i040931 pmWhen it comes to sports, the City of Chicago is known for producing and housing some of the most iconic athletes. But did you know that it is home to the third Pan America Games? The Pan American Games, founded in 1932, is an international multisport competition that came to the forefront as a result of representatives of Latin American delegations proposing a regional Games for the Americas, at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California. Due to World War II, the first official games were postponed until Feb. 23, 1951, in which Bueno Aires hosted the inaugural Pan American Games.

Fast forward to 1959, the Pan American Sports Organization decided to bring the games to United Stated for the first time in Pan American Games history. After Cleveland, Ohio backed out of the bid to host the Games, Chicago put in a bid and was successful. Not only did the City of Chicago make history as the first American city to host the Games, but this event also shed light on the rich culture the Windy City has. The games went from August 27 to September 7, hosting 2,200 athletes and 25 countries competing in 166 events over the course of 18 sports.

At the time most Chicago residents were more interested in attending a White Sox game, but for the first time the United States were in a position to send an Olympic-caliber team to the Pan American Games, making it exciting for spectators and sports enthusiast in the Midwest. With some of the greatest competitors to date, including tennis legend Althea Gibson, sprinting track star Wilma Rudolph, and future NBA Hall of Famers Jerry West and Oscar Robertson, this was a sight to see. The world’s greatest boxer Muhammed Ali was expected to participate in these games, but at seventeen years old he lost  to Amos Johnson in the trials, who went on to win gold.

All in all, Chicago will forever go down in history as the first American city to host the Pan American Games, changing the landscape of the games for American sports fans.

MainLibrary Urbana Illinois 4582Did you know that Illinois has some of the best colleges and universities in the country? The academic realm in Illinois continues to thrive, as 10 Illinois colleges have been named among the nation’s top schools by the Princeton Review’s “Best 388 Colleges: 2023 Edition.” Illinois is producing some of the world’s biggest and brightest professionals and will continue to do so for years to come thanks, in part, to the number of top colleges across the state.

The colleges that made the list include Bradley University (Peoria), DePaul University (Chicago), Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago), Knox College (Galesburg), Lake Forest College (Lake Forest), Loyola University Chicago (Chicago), Northwestern University (Evanston), University of Chicago (Chicago), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Champaign), and Wheaton College (Wheaton).

As a part of the 31st annual list, the above mentioned colleges were picked based on student surveys that required students to rate their professors, administrators, school services, and other aspects of life at their colleges, while also reporting on their college experience. Over 160,000 student surveys were conducted to accumulate the list of 338 colleges.  

Check out Princeton Review’s “Best 388 Colleges: 2023 Edition” here  to read more about the top colleges in Illinois.

Black victims of Springfield AttacksIn 1908, Springfield encountered its biggest racially motivated riot changing the landscape of the town forever. More than 100 years later, this historic event is gaining national recognition. The National Park Service is currently conducting a "special resource study" to determine whether the 1908 Springfield Race Riot site meets the criteria to be included in the national park system. Many are not aware that this particular Race Riot is what sparked the NAACP to be founded a year later in 1909, transcending African American heritage forever.

On Aug. 14, 1908, a group of white individuals marched to the Springfield police department with the intent on lynching two incarcerated Black men by the names of George Richardson and Joe James. Upon the mob discovering that the men were taken to another city for protection, chaos erupted leading to the lynching of Scott Burton and William Dunegon. Black-owned businesses and homes were robbed of over $150,000 in property during the riot, as the white mob invaded the African American neighborhoods in hopes of causing more destruction and chaos. Many homes were burned to the ground as a result of racial inequality and injustice. But now the city of Springfield could be remembered for memorializing an event that changed the course of history.

In February 2020, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin introduced The 1908 Springfield Race Riot National Monument Act, calling for the Race Riot to be a national monument managed by the U.S. National Park Service. In 2022, this measure gained even more national attention. All of the efforts and contributions from the NAACP, government officials and local organizations are what led to NPS conducting the “special resource study.”

