Illinois
 
 
 
 
Travel America

Learn before you travel. This section of Fun Easy English focuses on facts and other cool stuff about your favorite U.S. state. This is great English reading practice. This page focuses on the state of Illinois.
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Illinois

Named for the Illinois Indians, Illinois became the 21st state in 1818. Its capital is Springfield, which is the home of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Flag of IllinoisIllinois State Flag


The first Illinois state flag was officially adopted in 1915, a result of the efforts of Mrs. Ella Park Lawrence and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Miss Lucy Derwent's design was selected from among 35 entries submitted by chapters of the D.A.R.

The Illinois flag features the central image of the state seal on a field of white (the Illinois seal features an eagle holding a banner in its beak with the state motto written on it; “State Sovereignty, National Union”). The current version of the Illinois state seal was authorized in 1867. August 26, 1818, is the date that the first Illinois Constitution was signed.

In 1969 the current flag design was approved (the word "ILLINOIS" was added, as well as the sun on Lake Michigan's horizon in the background).
Source: State Symbols USA
 
The great seal of the state of IllinoisIllinois State Facts

Picture: state seal of Illinois
State Capital Springfield
Nickname Land of Lincoln / Prairie State
Motto State sovereignty, national union.
Statehood December 3, 1818 (21st)
Origin of Name French version of an Algonquin Indian for "warriors"
Largest Cities Chicago, Rockford, Aurora, Springfield, Peoria
Border States Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin
Area 55,593 sq. mi.; 24th largest
State Bird Cardinal
State Flower Native Violet (viola)
State Tree White Oak (quercus alba)
State Song Illinois
Map showing the location of IllinoisTravel and tourism site for Illinois - This state travel and territorial tourism site provides ideas for your vacations, meetings, and more.
Illinois Stories
 
Chicago Botanic Garden

When you think of big urban centers like New York City, Washington, D.C., or Chicago you probably don't think of gardens. But each of these cities has a wonderful botanic garden amid their skyscrapers and monuments.

In 1972, the Chicago Botanic Garden opened to teach lessons of nature that can be applied to our own lives. The garden is actually made up of 23 different gardens that visitors may walk through, including the English Walled Garden, the Midwestern Prairie, the Circle Garden, an Educational Greenhouse, a Fruit and Vegetable Garden, a Rose Garden and a Japanese Garden.

The Children's Garden, which was formed when the Botanic Garden opened, offers Chicago schoolchildren the opportunity to try planting, weeding and harvesting. In the Endangered Species Garden visitors can see native plants that are threatened with extinction. There is plenty of wildlife in the gardens as well. There have been sightings of bats, deer, woodchucks, bullfrogs and snapping turtles. There is even a "Big Bugs" exhibit.
 
Early Movies in Chicago

Did you know that before the movie industry moved to Hollywood it had its beginnings in New York City and Chicago, Illinois? If the "windy city" of Chicago seems like an odd place to make movies, (or motion pictures, as they were commonly called), it actually made a lot of sense at the time. The reason the film industry started in these cities is because there were plenty of trained professionals (acrobats, dancers, actors, and stagehands) from vaudeville, the performing arts theater that was popular at the turn of the century.

The types of vaudeville acts that worked the best for early films were called "dumb" acts. In this film, a baboon "plays" a violin, a dog jumps rope and a donkey plays at biting and kicking two men. Can you guess why they were called "dumb" acts?

Early films were both short and silent, so "dumb" acts were acrobatic or animal acts that were entertaining without any dialogue or sound effects. "Dumb" acts were usually at the beginning or end of a vaudeville show, when people were filing in or out of the theater and noise did not prevent others from enjoying the performance. The film on the previous page as well as the film on this one are typical of the kinds of early films produced in Chicago in the early 1900s.
 
Sears Catalog Homes

You probably receive many catalogs in the mail selling all types of things. But have you ever seen a catalog that sells houses?

Between 1908 and 1940, as many as 100,000 Americans bought their house from a Sears catalog! The houses would be shipped by railroad and would include about 30,000 parts - not counting the nails and screws. All of the major parts were there; the main thing you had to supply was the lot on which to build.

