Favorite thing: The area that would one day become Chicago was originally inhabited by various tribes of the Algonquin people. The city's name is actually a French corruption of shikaakwa, meaning "stinking onion" which referred to wild onions growing along what is now the Chicago River.
Two French explorers are given credit for being the first Europeans to visit the area. Both were traveling together, but Louis Jolliet was searching for gold, and Père Jacques Marquette was out to save souls. Although they were only passing through, they noted the area because of the short portage between Lake Michican and the Des Plaines River, which is part of the Mississippi River System. At the time, the region was characterized by prairies and swampland. The swamp linked two of North America's great waterways: the Mississippi River (via the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers) to the south and west, and the Great Lakes to the north and east.
In 1779 Jean Baptiste Point du Sable established a farm and trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River. He is considered to be the founder of today's city. In 1795, the area was ceded to the United States after the Northwest Indian War. Fort Dearborn was built on the Chicago River in 1803. In 1833, the small settlement that had grown up around the fort had only a few hundred inhabitants, but it was incorporated as a city.
By the 1850s, Chicago had become a transportation hub for its central location in the United States. Thirty railroad lines entered the city. Lines coming from the east ended at Chicago, and lines headed to the west began there. In 1848, the Illinois and Michigan Canal opened. It connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, and Chicago had a direct shipping connection to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. By the 1860s, Chicago had become the trans-shipment and warehouse center of the nation.
Becoming a transportation hub resulted in economic growth and an explosive increase in population. By 1870, Chicago was the second-largest city in the United States (giving rise to its nickname of the "Second City") and one of the largest cities in the world.
However, in 1871 much of the young city was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire. Legend has it that the fire was started when Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern. The resulting fire killed 300 people, left 100,000 homeless, and destroyed 18,000 buildings.
After the fire, architects from all over the country flocked to Chicago to help rebuild the city. Their efforts transformed Chicago into the world's leader in architectural innovation. It was the home of the world's first skyscraper, the 16-story Monadnock Building, built in 1891. Since then, Chicago built the world's tallest building twice, and its downtown now presents one of the world's great skylines.
Nowadays, Chicago is no longer the second city (Los Angeles is now the second-largest city in the country), although it does have 9,800,000 inhabitants in its metropolitan area. However, it is one of the most important cities in the country, and it has become a global city.Add to your Trip Planner
History of Illinois
Favorite thing: Native Americans inhabited what is now called Illinois dating back to 8000 B.C. Illinois got it’s name from the Illiniwek Confederation, a political alliance among several native American tribes. The Illini suffered in the seventeenth century when they were forced to defend themselves from continual attacks by the Sioux and the Iroquois. The Illini were later replaced by the Pottawatomie, Miami, Sauk, and other tribes.
In the 1670’s Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet became the first white men to see what would later be called Illinois Country. Marquette was a French-born Jesuit missionary and Jolliet an explorer and mapmaker from Canada.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Illinois State Flag
Fondest memory: The Illinois flag is a simple representation of the Great Seal of Illinois against a white background.
This is the wierd part (to me anyway): The State's name was added to the flag in 1969 to ensure that people not familiar with the Great Seal of Illinois would still recognize the banner.
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
Illinois-The Prairie State
Fondest memory: Known unofficially as the “Prairie State”, Illinois designates the third full week in September each year as Illinois Prairie Week. It is designed to demonstrate the value of preserving and reestablishing native Illinois prairies.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
The historic town of Galena, a day trip away
Favorite thing: Galena is a small town that has had more importance historically than it does today. The town is older than Chicago, Rockford, Springfield and most of the other cities in Illinois. The historically aware won't be surprised at this fact when they learn that Galena lies close to the Mississippi River.
The most significant historical event concerning Galena is the Black Hawk War, which spanned a number of weeks and has generally been recorded in the history books solely because Abraham Lincoln served as a militia officer. For the non-historically aware, Black Hawk was a person. The tribe he led was called the Sauk. Famous or not, this war is the ONLY war ever fought on the territory of Illinois, with the sole two day exception of the Fort Dearborn Massacre and unrecorded intra-Indian wars.
The most significant historical figure associated with Galena is Ulysses S. Grant, a Civil War general and later president. His face features prominently in Galena, and he launched his presidential campaign from Galena.
Today, Galena is a quaint town (once you drive through the flood gates) specializing in boutiques, wineries, creameries, cheeseries, and restaurants. There is a large amount of country tourism in the area, such as canoeing, horseback riding, and hiking.
