14 Fun Facts About Illinois

From the world’s tallest man, to the biggest cookie factory, and even the very first Dairy Queen, Illinoisans have plenty to be proud of. The state has a wealth of history to be uncovered, and interesting quirky bits of information that you might not have known about! Here are 14 interesting facts about the Land of Lincoln. 

1. World’s Tallest Man

Alton was home to the world’s tallest man. He was born in 1918 and grew to eight feet, 11 inches in height, weighing 491 pounds as an adult. As the tallest man in history, he wore size 37 shoes. 

2. First Dairy Queen

The Dairy Queen Franchise began in Joliet. It first opened on June 22, 1940. It served soft serve ice cream and other frozen treats. 

3. World’s Largest Cookie Factory

Chicago is home to the world’s largest cookie and cracker factory. In 1995, Nabisco made 16 billion Oreo cookies there. 

4. First McDonald’s

The first McDonald’s in history opened in Des Plaines in 1955. Now visitors can see the McDonald’s Store Museum within the original store. 

5. Original ice cream sundae

The ice cream sundae originated in Evanston. Ice cream sodas were prohibited on Sundays, so drug store operators started serving ice cream with syrup instead of soda on Sundays. Objections were made to christen the dish, so it became officially established as a “sundae” shortly after. 

6. First modern skyscraper

The world’s first modern skyscraper was built in Chicago. In 1885, The Home Insurance Building made skyscraper history. It was demolished 47 years later.

7. Personalized license plates

There are more personalized car license plates in Illinois than anywhere in the country. 

8. World’s Largest Public Library

The world’s largest public library is in Chicago. The Chicago Public Library features a collection of over two million books. 

9. Only drive-through post office

The world’s only drive-through post office is located downtown Chicago. It’s the only place you can get your mail on the go. 

10. First round silo

A farm in Spring Grove constructed the world’s first round silo for storing silage. Now there are silos in rural areas all across the country. 

11. Superman’s home

Superman’s fictional home Metropolis is located in southern Illinois, 360 miles south of Chicago. They host an annual Superman Celebration. 

12. An unusual river

The Chicago River flows backwards. It’s one of the only rivers in the world with that trait. Each year it’s dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day. 

13. Route 66 starting point

Historic Route 66 starts in Chicago, specifically at the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive. The Federal Highway Commission established its origin in 1926. 

14. Prehistoric Illinois

Tullimonstrum gregarium, commonly known as the Tully Monster, is the state fossil. This carnivorous invertebrate lived in the shallow swamp that’s now Illinois. It resembled a cuttlefish and lived approximately 300 million years ago. 

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