I'm from Chicago, not Illinois

I'm from Chicago, not Illinois

I’m not from Illinois, I’m from Chicago. When visiting another city/state/country, I would never say I’m from Illinois. That generally inspires images of cows and corn. Chicago is a major city, filled with culture and sophistication. I’m an Illinoisan who is prejudiced against Illinois. I had a conversation about this with some friends of mine, and since I’m clearly a known geek, I decided to look up a few facts for this week’s ‘Did You Know, Chicago?’ feature.

Illinois became the 21st state on December 3, 1818. While I’m sure you know all the basics – Illinois is a major farm state, Abraham Lincoln is from Illinois, don’t pronounce the ‘s’ at the end of the name – there are a few more very cool thinks you should know that will make you proud to be from Illinois.

Reasons to be proud you’re from and/or live in Illinois: 

The name “Illinois” comes from a Native American word meaning “tribe of superior men.”

Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in 1865.

In 1847, Illinois became one of the first states to establish a state-supported mental illness and disabilities treatment system.

In 1961, Illinois was the first state to get rid of the law that outlawed sodomy.

While it’s sad that only six African Americans have served on the United States Senate, half of those six are from Illinois:  Carol Moseley-Braun, Barack Obama and Roland Burris.

Metropolis, the home of Superman, really exists in Southern Illinois.

The state fossil is the Tully Monster. I’m not sure what that is, but it seems kind of cool.

The state insect is the Monarch Butterfly. Pretty!

The state snack is popcorn. Yeah Garretts.

Reasons to not be so proud

Four of our past nine governors have gone to jail. That’s embarrassing.

In true American settler fashion, Illinoisans kicked out all of the Native Americans in the area. A particularly bloody episode was called the Black Hawk War.

The Illinois state dance is the square dance. That’s just dumb.

The state motto is: State Sovereignty, National Union – WTF does that mean?

There are a ton more fun facts and awesome stats about Illinois. Why are you proud/not proud to live here?




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    Excerpted from "Illinois Explained": (Illinois) is named for the French adaptation of an Algonquian language (perhaps Miami) word apparently meaning "s/he speaks normally" (Miami ilenweewa, Proto-Algonquian *elen-, "ordinary" and -we•, "to speak"). Alternately, the name is often associated with the indigenous Illiniwek people, a consortium of Algonquian tribes that once thrived in the area. The name Illiniwek is frequently (incorrectly) said to mean "tribe of superior men"; or "men". Both etymologies are unworkable.

  • In reply to Mike Esposito:

    Really?! Then there are a lot of websites that have that wrong. I'm kind of bummed because "tribe of superior men" was pretty cool.

  • Chicago is known as the "Windy City" but doesnt even rank in the top 3.

  • In reply to Richard S.:

    The top 3 what?

  • In reply to Richard S.:

    A Chicagoan should know the true origin of "The Windy City" and that it has nothing to do with the weather.

  • In reply to Janimal1000:

    I know that. I just didn't understand what Richard meant by the top 3. We're the 3rd largest city in the country, if that's what you mean.

  • In reply to Janimal1000:

    It has both to do with the weather and the politics. When Chicago was in the running against NYC for the 1893 worlds fair, the New York Times said we were full of air, thus the Windy City. Stand at Michigan Ave and Wacker in October and you know why we Really are the Windy City. You have to hold onto a street sign or you may be blown over by the wind.

  • In reply to Richard S.:

    The wind ratings are inaccurate. I have seen little old ladies blown down to the sidewalk downtown. But they still measure the wind for Chicago at Midway Airport, where the wind is Significantly less than downtown. If they measured the wind at Michigan Ave and Wacker, it would be a lot higher. Got it!

  • This is the type of typical yuppie-trash sentiments that makes the rest of the state so resentful of the city (and it usually comes from people that weren't even raised in Chicago). I was born and raised on the city's northwest side and I do refer to myself as from "Chicago" and not from "Illinois", but I would never be ashamed of being associated with the rural areas of the state. One of the charms of Chicago is that it is a "city in a prairie" with "midwestern sensibility" (in contrast to NY or LA). Also, not all of the state is just farming communities, there are suburbs near the city and micro-urban areas in central Illinois (ever heard the saying "Will it play in Peoria?").
    Besides, two of the major industries that made Chicago so important in its early days was the stockyards and the commodities market (which is still important, although, now it is more derivatives based). These markets would have never sprouted up in Chicago if it weren't in an agricultural state. How sad that you are so dismisive of a profession that once made our country great.

