Local IQ: Test your knowledge of the far western ‘burbs

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Checking things out: Lindsey Concha (front) and Jessica Herrera search for books at the Aurora Public Library. | FILE PHOTO

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How well do you know the Aurora and Naperville areas? Take this quiz and find out.

P.S.: Keep track of how many answers you get correct and you can rate your local aptitude at the end of the test.

1. Where is Aurora’s Blues Alley?

Answer: Blues Alley is located on Stolp Avenue between Galena Boulevard and Downer Place. The city of Aurora gave it the commemorative name to recognize that a number of the country’s most famous blues composers and musicians, including John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson, performed and recorded in Aurora between May 1937 and December 1938. Recordings were made for Bluebird Records/RCA Victor in the Sky Club at Leland Tower, 7 S. Stolp Ave.

2: In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of Naperville’s main industries was:

A. Wine making

B. Cotton farming

C. Beer brewing

D. Horse breeding

A: Brewing beer was a thriving industry. To make the famous German lager, spring water came up where Washington School now stands, which is how Spring Street got its name. According to “A View of Historic Naperville from the Sky-Lines,” workers were allowed drink their product — with discretion.

3: As the city of Aurora continues to grow, so has the demand for library materials. How many items were checked out of the Aurora Public Library in 2011?

Answer: According to the library, there were 66,964 active cardholders last year. Together, they checked out a total of 1,599,589 items.

4: True or false? One of the worst train wrecks in Chicagoland history occurred on April 25, 1946.

A: True. The Burlington’s Exposition Flyer rammed into the Advance Flyer at the Loomis Street Crossing, killing 47 people and injuring more than 1,000. Source: “A View of Historic Naperville from the Sky-Lines” by Genevieve Townsley.

5: Why do nearly all of the buildings on the campus of Aurora University have red roofs?

Answer: It was a stipulation of businessman Charles Eckhart in his initial donation to help build the university. In 1911, Eckhart led the funding efforts of residents to build a college in the city. The few buildings that do not have red roofs carry the red theme on exterior wall panels.

Q: A fire at North Central College in 1929 destroyed its:

A. Reputation

B. Kitchen

C. Delta Chi house

D. Gymnasium

Answer: D. Nichols Halls, the college’s gym, was completely destroyed by a fire of unknown origins on Feb. 23, 1929. Source: “A View of Historic Naperville from the Sky-Lines” by Genevieve Townsley.

6: Speaking of North Central College, what was its original name and location?

Answer: The institute of higher learning, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, was once called Northwestern College and was located in Plainfield. It was dedicated on Oct. 4, 1870, after its move. Naperville citizens had raised $25,000 and had donated eight acres of land to attract the college to Naperville, according to the DuPage County Historical Society’s web site.

7. Approximately how many slot machines are inside Aurora’s Hollywood Casino?

A: 1,960

B: 1,170

C: 975

D: 1,330

Answer: According to Hollywood, there are more than 1,170 slots located inside the 53,000 square-foot casino.

8. True or False? The film “Wayne’s World,” which is set in Aurora, never actually filmed in the city.

Answer: False. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film — released 20 years ago on Feb. 14, 1992 — was shot in multiple locations, including Aurora. However, the actual filming done in Aurora was very minimal. Memorabilia from the cult classic can be seen at the Hollywood Casino though. Excellent.

9: True or false? Meson Sabika, at 1025 Aurora Ave. in Naperville, is rumored to be haunted.

A: True: A mysterious Lady in Blue is said to haunt this restaurant.

(“Haunted Naperville” by Diane A. Ladley)

10. Why is Aurora known as the “City of Lights?”

Answer: According to the city, it was the first in the United States to use electric lights for publicly lighting the entire city. While the electric street lights were installed in 1881, it wasn’t until 1908 that the city officially adopted the nickname.

11. Oswego earned what designation from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2005?

Answer: According to the Oswegoland Heritage Association, in 2005 Oswego was named the second fastest growing community in the nation. The village indicates the population of Oswego at the time of the 2000 Census was 13,326. Four years later, in a special census, the population was close to 20,000. By the time of the 2010 Census, Oswego had population of 30,355.