Fondest memory: A picnic in Grant Park!Related to:
- Road Trip
Favorite thing: Chicago is the largest and most well known city in the state. Its a popular place to visit for arts and culture, restaurants and shopping, and, of course, Lake Michigan which borders the city. It is one of the most interesting and friendliest cities in the US. For more information, feel free to visit my Chicago page.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
FRENCH HISTORY - Ft. St. Louis at Starved Rock
Favorite thing: Here is a diorama depicting Ft. St. Louis as it was erected by the French in 1632. Located at he present day sight of Starved Rock, it was the first and last such settlement in the area. Not much remains of it now, but at its inception, Ft. St. Louis served not just as a military outpost, but an important center of trade for Europeans and Indians alike.
Fondest memory: Not many people remember the French History of this area and not much is left to be seen.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Lovely Libertyville, Our Hometown Today (2004)
Favorite thing: After saying goodbye to Waukegan, we moved to unincorporated Libertyville, Illinois to an outstanding rental home. We rented with an option to buy, which was a great move on our part. We were able to see how much we enjoyed the home, the neighborhood, and the location. All passed the test with flying colors, and so we purchased the house.
See my Libertyville pages for details of this quaint community.
The real positive of Libertyville is the vibrant downtown area where there are excellent restaurants, numerous speciality shops, a lovely Rose Garden, an old-fashioned Movie Theater, and a weekly Market Day all summer. Even though there are several large Malls within driving distance, the community backs the historic downtown area, keeping it open and vibrant.
The schools that serve Libertyville are very highly rated; the rail transportation is outstanding and located right in the heart of the downtown section. Condell Hospital is thought to be one of the very best in the area; the park district is active and highly accessible. So, one can see that Libertyville, Illinois is a wonderful community to live in and a super place to visit.
Fondest memory: Living here in unincorporated Libertyville is ideal because we are right in the middle between Libertyville and Gurnee and have easy access to both villages. Our home is less than one mile from the Interstate, which is a direct route to Chicago and Milwaukee.
We pay taxes to the Gurnee Schools, and those taxes are less than those in Libertyville (thank goodness). Our home is located on a dead end street so there is little or no traffic. There is a Wetland protected area behind us so nothing will ever be built there, which gives us further privacy. We feel that living here is just right for us, and we think visiting Libertyville is a grand idea for all of you!
The photograph is one of our home here in Libertyville. See my travelogue on my Libertyville pages to see my many perennial gardensRelated to:
- Historical Travel
Warm, Wonderful Waukegan
Favorite thing: The years that we lived in Waukegan (about nine years), were certainly happy ones. Waukegan is the ninth largest city in the state of Illinois with a population of about 90,000. The name Waukegan is
Potawatomi Indian for "Little Fort"
The racial makeup of the city is:
44.80%= Hispanic or Latino
19.21%= African American
.54%= Native Americans
.06%= Pacific Islander
There are a many retired people living in Waukegan along with many young families.
It was established as a French trading post in the late 17th Century and was incorporated as a city in 1859.
Waukegan is located next to Lake Michigan about ten miles south of the Wisconsin border and forty miles north of the City of Chicago. Waukegan is commonly referred to as the midpoint between Chicago and Milwaukee ; however, it is still considered a part of Chicagoland.
Waukegan was at its prime from the 1920s until the 1970s. I remember when there were all the big department stores, lots of clothing stores, jewelry stores, hardware stores, restaurants, hotels, etc. in this beautiful, big city by the Lake. Once the Shopping Malls came, Waukegan seemed to "fold up".
It is so sad to see it so barren.
Many citizens are working very diligently to bring it back. I hope they succeed.
Fondest memory: I think my fondest memories of Waukegan are visiting with our wonderful neighbors, Marvella and Bill. Bill made me laugh so much. Our neighborhood was tree-lined and beautiful with modest, well-kept homes that were built in the 1950s through the 1970s.
Because the value of homes was not going up (in some instances, the value was declining), we decided to sell and move to Libertyville, Illinois.
Regardless, I still love Waukegan.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Taught There, Lived There, Shopped There
Favorite thing: With our daughter Jill off to college, Allan and I moved closer to our job locations. Since I worked at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, Illinois, we decided to rent there for awhile. We rented a fabulous Duplex that was huge (3,000 sq. ft.!)
The photograph shows part of the Great room and its fireplace.
We discovered that we did not need 3 bedrooms plus a loft den, Great Room, Dining Room, Eat-in Kitchen, 3 and a half baths, utility room, full basement, two and one half car garage plus a deck! We also didn't need to spend that much money!