  • In reply to montclareresident:

    I'm not a yuppie. I'm somewhere between a yuppie and a crazy cat lady. And I guess you missed the whole point of my blog which was to say that I was wrong and that there are plenty of reasons to be proud to be from Illinois for a large variety of reasons.

  • In reply to Chicago Quirk:

    Wow. That first paragraph is the most ignorant comment I have ever heard. I understand not being proud of a state that is full of corruption and lack of governmental aptitude but to say you aren’t proud of being from Illinois because it grows corn is just appalling. I’m sorry but what is wrong with corn and cows. I hope you realize that corn goes into an enormous amount of products that you consume and use in everyday life. Famers have one of the toughest jobs in the US and you lack the appreciation for what they contribute to this world. You also imply that there is no culture and sophistication outside of Chicago which is a slap in the face to anyone outside of the city. I don’t think you did realize your statements are wrong. It’s ridiculous that you are now proud to be from Illinois because our state snack is popcorn not the fact that there are people outside of the city of Chicago and who impact the world in great ways.

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    In reply to montclareresident:

    The stock markets owed less to Illinois agriculture than to Chicago's status as a rail hub.

  • Actually, before I moved to the city, I had the opposite problem. Whenever I told people I was from Illinois, they assumed I was from Chicago.

  • Illinois is an ugly hick state. You go 50 miles outside the city limits you can hear banjos playing. I say I am from Chicago, Chicago. Illinois is dreadful. Chicago has significantly more in common with New York City or Boston than the state of Illinois. Yuck!

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    Grrrr. History lesson folks. Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville KY (Hardin Co.at the time). Moved it Indiana as a child. Didn't move to Ilinois until 1830 when he was 21 years old. So yes he spend 30+ years in Illinois, but he wasn't from there! I've had this discussion with people from IL for years.

  • In reply to Holly Stegman:

    That's true, but we still call Illinois the 'Land of Lincoln.' He may not originally be from here - and yes, I did know that - but this is where he started his political career. Obama isn't originally from here either, but he proudly calls himself a Chicagoan.

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    Lincoln's and Obama's formative years were spent outside of IL. They both found a place for their particular talents/needs. Shouldn't it be 'Land of Obama', now?

  • In reply to Holly Stegman:

    Heck yeah it should!

  • In reply to Holly Stegman:

    God NO!

  • In reply to Holly Stegman:

    Yes, if the state goes bankrupt.

    From Lincoln's Springfield farewell words (Herndon's version): "For more than a quarter of a century I have lived among you, and during all that time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands. Here I have lived from my youth until now I am an old man. Here the most sacred ties of earth were assumed; here all my children were born; and here one of them lies buried. To you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, all that I am."

  • In reply to Holly Stegman:

    Sure, this should be the "Land of Obama" now. He is doing his best to make sure the rest of the country is as broke as Illinois.

  • As an otherwise grumpy person, I am very proud to be from Illinois, one of the most progressive states in the country. In fact, we are the true Midwest, where it all sort of works, more or less. Even our criminals are friendly. All the blowhards in Chicago combined with all the hicks out in the cornfields create a magical combination that is a huge engine of power. One day humanity will harness that power; at least I hope they will.

  • @Andrea. If it wasn't for Chicago, Illinois would be as awful as Indiana. @Grumpy. Illinois is NOT progressive. Look at the 2010 map and you can see that it tilts red except for true blue Chicago. @TG. I would only add that you don't need to go 50 miles. Anything south of 95th street is Hicksville.

  • In reply to SouthSideGT:

    Ha, ha, SouthSideGT, take a stroll down Boul Mich (in Roseland) and call the folks there "hicks". You do know where Roseland is...no? And let's not forget Hegewisch, somewhat "sout" of 95th street. Oh, then there is "Pullman". They may be growing stuff down there, but it ain't corn.

  • I feel ya. I'm not so sure Illinois so even exists really. Seems to me north of I80 is Chicago and south of I80 is Arkansas.

  • Right now, in a parallel world, on a blog called Illinoisnow.com, there is a blogger posting that when she travels and people ask where she is from, she says "Illinois". If she said Chicago, she would get the Al Capone machine gun motions and a reference to Chick-fil-A and "Chicago values", as outlined by a former hack with a missing finger and some alderdrone named "Proco Joe".

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    LOL I've gotten the Al Capone thing. I'd be impressed by anyone who knew who Proco Joe was, let alone an alderman.

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