Every year at this time we get a new group of Champaign-Urbana residents, unfamiliar with the peculiarities of this unique community. To help you get settled I offer this quiz about your new hometown.
1. The only reason Champaign-Urbana exists is because of the University of Illinois. True or false?
2. There has never been an effort to merge the two cities. True or false?
3. Florida Avenue in Urbana is the same street as Kirby Avenue in Champaign.
4. Champaign-Urbana “won” the University of Illinois fair and square. True or false?
5. Come winter you will hear about and feel a lot of potholes. In 2011, according to the city of Champaign, it filled more than 22,000 potholes. True or false?
6. This politically liberal community (it voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, 54.7 percent to 36.4 percent) once had a theater owned by the Ku Klux Klan. True or false?
7. The famous G-man Elliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner in the movies and Robert Stack on TV) got his start in C-U. True or false?
8. One of the 250 wealthiest people in the world lives in Champaign. True or false?
9. The University of Illinois is known as the cradle of football coaches. True or false?
10. The buffalo used to roam here. True or false?
1. False. Both towns were organized and settled years before the UI was established in 1867. Urbana was founded in 1833, the same year as Champaign County. Champaign was founded later and chartered in 1860.
2. False. Merger efforts were defeated by voters in both 1953 and 1980. Isn’t it time to try it again?
3. True. The two streets were linked in 1959 but no one bothered to consolidate the names. Sixty years later the street still doesn’t have a shared name.
4. False. Clark Griggs, a Yankee transplant to Champaign County, used a $40,000 appropriation from the county board of supervisors to wine and dine state legislators in Springfield who voted in February 1867 to select Urbana as the home of the Illinois Industrial University. Among the towns that lost to Champaign-Urbana were Jacksonville, Bloomington-Normal and Lincoln.
5. True. 22,401. Well, that’s what the city’s annual financial audit claimed. I feel bad for the auditor who had to compile that statistic.
6. True. The old Illinois Theatre in downtown Urbana was owned by the Klan. It mysteriously burned down in 1927.
7. True. He was an agent here with the federal Prohibition Bureau in 1927. Later he helped take down Al Capone and became chief of the Cleveland Police Department.
8. True. Shahid Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars football team, the Fulham Football Club of the English Football Team Championship, the Flex-N-Gate Corp., and the Urbana Country Club, still has a home in Champaign. Khan was born in Pakistan and is an American citizen.
9. False. The last football coach with a winning record here was John Mackovic. That was 30 years ago. Only three of the last 13 long-term football coaches here had winning records.
10. True. Even into the 1800s there were buffalo in Illinois, said Judge J.O. Cunningham, Champaign County’s greatest historian and author of the book, “The History of Champaign County.” He said that the Fort Clark Road, which ran from Danville to Peoria, likely was a buffalo path, “and afterwards an Indian trail, where the buffalo was hunted and trapped, and finally adopted by the great tide of immigration” through Illinois. Cunningham said that successor roads to the Fort Clark Road “are still in existence as diagonal streets in the towns through which it runs, most notably West Main Street, Urbana, and Bloomington Road, Champaign.” That makes Interstate 74, which runs on a diagonal from Champaign-Urbana to Bloomington, the legacy of an Indian trail.
Tom Kacich’s column appears Sundays in The News-Gazette.