Ten fun facts about Illinois


  1. The city of Cahokia was believed to be inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400. At its height (1050-1200), the city had between 10,000 and 20,000 inhabitants.

  2. Kaskaskia, once the heart of French Illinois and capital of the Illinois Territory, is now the second-smallest incorporated community in Illinois, with 14 people.

  3. If Thomas Jefferson had his way, modern-day Illinois would have been divided – and named – differently. “Thomas Jefferson devised a scheme for dividing the Northwest Territory into seven rectangular states, all with Indian and Greek names – Sylvania, Michigania, Cherronesus, Metropotamia, Assenisipia, Polypotamia, and Illinoia. (According to this configuration, different sections of modern Illinois would have been contained in Assenisipia, Polypotamia, and Illinoia.)" Jefferson’s proposal generated less support than an assessment by James Monroe, who supported the creation of fewer states (Roger Biles' Illinois: A History of the Land and Its People, 2005, p. 28).

  4. Rapid population growth in northern Illinois led to the decision to move the capital from Vandalia to a more central location. Alton, Jacksonville, Peoria, and Springfield vied to become the new capital. Alton finished first in a referendum held in 1834, but Springfield submitted the most attractive bid and won the vote on the fourth ballot in 1837 (Biles 2005, p. 71).

  5. The Panic of 1837 damaged Illinois’ economy so badly that some of the state’s northernmost counties opted for secession and asked congressional approval to join Wisconsin. Congress refused (Biles 2005, p. 75).

  6. After the Civil War began, Confederate sympathizers in Williamson County met in Marion to discuss the formation of a new state, “Egypt,” that would secede from the United States and ally with the new southern nation.

  7. In 1882, Chicago socialites Bertha and Potter Palmer built a castle at 1350 N. Lake Shore Drive that had no external doorknobs. In order to enter the house, a servant had to open the door from the inside. The castle was razed in 1950.

  8. Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington is the final resting place for author L. Frank Baum’s niece, Dorothy Gage, who is believed to be the inspiration for Wizard of Oz heroine Dorothy Gale.

  9. Daniel Goodwin climbed the outside of Willis Tower (then known as Sears Tower) on May 25, 1981, wearing a Spiderman costume. The trip apparently took 7.5 hours using suction cups.

  10. Rockome Gardens in Arcola is America’s only Amish amusement park.