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Illinois

Illinois: Prairie State

CAPITAL: Springfield
JOINED UNION: December 3, 1818
STATE BIRD: Cardinal
STATE FLOWER: Violet
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Algonquin Indian for "warriors"
1992 POPULATION: 11,631,131
RANK FOR POPULATION: 6
LAND AREA: 55,593 square miles
RANK IN SIZE IN UNION: 24
ECONOMY: Home of the commodities market and grain exchange, iron and steel production, meatpacking, railroads, retail trade, agriculture
HISTORY: Known to early fur traders and, in 1673, explored by Frenchmen Marquette and Jolliet, the area was home to Illinois Indians. England obtained the area after the French and Indian War in 1763. The growth of the railroads, and Chicago becoming a major rail switching yard, changed the nature and economy of Illinois in the late 1800s.

Urban Blues 1933

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

When large groups of blacks migrated north from the Mississippi and Louisiana Delta region, many went to Chicago and brought with them their music, called the Delta Blues. Like everything else, their music changed after being in the big city and it emerged as the Chicago Blues. By the 1930s, Chicago Blues were very popular and this popularity grew in the '40s and '50s.

Chicago Blues is high-spirited music that adds harmonica to guitar and keyboard, drumbeat, and later electric guitar and bass for a more powerful and sophisticated sound than its more low-key Delta cousin.

Chicago Blues are hard-edged and loud because Chicago is a hard-edged, tough industrial city in which you have to be more powerful and louder in order to be heard.

Some well-known musicians who play or have played the Chicago Blues are B.B. King, Junior Wells, Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters.

Scarface Scars Chicago February 14, 1929

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

America has a certain fascination with outlaws: Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and Bonnie and Clyde, for example. In the 1920s, violent gangsters led a wave of crime in Chicago and "Scarface" Al Capone was one of their most notorious leaders.

These were the days of Prohibition, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution banning the sale of liquor. Capone and other gangsters made fortunes bootlegging, smuggling, and distributing illegal liquor. They bribed a number of police officials to ignore their activities. 

The gangsters turned Chicago into a crime capital, where they lived in high style, going around town in fashionable clothes and cars and frequenting nightclubs that featured illegal gambling.

On Valentine's Day in 1929, seven members of Capone's rival gang were machine-gunned to death in a Chicago beer warehouse. The attackers dressed in police uniforms, which drew a roar of outrage from the city's police commissioner, who declared a war on the criminals. While not officially charged, Capone was believed responsible for this St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

As depicted in the movie "The Untouchables," the war on gangsters was finally -- if temporarily -- won. In 1931, Capone was convicted for tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

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