Do you think you know everything about the state of Illinois?

Sure, you may know that Chicago is referenced as the “Windy City” and the famous hotdog joint, Portillos, originated on Illinois soil…

But, think again! Check out these 30 facts you did NOT know about Illinois!



1.  Illinois has 102 counties, primarily named after early American leaders.

2. Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery on February 1, 1865.

3. The Willis Tower in Chicago is the third tallest building in North America at 1,451 feet.

4. In 1885, the first modern skyscraper was built in Chicago, it was known as the Home Insurance Building.

5. Although there are multiple statements on who invented the term, ice cream “sundae,” claims to come from Garwood’s Drugstore in Evanston, Illinois.

6. In 1899, construction began underground in Chicago with the intention of creating a telephone system. As construction continued, it became a narrow-gauge freight railroad and ended up as a portal for the transportation of goods.

7. Illinois has the third highest number of personalized license plates.

8. Did you know in Mount Pulaski, Illinois, it is illegal for boys (and only boys) to throw snowballs at trees?

9. Robert Pershing Wadlow, also known as the world’s tallest man, was born in Alton, Illinois and was last recorded in 1940 being 8’11”, weighing 491 pounds, and wearing a size 37 shoe.

10. Agricultural and forestry machinery producer, John Deere, was founded in 1937 in Moline, Illinois.

11. Chicago is the largest city in Illinois with a population of 2,720,546 people and ranks third in the country.

12. Walt Disney was born in Chicago on December 5, 1901.

13. In Illinois, there are 333 farms that grown popcorn on 47,000 acres, making it the third largest popcorn producer. Which explains why Illinois’ state snack is popcorn.

14. On Saint Patrick’s Day, the Chicago River is dyed green.

15. On April 6, 1930, Twinkies were invented by James Alexander Dewar in Schiller Park, Illinois.

16. Morton, Illinois, is known as the “pumpkin capital of the world,” because more than 85% of packaged pumpkin is processed there. There is even an annual Pumpkin Festival held during the second week of September.

17. In 1990, the Square Dance was named the official dance of Illinois.

18.The name Illinois originates from an Algonquin Indian word with several translations, such as “warriors,” “tribe of superior men,” and “best people.”

19. The Chicago Bears were first known as the “Staley Bears.” The name changed in 1922 to match the Chicago Cubs.

20. Chicago earned the title as the “Candy Capital of the World” by representing dozens of candy companies since the early 1900s.

21. In 1955, first McDonald’s opened in Des Plaines, Illinois.

22. In 1940, Dairy Queen’s Blizzards made their way into our hearts when the ice cream franchise first opened their doors in Joliet, Illinois.

23. About 80% of Illinois is made up of farmland.

24. Kevin McCallister and his brilliant tricks debuted in three movies that were shot primarily in the Chicagoland area.

25. On October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire burned about 3.3 square miles of the city. The only buildings that survived within the fire zone include: Saint Michael’s Church (Old Town), Chicago Water Tower and Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, Saint Ignatius College (now Saint Ignatius College Prep on Roosevelt), and the Holy Family Church.

26. The Illinois state reptile is the Painted Turtle.

27. Chicago’s first chartered hospital was Mercy Hospital, built in1852, which aimed to provide high quality medical care and top-notch medical education.

28. In 1983, Harold Washington took office as Chicago’s first African American mayor.

29. The Illinois state tree is the white oak.

30. Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 and was given a pair of swans as a gift from New York’s Central Park Board of Commissioners. In 1874, the first official animal, a bear cub, was purchased for $10.

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