As long as we’re talking about getting rid of Chicago, how about getting rid of the entire state of Illinois?
This blog post from Scientific American brought up the famous 38-state map, which was drawn by C. Etzel Pearcy, a geography professor at California State University. Pearcy observed that several metropolitan areas -- New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. -- crossed multiple state boundaries, and that the rivers used to draw borders actually united people, rather than dividing them.
Illinois has both of these problems. The Chicago metropolitan area extends all the way from southeastern Wisconsin to southwestern Michigan, where all the local TV is from Chicago, and everyone roots for the Cubs. The Quad Cities are a single metro area divided between Illinois and Iowa. The Metro East region is a suburb of St. Louis.
Pearcy’s solution was to parcel out Illinois among four new states. Dearborn is the aforementioned Chicago area. Prairie includes the Quad Cities and most of Iowa. Osage takes in St. Louis and its trans-Mississippi suburbs. And Wabash includes a sliver of eastern Illinois with most of Indiana.
The map is worth a look, because, as Illinois approaches its bicentennial in 2018, it’s time to admit this state is not working out. When the borders were drawn 200 years ago, most of the state’s population was in its southern end. Vandalia was the state capital.
No one imagined a great metropolis would rise in the northeast corner, and so control the state’s affairs as to make the concerns of rural residents irrelevant. Downstaters resent Chicago’s dominance and indifference. Chicagoans have little use for Downstate, preferring to vacation in Wisconsin and Michigan. This would spare us from crossing state lines, and instead being called “F---ing Illinois Bastards.” We’d just be “F---ing Chicago Bastards.” And when we went to Springfield, we’d be “F---ing Dearborn Bastards.”
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