Located on Lake Michigan, and connected to the eastern ports via the Erie Canal, Chicago became a booming metropolis, and even the fire of 1871 could not stunt its growth. In the second half of the 19th century the great need for workers in the mills, rail yards and slaughterhouses made Chicago a popular destination for immigrants and freed blacks. During Prohibition Chicago became synonymous with bootleg liquor and gangsters like Al Capone.
After the American Revolution against the British, Illinois became a territory of the United States, and achieved statehood in 1818.
Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago’s metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state’s population.
Illinois shares its eastern border with Indiana, Lake Michigan to the north, to the Wabash River in the south above Post Vincennes. Most of the western border with Missouri and Iowa is the Mississippi River; Kaskaskia is an exclave of Illinois, lying west of the Mississippi and reachable only from Missouri. The state has the northern border with Wisconsin. The northeastern border of Illinois lies in Lake Michigan, within which Illinois shares a water boundary with the state of Michigan, as well as Wisconsin and Indiana. The state capital is Springfield.
Illinois took the nickname-Prairie State; Land of Lincoln. The state tree is the White Oak and the state flower is the violet. And the state motto is State Sovereignty, National Union.
Illinois has an extensive passenger and freight rail transportation network. Chicago is a national Amtrak hub and in-state passengers are served by Amtrak’s Illinois Service, featuring the Chicago to Carbondale Illini and Saluki, the Chicago to Quincy Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr, and the Chicago to St. Louis Lincoln Service. Currently there is trackwork on the Chicago–St. Louis line to bring the maximum speed up to 110 mph (180 km/h), which would reduce the trip time by an hour and a half. Nearly every North American railway meets in Chicago, making it the largest and most active rail hub in the country. Extensive commuter rail is provided in the city proper and some immediate suburbs by the Chicago Transit Authority’s ‘L’ system. One of the largest suburban commuter rail systems in the United States, operated by Metra, uses existing rail lines to provide direct commuter rail access for hundreds of suburbs to the city and beyond.
In addition to the state’s rail lines, the Mississippi River and Illinois River provide major transportation routes for the state’s agricultural interests. Lake Michigan gives Illinois access to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
From 1962 until 1998, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) was the busiest airport in the world, measured both in terms of total flights and passengers. While it was surpassed by Atlanta’s Hartsfield in 1998 (as Chicago splits its air traffic between O’Hare and Midway airports, while Atlanta uses only one airport), with 59.3 million domestic passengers annually, along with 11.4 million international passengers in 2008, O’Hare consistently remains one of the two or three busiest airports globally, and in some years still ranks number one in total flights. It is a major hub for both United Airlines and American Airlines, and a major airport expansion project is currently underway. Midway Airport (MDW), which had been the busiest airport in the world at one point until it was supplanted by O’Hare as the busiest airport in 1962, is now the secondary airport in the Chicago metropolitan area and still ranks as one of the nation’s busiest airports. Midway is a major hub for Southwest Airlines and services many other carriers as well.
Illinois has 1,118 miles of navigable waterways passing through or bordering the state. From a commercial transportation perspective, these navigable rivers and Lake Michigan, which make up the Illinois Maritime Transportation System, are primarily used for the carriage of freight.
Passenger travel on these waters is most often for recreation. Illinois’ navigable waterways include Lake Michigan, the Illinois River and canal system, and the Kaskaskia River and connects with both the Ohio and Mississippi rivers which border Illinois. Inland waterway system consists of 336 miles of water and links the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico via the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Illinois has nineteen port districts. A number 4 of these public port districts currently have access to multimodal connections such as rail, air, and interstate highways, including US DOT Maritime Highways.
The direction of waterborne freight within Illinois is predominantly North to South from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi along the Illinois Waterway.
The Interstate Highways in Illinois are all segments of the Interstate Highway System that are owned and maintained by the state.
Illinois has the distinction of having the most primary (two-digit) interstates pass through it among all the 50 states with 13. Illinois also ranks third among the fifty states with the most interstate mileage, coming in after California and Texas, which are much bigger states in area.
Major U.S. Interstate highways crossing the state include: Interstate 24 (I-24), I-39, I-41, I-55, I-57, I-64, I-70, I-72, I-74, I-80, I-88, I-90, and I-94.