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The "United States That Never Was" (Credit: Andrew Shears)

The “United States That Never Was” (Credit: Andrew Shears)

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — History buff Andrew Shears doesn’t really live in an alternate reality, but he does like to imagine what the United States might look like if one added small twists to historical events.

Illinois, for example, could actually be four states today–including the state of Chicagoland. (Some people already consider Chicago, because of its size and political clout, to be a de facto state anyway.)

“I’ve constantly fictionalized history by changing the outcome of one event here and there and exploring the possibilities of what would have come next,” Shears, a college geography professor, wrote in a blog post.

“Sometimes I come up with some utterly ridiculous progressions on these alternate timelines of whole new worlds based on relatively minor changes.”

In Shears’ analysis, Chicago could have seceded from Illinois in 1920.

“Citing an uneven exchange between taxes paid to the state government in Springfield and the services received, Chicago and surrounding counties seceded from their home states to form the urbanized state of Chicagoland,” Shears wrote.

The State Of Chicagoland would also have included parts of Northwest Indiana (so much for lower taxes and cheaper gasoline) and Southeast Wisconsin.

The first state to spawn from the original Illinois could have happened during the Civil War, when southern Illinois left the union to join the confederacy as the state of Little Egypt.

As recently as 1971, Illinois would have lost a chunk of its western border with Missouri and Iowa, but perhaps Illinois’ political leaders wouldn’t really have cared.

The people there, upset that they had been ignored by the state for years, would have left to form Forgottonia, the 98th state.

Or maybe it would have been the 99th state.

A portion of Oregon, called Cascadia, also could have left that state that year, citing “significant cultural differences with its coastal counterparts.”