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Illinois (/ˌɪləˈnɔɪ/ (About this soundlisten) IL-ə-NOY) is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions 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. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. 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 Waterway to the Illinois River. 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 founded 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.

Selected article

Fountain of Time in southeast Washington Park at the western edge of the Midway Plaisance.

Fountain of Time is a sculpture by Lorado Taft, measuring 126 feet 10 inches (38.66 m) in length, situated at the western edge of the Midway Plaisance within Washington Park in Chicago. This location is in the Washington Park community area on Chicago's South Side. Inspired by Henry Austin Dobson's poem, "Paradox of Time", and with its 100 figures passing before Father Time, the work was created as a monument to the first 100 years of peace between the United States and Great Britain, resulting from the Treaty of Ghent in 1814. Although the fountain's water began running in 1920, the sculpture was not dedicated to the city until 1922. The sculpture is a contributing structure to the Washington Park United States Registered Historic District, which is a National Register of Historic Places listing.

Time has undergone several restorations, due to the deterioration and decline caused by natural and urban elements. During the late 1990s and the first few years of the 21st century it underwent repairs that corrected many of the problems caused by these earlier restorations. Although extensive renovation of the sculpture was completed as recently as 2005, the supporters of Time continue to seek resources for additional lighting, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation has nominated it for further funding. (Read more...)

Selected biography

Ninian Edwards

Ninian Edwards (March 17, 1775 – July 20, 1833) was a founding political figure of the state of Illinois. He served as the only governor of the Illinois Territory from 1809 to 1818, as one of the first two United States Senators from Illinois from 1818 to 1824, and as the third Governor of Illinois from 1826 to 1830. Born in Maryland, Edwards began his political career in Kentucky. In 1809, U.S. President James Madison appointed him to govern the newly created Illinois Territory. He held that post for three terms, overseeing the territory's transition to statehood in 1818. On its second day in session, the Illinois General Assembly elected Edwards to the U.S. Senate. Edwards won an unlikely 1826 election to become Governor of Illinois. As governor or territorial governor he twice sent Illinois militia against Native Americans, in the War of 1812 and the Winnebago War, and signed treaties for the cession of Native American land. Edwards returned to private life when his term ended in 1830 and died of cholera two years later. (Read more...)

Did you know...

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  • ... that the correct spelling of "liliifolia" in the name of the orchid Liparis liliifolia has been debated for decades?
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