It’s Not Chicago
While this isn’t exactly a “little-known” fact, Champaign-Urbana locals pride themselves on not being a “Chicago” suburb. Chicagoans will also agree that Champaign and other various cities in Southern Illinois are very different than Chicago. Is it the pizza? Is it the best way to consume pizza? There are many reasons, but all we know for sure is that Champaign locals don’t mind the distinction.
Hub of Silicon Prairie
Silicon Prairie is, as the name suggests, a reference to the “Prairie” states in the middle of the United States and is a spin on Silicon Valley. Champaign, Illinois boasts many notable people in STEM industries, including the co-founders of YouTube, the founder of Netscape, several notable physicists including John Bardeen (Nobel prize winner), Anthony James Leggett (Nobel Prize Winner) and Scott Anderson, and countless other scientists, founders, CEOs, etc.
Another notable person from Champaign, Illinois was a chemist named Charles Getz. While not a Nobel prize winner or physicist, Charles Getz made a slightly-funny-but-very-important contribution to the world as we know it. Charles Getz found that milk, when infused with pressurized carbon dioxide, would begin to foam. Unhappy with the taste-altering effects of carbon dioxide, he began experimenting with different fat content levels and different gases until he eventually came to the best result possible. Turns out, heavy cream infused with pressurized nitrous oxide creates what we now know as canned whipped cream. His patented method was used by Prof. G. Frederick Smith to create Instantwhip Foods. Think of Charles Getz every time you put that Cool Whip on pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.
Cinema is Kind of a Big Deal Here
Aside from the amazing theaters in the area, A UIUC student named Joseph Tykociner made a pretty big invention while he studied electrical engineering. His passion was in discovering methods of recording sound, and by 1922 his discoveries and inventions launched the cinema industry out of silent films and into what was referred to as “talking films”.
Joseph Tykociner is most commonly known for his “talking” films, but he had a pretty interesting backstory and was actively researching, experimenting, and inventing at a time during an era in which the academic discipline of engineering was still becoming established—the time that helped define the true distinction between the roles of the “inventor” and the “scientist.”. We recommend learning more about him on the University of Illinois Archives here.
Books on Books on Books
Did you know the library on UIUC campus is famous for housing the largest public university library in the world? Well, now you do! The library has more than 22 million items in the main library and over 40 additional libraries and divisions for various departments of the University. The University of Illinois website boasts that “more than one million patrons from around the world use the online catalog each week.” (Source here) How’s that for impressive?!
Champaign-Urbana Makes the Lorax Proud
You’ll have to get your Sneed from somewhere other than Champaign-Urbana. Urbana is a city that is often paired with Champaign, but Urbana is, in fact, it’s own “thing”, with its own initiatives and conservation priorities. The city of Urbana has maintained its nickname as the “Tree City USA”, and is the only city in Illinois to continue to actively participate in tree conservation and care, maintaining over 14,000 individual trees that cover 95% of its parks and scenery.
Did you know those facts about Champaign? Do you have others to share? Connect with us on our social channels and share your thoughts!