Illinois History Minutes

April 21 Illinois History Minute


It’s April 21st and the Illinois and Michigan Canal officially opened for business on this day in 1848. The canal carried commercial traffic for 96-miles between the Chicago and Illinois Rivers. It was a crucial link for river travel between the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes, until its closing in 1936.

Joe McCarthy --- not the senator, but the baseball manager – was born on this day in 1887. As manager for the Chicago Cubs, McCarthy led the team to the National League pennant in 1929.

And actor and writer Elaine May was born on this day in 1932. Arriving in Chicago in the 1950s, she joined a new improv theatre group called the Compass Players, and formed a memorable comedy team with fellow member Mike Nichols.