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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

This rock marks the site of the execution of John and William Driscoll, two of the leaders of the Banditti.

The Banditti of the Prairie, also known as "The Prairie Bandits," "Pirates of the Prairie," "Prairie Pirates," or simply "The Banditti," in the U.S. state of Illinois, were a group of loose-knit outlaw gangs during the early-mid-19th century. Though bands of roving criminals were common in many parts of Illinois, the counties of Lee, DeKalb, Ogle, and Winnebago were especially affected by them. In the year 1841, the escalating pattern of burglary, horse and cattle theft, stagecoach and highway robbery, counterfeiting, and murder associated with the Banditti came to a head in Ogle County. As the crimes continued, local citizens formed bands of vigilantes known as Regulators. The clash between the Banditti and the Regulators in Ogle County resulted in a lynching in Oregon, Illinois and decreased Banditti activity within the county.

Banditti and Regulator activity continued well after the lynching of 1841. Crimes continued, committed by both sides, across northern and central Illinois. The Banditti were involved in the 1845 torture-murder of merchant Colonel George Davenport, the namesake of Davenport, Iowa. Edward Bonney, an amateur detective who hunted down and brought the killers to justice, wrote of his exploits and alibi, which were recounted in his book, Banditti of the Prairies, or the Murderer's Doom!!: A Tale of the Mississippi Valley, published in Chicago in 1850. The outlaw gangs also continued to be active in Lee and Winnebago counties following the events in Oregon.(Read more...)

Selected biography

Marcus Ward Lyon, Jr. in 1917 at Washington Biologists’ Field Club on Plummers Island

Marcus Ward Lyon, Jr. was an American mammalogist, bacteriologist, and pathologist. He was born into a military family at Rock Island Arsenal, and demonstrated an early interest in zoology by collecting local wildlife around his father's army posts. He graduated from Brown University in 1897, and continued his studies at George Washington University while working part-time at the United States National Museum (USNM). He received his Ph.D. from George Washington University in 1913. In 1919, he and his wife, Martha, moved to South Bend, Indiana to join a newly opened clinic. Prior to moving, Lyon had published many papers on mammalogy, both during and after his tenure at the USNM. In these papers, he had formally described six species, three genera, and one family. Once in South Bend, he began to publish medical studies, too, but continued his work in mammalogy, with a particular focus on the local fauna of Indiana. He published more than 160 papers during his career.

(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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