Portal:Illinois

The Illinois Portal

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Illinois (/ˌɪləˈnɔɪ/ (About this soundlisten) IL-ə-NOY) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois River, through the Illinois Waterway. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

The capital of Illinois is Springfield, which is located in the central part of the state. Although today Illinois's largest population center is in its northeast, the state's European population grew first in the west as the French settled lands near the Mississippi River, when the region was known as Illinois Country and was part of New France. Following the American Revolutionary War, American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1780s via the Ohio River, and the population grew from south to north. In 1818, Illinois achieved statehood. Following increased commercial activity in the Great Lakes after the construction of the Erie Canal, Chicago was incorporated in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River at one of the few natural harbors on the southern section of Lake Michigan. John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois's rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. The Illinois and Michigan Canal (1848) made transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley faster and cheaper, and new railroads carried immigrants to new homes in the country's west and shipped commodity crops to the nation's east. The state became a transportation hub for the nation.

By 1900, the growth of industrial jobs in the northern cities and coal mining in the central and southern areas attracted immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. Illinois was an important manufacturing center during both world wars. The Great Migration from the South established a large community of African Americans in the state, including Chicago, who founded the city's famous jazz and blues cultures. Chicago, the center of the Chicago Metropolitan Area, is recognized as a global city. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses about 65% of the state's population. The most populous metropolitan areas outside the Chicago area include, Metro East (of Greater St. Louis), Peoria and Rockford.

Selected article

Interstate 355 map.

Interstate 355 is an interstate highway and tollway in the western and southwest suburbs of ChicagoIllinois, United States. Like other tollways in the northeastern portion of the state, I-355 is maintained by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority (abbreviated ISTHA, but commonly referred to as the "tollway authority"). I-355 runs from Interstate 80 in New Lenox north to Interstate 290 in Itasca, The highway is six lanes wide for its entire length.

The tollway authority opened I-355 as the North–South Tollway in 1989 to ease congestion on Illinois Route 53 (IL 53), a parallel two-lane state highway in central DuPage County. Initially, I-355 ran from I-55 north to I-290. The new highway helped cut travel times for commuters traveling north and south in the county. According to commercial real estate developers at the time, the new tollway also opened the western suburbs of Chicago to commercial and industrial development.

On November 11, 2007, the tollway authority opened a southern extension of I-355 from I-55 to I-80, a distance of 12.5 miles (20.1 km); on its opening, the tollway authority changed the name of the tollway to "Veterans Memorial Tollway". The tollway authority laid the route of the new extension through Will County and a small portion of Cook County, one of the fastest-growing regions in Illinois. The tollway authority expects the extension to cut travel times in the region by 20 percent. (Read more...)

Selected biography

Robert Ridgway sits at his desk. His hand is blackened from the arsenic used to preserve the bird skins.

Robert Ridgway (July 2, 1850 – March 25, 1929) was an American ornithologist specializing in systematics. Ridgway was born in Mount Carmel, Illinois. He was appointed in 1880 by Spencer Fullerton Baird, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to be the first full-time curator of birds at the United States National Museum, a title he held until his death. In 1883, he helped found the American Ornithologists' Union, where he served as officer and journal editor. Ridgway was an outstanding descriptive taxonomist, capping his life work with The Birds of North and Middle America (eight volumes, 1901–1919), completed from Larchmound, his estate in Olney. In his lifetime, he was unmatched in the number of North American bird species that he described for science. As technical illustrator, Ridgway used his own paintings and outline drawings to complement his writing. He also published two books that systematized color names for describing birds, A Nomenclature of Colors for Naturalists (1886) and Color Standards and Color Nomenclature (1912). Ornithologists all over the world continue to cite Ridgway's color studies and books.

(Read more...)

Did you know...

  • ... that astronaut James McDivitt saw a UFO during his first spaceflight?
  • ... that distance education in Chicago Public Schools in 1937 took place via radio broadcasts during school closures that were spurred by a polio outbreak?
  • ... that Candace Brightman was the Grateful Dead's longtime lighting engineer?
  • Ava Cherry 2016.jpg
    ... that Ava Cherry (pictured), David Bowie's partner and muse, spent a year searching for him in Europe after he cancelled a tour of Japan on which she was to be a backup singer?
  • ... that a former owner of Illinois radio station WRBA carried an expired police badge to allow him to get to its transmitter site quickly if need be?
  • ... that when Lurie Children's Hospital moved within Chicago to a new location in June 2012, it took more than 10 hours to transfer nearly 200 children?
  • ... that when the fireman's pole was invented at Chicago's Engine Company 21, other firefighters thought its use was crazy—until 21 started being the first crew to arrive at fires?
  • Chequamegon ship 1.jpg
    ... that the tugboat Robert C. Pringle (pictured) was discovered "remarkably intact" 86 years after it sank?


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Culture: Chicago Blues FestivalChicago Jazz FestivalChicago Symphony OrchestraCornerstone FestivalDillo DayIllinois Shakespeare FestivalIllinois State FairIllinois' Poets LaureateList of museums in IllinoisLollapaloozaLyric Opera of ChicagoMusicPitchfork Music FestivalRavinia FestivalTaste of Chicago

Education: Higher educationSecondary education

Environment: Ecoregions of IllinoisGeography of IllinoisGeology of IllinoisProtected areas of Illinois

Government: ConstitutionEconomyPoliticsState Capitol

History: ChicagoIlliniwekIllinois CentralIllinois-Wabash CompanyIllinois TerritoryAbraham LincolnBlack Hawk WarCahokia1871 Great Chicago FireMakataimeshekiakiakMiamiMississippian cultureNorthwest TerritoryPotawatomiRoute 66Sauk

People: Governors of IllinoisMayors of ChicagoLongest Serving Mayor in IllinoisOrder of Lincoln Laureates

Sports: Chicago BanditsChicago BearsChicago BullsChicago CubsChicago FireChicago RushChicago SkyChicago White SoxChicago WolvesThe Fighting IlliniIllinois State RedbirdsNorthwestern WildcatsPeoria RivermenRockford IceHogsRockford ThunderSouthern Illinois MinersSouthern Illinois University SalukisChicago Yacht Club Race to MackinacChicago Marathon

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