Ernest Hemingway circa 1917Ernest Hemingway was born July 21, 1899, in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park. His father, Clarence, was a physician and his mother was a former opera performer. Growing up, he spent many summers at his family’s home on the banks of Walloon Lake in Michigan. He attended high school in the Oak Park public school system.

He began writing while in high school and upon graduating, he moved to Kansas City to be a reporter for the Star. Less than a year later, he began serving in World War I with the American Red Cross as an ambulance driver. During his service, he was injured on the Austro-Italian front.

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bear cubThe Chicago Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868, making it one of the oldest zoos in the country. The first animal purchased for the zoo was in 1874, a bear cub for $10. Still running today, there is a large variety of animals located there.

In 1868, a pair of swans were given to the zoo by the Lincoln Park Commissioners, making them the first occupants of the zoo. Six years later, the bear cub was introduced. Due to the cub learning how to adapt to its new exhibit, it would climb the trees and was often found roaming around the zoo at night.

Today, the Lincoln Park Zoo has around 1,250 animals living there including: polar bears, penguins, gorillas, reptiles, monkeys and other species. If you plan to go to Chicago, no matter alone or with family, a visit is not complete without visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo.

For more information visit the Lincoln Park Zoo website.

Father marquette ILIToday, in Illinois history, Father Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet, and support crew went down the Mississippi River to be the first explorers in what would become the state of Illinois.

They left from Mackinac Island to attempt to find the Northwest Passage to China. Though they were unsuccessful in their goal of finding the Northwest Passage, they were able on their way back up the Mississippi to tour the Illinois River Valley.

They visited an area near modern day Peoria. There they met with a tribe of Kaskaskia Indians. The tribe called themselves “Illiniwek.”  The tribe was warring with other tribes but took in Marquette and Jolliet as their guests and showed them their way of life.

Marquette and Jolliet both were impressed with the Illinois River valley. “We have seen nothing like this river for the fertility of the land, its prairies, woods and wild cattle,” they said.

Later, Marquette would return to Illinois country to set up a Jesuit mission in Illinois.

In honor of the late great architect's birthday, today's did you know feature is Frank Lloyd Wright.

Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright spent a large part of his adult life in Illinois, leaving behind many architectural achievements.

Wright was born in Wisconsin in 1867, moving to Chicago when he was 20 to work for architect Joseph Silsbee. Over the next 40 years, Wright designed a multitude of Chicago-area buildings, most notably his Oak Park home. He also designed the renowned Winslow House in River Forest, the Robie House in Chicago and the Unity Temple in Oak Park.

His style of design was known as the “Prairie School” of architecture, characterized by a reliance on the use of horizontal lines and overhanging eaves.

Wright’s work also includes the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, the Bradley House in Kankakee and a host of homes and other buildings in Oak Park.

Bradbury SMIf you want to read a great American fantasy, science fiction, horror or mystery novel, one of Ray Bradbury’s books may be the choice for you.

Bradbury, born in Waukegan, is an American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and poet. He is well known for Fahrenheit 451, which some call his masterpiece. He is also known for books such as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man.

Bradbury’s works won him an Emmy Award and a nomination for an Academy Award. In 2004, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. He was the honoree for his “incomparable contributions to American fiction.” He also has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for the many movies based off of his books.

He ended up writing almost 50 books, as well as poems and essays. He even wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s Moby Dick.

Learn more:

Visit Ray Bradbury’s official website (
Interested in buying one of his books? Browse the full list (