Monday 25 July 2011

The America project - Illinois

Illinois (IL) size 54,826 sq.m population 12.8 million

Bordering states Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana (5)
State capital Springfield
Most populous city Chicago
Other notable places Aurora, Peoria, Moline, Rockford
Notable landmarks and natural features Chicago River; Lake Michigan; Willis Tower (Sears Tower), Chicago

Statehood 3rd December 1818 (21st)

Ten famous Illinoisans
John Belushi (actor and comedian; born Chicago, 1949-1982)
Hillary Clinton (politician, former First Lady; born Chicago, 1947 -)
Miles Davis (musician; born Alton, 1926-1991)
Walt Disney (cartoonist, animator and film maker; born Hermosa, 1901-1966)
Wyatt Earp (gambler and lawman; born Monmouth, 1848-1929)
John Wayne Gacy (serial killer; born Chicago, 1942-1994)
Charles Guiteau (lawyer and Presidential assassin; born Freeport, 1841-1882)
Ernest Hemingway (writer; born Oak Park, 1899-1961)
Ronald Reagan (actor and politician, 40th President of the USA; born Tampico, 1911-2004)
Richard Pryor (comedian, actor and screenwriter; born Peoria, 1940-2005)

Added bonus Illinoisian
It was remiss of me to post this originally without also pointing out that my friend Jessica is also from Illinois. Chicago, to be precise. She is funny and creative. She reminds me of me in that regard.

Please take the time to visit her etsy store.

Three important events

1. The Black Hawk War (May - August 1832)
In May 1832, a group of Black Hawk, Sauk, Meskwaki and Kickapoo Native Americans crossed the Mississippi River from Michigan into Illinois. The American government feared that this group, known as The British Band, were a hostile force and on 14th May opened fire on them. The American troops were poorly trained and feebly armed, and they were routed by the Natives at Stillman's Run. A more organised and prepared army spent the summer of 1832 tracking down the British Band, finally defeating them at The Battle of Bad Axe. Abraham Lincoln, then 23, grew up in the State of Illinois and saw military service for the US Army during the conflict.

2. The Great Chicago Fire (8th-10th October 1871)
In October 1871 4 square miles of the city of Chicago were completely destroyed in a conflagration which began in a barn in DeKoven Street. The fire was exacerbated by the overuse of wood for building, a local drought and the famous Chicago winds which whipped up the flames, although the exact cause of the fire is still unknown. 100,000 people (a third of the city's entire population) were left homeless in the blaze and over 300 killed. The fire raged for 2 days until a rainstorm helped to extinguish it.

3. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (14th February 1929)
Chicago's links with organised crime are notorious, and this is perhaps the most infamous of all the chapters in the history of American gangsters. The target was George "Bugs" Moran, leader of the Irish North Side Gang, prime movers in Prohibition-era bootlegging. Al Capone's Italian South Side Gang were the North Side Gang's sworn rivals. On 14th February 1929, four unknown men, two disguised as policemen, lined up seven men (five North Side Gang members and two collaborators) against the wall of a garage in North Clark Road, Lincoln Park and executed them. However, Bugs Moran had been running late that day so avoided his fate. Capone's perpetrators were mobsters from outside of Chicago and most likely mistook another man for Moran, who lived until 1957. Public outrage about the brutality of the massacre was the beginning of the end for Capone's hold over the city. Within 2 years he had been imprisoned on tax evasion charges.

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