Unique Places in Illinois

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in Illinois

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    Chinatown

    by traveldave Updated Sep 22, 2012

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    Although not as large or well-known as the one in San Francisco, Chicago nevertheless has a sizeable Chinatown. It is centered on Armour Square on the city's South Side.

    Chicago's Chinatown is the second-oldest Chinese community in the United States. After the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, many Chinese fled to Chicago to escape anti-Chinese violence that was prevalent in California at the time. Initially they established homes and businesses in the Loop, but by 1912 rising rent prices forced them to move south to the Armour Square neighborhood. The exodus to a new area of the city was initiated by the On Leong Merchants Association, which constructed several buildings in the new Chinatown. Many of these buildings featured Chinese accents such as upturned eaves and tile trim adorned with dragons.

    Nowadays, Chinatown has over 68,000 residents of Chinese heritage. The neighborhood contains many Chinese restaurants and Chinese-owned businesses such as banks, gift shops, grocery stores, traditional Chinese medicine shops, and other businesses.

    Chinatown is not to be confused with the nearby New Chinatown. That neighborhood was settled by immigrants mainly from Southeast Asia, especially Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees who fled their war-torn countries in the 1970s.

    Chinatown is a fun place to spend some time, enjoy a Chinese meal, and experience a taste of the Orient.

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    The Bahá'í House of Worship

    by traveldave Updated Sep 22, 2012

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    Located in north suburban Evanston, the Bahá'í House of Worship is one of eight Bahá'í continental Houses of Worship built around the world. Considered the "Mother Temple of the West", it is the world's largest and oldest Bahá'í temple.

    The Bahá'í faith is a monotheistic religion that emphasizes the spiritual unity of mankind and the religions of the world. It was founded in Persia by Bahá'u'lláh in the nineteenth century. There are about 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 Bahá'ís in the world today.

    The Bahá'í House of Worship was built between 1921 and 1953. Construction was delayed during the Great Depression and again during the Second World War. The main structure was was designed by architect Louis Bourgeois and the interior cladding was designed by Alfred Shaw. A quartz aggregate mixed into the white Portland concrete makes the building sparkle in the sunlight.

    The building is decorated inside and outside with abstract shapes and designs made by intersecting lines, verses from the Bahá'í Writings, and symbols from the world's major religions, including the cross of Christianity, the star and crescent of Islam, the Star of David of Judaism, and the swastika. (Before the Nazis adopted the swastika as their symbol and made it a symbol of hate, it was used for thousands of years as a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and even in the religions of some American Indian tribes).

    The central dome of the temple is 132 feet (40 meters) high and has a diameter of 90 feet (27 meters). It covers the main auditorium which has a seating capacity of 1,192. Below the auditorium is a visitors' center, bookstore, library, viewing room for films, and Foundation Hall which is used for large meetings and holy day observances.

    When not in use for services, the Bahá'í House of Worship is open to tourists.

    The Bahá'í House of Worship has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    The Chicago Botanic Garden

    by traveldave Updated Sep 22, 2012

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    Situated on 385 acres (156 hectares) in north suburban Glencoe, the Chicago Botanic Garden opened in 1972 with the goal of promoting the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of plants and the natural world.

    The grounds, which contain over 2,500,000 individual plants, are situated on nine islands and combine lakes, landscaped hills, and wooded areas, all surrounded by forest preserves. Natural habitats situated around the grounds include 100 acres (40 hectares) of oak and other deciduous woodlands that are a remnant of the forests that once covered much of northeastern Illinois before they were lost to urban sprawl. Six prairie areas are an example of the endangered native long-grass prairies that were once common over much of Illinois but which have succumbed to agriculture and urbanization.

    The Chicago Botanic Garden features 25 thematic gardens displaying hundreds of species of temperate-climate plants. Aquatic gardens contain over 114 species of aquatic plants, including 31 varieties of water lilies and nine species of lotus, all of which bloom in the summer and early autumn. The Japanese gardens occupy three islands and display over 280 types of plants that are native to Japan and which can tolerate the local climate. There are over 50,000 rose bushes in the rose garden representing 367 varieties of roses. Other gardens contain collections of bonsai trees, dwarf conifers, fruits and vegetables, and over 75,000 bulbs. And the children's garden offers hands-on exhibits which teach about the cultivation of plants and the harvesting of vegetables.

    Three large greenhouses also display over 9,000 plants of tropical, semitropical, and desert environments.

    The Chicago Botanic Garden is also an important learning center. The Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center has laboratories and teaching facilities for more than 200 Ph.D. candidates, students, land managers, and interns who do research into the conservation of plants. In addition, the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden offers more than 400 adult education courses annually.

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    Long Grove

    by traveldave Updated Sep 22, 2012

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    The village of Long Grove is part of the sprawling Chicago metropolitan area, but it is known for its well-preserved historic downtown area and historically significant houses, barns, commercial buildings, and covered bridge. The village maintains strict building codes in order to preserve its country atmosphere.

