Did you know that the entire North Shore was almost in Wisconsin?
When Illinois was granted statehood in 1818, the originally proposed border was moved about 60 miles north, so the new state would have a little bit of Lake Michigan shoreline.
This is the kind of fun fact that surprises even lifelong North Shore residents.
Here’s another one:
Contrary to popular myth, Half Day Road did not get its name because it was a half-day’s journey form Chicago on foot or horseback.
It’s named for Indian Chief Aptikisic. His name roughly translates to “Sun at the Middle of the Sky” or “Half Day.” He was given this name because he could perform tasks in half a day that would take a normal person an entire day to complete.
Want to find out more? Play our monthly quiz to test your North Shore knowledge. Win or lose, you’ll almost certainly build up a supply of stories that will make you a hit at parties.
Here’s our inaugural question:
Where will you find the world’s first jungle gym?
a. New Trier East High School
b. Crow Island School in Winnetka
c. Jens Jensen Park in Ravinia
a. WRONG! New Trier gave us Charleton Heston, Rock Hudson, Ann-Margaret and Donald Rumsfeld, but not the Jungle Gym.
b. RIGHT! Winnetka resident Sebastian Hinton pitched the idea to local school superintendent Carleton Washburne in the 1920s. Washburne was on his way to making Winnetka a national model for so-called Progressive Education. Hinton based his concept on a bamboo climbing frame his mathematician father had built decades earlier. The elder Hinton believed three-dimensional play would help kids visualize a fourth dimension. But the real fun for kids was just climbing on the frame. A prototype erected at North Shore Country Day School had some design flaws. The first successful model, made from iron pipe, was installed at Horace Mann School in the 1920s. That original climbing frame was moved to Crow Island in 1940 where it still stands today. Hinton went on to market the climbing apparatus under the name Jungle Gym.
c. WRONG! The park is named for the famous landscape architect Jens Jensen, noted for his radical (at the time) use of native plants. Created in the 1920s, it features one of Jesnen’s trademark Native American “council rings,” circular seating areas where he believed people could gather as equals around a warm fire. But the original Jungle Gym is not there.