Names of America: The top three Thanksgiving destinations
Entertain your guests at the Thanksgiving table this year with trivia about three cities and states: New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and Las Vegas, Nevada. Those are the top three most popular travel destinations this Thanksgiving. Learn a little more about each city here:
New York, NY
• Close to twenty million people live in New York State, which has 62 cities.
• Both the state and the city are named after the English Duke of York, who became King James II.
• New York State is nicknamed The Empire State—thus, the Empire State Building. New York City has also been called Gotham, a word dating back to medieval England which loosely translates to goat town.
• There was more than one tea party! On December 16, 1773 the Boston Tea Party took place, but months later, in April of 1774, equally angry New York colonists boarded a ship in New York harbor and dumped all the tea it was carrying.
• New York State has an official beverage: good, old-fashioned milk. The official state flower is the rose and the state bird is the bluebird. If anyone asks, “What’s the New York State animal?” Beaver.
• A version of the word “Illinois” is said to have been Native American, meaning “tribe of superior men.” ““Chicago” comes from the Native American word for wild leek or onion.
• Illinois, which became a state on December 3, 1818, is nicknamed The Prairie State. Chicago is known as The Windy City, the Second City, and The City That Works.
• The copyrighted state slogan, “Land of Lincoln,” was adopted by the General Assembly in 1955.
• The nation’s first skyscraper was the 10-story Home Insurance Building built in 1884 (but demolished in 1931).
• Illinois’ official snack food: popcorn. The state insect is the monarch butterfly.
Las Vegas, NV
• Nevada has been called The Silver State, but it’s the largest gold-producing state in the U.S. (and third in the world behind South Africa and Australia).
• Eighty-seven percent of Nevada land is managed by the federal government.
• Nevada means “snowcapped” in Spanish. Las Vegas is Spanish for “the meadows.”
• In 1899, Charles Fey invented the first slot machine. But in 1910 a law made it illegal to gamble in Las Vegas. It wasn’t until 1931 that the Nevada Legislature legalized gambling.
• The first hotel and casino to open in Las Vegas was the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino in 1906.
• Sagebrush is the Nevada state flower, while the desert bighorn sheep is the official state animal.
Claudia Gryvatz Copquin is a New York-based journalist, author, and essayist. Follow her on Twitter.