Illinois in the American Midwest

By | July 5, 2022

Land between the Waters

Illinois is one of the states of the Midwest, the breadbasket of the USA. Illinois is located in the Southwest of the “Great Lakes”, southwest of Lake Michigan. Illinois stretches from Lake Michigan in the east to the Mississippi River in the west. The southeastern boundary is formed by the Ohio River. Springfield is the country’s capital, the metropolis Chicago, the country’s economic center, is by far the largest city in Illinois with around 2.7 million inhabitants.

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State Capitol of Illinois in Springfield


State Capitol of Illinois in Springfield

About 50% of all residents of the state live in the Chicago metropolitan area. In 2019, Illinois’ cities and countryside were home to about 12.7 million people. Former US President Abraham Lincoln grew up in Illinois – which is why the state is also known as the “Land of Lincoln”. Former US President Barack Obama was a Senator from Illinois.

Fur hunters and speculators

The first “white” settlement in Illinois was probably founded by the French in what is now East St. Louis in 1673. Fur traders and hunters came in large numbers to the “Great Seas” region, including what is now Illinois. The country’s previously rich and diverse wildlife was severely depleted due to heavy hunting by whites. The captured furs could be shipped all over the world via Lake Michigan. In 1763 the region passed to the British. Again and again, Illinois, the Midwest, was the scene of wars between the French, British and especially against the local natives, the Native Americans.

Buildings and granaries on a farm in Illinois, with a soybean field in the foreground

Corn Belt – the granary of the USA

The major industries of Illinois are engineering, chemical manufacturing, steel and iron production, agriculture, animal husbandry, and food processing. Illinois is located in what is known as the Corn Belt, a region in the Millerenwest of the USA, in which corn is predominantly cultivated. Typical of Illinois are the farms scattered throughout the country and the vast areas used for agriculture. Illinois is located in the “Corn Belt”, the “granary” of the USA. Roughly speaking, the Corn Belt includes the US states around the Great Lakes. In addition to corn, rice, wheat, soybeans and oats are the main crops grown in Illinois. Livestock farming also plays a major role. After the Lake Erie Canal was opened in 1825, there was massive growth in settlements in Illinois. In 1832 the Black Hawk War ended. The Native Americans were now finally defeated and pushed west across the Mississippi. During this time, the fierce battle for the valuable land of Illinois began. There was wild speculation with the land.

Chicago skyline with Willis Tower on Lake Michigan

The Chicago skyline along the shore of Lake Michigan. In the background the very dark shining Sears Tower. The two huge antennas of the Sears Tower, which look like horns, are striking. The Sears Tower is 442 meters high. The greater Chicago area is one of the economically strongest regions of the USA.

Beginning of the industrial age

The railroad finally reached the city of Chicago in the mid-19th century. Industry settled there, and the Lake Michigan region developed very quickly. workers were needed. Many settlers from Europe then came to the region. During the Civil War, the American Civil War, Illinois sided with the northern states, the Union. But there were also plenty of voices that were very close to slavery. In 1871, the city of Chicago was almost completely destroyed by a great fire. Until then, Chicago was a huge collection of wooden buildings, which almost completely fell victim to the flames.

Chicago on Lake Michigan

The city of Chicago has around 2.8 million inhabitants today. The Chicago metropolitan area is also densely populated. Industrial companies in particular play the main economic role around Chicago. The third largest city in the USA is rich in industrial groups for metal production and metal processing. Chemistry and the processing of coal and petroleum also play an important economic role. Chicago itself is one of the most important trading centers in the world. Chicago is the main transportation hub in the American Midwest. The city has beautiful beach areas along Lake Michigan with sandy beaches and beautiful man-made parks. On Lake Michigan, Chicago has approximately 50 kilometers of inviting sandy beaches, marinas and extensive parkland for leisure activities.

