Top student cities in Illinois
The playground of the notorious gangster Al Capone and the starting point for many blues and jazz musicians, the city of Chicago boasts a history and cultural atmosphere richer than most.
If it’s a decent skyline you’re after, then look no further. Chicago sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, offering stunning views over the water from the heights of the city’s many sleek architectural feats. These skyscrapers reflect Chicago’s status as a thriving economic hub, where as many as 14 Fortune Global 500 companies are located, including Boeing and Kraft Foods.
At street level, Chicago’s population of 9.5 million can be found enjoying blues, jazz and rock bands hosted in the many gritty nightclubs and bars across the city. While Chicago’s comedy scene is booming, musical heritage remains one of the city’s biggest draws; the explosion of blues and jazz in the 20th century prompts comparisons with the throbbing city of New Orleans in Louisiana. Chicago’s major influence in the music world is reflected in the fact that the term “jazz” was actually coined in the city in 1914 by musicians Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa. The Green Mill Jazz Club is also the longest continuously running jazz club in the whole of the US.
Other cultural attractions in Chicago include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo (the nation’s oldest public zoo and one of just three major free zoos remaining in the US), Willis Tower (or Sears Tower as it’s still known to locals) and the Shedd Aquarium.
Although Chicago steals its limelight, the city of Springfield is the official capital of Illinois. Abraham Lincoln practiced law here from 1837 onwards and, inevitably, the town is full of so-called ‘Lincolniana’ to explore. Visitors can take a look at his restored home, law offices and various other period buildings and artifacts, as well as his tomb and the new Presidential Library and Museum.
Although Springfield has a population of just 117,000, the city can offer a great live music scene, as well as theater, opera and comedy all over town.
Other towns and cities worth exploring in Illinois include Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, Morton (“pumpkin capital of the world”), Naperville, Peoria, Cairo, Cahokia, and Kaskaskia (the state’s first capital).
Facts about Illinois
- The capital city is Springfield and the largest city is Chicago.
- Illinois is located in the Midwest region of the US, sharing borders with Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan (across Lake Michigan).
- Approximately 80% of Illinois is farmland.
- Major agricultural products include soybeans, pumpkin, corn, hogs, ethanol, peaches, cheese and wheat.
- Illinois has 37 companies in the 2016 Fortune 500 list.
- Chicago’s O’Hare airport is the fourth-busiest in the world by passenger numbers
- Illinois generates more nuclear power than any other state.
- Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment of the constitution in 1865 to abolish slavery.
- Barack Obama started his political career in Illinois, and, when he became president in 2008, he gave his victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park.
- Famous people from Illinois include US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, actors Bill Murray and Mr. T, writer Ernest Hemingway, animator and producer Walt Disney and comedian Richard Pryor.
- Films featuring Chicago include The Blues Brothers (1980), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and Home Alone (1990).
- Chicago’s Nabisco factory is the largest bakery in the world at 1,800,000 square feet.