Let's face it, most of the things we hear about our state lately are not good. Leading the nation in pension debt, highest unemployment in the Midwest, worst place in the Midwest to raise your kids, etc.

I often have to listen to ribbing from friends who live in other states, and I'm sure you've gotten a taste of the same thing from your friends and relatives who live elsewhere, too.

You can counter with "Land of Lincoln!" or "Birthplace of Reagan!" but let's face it, you might need a bit more than that to counter the disparagement of our state.

Here's a few things you can add to your arsenal:

 

According to 50states.com, Illinois:

  • The first Aquarium opened in Chicago, 1893
  • The world's first Skyscraper was built in Chicago, 1885
  • Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery,1865.
  • Enrico Fermi and a small band of scientists and engineers demonstrated that a simple construction of graphite bricks and uranium lumps could produce controlled heat. The space chosen for the first nuclear fission reactor was a squash court under the football stadium at the University of Chicago, December 1942.
  • Des Plaines is home to the first McDonald's.
  • The ice cream "sundae" was named in Evanston. The piety of the town resented the dissipating influences of the soda fountain on Sunday and the good town fathers, yielding to this churchly influence, passed an ordinance prohibiting the retailing of ice cream sodas on Sunday. Ingenious confectioners and drug store operators obeying the law, served ice cream with the syrup of your choice without the soda. Objections then was made to christening a dish after the Sabbath. So the spelling of "sunday" was changed. It became an established dish and an established word and finally the "sundae".
  • Illinois boasts the highest number of personalized license plates, more than any other state.
  • In 1905, president of the Chicago Cubs filed charges against a fan in the bleachers for catching a fly ball and keeping it.
  • The Chicago Public Library is the world's largest public library with a collection of more than 2 million books.
  • The world's largest cookie and cracker factory, where Nabisco made 16 billion Oreo cookies in 1995, is located in Chicago.
Here's a few more gems from The Huffington Post:
  • Twinkies were invented on April 6, 1930 in River Forest, Illinois.
  • The first all-color TV station debuted in Chicago (Channel 5).
And, finally...I saved one of the best for last:

Feeling better about Illinois? Good. Let's sing the official state song together, shall we? Wait...what? You don't know the words?