Peoria City HallIllinois may have become a state in 1818. But one town started long before that in Illinois history. The first settlement in Illinois was Fort Crevecoeur in 1680, or modern-day Peoria. The fort would also be one of the first European buildings to be built in the Midwest.

Later the town would receive the name of Peoria after the Native American Peoria Tribe, which was a part of the Illinois Confederation. The town of Peoria, Arizona was named after Peoria, Illinois because the founders of the Arizona suburb of Phoenix wanted to name it after their hometown.

Today, the city of Peoria is the seventh most populist city in the state with a population of over 115,000. The city is home to the world headquarters of Caterpillar. Downtown Peoria was also home to the first Bergner’s Department store, which closed in 1986.

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Did You Know? Illinois is home to the Grosse Point LighthouseGrosse Point Lighthouse, located in Evanston along the Lake Michigan shoreline, was first illuminated on this day in 1874. The lighthouse was built by the federal government as Chicago’s role as a hub for lake transportation was drastically increasing.

The lighthouse is situated along a particularly shallow section of Lake Michigan that caused many shipwrecks in the years prior to construction. A tragic accident between a passenger steamer and lumber-carrying schooner in 1860 resulted in an estimated 300 deaths, only increasing pressure to build a lighthouse warning ships of shallow waters and guiding them to Chicago.

The lighthouse was electrified in 1923, decommissioned in the mid-1930s and has only been used intermittently since 1945 to direct passenger cruisers. The grounds surrounding the lighthouse were named a National Historic Landmark in 1999, making Grosse Point the first lighthouse on the Great Lakes to be named a National Historic Landmark.

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Read more about the history of the Grosse Point Lighthouse

Carol Moseley Braun DYK

Carol Moseley Braun was born in Chicago on August 16, 1947. She earned her political science and law degrees from the University of Illinois and began working as an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago in 1973.

Moseley Braun served in the Illinois House of Representatives for ten years, beginning in 1978, before she was elected recorder of deed for Cook County, Illinois.

In 1992, Moseley Braun defeated Democratic incumbent Senator Alan Dixon in the primary. Then, she went on to defeat Republican opponent Richard Williamson to become the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate.

She was also the first woman to defeat an incumbent U.S. Senator in an election and the first and only female Senator from Illinois. She later served as U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand.



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MavisStaplesThe smooth sounds of The Staple Singers served as the soundtrack for many summer barbecues and backyard parties for generations of rhythm & blues lovers throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The family group, consisting of Mavis Staples, her three sisters Cleotha, Pervis, Yvonne and their father Roebuck "Pops," began their music career in neighborhood Chicago churches.  Their rich gospel tonality gained traction with the 1956 hit "Uncloudy Day."

During the 1960s, the group used the power of music to tap into the changing political and social climate of America. They quickly became tied to the Civil Rights Movement with inspirational gospel-infused "message songs" such as "Long Walk to D.C.," "When Will We Be Paid?" and their smash hit "I'll Take You There."

Pop's close friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired the band to produce soulful music with powerful messages.

By the 1970s, their bass-driven songs like "Let's Do it Again" inspired musical greats ranging from Prince to Wilco. Their music has been sampled by generations of famous artists, including Salt N' Pepa and Ludacris.

The Staple Singers were honored at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors and were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Mavis, at the age of 76, recently released a new album "Livin' on a High Note," is the subject of the HBO documentary "Mavis!" and has remained committed to advocacy and activism.


Follow Mavis Staples on Twitter for updated news on her new music.

Did You Know? Artist Ivan Albright is from IllinoisIvan Albright was born 119 years ago this week in Harvey.

Albright, who is known for his typically dark yet very meticulous art work, began his career studying at The Art Institute of Chicago. He was very interested in the works of El Greco and Rembrandt, but quickly developed his own style. Many of his pieces have themes of life, death, the material and spirit worlds and the effects of time.

Albright was prolific in his work. He worked up until his death in 1983, completing more than 20 self-portraits in the last three years of his life. His attention to detail caused him to spend upwards of ten years on one painting. Often he would hand carve intricate frames for works.

Ivan Albright is a celebrated artist. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was elected to the National Academy of Design. He won first prize in three major exhibitions in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia in 1941.

The Art Institute of Chicago currently houses one of his most famous paintings, Picture of Dorian Gray, along with a vast archive of his work.

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To see more of Albright’s work, visit The Art Institute of Chicago