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  • Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy and Alton hosted the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates that stirred interest all over the country in the slavery issue.
  • The first Aquarium opened in Chicago, 1893.
  • The world’s first Skyscraper was built in Chicago, 1885.
  • Home to the Chicago Bears Football Team, Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, Chicago Bulls basketball team, Chicago Cubs and Chicago Whitesox baseball teams, Chicago Fire soccer team.
  • The first Mormon Temple in Illinois was constructed in Nauvoo.
  • Peoria is the oldest community in Illinois.
  • The Sears Tower, Chicago is the tallest building on the North American continent.
  • Metropolis the home of Superman really exists in Southern Illinois.
  • Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site–most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico
  • Illinois had two capital cities, Kaskaskia, and Vandalia before Springfield.
  • The NFL’s Chicago Bears were first known as the “Staley Bears”. They were organized in 1920, in Decatur.
  • Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery. 1865
  • On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi and a small band of scientists and engineers demonstrated that a simple construction of graphite bricks and uranium lumps could produce controlled heat. The space chosen for the first nuclear fission reactor was a squash court under the football stadium at the University of Chicago.
  • Des Plaines is home to the first McDonald’s.
  • Dixon is the boyhood home of President Ronald Reagan.
  • Springfield is the state capital and the home of the National Historic Site of the home of President and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln.
  • Chicago is home to the Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station, the only buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire.
  • Before Abraham Lincoln was elected president he served in the Illinois legislature and practiced law in Springfield. Abraham Lincoln is buried just outside Springfield at Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site.
  • Carlyle is the home of the largest man-made lake in Illinois.
  • Illinois has 102 counties.
  • Ronald Wilson Regan from Tampico became the 40th president of the United States in 1980.
  • The highest point in Illinois is Charles Mound at 1235 feet above sea level.
  • The state motto is: State Sovereignty, National Union
  • The ice cream “sundae” was named in Evanston. The piety of the town resented the dissipating influences of the soda fountain on Sunday and the good town fathers, yielding to this churchly influence, passed an ordinance prohibiting the retailing of ice cream sodas on Sunday. Ingenious confectioners and drug store operators obeying the law, served ice cream with the syrup of your choice without the soda. Objections then was made to christening a dish after the Sabbath. So the spelling of “sunday” was changed. It became an established dish and an established word and finally the “sundae”.
  • The round Silo for farm storage of silage was first constructed on a farm in Spring Grove.
  • The Illinois state dance is square dancing.
  • Illinois has more units of government than any other state (i.e., city, county, township, etc.). Over six thousand. One contributing reason may be the township governments, which are generally six miles square.
  • The worst prison camp during the Civil War in terms of percentages of death was at Rock Island.
  • Illinois boasts the highest number of personalized license plates, more than any other state.
  • The University of Illinois Conservatory is 37 feet high at its apex.
  • In 1905, president of the Chicago Cubs filed charges against a fan in the bleachers for catching a fly ball and keeping it.
  • Chicago’s Mercantile Exchange building was built entirely without an internal steel skeleton, as most skyscrapers; it depends on its thick walls to keep itself up
  • The abbreviation “ORD” for Chicago’s O’Hare airport comes from the original name Orchard Field. O’Hare Airport was named in honor of Lieutenant Commander Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare.
  • The trains that pass through Chicago’s underground freight tunnels daily would extend over ten miles total in length.
  • The slogan of 105.9, the classic rock radio station in Chicago: ‘Of all the radio stations in Chicago…we’re one of them.’
  • In Mount Pulaski, Illinois, it is illegal for boys (and only boys) to hurl snowballs at trees. Girls are allowed to do that however.
  • In Illinois Michael is the top name chosen for boys. Emily is the most chosen name for girls.
  • Illinois is known for its wide variety of weather. Major winter storms, deadly tornadoes and spectacular heat and cold waves.
  • The first birth on record in Chicago was of Eulalia Pointe du Sable, daughter of Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable and his Potawatomi Indian wife in 1796.
  • Chicago’s Mercy Hospital was the first hospital opened in Illinois.
  • The first animal purchased for the Lincoln Park Zoo was a bear cub, bought for $10 on June 1st, 1874
  • The University of Chicago opened on October 1, 1892 with an enrollment of 594 and a faculty of 103.
  • New York Sun editor Charles Dana, tired of hearing Chicagoans boast of the world’s Columbian Exposition, dubbed Chicago the “Windy City.”
  • Comedy showcase “Second City” was founded on North Wells Street in a former Chinese laundry in 1959
  • Chicago’s first African American mayor, Harold Washington, took office in 1983
  • The 4 stars on the Chicago flag represent Fort Dearborn, the Chicago Fire, the World’s Columbian Exposition, and the Century of Progress Exposition.
  • The Chicago Public Library is the world’s largest public library with a collection of more than 2 million books.
  • The Chicago Post Office at 433 West Van Buren is the only postal facility in the world you can drive a car through.
  • The Chicago River is dyed green on Saint Patrick’s Day.
  • The world’s largest cookie and cracker factory, where Nabisco made 16 billion Oreo cookies in 1995, is located in Chicago.

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