Illinois History Minutes

December 20 Illinois History Minute


It’s December 20th. The day of the “sudden freeze that rolled through the United States, including central Illinois, in 1836. Freezing temperatures were first reported on the Illinois-Iowa border around 10 A.M., and spread eastward to the Indiana border by 6 P.M. They were accompanied by strong winds and dark clouds, with temperatures falling below zero the next day in much of the Midwest. Many people caught unprepared for the sudden temperature dip froze to death, and there were reports of livestock frozen in their tracks.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony on this day in 1951 opened Edens Parkway, now called the Edens Expressway, the first Chicago-area expressway – named for banker and highway advocate William Grant Edens.  It’s now part of I-94, running from Chicago’s near north side to the suburb of Northbrook.