Illinois History Minutes

April 22 Illinois History Minute


It’s April 22nd, Earth Day, a day to raise awareness about environmental concerns. The first Earth Day in 1970 was marked by a rally around the Picasso sculpture at Chicago’s Civic Center Plaza. The Chicago Tribune reports that the crowd departed with not one single piece of litter left behind.

On that day in 1970, students at Lanphier High School in Springfield walked through the halls with a casket holding a plastic skeleton in a mock funeral procession for the earth. Then a contingent marched to the state Capitol building to present petitions to Lieutenant Governor Paul Simon.

The first Earth Day was part of a week of speeches and panels at the University of Illinois. On a more visceral note, students at Northern Illinois University could show their opposition to gas-guzzling cars by bashing an old Chevrolet with a sledgehammer.