The Chicago River was famously dyed green for the first time in 1962 to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The tradition has continued every year since then, and now the river is dyed green for the holiday using an eco-friendly vegetable dye.
Madison County, located in southwestern Illinois, has a rich and varied history dating back thousands of years. The area was originally home to Native American tribes, including the Illini Confederation. European settlement of the region began in the late 17th century with the arrival of French explorers and fur traders. The French established a fortified trading post on the Mississippi River known as Fort de Chartres, which became an important hub for the fur trade in the region.

In the early 19th century, after the Louisiana Purchase, the United States gained control of the area. Madison County was officially established in 1812 and was named in honor of President James Madison. The county became an important transportation and industrial hub due to its strategic location along the Mississippi River and its proximity to St. Louis. The growth of transportation infrastructure, including the construction of canals and railroads, further contributed to the county's development.

During the mid-19th century, Madison County experienced significant population growth and economic prosperity. The county's proximity to coal deposits in southern Illinois led to the establishment of numerous coal mines and the development of the coal industry. In addition, manufacturing and agriculture flourished, with industries such as steel production, pottery, and grain farming becoming prominent. The county's population continued to grow throughout the 20th century, and suburbanization became a significant trend.

Despite its economic success, Madison County also faced challenges and social issues. Racial tensions and inequality persisted, and the county played a significant role in the civil rights movement. In 1953, Madison County became the first county in the state to implement a fair housing ordinance, marking an important step towards equality. Today, Madison County continues to be a vibrant and diverse community, with a strong economy, rich cultural heritage, and a commitment to progress and inclusivity.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Madison County, Illinois.

  • 1805 - Madison County is established by an act of the Illinois Territory Legislature.
  • 1812 - The first permanent settlement, known as Fountain Creek, is established.
  • 1818 - Illinois becomes a state, and Madison County is incorporated.
  • 1820 - The county seat is established in Edwardsville.
  • 1835 - Alton becomes the county seat, replacing Edwardsville.
  • 1837 - The Alton and Sangamon Railroad, the first railroad in Illinois, begins operations in Madison County.
  • 1843 - The Illinois State Normal University, now known as Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is established in Edwardsville.
  • 1861-1865 - Madison County residents actively participate in the American Civil War.
  • 1877 - East St. Louis is officially incorporated as a city in Madison County.
  • 1894 - The famous Piasa Bird painting is restored and placed on the limestone bluffs along the Mississippi River in Alton.
  • 1917-1918 - Madison County supports the war effort during World War I.
  • 1942-1945 - Madison County contributes to the war effort in World War II, with multiple defense industries operating in the area.
  • 1954 - Alton becomes the first city in the nation to have a McDonald's restaurant.
  • 1973 - The Great Flood of 1973 affects Madison County and causes significant damage.
  • 2005 - Madison County celebrates its bicentennial anniversary.