Illinois, known by its nickname the Prairie State, is a region in the US which is perhaps best-known for being home to Chicago, the famous Windy City. However, there’s much more to this Midwest state than meets the eye. Therefore, if you’re brushing up on your state trivia, it’s time to take a closer look at Illinois’s amazing history. Here are 15 interesting facts about Illinois that may fascinate and surprise you!
Illinois, and more specifically Chicago, is home to various interesting firsts. For example, it’s thought the world’s first aquarium opened in the city in 1893, while the first skyscraper in the world was built here in 1885.
Illinois has the distinction of having gone through three state capitals, with none of them being Chicago. Springfield is the current capital city, with Kaskaskia and Vandalia holding the distinction beforehand.
The state is one of the flattest in the USA. Its highest point is Charles Mound, an extremely flat piece of land that’s just over 1,200 feet above the sea, and which actually falls on private property.
State Flag of Illinois
Illinois is the nuclear power capital of the US, as more power of this kind generates here than across any other state.
It’s also home to Twinkies, the hugely popular creamy US snack, which was invented here in 1930.
Believe it or not, Illinois is home to a river which flows backwards – a real rarity. The river in question is the Chicago River, and it flows backwards into the Mississippi thanks to canal engineering which finished in 1922.
The state has an interesting history as far as modern Presidents are concerned. The only US President born in Illinois was Ronald Reagan. Presidents Grant, Obama and Lincoln all lived here at the time of ascending to the White House.
Around 75% of Illinois is actually farmland, making the state a fantastic exporter of corn to the rest of the US, and to the world.
The world’s tallest man was an Illinois resident. At eight feet eleven inches tall, Robert Pershing Wadlow hailed from Alton.
The state is also home to what was the first-ever TV station to broadcast entirely in colour – Channel 5.
Illinois is, statistically, more likely to be corrupt than any other state, at least as far as politics are concerned. That’s because at least six state governors were charged with criminal misdemeanours. Only two received zero jail time.
Illinois is also home to the naming of jazz music, and the ice cream sundae.
Chicago is home to the biggest bakery in the world, with a total surface area of around 1.8 million square feet. That’s a staggering 41 acres!
You’ll also find that Illinois is a major player in the aerospace industry, with Boeing’s main headquarters being based in Chicago.
Des Plaines is also home to a major first, as the site of the world’s first McDonald’s franchise. The brand has only been around since 1955!
Do you know any strange, fun 0r interesting facts about Illinois that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!