This week in Chicago, I could not resist a side trip downstate to Champaign County, Illinois. The place has nagged at me as one of the mysteries of the world capital competition. It appeared on a list that the United Nations published in November 1945, but left no paper trail in the UN Archives to follow. What led this contender into the race to become the Capital of the World?
It turns out, this was also a mystery for the people of Champaign County in 1945. When news of the UN’s list reached Champaign-Urbana through the news media, it took some digging by local reporters to discover how their community had achieved such a distinction. There were only twenty-two invitations on the list at that point in time, and so it seemed that Champaign County had taken quite a leap onto the world stage. Reporters for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette solved the mystery, and so they also solved mine.