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Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois is a region generally covering the northern third of the U.S. state of Illinois.



Northern Illinois is dominated by the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Rockford, and the Quad Cities, which contain a majority (over 75%) of Illinois' population and economic activity, including numerous Fortune 500 companies and a heavy manufacturing, commercial, retail, service, and office based economy. Much of the economic activity of the region is centered in the Chicago Loop, the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor, and the Golden Corridor. However, rural sections of this region are highly productive agriculturally, and are part of the Corn Belt. The headquarters for John Deere farming equipment are located in Moline. Additional smaller cities in this area include Kankakee, LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Freeport, Dixon, and Sterling-Rock Falls, which still have predominantly manufacturing and agricultural economies. Northern Illinois is also one of the world's busiest freight railroad and truck traffic corridors.

Interstate 80 southern boundary

Interstate 80 is sometimes referenced as the informal southern boundary of Northern Illinois, and is often used in weather reports as a reference point, as in "south of Interstate 80 will see sleet and rain, but north of Interstate 80 can expect mostly snow."

Generally, areas south of I-80 are considered "downstate."

Interstate 88 cross section

Additionally, Interstate 88 (the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway) seems to connect the region, east-west, stretching from the Quad Cities, eastward through Sterling-Rock Falls, Dixon, DeKalb, Aurora, Naperville, and into Chicago. Northern Illinois is also the only region of the state in which there are tollways, which are run by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, another trait separating this region from Central and Southern Illinois.


Northern Illinois University, located in DeKalb is located in the heart of Northern Illinois and is the state's second largest institute of higher education in terms of enrollment, after University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Additionally, several major colleges can be found in the Chicago area, including the Big Ten Conference's Northwestern University, Illinois' third largest state school University of Illinois at Chicago, and other notable schools including Loyola University, DePaul University, Columbia College, University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University and Roosevelt University.

Several liberal arts schools such as Aurora University, Lewis University, North Central College, Elmhurst College, Wheaton College, Concordia University, and North Park University dot the Metropolitan Chicago landscape. Such schools can also be found in Rockford (Rockford College) and the Quad Cities (Augustana College).

These schools, along with several others, help to make Northern Illinois a vibrant research area. Such significant developments in science including the creation of the Atomic Bomb and the Fujita Scale were rooted in Northern Illinois institutions.


Politically, the region is quite diverse, with Cook County and Rock Island County being long-time strongholds for Democrats and suburban counties such as DuPage, Kane, Kendall and McHenry Counties being reliable strongholds for Republicans. However, several counties such as Winnebago and Lake are quite evenly divided. Famous politicians native to the area include Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, J. Dennis Hastert, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Mayors Richard J. Daley and Richard M. Daley.


Culturally, the area is tied heavily to Chicago, and most residents of Northern Illinois tend to root for Chicago teams, lean towards the Chicago media market, and visit the Chicago Loop often. For College football the Northern Illinois University Huskies have been a staple for Northern Illinois fan bases for the past several years. Conversely, residents of Central Illinois are often split between the Chicago and St. Louis media markets, and the fan bases for the cities' respective sports teams often overlap. In Southern Illinois, residents are tied primarily to St. Louis. Additionally, regional dialects in Northern Illinois vary from those in other parts of Illinois.



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Northern Illinois is a region of Illinois.

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