200 years ago on this day in 1818, Illinois entered the Union as the 21st state. At the time, Illinois’ population of about 35,000 was mostly concentrated in the southern part of the state (the capital was in Kaskaskia). Today Illinois is a sprawling, diverse state with nearly 13 million residents. Over the past two hundred years Illinois has produced award-winning writers such Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg and playwright Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun); a treasure trove of military heroes, entrepreneurs and exceptional athletes. Illinois has hosted major events like the World’s Fair in 1893 and launched world renowned companies like McDonalds which reshaped the American economy in the 20th Century. Here’s to the next 200 years of a thriving Illinois that continues to make a positive impact on the world!

Governor Rauner and Governor-Elect Pritzker are scheduled to make a joint appearance at the State’s birthday party tonight at Navy Pier. The event will bring together singers, dancers and athletes with connections to Illinois for a celebration of our state’s triumphs and heritage. Colors and trophies will be presented as reminders of the achievements of these men and women on behalf of all Illinoisans. With a focus on entertainment, sports, and life, the event will be a fast-forward way for Illinois celebrants to experience the past two hundred years in the Land of Lincoln.

To learn more about the Illinois Bicentennial, please visit www.illinois200.org.