36 Illinois Interesting Facts: History, Geography, And More

nois, the Land Of Lincoln! Located in the centre of the Midwest, this state is a mosaic of vibrant cities, vast agricultural areas, and a rich history matched only by its well-known deep-dish pizza. Whether you’re a Windy City native, a history buff, or just someone looking to discover a new corner of America, Illinois is packed with surprises. Did you know that the world’s first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1885? or that famous people like Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney were born in Illinois? But Illinois isn’t just about what meets the eye.

Along the way, you’ll learn interesting historical details about Illinois, discover the state’s varied terrain—from the Great Lakes to the powerful Mississippi River—and get to know notable people who have called this state home. Along with exploring the elements that make Illinois so fascinating, you’ll also take a tour of the magnificent buildings that dot the state’s skyline. Fasten your seatbelts, for this is going to be an enjoyable and educational journey across the Prairie State! You’ll learn tidbits and advice that will help you plan your next trip or family outing to Illinois!

Fun Facts About Illinois

Illinois, the 5th most populous state in the US, isn’t just about politics and pizza. With its rich tapestry of stories, it’s like a colorful jigsaw puzzle waiting to be pieced together. Prepare to discover some astounding facts about this Midwestern treasure. Whether you’re a trivia buff or just a curious soul, these fun facts about Illinois are sure to sprinkle a dash of wonder into your day.

  • The state flower of Illinois is the vibrant violet, a bloom that’s as hardy as it is beautiful. Meanwhile, the northern cardinal, known for its bright red plumage, holds the title of state bird.
  • The state emblems of Illinois have strong ties to their history. There are numerous state emblems for Illinois, including both animated and inanimate insignias. The bluegill, the official fish of the state, is one of them. The white-tailed deer is the state mammal, and white oak is the state tree.
  • In terms of inanimate insignias, the state dance of Illinois is the square dance; the state rock is dolomite; and the state mineral is fluorite.
  • As the 3rd largest city in the United States, Chicago isn’t just Illinois’ largest city; it’s the beating heart of the state. Known for its deep-dish pizza, jazz heritage, and vibrant arts scene, it’s a cultural melting pot that attracts millions of visitors every year.
  • While Chicago is the biggest city, the capital city of Illinois is Springfield.
  • Cook County, which includes Chicago, is the most populous in Illinois, and the second most populous county in the US.
  • The Chicago metropolitan area, often called Chicagoland, is a bustling urban hub home to more than half of the roughly 12.6 million population of Illinois as of 2022. Chicago became a major cultural, population, and economic hub thanks to its amazing music, delicious food, and thriving arts scene.

Historical Facts About Illinois

Travel through the state of Illinois and venture straight into its historical pages. This isn’t your average history class—from the comfort of your screen, take a fast-paced journey through time. Did you know Illinois has seen ancient civilizations, pivotal moments, and presidents rise from its soil? From its roots to its star-studded place in the nation’s timeline, Illinois has always been more than just a stop on the map. Now is the time to uncover the historical nuggets that make the Prairie State truly shine.

  • In 1673, French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were among the first Europeans to explore Illinois. Their travels opened the door for additional investigation and ultimately colonisation, establishing a long-lasting French presence in the area.
  • Chicago honours St. Patrick’s Day annually with parades and a vibrant emerald green dyeing of the Chicago River. Seeing the transformation is a major draw for tourists from all over the world, who come to observe this tradition.
  • The Illinois State Quarter, released in 2003, showcases a young Abraham Lincoln against the backdrop of the outline of Illinois, a farm scene, and the Chicago skyline, with the state slogan ‘Land Of Lincoln’.
  • Before becoming a British and then American territory, parts of Illinois were French colonies. Vestiges of French influence can still be found in place names and local culture.
  • Illinois became the 21st member state of the union on December 3, 1818, and gained statehood. Kaskaskia was the first capital of the state; in 1819, it became Vandalia. Later in 1837, under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, as a state representative, the capital was successfully moved to Springfield. A total of six buildings were made the capitol of Illinois.
  • Cahokia Mounds, located in southern Illinois, which is the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that tells the story of the sophisticated Mississippian culture that thrived there about 1,000 years ago.

Geographical Facts About Illinois

Have you ever wondered what makes Illinois so much more than the scenery of the busy skyline of Chicago? Beyond its iconic cityscapes, Illinois stretches out like a masterpiece, painted with rivers, plains, and hidden wonders. Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, this state boasts a canvas of geographical gems waiting to be explored. From its winding rivers to its expansive prairies, there’s more to Illinois than meets the eye. Let’s dive into some interesting facts about the geographical marvels that make Illinois a state of wonder!

