The University of Illinois was one of the original 37 public land-grant institutions established through the Morrill Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. Chartered as the Illinois Industrial University in 1867, the school opened a year later at Urbana. In a deal to locate the University in Urbana, upstate legislators gave their support in exchange for a promise that a polytechnical branch of the University would be located in Chicago – a promise the Chicago City Council endorsed the following year. These plans were waylaid by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. But Chicagoans never completely forgot this pledge.
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