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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's Illinois' largest population center is in its northeast, the state's European population grew first in the west as the French settled the vast Mississippi of the Illinois Country 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

Some of the graves in the burial ground pre-date the 1874 Friends meeting house.

The Benjaminville Friends Meeting House and Burial Ground is a Friends Meeting House of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), located north of the rural village of Holder in McLean County, Illinois. It was once the site of a now-defunct village called Benjaminville, founded in 1856 after Quakers settled the area. More Quakers followed, and the burial ground, then the current meeting house in 1874, were constructed. This site, listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places since 1983, is all that remains of that village.

The burial ground preceded the meeting house, as the site was home to another meeting house that was constructed in 1859. The Benjaminville Meeting House represents a well-constructed example of Quaker meeting house architecture and contains within its design many of the major elements associated with the style. It is unique in that it allowed both male and female friends to worship together in the same room. The burial ground, however, maintains a strict separation, not by gender but by religious affiliation; there are three sections, one for Quakers, one for non-Quakers, and one for distant relatives of both. (Read more...)

Selected biography

Henry Darger ( c. April 12, 1892 – April 13, 1973) was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a hospital custodian in Chicago. He has become famous for his posthumously discovered 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the story. The visual subject matter of his work ranges from idyllic scenes in Edwardian interiors and tranquil flowered landscapes populated by children and fantastic creatures, to scenes of horrific terror and carnage depicting young children being tortured and massacred. Much of his artwork is mixed media with collage elements. Darger's artwork has become one of the most celebrated examples of outsider art. (Read more...)

Did you know...

12-1257-miniatures-chandelier-chicago-museum-art.jpg
Spot-winged Glider - Pantala hymenaea, Bles Park, Ashburn, Virginia - 7680788092.jpg
  • ... that Chicago alderman Dorsey Crowe survived falling 800 feet (240 m) from a plane and being thrown through the roof of a car?
  • ... that the spot-winged glider (pictured) is a migratory dragonfly?



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