  • The formidable Mississippi River delineates Illinois’ western boundary. This river is more than just a geographical feature; it was an important trade route in the past and is still an essential waterway for business today. It also provides some of the most stunning views in the state!
  • Lake Michigan, one of the five Great Lakes and the only one of the five that is completely in the US graces Illinois with a vast natural shoreline. It’s a water lover’s playground, with everything from calm beaches to thrilling water activities. Lake Michigan is also the largest lake by area in one country, in the world.
  • Illinois was once covered in vast stretches of prairie grass. This ecosystem played a key role in nourishing the rich soil that today makes Illinois a farming leader.
  • Illinois serves is the meeting point for three major American rivers: the Ohio River, the Mississippi River, and the Illinois River. These waterways were historically significant for trade and transportation and remain vibrant and scenic regions today.
  • Huge farmlands, vibrant cities, and undulating hills can all be found in Northern Illinois. It’s a blend of urban charm and rural beauty, offering both tranquil landscapes and lively cultural scenes.
  • Standing at 1,235 ft (376 m), Charles Mound is the state’s highest point. Located in the Driftless Area, it’s a serene, gently sloping hill that provides a unique hiking experience for adventurers.
  • There is more to Illinois than just gorgeous rivers and lakes. Rich in natural resources, such as coal, limestone, wood, petroleum, and fertile soil, it is a major state for agriculture and a centre of industry.
  • Central Illinois is mainly covered in agricultural land, coupled with some small towns and cities. Illinois is also blessed with fertile land with deposits of rich black soil, which makes the state an agricultural powerhouse, known for the production of hogs, corn, and soybeans.
  • Situated in the northeastern region of Illinois, Lake County is home to numerous picturesque lakes and state parks that encompass a variety of towns, cities, and villages. The county, lying along the shores of Lake Michigan, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities from sailing to hiking, and is also home to some of the state’s most picturesque small towns.
  • The Chicago River is known for its unique flow reversal, an engineering feat that was completed in the ’00s to protect the city’s water supply.
  • Nestled at the southern tip of Illinois, the Shawnee Hills region is a true gem. It’s a nature lover’s dream come true with its verdant forests, unusual rock formations, and endless vineyards—not to mention that it serves some of the best wines the state has to offer.
  • Most of Illinois lies above sea level, with its lowest point being the Mississippi River at Cairo, which is 279 ft (85 m) above sea level. This elevation has protected it from major flooding.

This final list of facts about Illinois presents interesting tidbits about some awe-inspiring structures and important personalities associated with the state. This Midwestern treasure is home to some of the nation’s most recognisable architectural wonders in addition to producing presidents and business titans. Each towering building and influential individual tells a piece of Illinois’ dynamic story. Let’s dig in and explore the structures and public figures that put Illinois on the map!

The Obama family after Barack Obama's US presidential election victory speech in Chicago.
  • Although born in Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln moved to Illinois at age 21 & began his political career there. Illinois is proud to be known as the Land Of Lincoln, and you can explore Lincoln’s life and legacy at numerous sites across the state.
  • The Illinois State Capitol is located in Springfield, which is a grand building with a towering dome where the state’s legislative action happens.
  • The Chicago Public Library, with its expansive collection and stunning architecture, is a haven for book lovers.It provides services beyond books; it also hosts free workshops, classes, and Neighbourhood gatherings. With regard to the number of volumes held, the Chicago Public Library ranks second in Chicago and the Midwest and ninth in the United States for public library systems.
  • The Home Insurance Building, built in 1885 in Chicago, is widely regarded as the world’s first skyscraper. It marked the beginning of a new era in architecture and urban development.
  • Two influential women in US politics, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton have strong Illinois roots. Hillary Clinton was the US First Lady from 1993 to 2001, with her husband Bill Clinton as the president. Also, a former US First Lady, Michelle Obama, held the position from 2009-2017. Michelle was born and raised in Chicago, while Hillary was born in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge.
  • The 40th US President Ronald Reagan, was born and raised in Illinois. He pursued acting before transitioning to a career in politics.
  • Chicago, Illinois, is also the birthplace and upbringing of renowned film producer, animator, and businessman Walt Disney.
  • When it was finished in 1973, the Willis Tower in Chicago—formerly known as the Sears Tower—was the highest structure in the world. Stretching 1,451 ft (442.3 m) high, its Skydeck offers stunning views of the city and on clear days, glimpses of four neighboring states. Presently, the skyscraper ranks as the 23rd tallest building in the world.
  • Chicago also has the Museum of Science & Industry (MSI). It is a science museum located within the Palace of Fine Arts and opened in 1933. Some of the well-known exhibits in the museum include a massive model railroad, a German U-505 submarine from the Second World War, and the Swiss Jolly Ball, which is considered the world’s largest pinball machine.
  • Millennium Park in Chicago is not only an urban oasis but also a hub of art and culture. From the iconic Could Gate sculpture to the mesmerizing Crown Fountain, this park is a fusion of nature, art, and community spirit.
  • Before becoming the 44th US President, Barack Obama made Illinois his home. He served as a Senator from Illinois, and his historic 2008 election campaign was headquartered in Chicago.

And there you have it; a whirlwind tour of the Prairie State bringing you face-to-face with towering skyscrapers, legendary leaders, and the rolling beauty of Midwestern geography. While Illinois grapples with the challenges of modern urban living, such as bustling traffic and cold winters, it makes up for it with a rich cultural scene, a diverse and impactful history, and an undeniable Midwestern charm. So why not plan a trip to explore Lincoln’s historic sites, marvel at Chicago’s iconic architecture, or find a peaceful retreat in the state’s sprawling natural parks? Illinois is a vibrant tapestry waiting for your own story to be woven into it.








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