We stayed one year, but it was a great year because Gurnee is a super place to live.
a. Close to the Illinois Toll Road.
b. Plenty of places to shop such as
Gurnee Mills Shopping Center
c. Extraordinary places to "play" such as
Six Flags Great America
d. Outstanding places to eat such as
e. Good schools such as Warren
Township High School
f. Super park district with parks such as
g. Plenty of places to stay such as the large
Holiday Inn on Grand Avenue
Fondest memory: I loved living in Gurnee because that is where I worked; therefore, it was quite convenient and saved so much gasoline and time.
I loved the home we rented; we were the first to live there, so it was sparkling clean. I loved being closer to the Interstate for out-of-town travel pursuits. All-in-all, it was a grand year we spent in Gurnee!Related to:
- Theme Park Trips
- Family Travel
Golf, Lakes, and Country Living: Antioch
Favorite thing: We moved from Lake Bluff to build a new home on the golf course called Harbor Ridge (Now it is called Antioch Golf Club) in Antioch, Illinois. Antioch is located midway between Chicago & Milwaukee and has abundant lakes for fishing, boating, or swimming. A wide array of specialty shops, artists shops and antique shops as well as a wonderful Community Theater add to the lure of this village of about 6,000. Antioch is the Northern start for the new Metra System which now makes commuting to all areas convenient. Near the Chain O'Lakes makes it a community for year round activities. The town has great "down home" places to eat, especially on Friday nights for fish fries.
Antioch was so different from anywhere else we ever lived....much more conservative, which made me feel uncomfortable at times. I'm a much more "inclusive" kind of person than many of the citizens there.
Fondest memory: Building a house is quite an experience! We chose a lot on a hill next to the 7th Fairway...I think that it was the best location in the development. We loved this home because of its location and because we chose the plan and the lot.
We had our own electric golf cart so we golfed as much as possible. We belonged to the couples league and made many new, dear friends.
Jill went to Junior High and High School in Antioch and graduated in 1988.
Our memories are mostly good ones because we loved golf, made lots of new friends, and watched our daughter grow into a young woman there. After Jill graduated from high school, we sold our beautiful home and moved to Gurnee, Illinois.Related to:
New Schools, New Place to Live: Lake Bluff
Favorite thing: Allan had an opportunity to go back to the Northern Suburbs in Lake County, Illinois to his first school, Lake Bluff Jr. High School. Dupage County in the western suburbs had become so congested that we wanted to go to a more rural area. Thus, we moved to
Lake Bluff, Illinois. We lived in four different homes in Lake Bluff, and we loved all four of them...all completely different styles.
Our first home was a rental Duplex that had been the Gardener's Quarters for the Field Estate (the Fields of Marshall Field & Co. Fame!). It was awesome with it's stucco exterior, its dark wood floors and woodwork, and its location on a beautiful Ravine about half a block from Lake Michigan up on the Bluff. We loved it and the neighborhood, but we had been married for twelve years and were still renting, so we bought our first home, which was a low-slung, flat-roofed , 4 bedroom Ranch. This was another lovely neighborhood. We only lived there one and a half years because the real estate market was so "hot" that we sold it to the first "looker" at a huge profit. We purchased a small Victorian down by Lake MIchigan and lived there for one summer; then we realized it was far too small and purchased the Cape Cod close to Allan's school.
The photographs show the four seasons in Lake Bluff at our Cape Cod Style home. CLICK to get the full concept!
Fondest memory: Lake Bluff is next to Lake Forest, Illinois, and is on a Bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Thus, its name....LAKE BLUFF. It's a tiny village with a few stores, a nice park, a great beach, good schools, and outstanding natural settings of ravines, bluffs and huge Oak trees. We stayed in this amazing town until Jill was ready for 5th grade. We did not want her to have to have her father as a teacher in Jr. High School. Looking back, I think that was a mistake because the Lake Bluff/Lake Forest schools were far superior to where we moved.
Come visit Lake Bluff, this incredible North Shore Community.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Charming Village of Hinsdale
Favorite thing: The first time that we rented an entire home was when we moved from Downers Grove to the next suburb called Hinsdale, Illinois.
We rented a two bedroom home on a beautiful tree-lined street that consisted of much larger, more expensive homes. It was within walking distance of the quaint downtown section.
There is a wide range of architectural styles throughout the village. These include Italianate, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Shingle Style, Prairie Style, Craftsman Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial Revival, French Eclectic, Tudor Revival, and Plan Book and Pre-Cut Catalog Houses The more modern homes include the American Bungalow, Classic Box, Ranch, and Split-level. Preservation is a policy in Hinsdale administered by the Historic Preservation Commission.