On Aug. 10, the NPS hosted a meeting at the Springfield NAACP office explaining the process of becoming nationally recognized, inviting the general public for commentary. Expressing their support to finally get the Race Riot national recognition, members of the community are excited to see forgotten Springfield history preserved and recognized at the highest level.

Public comments are being accepted online now through Sept. 3 to determine whether the Springfield Race Riot of 1908 site located at Madison & 10th Street will be preserved as a national park unit. To provide an online comment, click here.

Shawnee National Forest cvLocated outside Harrisburg, Illinois, Shawnee National Forest is a conglomerate of nature, beauty, adventure, and life. If you take a trip to one of Illinois’ top parks, check out a few of the following trails:

Garden of the Gods Observation Trail – Along this semi-short trail, hikers will encounter the most recognized rock formation labeled “Camel Rock.” This rock formation has been captured and imprinted on U.S. quarters. This hiking trail requires extreme caution, so make sure to enjoy your experience while staying safe.

Rim Rock National Recreation Trail – On Rim Rock trail, hikers will stumble across charming creeks, direct access to Pounds Hollow Beach where camping is imminent, and an enormous stone fort utilized by past Native American inhabitants.

Indian Kitchen Trail – This trail is intertwined with a great part of the Lusk Creek Wilderness, which is also in the Lusk Creek Canyon Nature Preserve. Nonetheless, Indian Kitchen trail is a much more challenging adventure for enthusiastic hikers and equestrians.

Those who pass through here will find signage from the Native American past, caves, bluffs, old homesteads, and abandoned roadways. Due to flash flooding, camping is not permitted within the Nature Preserve. However, canoeing is a common occurrence during the warmer seasons.

Old Stoneface – This trail is a simple path known for its most unique rock formation, Old Stoneface. It is a formation of stones that resemble an aging face.

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Red SOLO cupsFor parties, cookouts, and celebrations of any kind, there is always one common item – the red solo cup. Did you know its origins are rooted in the South Side of Chicago? Amid the Great Depression, Leo Hulseman launched his new business idea for easily accessible and disposable kitchenware.

Hulseman spent his nights creating paper cups so he could sell them throughout the day. Eventually, he invested in a 1940 machine that was invented by George Method Merta, an immigrant from Metylovice, Czechoslovakia who settled down in Chicago, which produced 250 cups per minute from a single roll of paper.

When choosing a brand for this new innovate cup, Leo Hulseman and his two sons agreed on “Solo” because the cup was “so high in quality, so low in price.” However, a patent lawsuit presented itself later. The “Solo” name was initially devised by Bozena Merta, a Czech immigrant.

As the legal situation was handled and business continued, Leo Hulseman dabbled in the music and television industry. It was a tool in advertising his Solo cups. He would provide ads for grocery stores and surrounding businesses as a means of receiving shelf space for his product in their establishments.

After Leo’s passing, his son, Robert Hulseman decided to expand the company and the product’s design. Robert pursued a more modern proposition of using plastic rather than paper. He found machines in Germany equipped with fulfilling this task. When creating test samples of the contemporary product, he looked to his own children to select the colors. In its 1970s debut, the Solo cup was made available in red, blue, yellow, and peach. Red received the most favor.

The Solo Cup Company also played a role in the creation and patent of the Traveler Lid for coffee cups. The design was developed by Robert Hulseman and Jack Clements. It became a widespread tool after Starbucks applied it to its many coffee cups and New York’s MOMA featured the acclaimed lid in a 2004 “Humble Masterpieces” exhibit.

For some time, the Solo Cup brand was connected to the well-known Star Wars films. This was due to the main character, Han Solo. In 2011, country star Toby Keith released a hit song titled, “Red Solo Cup.”

Since the start, the red solo cup has remained a classic, disposable kitchenware and symbolizes a great deal of festivities within popular culture.