First, today is the bicentennial of Illinois becoming a state, which involved a deal to steal Chicago from Wisconsin:
If Illinoisans had played by the rules to get statehood, Chicagoans would be cheeseheads. By all rights, the Wisconsin border should have been set at the southern tip of Lake Michigan when Illinois was admitted into the union, 200 years ago Monday.
That would have made a 60-mile strip of what’s now northern Illinois a part of southern Wisconsin. Stripped of the smokestacks of Chicago’s factories, Illinois’ landscape would have been dominated by grain elevators and dairy barns. But that didn’t happen.
The fix was in, even as the state of Illinois was conceived.
It's a good story. Today is also the 75th anniversary of Pizzeria Uno opening in Chicago, which introduced deep-dish pizza to the masses:
Pizza had been around the city’s Italian cafes for decades. It was served in tiny wedges, and mainly used as an appetizer. Even on a full pie the crust was wafer-thin.
The pizza at Pizzeria Uno was going to be different—cooked in a deep dish, with a thick crust and heaps of cheese. Who came up with this innovative style? Riccardo? Sewell? Their chef, Rudy Malnati? The debate goes on.
So on a wartime Friday evening in December, Pizzeria Uno opened with little fanfare. Business was slow at first. Gradually, Chicago-style pizza caught on. By 1955, people were lining up outside in the cold, waiting to get in.
Longtime readers know that despite my Chicagoan heritage, I prefer New York-style big slices that you have to drain before eating. Preferrably bought from a window on 3rd Avenue around 4am.