Illinois Landmarks

  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Willis Tower (einst Sears Tower)
  • Brookfield Zoo
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Wrigley Field
  • Cahokia Mounds
  • Museum – Science and Industry
  • Buckingham Brunnen
  • American Eagle
  • Farnsworth House
  • Hull House
  • Allstate Arena
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • U.S. Cellular Field
  • Cypress Creek
  • Illinois State Capitol
  • Route 66
  • Great River Road
  • Burpee Museum of Modern Art
  • Arlington Park – Racecourse
  • America’s Historic Roundhouse in Aurora
  • Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield
  • Carl Sandburg Historic Site in Galesburg
  • Coronado Theatre in Rockford
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
  • John Hancock Observatory in Chocago
  • Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago
  • Mermet Springs in Belknap
  • Michigan Avenue Shopping in Chicago
  • Millennium Park – Chicago
  • Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
  • Navy Pier in Chicago
  • Scovill Zoo in Decatur
  • Sears Skydeck – Willis Tower
  • The Field Museum in Chicago
  • Wrigley Field in Chicago
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Springfield
  • Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago
  • Bald Knob Cross – huge Christian cross near Alto Pass
  • Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford
  • Fabyan Dutch Windmill – Dutch Windmill – Geneva
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Startseite and Studio – Oak Park
  • Historic Route 66 Scenic Byways – 640 Kilometer lang
  • John Deere Pavilion – Agricultural Machinery Show – Moline
  • Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition in Springfield
  • National Shrine to Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville
  • Shea’s Gas Station Museum on Historic Route 66 – Springfield
  • Superman Statue and the Super Museum in Metropolis
  • Temple Lipizzans – Lippizaner Riding School in Wadsworth

Largest Cities in Illinois

  • Chicago
  • aurora
  • Rockford
  • joliet
  • Naperville
  • Springfield
  • Peoria
  • Elgin

See Countryaah for more cities in the state of Illinois.

Illinois map

The map of Illinois, in the American Midwest, shows the neighboring states, the largest cities, the most important road connections, the lakes and rivers in the American state on Lake Michigan. The special location of the mega-metropolis Chicago on Lake Michigan is also visible. To the west, the mighty Mississippi River borders the US state, with the exception of a small tip near Chester to the south. The area of ​​Illinois is 149,998 km². About 12.7 million people currently live in rural Illinois.

Chicago in Illinois – USA

Handelsmetropole am Lake Michigan

Chicago is located on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan in Illinois. The silhouette of downtown Chicago with the Willis Tower is striking and unique. With 2.7 million inhabitants, Chicago is the third largest city in the USA.

Chicago skyline with marina in Illinois

The Lake Michigan city’s expanded metropolitan area is home to approximately 9.8 million people. Chicago, with its multicultural and cosmopolitan society, is located in the state of Illinois, which is better known for its rural character.

Economic boom due to the railroad

Since the middle of the 19th century, the city has established itself as an important trading center in the USA. Although the town on Lake Michigan was an important trading center for goods from the region and Canada centuries earlier, it was only when it was connected to the American railway network that economic growth really got going.

Movable Bridge on the Chicago River at Chicago Harbor

Chicago is connected to the east coast of the continent via the Great Lakes and ultimately the St. Lawrence River. Waterways run west to the Mississippi River, which also forms the western border of Illinois. This provides a connection to the southern states of the USA and Mexico. With the well-known O’Hare Airport, the metropolis Chicago on Lake Michigan is connected to the whole world.

Downtown Chicago skyline at night

The chance after the disaster

In 1871, Chicago was almost entirely destroyed by a devastating fire. The houses at that time were mostly built with wood. The catastrophe could ultimately be used to develop and design a “new” Chicago. In addition to its strong position as a trading center, the city is particularly strong in the industrial sector, such as mechanical engineering and the aerospace industry.

Chicago attractions

  • Adler-Planetarium
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Bank of America Theatre
  • Briar Street Theater
  • Buckingham-Brunnen
  • Chicago Children’s Museum
  • Chicago City Hall
  • Chicago Cultural Center
  • Chicago Lakefront Trail
  • Chicago Park District
  • Chicago Riverwalk
  • Chicago Theatre
  • Goodman Theatre
  • Grant Park
  • Harris Theater
  • Hull House
  • Jay Pritzker Pavilion
  • John Hancock Center
  • Lincoln Park
  • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Navy Pier
  • Oak Street Beach
  • Reliance Building
  • Richard J. Daley Center
  • Riviera Theatre
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Smart Museum of Art
  • Soldier Field – Stadion
  • Swedish American Museum
  • Theatre Wit
  • The Hideout
  • Tribune Tower
  • United Center
  • U.S. Cellular Field – Stadion
  • Willis Tower
  • Wrigley Field – Stadion
  • Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
  • Museum of African-American History
  • Field Museum of Natural History
  • Frederick C. Robie House
  • Lincoln Park Conservatory
  • Marshall Field and Company Building
  • Museum of Science and Industry
  • National Museum of Mexican Art
  • Skyscraper 330 North Wabash
  • The Richard H. Driehaus Museum
  • Trump International Hotel & Tower