Interesting Illinois Facts
Interesting Illinois Facts

25 Interesting Illinois Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published June 23, 2022
  • In 1885, the world's first skyscraper was built in Chicago, Illinois.[5]
  • Illinois has over 8,000 miles of railroad, which is more than any other state except Texas.[10]
  • Famous Illinoisans include Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Walt Disney, Betty White, Robin Williams, and Harrison Ford.[5]
  • Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment, on February 1, 1865.[5]
  • The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago holds around 32,000 animals.[3]
  • The Nabisco Factory in Illinois is the largest bakery in the world.[7]
  • Illinoisan Joseph Glidden of DeKalb invented barbed wire in the 1870s.[5]
  • Illinois Invention
    Native Americans called barbed wire "devil's rope" because it ensnared wild buffalo

  • Morton, Illinois, is the pumpkin capital of the world. The city claims to produce 82% of the world's canned pumpkin.[10]
  • Illinois has more nuclear power plants than any other state in America.[9]
  • The state snack of Illinois is popcorn. Chicago-style popcorn is a mixture of cheese-covered and caramel-covered popcorn.[10]
  • Inventions by Illinoisans include zippers, red Solo cups, and brownies.[5]
  • Feral parakeets from South America have made Chicago, IL, their home.[2]
  • Hyde Park
    Hyde Park residents are fiercely protective of their parakeets (Terry Harris/Chicago Tribune)

  • The Chicago River is one of the few rivers of the world that flows backward. Originally, the river flowed north into Lake Michigan, but engineers reversed the river so that it would flow away from Lake Michigan and into the Mississippi River watershed. Because Lake Michigan provided drinking water to Chicago, the reversal drastically decreased cholera and typhoid outbreaks.[10]
  • "Illinois" is a French word, so the "s" is silent.[10]
  • During the Civil War, no major battles took place in Illinois, but over 250,000 troops from the state fought for the Union.[5]
  • Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry contains the world's largest pinball machine and a miniature castle.[10]
  • Because President Abraham Lincoln lived in Illinois for 31 years, the state's nickname is the "Land of Lincoln."[5]
  • The high rate of violence in Chicago makes the city a popular training location for military doctors learning to treat gunshot wounds.[4]
  • Illinois State Flower
    Violet flowers symbolize delicate love, affection, modesty, faith, nobility, intuition, and dignity
  • The state flower of Illinois is the violet.[5]
  • In 1995, Chicago suffered a severe heatwave that killed hundreds of people. Unfortunately, 41 victims' bodies were never claimed. It was one of the worst weather-related disasters in Illinois, with over 700 deaths over a 5-day period.[1]
  • Twice a year, 5 million migrating birds pass through Chicago. The city's skyscrapers keep their lights off at night during that time to keep the birds from becoming disoriented and dying.[6]
  • H.H. Holmes built a murder castle in Chicago. He killed as many as 200 people there.[8]
  • The name "Illinois" means “ordinary speaker.”[5]
  • Chicago is the birthplace of the first-ever Ferris wheel.[10]
  • Illinois is home to the world’s largest bottle of catsup.[11]
  • Interesting Illinois Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Fun Illinois Infographic

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