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Portal:Illinois

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The Illinois Portal

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Illinois (/ˌɪlɪˈnɔɪ/ (About this sound listen) IL-ih-NOY) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is the 6th-most populous U.S. state and 25th-largest state in terms of land area, and is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in northern and central Illinois, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports around the world from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean; as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway on the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and politics.

The capital of Illinois is Springfield in central Illinois. Although today, the state's largest population center is in and around Chicago in the northeastern part of the state, the state's European population grew first in the west, with French who settled along the Mississippi River, and gave the area the name Illinois Country. After the American Revolutionary War established the United States, American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1780s via the Ohio River, and the population grew from south to north. In 1818, Illinois achieved statehood. After construction of the Erie Canal increased traffic and trade through the Great Lakes, Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River, at one of the few natural harbors on southern Lake Michigan. John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois's rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. The Illinois and Michigan Canal (1848) made transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley faster and cheaper. New railroads carried immigrants to new homes, as well as being used to ship commodity crops to Eastern markets. The state became a transportation hub for the nation.

Selected article

This rock marks the site of the execution of John and William Driscoll, two of the leaders of the Banditti.

The Banditti of the Prairie, also known as "The Prairie Bandits," "Pirates of the Prairie," "Prairie Pirates," or simply "The Banditti," in the U.S. state of Illinois, were a group of loose-knit outlaw gangs during the early-mid-19th century. Though bands of roving criminals were common in many parts of Illinois, the counties of Lee, DeKalb, Ogle, and Winnebago were especially affected by them. In the year 1841, the escalating pattern of burglary, horse and cattle theft, stagecoach and highway robbery, counterfeiting, and murder associated with the Banditti came to a head in Ogle County. As the crimes continued, local citizens formed bands of vigilantes known as Regulators. The clash between the Banditti and the Regulators in Ogle County resulted in a lynching in Oregon, Illinois and decreased Banditti activity within the county.

Banditti and Regulator activity continued well after the lynching of 1841. Crimes continued, committed by both sides, across northern and central Illinois. The Banditti were involved in the 1845 torture-murder of merchant Colonel George Davenport, the namesake of Davenport, Iowa. Edward Bonney, an amateur detective who hunted down and brought the killers to justice, wrote of his exploits and alibi, which were recounted in his book, Banditti of the Prairies, or the Murderer's Doom!!: A Tale of the Mississippi Valley, published in Chicago in 1850. The outlaw gangs also continued to be active in Lee and Winnebago counties following the events in Oregon.(Read more...)

Selected biography

Geog Solti

Sir Georg Solti (21 October 1912 – 5 September 1997) was an orchestral and operatic conductor, best known for his appearances with opera companies in Munich, Frankfurt and London, and as a long-serving music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Born in Budapest, he studied there with Béla Bartók, Leo Weiner and Ernő Dohnányi. His career was interrupted by the rise of the Nazis, and because he was a Jew he fled the increasingly restrictive anti-semitic laws in 1938. After conducting a season of Russian ballet in London at the Royal Opera House he found refuge in Switzerland, where he remained during the Second World War. In 1961 he became musical director of the Covent Garden Opera Company, London. During his ten-year tenure, he introduced changes that raised standards to the highest international levels. He became a British subject in 1972. In 1969 Solti was appointed music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for 22 years. He restored the orchestra's reputation after it had been in decline for most of the previous decade. He became the orchestra's music director laureate on his retirement in 1991.

Known in his early years for the intensity of his music making, Solti was widely considered to have mellowed as a conductor in later years. He recorded many works two or three times at various stages of his career, and was a prolific recording artist, making more than 250 recordings, including 45 complete opera sets. The most famous of his recordings is probably Decca's complete set of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, made between 1958 and 1965. (Read more...)

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