    What is now Long Grove was first settled sometime before 1840 by a pioneer named John Gridley, who built a homestead at a minor trail crossing in Long Grove, an isolated grove of oak trees in the middle of a long-grass prairie. Between the mid-1840s and 1850s, many German immigrants moved into Long Grove and established farms and a village which they called Muttersholz. The settlers used to come into the village to buy supplies, weigh their milk, make their cheese at the cooperative, have their horses shod, and exchange news and pleasantries.

    During the First World War there was widespread anti-German sentiment in the United States, and so as not to stand out, the local residents began speaking English almost exclusively and renamed their town Long Grove. The village went into a decline during the 1930s and 1940s, and was untouched by progress and development. As a result, the historic houses and buildings of the village remained in their original condition. In the 1950s the village's property owners, in response to the approaching urbanization and urban sprawl from the rapidly expanding Chicago metropolitan area, formed an association to oppose major development of Long Grove in order to keep its historic character. Several women opened an antique resale shop in the crossroads area of the village, and other shops soon followed.

    Nowadays, Long Grove attracts shoppers and day-trippers from nearby Chicago who come to wander its cobbled walkways; admire the historic buildings; shop in its 85 boutique shops and art galleries; eat at its fine restaurants, bakeries, and cafes; and enjoy its annual chocolate, strawberry, and apple fesitvals.

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    Recall good old days at top ranking campuses

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Illinois has three universities of international ranking - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Chicago and Northwestern University. The last two are located in Chaicagoland, sort of midwestern response to East's IVY League and West's Stanford.

    University of Chicago is located in the south of the city, with its highest number of faculty with Nobel prizes. Because of the location of its campus, it is not advised that an average tourist visit it.

    Northwestern University has two campuses located on Lake Michigan: a 240-acre campus in Evanston, the first suburb north of Chicago, and a 25-acre campus in Chicago itself.

    My hubby went to one of its schools here - J. L. Kellogg School of Management. While he may remember it for his studies, I remember the school which once held the record of most number of College football games lost at a stretch (28 games). This is because the school is studies oriented, but plays in a tough league where top College football teams from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa also play.

    Incidently, my husband had joined Northwestern from Columbia University in NYC, the college that broke Northwestern above-mentioned record (34 games) hehehe. What a stroke of luck.

    Well, this information was given to me by one of his advisors while at Kellogg. I request that some body confirms this.

    The Evanston campus and the town are both worth visiting. The parks around lakeshore and playing fields of the university are safe for kids to venture on their own, one can enjoy guest facility to read books at one of the libraries, see students play games or simply admire architecture.

    The town offers many cheap eats and book stores.

    More information can be had from surfing on the website mentioned below.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Architecture
    • Family Travel

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    The Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum in Arcola

    by dlandt Updated Jun 18, 2008

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    Just south of Champaign, in the small town of Arcola, you will find a museum devoted to the characters Raggedy Ann and Andy, a true slice of Americana. The museum is closed on Sunday, but is otherwise worth a quick stop. They have a large collection of antique memorabilia as well as some remaining effects of Mr. Gruelle, the doll and story creator. In On prominent display, we discovered a very large collection fo Japanese Raggedy Anns, some shown in the pictures. These were only a few of the unique dolls to view, and they also had large paintings and other artwork devoted to her. Of course, there is a gift shop.

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    Plano

    by scott_norwood Written Oct 10, 2007

    This is the town where the followers of Joseph Smith the III gathered and built there 1st church building. This church was made up by those who rejected the leadership of Brigham Young and did not go west to Utah.

    Related to:
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    • Religious Travel

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    Metropolis

    by ant1606 Updated Oct 1, 2007

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    Near the southern tip of Illinois, the town of Metropolis has elected itself as the home of Superman.
    If billboards and merchandise stores are inevitable, an unexpected sight is a large statue of the hero in front of the city hall. Questionable, in my opinion.
    For those who can't resist, be aware that not far from Metropolis there's Popeye hometown.

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    Odell - Route 66

    by ant1606 Updated Sep 12, 2007

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    "If you ever plan to motor West...."
    The old song praises one of the most celebrated American highways, the US 66, that since 1926 spans from Chicago to Los Angeles across nine States. This route became particularly popular during the infamous "Dust Bowl" period in the 30s. Years of uncontrolled agricultural practices in the Plains had resulted in an extreme impoverishment of the soil, causing a serie of severe dust storms that forced hundreds of thousands of people to move to California during that decade.
    "The Mother Road", as Route 66 is also nicknamed, has slightly changed over the course of time and certainly superseded by the faster-pace Interstate road system. A true icon of the past times, driving today on Route 66 is a relaxing experience and a great occasion to sample the essence of America.
    A number of gas stations had clustered in Odell, Illinois, and the Standard Oil Company was selected to become an Historical Landmark. Although originally built in 1932, the beautiful manual pump design dates back to 1916 and the whole facility is very well preserved and restored.

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    Olney's Albino Squirrels Are a Sight To See

    by deecat Updated Aug 12, 2007

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    While in Chicago in August of 2007, I saw this advertisement on a billboard on Michicagn Avenue [1st photo]

    Growing up in Robinson, Illinois, I always heard about the white squirrels in Olney, Illnois. I finally got to see one of the famous white squirrels. According to local legend, the white squirrel made its first appearance in 1902. They have pink eyes, pure white fur, & they seem quite friendly. These are true albinos, so they do not see or hear as well as other squirrels, which makes them easy prey for dogs & cats, especially the baby white squirrels.