12. What was located in the basement of North Aurora’s fire department during the early 1900s?

Answer: According to the North Aurora Fire Protection District, the volunteer fire department was established in 1908. After a few years of using a small “fire barn” to house the limited equipment it had, it moved across the street to a larger fire barn. In the basement was a room that would be used for a jail. It could accommodate one prisoner.

13. What artifact of the 1893 Columbian Exposition calls Geneva its home?

Answer: The 78 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 6.5 feet high Viking Ship is located in Good Templar Park. According to the Friends of the Viking Ship, IT set sail from Norway in 1893 to Chicago for the Exposition. After the fair, the ship sailed to New Orleans, but later returned to Chicago where it was moved twice. In 1994 it was brought to West Chicago, and two years later moved to Geneva.

14. The Farnsworth House sits along the Fox River in Plano. Who designed the famed structure, which features floor to ceiling glass?

A: Frank Lloyd Wright

B: Daniel Burnham

C: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

D: I.M. Pei

Answer: According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Farnsworth House was built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1951, and is considered to be one of his most significant works.

15. If you want to visit Huey in Sugar Grove, where should you go?

Answer: Head to the Air Classics Museum of Aviation, located at Aurora Municipal Airport. There, visitors can see several types of aircraft and historical aviation memorabilia — including Huey. The helicopter, which is a Bell UH-1H Iroquois, earned the nickname of Huey because of the model name of earlier versions included an “HU” designator. According to the museum, a total of 4,850 UH-1H models were built between 1967 and 1982.

16. The city of Sandwich is named after...

A: The Earl of Sandwich

B: Sandwich, New Hampshire

C: The Sandwich Islands

D: The first meal eaten by settler Almon Cage upon arrival

E: Sandwich, Massachusetts

Answer: According to the city of Sandwich, the city was named Almon and then Newark Station. But it was when “Long John” Wentworth went to Congress to use his influence to establish a train stop in town that the city got its current name. It is named after Wentworth’s hometown in New Hampshire. As an ironic side note though, the first plat of Sandwich was recorded by a man with the last name of Beveridge.

17. Where is the oldest structure in Montgomery located?

Answer: Built in the 1840s, the building now known as Settler’s Cottage Museum is located at 198 N. River St. According to the village of Montgomery, it was originally owned by founder Daniel S. Gray.

18. Which famous 19th century civil rights leader lectured in Oswego?

Answer: According to the Oswego Heritage Association, Susan B. Anthony lectured on April 1, 1878 at the Congregational Church.

19. Rooms at the famed Baker Hotel in St. Charles currently rent for $179 to $239, depending on date and type of room. But how much did rooms rent for when the hotel first opened in 1928?

Answer: According to the St. Charles Library, guests could rent a room in the early years for $2.50 per night.

20. Which Batavia landmark has been featured on its own U.S. postage stamp?

A: Fabyan Dutch Windmill

B: Fermilab

C: Batavia Depot Museum

Answer: According to the Kane County Forest Preserve District, the 1850’s windmill was selected in 1980 to be part of a series of five American windmills in a booklet called Windmills USA. The stamp cost 15 cents.


17-20 correct: Congratulations, you are an expert about local trivia. You must have lived your whole life in this area, spent much of your free time at local historical societies, or are a dedicated community newspaper reader — because you clearly know your stuff. Kudos to you.

13-16 correct: You are an expert-in-training. You display some significant knowledge of the region. Keep your ears and eyes open while out in the community and you could one day achieve expert-level status.

9 to 12 correct: Your knowledge of the area is average. While we don’t recommend you lead any informational tours of the far western suburbs just yet, you show potential.

8 or less: You flunked the quiz, but all is not lost. Because you invested the time to take the test, you have demonstrated that you clearly have an interest in the region. We encourage you to continue pursuing those interests, and maybe one day, you can dazzle your less-informed neighbors with fun facts about local history.