Illinois calls itself the Land of Lincoln

November 30, 2012 1:19 am

Illinois calls itself the Land of Lincoln. That’s because of its association with President Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s greatest leaders. Lincoln moved to Illinois in 1830, at the age of 21. In 1834, he was elected to the Illinois legislature (lawmaking body). He also was a lawyer in Springfield, the capital of Illinois.
Facts About Illinois
12,900,000 people
Rank among states in population
Major cities
Chicago, Rockford, Peoria
57,900 square miles
150,000 square kilometers
Rank among states in area
December 3, 1818, the 21st state
State nickname
The Prairie State
Name for residents
State bird
State flower
State tree
White Oak
Lincoln lived in Springfield, Illinois, from 1837 until he became president of the in 1861. If you visit Springfield, you can see the house Lincoln lived in. You can also visit his law office and the state capitol where he gained his reputation as a politician.
Another place to visit is New Salem. Lincoln lived in the pioneer village of New Salem before moving to Springfield. The village has been rebuilt to look as it did in Lincoln’s time—the 1830s. You can see log houses, stores, workshops, mills, and a school.
Although Illinois calls itself the Land of Lincoln, its official nickname is the Prairie State. Tall prairie grasses covered the state 200 years ago. Bison and elk grazed on the plains.
Today, the prairie grasses are almost gone, but the rich prairie soil remains. It supports large fields of corn and soybeans. These crops are used to fatten the cattle and hogs that have replaced the bison and elk.
Springfield is the capital of Illinois, but Chicago is by far the largest city in the state. Chicago is also the third largest city in the United States. It’s located on Lake Michigan in northeastern Illinois. Chicago is a center of business, industry, transportation, and finance.
Chicago is often called the Windy City. Most people think it’s because of the strong winds that sometimes blow through the city. But Chicago got its nickname in the 1800s from the bragging of its boosters(promoters). Other people called these boosters windy, meaning they were full of empty words.
Chicago is famous for its skyscrapers. The nation’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, was built in Chicago in 1885. It stood ten stories tall. A taller building replaced it in 1931.
Do you know what the tallest building in the United States is? It’s the Sears Tower in Chicago. It’s 110 stories high. An observation deck is at the top.
Pioneers began to settle in Illinois after the American Revolution (1775-1783). They came mainly from Kentucky and Tennessee, and they settled the wooded areas in the southern part of Illinois first. Early settlers had to clear the forests and build log cabins.
Illinois became the 21st state on December 3, 1818. Kaskaskia in southwestern Illinois was the first capital. The state capital was moved to Vandalia two years later, and finally to Springfield in the central part of the state in 1839.
In the 1830s, a blacksmith named John Deere invented a steel plow in Illinois. Until then, it had been difficult to farm the prairie because of the thick roots of the prairie grass. Deere’s plow made it a lot easier for farmers to plow the prairie sod. It encouraged settlement in northern Illinois.
A large Native American settlement was at Cahokia in southwestern Illinois. The city of Cahokia was at its peak between ad 1100 and 1200. Archaeologists think that as many as 10,000 to 20,000 people lived in the city then.
You can learn about native life at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. More than 100 mounds of earth were built at the Cahokia site. They were used for burials and as foundations for ceremonial buildings. The largest mound is 100 feet (30 meters) high—about as tall as a ten-story building.
Galena is a popular tourist site in northeastern Illinois, near the Mississippi River. The town grew wealthy from nearby lead mines in the 1830s and 1840s. It preserves many buildings from that time. You can tour a lead mine, fashionable homes, and other historic places in Galena. They include the home of U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant.
Starved Rock State Park on the Illinois River is a favorite spot for recreation. Thousands of years ago, water from melting glaciers carved stone canyons here. They’re a nice change from Illinois’s flat plains. Hikers enjoy views from the bluffs. In spring, waterfalls plunge down canyon walls. According to legend, a Native American chief starved to death on a bluff in the park. An enemy tribe had surrounded the bluff and kept him from escaping.
Skip to toolbar
shared on