The tagline on the Sears catalog was "Sears...the selling of a dream." The great American dream has always been to be able to own a home of your own, and Sears made houses affordable to many people. In 1908, Model Number 107 sold for between $107 and $650, depending on the options chosen. Can you imagine being able to buy a home for only $107? In addition to saving money on materials, it is estimated that building a Sears house took only about 350 hours of carpenter labor, compared with 580 hours for a conventional house.

Many of these mail order houses were built in Downers Grove, Illinois. Today, historians of architecture study these homes, many of which have been unaltered since they were first built.
 
Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus

Do you think you need to have special musical training to make a record? You don't if you are a member of the Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus. A chorus is a group of singers who perform together.

Founded in 1964, the Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus is an internationally known organization that provides any interested child with a fun choral music experience, regardless of musical background. For many of the children, the chorus is an opportunity to learn how to do something well. As one singer said, "Once, when we sang this really great concert, I knew it was the best thing I'd ever done." Here's what some of the other singers have said: "Chorus is the most special thing I do." "Chorus has shown me what it is to be excellent -- to do my best."

About 1,300 children in the Chicago area belong to the Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus, which has made several CDs, such as From Bach to Bebop, which features the music of J.S. Bach (1685-1750) and jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996). The Chorus's programs have served as models for similar groups in the United States since 1964.
 
Pride in Diversity: The Many Voices of the 9th District

How many ethnic groups can you name that are represented in your community? If your community is like much of the rest of the country, there are probably several. The United States is often referred to as a "melting pot" -- a place where people of many different ethnic groups and faiths live together. Because of this mix of people, the country is a more interesting than it would be if everyone were the same.

The 9th Congressional District of Illinois, part of which is in Chicago, is one of the most ethnically varied, or diverse, congressional districts in the country, with Russian, Indian, Polish, Pakistani, Latino, Haitian, and Cambodian people, among others. There is also a lot of religious diversity, with Jews, Muslims, and Christians all living together in their communities.

Many festivals in the 9th District celebrate "Pride in Diversity" and honor the differences between people and what makes us unique as a country.
 
Naper Settlement

Ever wonder what it was like to go to school in the 1800s? Well, if you want to travel back in time, all you have to do is go about 30 miles west of Chicago to Naper Settlement. There you will find an outdoor historic village that re-creates 19th century life.

Take a stroll down the road and you'll see Copenhagen Schoolhouse. Usually built as close to the center of town as possible, schoolhouses often served as the town's social center as well. Farm children from first grade through high school sat at desks in this one-room school and learned their lessons. In addition to all being in one room, all the students shared one teacher.

The teachers were expected to teach reading, writing and spelling; then, they could teach a variety of other subjects as they chose, including geography, history, moral values, manners, truth, and love of country. Lessons were taught mostly through memorization drills and spelling bees.

Would you like to have been in school during this time period?
Source: Library of Congress
National Forests and Monuments of Illinois

The following is a description of national forests and monuments in the state of Illinois. There are no national parks in this state. If you plan to visit or live in Illinois for awhile then you should definitely plan to visit some of these fantastic places.
 
National Forests
Shawnee

As Illinois's only National Forest, Shawnee is located in the southern part of the state and contains seven wilderness areas, including the Garden of the Gods. Among the many miles of hiking trails in the forest is the River to River Trail, which is 160 mi (260 km) long.
 
National Monuments
Pullman

Built for the Pullman Company, it was the first planned industrial community in the United States and the site of the 1894 Pullman Strike.
 
Travel America
Cool America
Route 66 - Famous American Road

U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California, near Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.
Route 66: The Highway That's the Best
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Chicago: The Start of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Going West for Decades on Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Arizona: The Spirit of Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Route 66 California: The End of the Trail
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Ten Must-See Route 66 Attractions
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
Four Famous Foods On Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
International Tourists Drawn to Route 66
(Beginner - Listening)

A video lesson which shows you an interesting place in America.
The English is spoken at 75% of normal speed.
Great English listening practice.
This video shows travel along Route 66, the most famous road in America.
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