On December 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the Union. Tonight, there will be a big birthday bash at Navy Pier in Chicago to celebrate the state’s 200th birthday.
Illinois is currently the 6th most-populous state in the nation with the country’s 5th-largest economy. O’Hare Airport is the 6th-busiest airport in the world, and Chicago is the 8th wealthiest city in the world by GDP (2015).
Illinois’ reputation has taken a beating lately because of its politics, but Illinoisans still have lots of reasons to take pride in their great state. Throughout its history, Illinois has played a major role in the development of the United States and the world, both economically and culturally.
Besides being the Land of Lincoln and home to Presidents Ulysses S. Grant (Galena), Ronald Reagan (Tampico, Dixon), and Barrack Obama (Chicago), Illinois is also the birthplace of many significant inventions, organizations, and historic figures.
Some Important and Interesting Things that Began in Illinois:
Skyscrapers – Chicago is known as the birthplace of skyscrapers and the Sears Tower (aka Willis Tower) was the world’s tallest building from 1973-1998, but did you know that many of the tallest buildings around the world, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, were designed by Chicago architects?
Nuclear Fission – The first nuclear reactor was built and tested at the University of Chicago in 1942 under the bleachers at Stagg Field.
McDonald’s – Illinois resident, Ray Kroc, opened his first McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, IL in 1955. The headquarters of the world’s 5th-largest employer recently moved to Chicago from Oak Brook, IL.
Cellphones – The first handheld cellular mobile phone was developed by Motorola, an Illinois-based company.
Web Browsers – The Mosaic web browser was developed at the University of Illinois in 1993.
PayPal – Max Levchin and Luke Nosek, two of the three founders of PayPal, were students together at the University of Illinois.
YouTube – Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, two of the three Youtube founders, were students at the University of Illinois and met Chad Hurley, the other founder, while working at Paypal.
Heart Surgery – The first successful heart surgery was performed by Daniel Hale Williams in Chicago, IL in 1893. Williams, an African-American surgeon, founded Provident Hospital in Chicago in 1891. Provident was the first non-segregated hospital in the United States.
Zippers – Whitcomb Judson debuted his “clasp locker” at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.
Dishwashers – The “Lavaplatos” was invented by Josephine Cochrane and George Butters in Shelbyville, IL and was also unveiled at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.
Aerosol Spray Paint – The revolutionary method of applying paint was invented by Edward Seymour in Sycamore, IL in 1949.
Sears, Roebuck & Co. – The pioneering mail-order catalog and department store company began in Chicago in 1893 and was headquartered in the Sears Tower in Chicago before relocating to Hoffman Estates, IL.
John Deere Tractors – Deere & Company, the makers of John Deere tractors and other heavy equipment, was founded by John Deere of Grand Detour, IL and is headquartered in Moline, IL.
Barbed Wire – Joseph Glidden, Issac Ellwood and Jacob Haish began manufacturing Glidden’s patented barbed wire design in DeKalb, IL in the 1870’s.
The Ferris Wheel – The original Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. in Chicago, IL for the 1893 World’s Fair.
The Harlem Globetrotters – The world famous exhibition basketball team originated on the South Side of Chicago in the 1920s. They played their first road
game in 1927 in Hickley, IL.
House Music – The genre of electronic dance music was created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the 1980s.
Softball – The baseball derivative using a soft ball and bare hands was invented in 1887 in Chicago at the Farragut Boat Club
Special Olympics – The first Special Olympics games were held in July 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Brownies – The popular chocolate dessert was created for the 1893 World’s Fair by a pastry chef for Bertha Palmer, whose husband owned the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago.
Twinkies – The spongy, creme-filled dessert was created by James Dewar of the Continental Baking Company in 1930 in Schiller Park, IL.
Dairy Queen – The first Dairy Queen restaurant opened in Joliet, IL in 1940.
United States Transcontinental Highways – The first paved concrete “seedling mile” of the Lincoln Highway was built in 1914 in Malta, IL.
U.S. Route 66 – One of the original U.S. highways, was completely paved in 1938 and ran from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, California.
Famous People Who Have Called Illinois Home:
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Dick Van Dyke
Nat King Cole
Chance the Rapper
Earth, Wind & Fire
Fall Out Boy
The Smashing Pumpkins
Frank Lloyd Wright
Ulysses S. Grant
Adlai Stevenson II
John H. Johnson (Ebony & Jet Magazines)
Robert L. Johnson (B.E.T., First African-American Billionaire)
Hugh Hefner (Playboy)
Tallest Man in Recorded History:
Robert Wadlow (Alton, IL)