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Portal:Illinois

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The Illinois Portal

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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

The observation car (rear) end of the Pioneer Zephyr as seen at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

The Pioneer Zephyr is a diesel-powered railroad train formed of railroad cars permanently articulated together with Jacobs bogies, built by the Budd Company in 1934 for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q), commonly known as the Burlington. The train featured extensive use of stainless steel, was originally named the Zephyr, and was meant as a promotional tool to advertise passenger rail service in the United States. The construction included innovations such as shotwelding (a specialized type of spot welding) to join the stainless steel, and articulation to reduce its weight.

On May 26, 1934 it set a speed record for travel between Denver, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois, when it made a 1,015-mile (1,633 km) non-stop "Dawn-to-Dusk" dash in 13 hours 5 minutes at an average speed of 77 mph (124 km/h). For one section of the run it reached a speed of 112.5 mph (181 km/h), just short of the then US land speed record of 115 mph (185 km/h). The historic dash inspired two films and the train's nickname, "Silver Streak". (Read more...)

Selected biography

Portrait of Gen. James Shields from the Minnesota Historical Society

James Shields (May 10, 1806 – June 1, 1879) was an Irish American politician and United States Army officer, who is the only person in U.S. history to serve as a Senator for three different states. Shields represented Illinois from 1849 to 1855, Minnesota from 1858 to 1859, and Missouri in 1879.

Born and educated in Ireland, Shields emigrated to America in 1826. He settled in Kaskaskia, Illinois, where he studied and practiced law. In 1836, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, and later was elected State Auditor. His work as auditor was criticized by a young Abraham Lincoln, who with his then fiancée, Mary Todd, published a series of inflammatory pseudonymous letters in a local paper. Shields challenged Lincoln to a duel, and the two nearly fought on September 22, 1842, before making peace and eventually becoming friends.

Shields was appointed to the Illinois Supreme Court and subsequently was Commissioner of the U.S. General Land Office. At the outbreak of the Mexican–American War, he took an appointment as brigadier general of volunteers. He served with distinction and was twice wounded. After serving as Senator from Illinois, he moved to Minnesota and there founded the town of Shieldsville. He was elected as Senator from Minnesota. He served in the American Civil War, and at the Battle of Kernstown, his troops inflicted the only tactical defeat of Stonewall Jackson. After moving multiple times, Shields settled in Missouri and served again in the Senate. He represents Illinois in the National Statuary Hall. (Read more...)

Did you know...

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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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Illinois statewide officeholders

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

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