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The Illinois Portal

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Illinois (/ˌɪlɪˈnɔɪ/ (About this soundlisten) IL-ih-NOY) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is the 6th-most populous U.S. state and 25th-largest state in terms of land area, and is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in northern and central Illinois, 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 other global ports around the world from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean; as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway on 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 politics.

The capital of Illinois is Springfield in central Illinois. Although today, the state's largest population center is in and around Chicago in the northeastern part of the state, the state's European population grew first in the west, with French who settled along the Mississippi River, and gave the area the name Illinois Country. After the American Revolutionary War established the United States, 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. After construction of the Erie Canal increased traffic and trade through the Great Lakes, Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River, at one of the few natural harbors on southern 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. New railroads carried immigrants to new homes, as well as being used to ship commodity crops to Eastern markets. The state became a transportation hub for the nation.

Selected article

Mr. Dooley by Gordon Ross (1909).

Mr. Dooley is a fictional bartender created by Chicago journalist Finley Peter Dunne, appearing in print between 1893 and 1915, and again in 1924 and 1926. The bartender's humorous but pointed commentary on American politics and international affairs first became popular during the 1898 Spanish–American War. Dunne's essays are in the form of conversations in an Irish dialect of English between Mr. Dooley, the owner of a fictional tavern in the Bridgeport area of Chicago, and one of the bar's patrons. From 1898 onwards, the essays, and the books collecting them, gained national acclaim. Dunne became a friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, although the friendship did not curtail his satire. Beginning around 1905, Dunne had increasing trouble finding time and inspiration for new pieces, and, except for a brief resurrection in the mid-1920s, his columns ended in 1915. Even before his death in 1936, his work was becoming obscure due in part to his use of dialect and unusual spellings. The columns originated lasting sayings such as "the Supreme Court follows the election returns".

(Read more...)

Selected biography

Paul Cornell

Paul Cornell (August 5, 1822 – March 3, 1904) was an American lawyer and Chicago real estate speculator who founded the Hyde Park Township that included most of what are now known as the south and far southeast sides of Chicago, Illinois. He turned the south side Lake Michigan lakefront area, especially the Hyde Park community area and neighboring Kenwood and Woodlawn neighborhoods, into a resort community that had its heyday from the 1850s through the early 20th century. He was also an urban planner who paved the way for and preserved many of the parks that are now in the Chicago Park District. Additionally, he was a successful entrepreneur with interests in manufacturing, cemeteries, and hotels. His modern legacy includes several large parks now in the Chicago Park District: Jackson Park, Washington Park, Midway Plaisance and Harold Washington Park. (Read more...)

Did you know...

  • ... that Joan L. Mitchell co-invented JPEG?
  • ... that Chicago alderman Dorsey Crowe survived falling 800 feet (240 m) from a plane and being thrown through the roof of a car?
  • ... that in 2017, Renee Rabinowitz successfully sued El Al after the airline forced her to move at the request of a Haredi Jewish man who refused to sit beside her?
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