    Olney conducts an annual white squirrel count each year to keep track of the migration trends. At one time there were 1,000 of them; they have been holding steady at 200 white squirrels for many years now.

    In addition, they have a law on the books that give the squirrels the right-of-way on every street! There is a stiff fine for anyone who tries to take one of the squirrels out of Olney.

    The local police wear patches that bear an outline of a bushy-tailed albino.
    Olney's flag has the squirrel logo as does the police cars, the daily newspaper, and the key to the city. 2007 marks the 106th year that the white squirrel has been Olney's mascot.

    I was told by my mother that President Truman loved them and took a pair to Washington D.C., but they died.

    White squirrels are active year-round, particularly in early morning & in the evening. You can easily find them in the City Park or northeast of town atBird Haven a small nature sanctuary. To find the City Park, you need to take Illinois Route 130 (South West Street) north about 12 blocks; you will see the park on the east side of the road.

    The Bird Haven: From U.S. 50, take Illinois Route 130 (S. West St.) to Main St. Turn right (east) and go 14 blocks to N. East St. Go north about 4 miles & turn right on Miller Grove Lane (1275N). Turn right on N. East St. (1200E). Turn left on Doenges Rd.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
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    Morrison Covered Bridge

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jul 31, 2007

    coming...

    Morrison Rock Creek 2 137' 2001 Cement deck N41 49.12 W89 58.09 N. of Morrison, Mount Pleasant Township. Orange St. N. 0.4 miles from jct with US30 in Morrison, W. on Norrish Rd. 0.2 miles to the bridge. Open walkway on S. side of bridge.

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    Check out campsites

    by searay185sports Written Jul 2, 2007

    Dam west Marina, we later found out as tole by the gate keeper at Boulder access is the busiest lakeside marina in the US. If you prefer less crowded area, check out the surrounding campsite. We checked out cole'screek and boulder and found them to be just as great, less people and less windy too at that time

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    Evanston - the university city

    by Faiza-Ifrah Written Apr 1, 2007

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    Although we have lot of attachment towards Evanston, due to our busy schedule, we got just few minutes to visit this city.

    Evanston is a small city located north of Chicago along Lake Michigan. This is the home of Northwestern University, a school that my husband attended in 1990s.

    Over a period of last 15 years the town's image from a low income worn out residences has improved to a higher middle income city. Of course, Northwestern has a huge presence in the city all along the lake. There are some other features too. There are many lakeside picnic spots that are accessible to general public. As well, there is a Baha'i Temple that is the worship place for the followers of Baha'i religion that was derived fom Islam. This temple is beautiful and can be visited by all. Just ensure that you take your shoes off before entering it and accord it respect as any religious place ought to be (see the pictures).

    On a sombre note, when we visited Northwestern, it was spring break and the student population was at minimal. One of Suhail's teachers, a very well known one in academia, was dead and a building was named in his honor (see pictures).

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    A little bit of Italy in Niles

    by Faiza-Ifrah Updated Mar 30, 2007

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    We have always made a stop at The Leaning Tower, which is only 15 minutes northeast of O'Hare Intl. Airport. The Leaning Tower of Niles is, of course, a replica of Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, and is roughly half-sized at 94 feet. The authentic Leaning Tower of Pisa is 177 feet. The Leaning Tower of Niles leans about 7'4" off plum (vs. Pisa's 15 foot tilt). Although someday we will like to have our picture taken against the original masterpiece in Italy, this time, like several instances before, we settled for our pictures against this replica.

    Excerpts from a webside:

    "America's Leaning Tower was built in 1934 (600 years after the original), and for many years has stood in front of the Tower YMCA. It was a utility tower, made from steel, concrete and precast stone, designed to store water. A plaque at its base says it was built to honor the outstanding scientist Galileo Galilei."

    The address for reaching Leaning Tower of Niles is 6300 Touhy Avenue, Niles, IL. In order to reach it from Chicago, take I-94 West and make an exit on Touhy East.

    Admission is free :-)

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    Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Oct 13, 2006

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    Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site preserves the farm and home of the parents of President Abraham Lincoln. "Where 1845 Comes Alive" is the slogan of this very interesting Park. Visitors not only see old may see a log cabin, barn and out buildings, but also heirloom crops and old breed animals being raised using historic methods.

    Throughout the year various special events are held with demonstrations of plowing by draft horses & mules, spinning wool, weaving, natural dyeing etc. Other activities include a bluegrass jam, barn dance, agricultural fair and Christmas candlelight tours. This is a good place no only to learn more about America's 16th president, but also to learn of our pre-industrial heritage. It's a bit off the beaten path, but well worth seeking out.

    Address:
    400 S. Lincoln Hwy. Rd.
    Lerna, IL 62440

    Directions:
    In east-central Illinois, a few miles south of the towns of Charleston and Mattoon. Follow the highway signs from either I-57 or I-70.

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    • Museum Visits

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Illinois Off The Beaten Path

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