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Illinois’ Bicentennial: People, Places and Things to Celebrate

From its majestic rivers to Lake Michigan, and sky-high architecture to vast, fertile prairies, there really is no other state like Illinois.

“It’s just a remarkable state, and people are still discovering the city and the state and it’s a great place to discover history and to learn a lot about the American culture right here in Illinois,” said Cory Jobe, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism.

Over the last 200 years, Illinois has had its share of tragedies and triumphs, hoodlums and heroes, ugly times and good times. And while the state still faces many challenges as it reaches its bicentennial, some state officials say there are many reasons to cheer.

“When at times the state gets a bad rap, we have a lot of great things happening in our state,” Jobe said. “This has been a great year to celebrate those successes.”

To celebrate the state’s 200th birthday, the tourism office has created a number of new videos showcasing Illinois from border to border. Among the many features that make the state great are its natural gems such as Starved Rock State Park and the Shawnee National Forest. There are many historic towns in Illinois, including Elsah on the banks of the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis. And while Route 66 has been replaced by modern highways, some of the actual roadway still exists, as do a number of the features that made it famous.

“We have more sites and attractions along the route, on the 300-mile stretch in Illinois, than any other state in the country,” Jobe said.

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