People first came to what is now Hinsdale via the old Black Hawk Indian Trail. A man named William Robbins, "The Father of Hinsdale,"bought 6400 acres of land in 1862; thus, the village began. He planned and built the streets; more importantly, he planted thousands of young shade trees. At that time the population was about 500; today, Hinsdale's population is over 18,000 residents.
Presently, Hinsdale is a lovely village of tree-shaded streets, gracious architecture, quaint little shoppes, and a self-supporting business community. "This town combines the charm of the past with the vitality of the future."
Hinsdale is located off the intersections of Interstate Highway 294 and U.S. Route 34 (Ogden Avenue) or Illinois Rt. 83 & U.S. Rt. 34.
Fondest memory: I remember being told that Hinsdale was a great example of a Railroad Suburb because its distinct landscape is based on the picturesque English ideal of the country house set in a naturalistic, landscaped garden. "Single-family homes were developed near rail stations to allow the wealthy to escape the ills of the city." Well, Hinsdale is, indeed,
WEALTHY! We could never afford to stay in Hinsdale . . . not back in the early 1970s and not today.
Our two years in our rented home in Hinsdale was a time when I was earning an additional degree in Special Education, and Allan was a Principal of a local Grade School. We were juggling our jobs with parenthood. Because it was such a busy time, it flew by.
The photograph is of Jill at our neighbors across the street in Hinsdale, Illinois. She is about three years old.Related to:
- Historical Travel
A Special Place: Downers Grove
Favorite thing: To Allan and I, Downers Grove, Illinois plays a special role in our life together. It was there that we brought home our beautiful daughter, Jill Michelle. She was five days old when we first saw her at Lake Bluff Home For Children. The new apartment we were renting once we moved to Downers Grove had two bedrooms, and we made a lovely nursery for her.
The founder (1832) of Downers Grove is Pierce Downer who discovered this huge grove of trees in the middle of the vast Illinois prairie, and he knew it would provide the raw material needed to begin a new village. So you can see why the town was called Downers Grove The railroad soon opened new opportunities to Downers Grove. Once the expressway system was built, excellent transportation was available to the citizens.
Today there are almost 50,000 people living in Downers Grove, and the village finds itself near total development within its borders.
The Park District manages over 500 acres of park land in town and has won the coveted National Gold Medal award for the quality & diversity of its recreational pursuits.
The community has over 1,000 hotel and motel rooms, including two all suite properties.
The downtown shopping district remains strong with financial services, professional services and retail services. There are also numerous restaurants downtown.
Fondest memory: Our fondest memories, by far, was watching Jill go from an infant to a toddler here in Downers Grove. In addition, a wonderful lady babysat for her while Allan and I both taught, and that woman was fantastic. We appreciate the fine people of Downers Grove who have wonderful values and kind hearts.Related to:
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- Arts and Culture
The "Lilac Village": Lombard, Illinois
Favorite thing: After Allan and I left Grayslake, we went to Graduate School in Terre Haute, Indiana. When we returned, we found teaching jobs in DuPage County (Western Suburbs of Chicago). We moved into an apartment in the town of Lombard, Illinois. We only stayed there a little over a year, but we enjoyed living in this lovely town.
Lombard is located 20 miles west of Chicago's Loop. It was incorporated in 1869. William R. Plum moved to what was then known as Babcock's Grove shortly after the Civil War, and he is the reason Lombard is called the "Lilac Village" today. He had an outstanding collection of lilacs that became the nucleus of Lilacia Park, which attracts visitors from out of state and from around the world.
Today Lombard has a population of about 42,500 and is served by I-290, Tri State I-294, North-South Tollway I-355, East-West Tollway I-88.
Harold Gray who originated Little Orphan Annie cartoon strip was from Lombard as was the original Morris the Cat artist Sheldon Peck, and the home of Big Idea Productions who created and produce the computer designed cartoon characters called "Veggie Tales."
Fondest memory: It's Lilac Time in Lombard that I remember most. Each May, the village bursts into bloom, and in those first three weeks in May, Lombard celebrates with "Lilac Time". Lilacia Park, in the heart of Lombard, is the focal point of this celebrations. In this 8.5 acre park, 1,300 fragrant lilac bushes and 75,000 eye-catching tulips fill it. There is a waterfall and a gift shop of handmade goods. There are tours, horticultural events, and concerts. It's a great celebration of Nature. The town is filled with landmark homes and businesses.
The photograph is one of the original Morris the Cat who was from Lombard, Illinois.Related to:
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