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The Illinois Portal

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Illinois is a state in the Midwestern United States. It is the 5th most populous and 25th largest state, and is often noted as a microcosm of the country. With Chicago and its suburbs in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base and is a major transportation hub.

Prehistoric Illinois was the site of Cahokia, the largest urban center of the Mississippian culture. The Illinois Confederation, from which the state takes its name, dominated the region during the contact period, but by the time of the American Revolution, only about 2,000 Native Americans and a small number of French villagers inhabited the area. Anglo-American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1810s. Illinois achieved statehood in 1818. Northerners arrived later via the Great Lakes, founding Chicago in the 1830s. The invention of the steel plow and growth of railroads made it possible to profitably farm the rich prairie land of central Illinois, attracting large numbers of immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. Northern Illinois provided major support for Illinoisans Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War. By 1900, industry was growing rapidly in the northern cities, along with coal mines in central and southern areas. This industrialization attracted large numbers of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe and many African Americans in the Great Migration from the Southern United States, who developed renowned jazz and blues cultures in Chicago.

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ACS Building.jpg

The Avery Coonley School is an independent, coeducational day school serving academically gifted students in preschool through eighth grade (approximately ages 3 to 14), and is located in Downers Grove. The school was founded in 1906 to promote the progressive educational theories developed by John Dewey and other turn-of-the-20th-century philosophers, and was a nationally recognized model for progressive education well into the 1940s. From 1943 to 1965, Avery Coonley was part of the National College of Education (now National-Louis University), serving as a living laboratory for teacher training and educational research. In the 1960s, ACS became a regional research center and a leadership hub for independent schools, and began to focus on the education of the gifted.

The school has occupied several structures in its history, including a small cottage on the Coonley Estate in Riverside, Illinois, and another building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It moved to Downers Grove in 1916 and became the Avery Coonley School in 1929, with a new 10.45-acre (4.23 ha) campus designed in the Prairie and Arts and Crafts styles, landscaped by Jens Jensen, who was known as "dean of the world's landscape architects". The campus has been expanded several times since the 1980s to create more space for arts, technology, and classrooms. Avery Coonley was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, citing the "long-lasting influence on schools throughout the country" of the educational program and the design of the building and grounds. (Read more...)

Selected biography

Timothy Blackstone

Timothy Blackstone (March 28, 1829 – May 26, 1900) was a 19th-century railroad executive, businessman, philanthropist, and politician. Blackstone worked in the railroad industry for most of his life after dropping out of school. Blackstone served as president of the Chicago and Alton Railroad from 1864 through 1899, was a founding president of the Union Stock Yards, and served one term as mayor of La Salle, Illinois. An active philanthropist, Blackstone was the benefactor of the James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford, Connecticut. A nearly identical library, Blackstone Memorial Library, was donated to the Chicago Public Library by Timothy Blackstone's widow in 1902. The Blackstones also funded Blackstone Hall for the Art Institute of Chicago Building. Chicago's Blackstone Library is the first dedicated branch of the Chicago Public Library system, and later his mansion became the site of the Blackstone Hotel and the Blackstone Theatre. (Read more...)

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Approximate Geographic Extent of Havana Hopewell.pdf

This map shows the approximate extent of the Havana Hopewell culture. The Havana interaction sphere was located in the Illinois River and Mississippi River valleys in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri from 200 BCE to 400 CE.
Image credit: Taylor H. Thornton

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