.

If there are any superman fans out there, another interesting fact about Illinois you might find remarkable is that the famous city of Metropolis is located here, 360 miles south of Chicago. 

In 1973 the museum “Amazing World of Superman” dedicated to this fictional superhero was opened. City’s newspaper is reasonably called “The Metropolis Planet,” and during the annual “Superman” festivities, visitors come together and celebrate, with their capes in the wind. Super, right?

Chicago City

We couldn’t talk about interesting facts about Illinois without bringing up Chicago city. From its art and history culture to sports, architecture, fine dining, and the wondrous Chicago River – Chicago is indeed a fascinating city.

Mr. Michael Jordan, even though born in New York, is a synonym for Chicago’s basketball scene. He led the “Chicago Bulls” to six NBA championships, laying the pavement for this team and their fast track to success in the National Basketball League.

The Windy City has 600 parks, covering the surface of about 8.800 acres, more than any other city in the United States. And a few blocks from the famous Millennium Park, in the heart of Chicago, you can see a cubist statue and a well-known landmark made by Pablo Picasso in 1967.

Route 66

“The Mother Road,” “Main street of America,” or better known as “Route 66”, was one of the most traveled on the highway in the USA. It connected east and west, starting in front of the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois, and ending in Los Angeles, California. 

It had been excluded from the US highway system in 1985, but many people still go on road trips, tracking down what once was a route that connected a nation.

Chicago River

But by the end of the 19th century, the most exciting thing happened. In this city, the Chicago River began to flow backward. Let rewind events to see how this reversed river came to be.

As the city grew more significant, the Chicago River and Lake Michigan became more and more polluted with raw sewage, animal waste, and industrial chemicals. Since Lake Michigan is the provider of drinking water for Chicago, pollution was a serious problem that led to the spread of dysentery, typhus, and cholera.

A smart man Sylvester Chesbrough suggested that pipes should be laid underground to form the sewer system, but that didn’t help much since the sewage ended up in Lake Michigan anyways, again polluting the water supply.

His next idea was to dig a tunnel under the lake, two miles long and sixty feet deep to draw clean drinking water from further offshore but, imagine this, that didn’t work either. 

One day of heavy rainfall and the polluted river water could spread and reach the point of intake, making the city’s drinking water dirty, yet again. The next solution was the one that would stick around. It started with a simple idea – use gravity to pull river backward through channels and into another river – away from Lake Michigan. 

But the construction work wasn’t simple, and it took eight years to finish the work on the primary channel that would redirect the river flow towards the Des Plaines River and then via the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

So, as we can see, there are plenty of stories and many interesting facts about Illinois worth telling. 

For the very end, we picked out a few famous people you may recognize that have become household names all over the world, and all of them with one thing in common, they were all born in Illinois. Ernest Hemingway, Oak Park; Walt Disney, Chicago; Harrison Ford, Chicago; Benny Goodman, Chicago; Robin Williams, Chicago; Ronald Reagan, Tampico; Dwyane Wade, Chicago; Bill Murray, Evanston.

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