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5 Interesting Facts about Illinois

Ice Cream Sundae

There are a few places that claim to be the original home of the ice cream sundae; however, Evanston Illinois claims to have coined the term Ice Cream Sundae. So, how did this delicious treat come about? There were once yummy ice cream sodas that consisted of ice cream, soda, topped with syrup and other delicious toppings. However, for some reason these ice cream soda concoctions offended the sensibilities of the overly religious who considered them to be too “frilly”. Blue Laws were created that said ice cream sodas could not be sold on Sundays. So, the ice cream sundae was invented, which was nearly the same thing without the soda. Ithaca New York and Two Rivers Wisconsin both claim to be the home of the ice cream sundae but Evanston, Illinois claims to have created the name in 1890.  

Windy City

So how did Chicago, Illinois become known as the Windy City? While Chicago is literally a windy city, that is not where the nickname comes from. Some people may give different answers but the most popular one dates back to 1893 and a New York journalist named Charles A. Dana. Chicago and New York were competing to host the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and Dana wrote an editorial that said Chicago was windy because of its full-of-hot-air politicians. The Chicago Tribune wrote that the famous phrase comes from when Dana advocated against the “nonsensical claims of that windy city. Its people could not hold a world’s fair even if they won it.” The 1893 World’s fair did end up being held in Chicago. There is some evidence that the term may have been used before then, it is generally agreed upon that Dana popularized it. 

13Th Amendment 

Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln so it’s no surprise that it was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment to the Constitution. The 13th amendment abolished slavery throughout the United States. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 announced that all enslaved people in the 11 Confederate States were now free. But to end slavery a constitutional amendment was needed. The Senate passed the amendment in 1864 but it did not pass in the House. Lincoln did all he could to convince House members to pass it and on January 31, 1865 the House passed the 13th amendment with just over the required votes. Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery on February 1, 1865. Lincoln would not live to see the final ratification. He was assassinated on April 14th and the required number of states did not ratify it until December 6, 1865.  

World’s Tallest Man 

Illinois is home to the tallest man ever to live. The tallest man in the world was born in Alton, Illinois, on 22 February 1918. Robert Wadlow was born to average-sized parents weighing an unimpressive 8.7lbs. However, he soon began to grow rapidly and by the time he was 5 he was 5ft 4in tall. He was wearing clothes intended for teenagers as a toddler. By the time he was 8, he was taller than his 5ft 11in father. In 1936, when he was 17, he was 8ft 0.5in tall and began to tour with the Ringling Bros. Circus. After that he became world-famous for his height. What exactly made him so tall? Robert had hyperplasia of the pituitary gland, or pituitary gigantism, which causes an unusual amount of the human growth hormone. He had trouble getting around and needed a walking stick for his legs. At the age of 22, he died in July 15, 1940 of a septic blister caused by a brace. He reached a final height of 8ft 11.1in. As well as being the tallest man ever he also had the largest hands and feet. He was buried in his hometown of Alton in a custom coffin. In 1986, a life-sized statue of Robert Wadlow was erected across from the Alton Museum of History and Art in honor of the city’s most famous resident.  

 Skyscrapers

Chicago, Illinois is a city known for its skyscrapers but did you know that it was home to the first modern skyscraper? After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, where nearly everything was burned to the ground, people began to look for new building techniques to avoid such a catastrophe again. The new buildings were built from iron, stone and a relatively new material known as steel. The Home Insurance Building was built in 1885 and designed by engineer William LeBaron Jenney. The world’s first modern skyscraper was located on the corner of Adams and LaSalle Streets in Chicago. The Home Insurance Building was supported by the new and revolutionary steel frame. It allowed for much greater height and stability without the greater weight of traditional masonry construction. It stood until 1931, when it was demolished to make way for another skyscraper, the Field Building which is now known as the LaSalle Bank Building. Chicago is also home to one of the tallest buildings in the world, Sears Tower or as it is now known Willis Tower. Sears Tower was completed in 1973 and was the tallest building in the world for 25 years. Then it was the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere for 41 years, until the completion of One World Trade Center in New York in 2013. Willis Tower is now the 3rd tallest building in the United States and the 23rd tallest in the world.