Ten things you didn't know about Illinois State

Friday, September 21, 2007 | 1:43 a.m. CDT; updated 8:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

10. Watterson Towers, on the ISU campus, is the tallest college dormitory in the world at 28 stories tall. It is also the tallest point between Chicago and St. Louis.

9. The only North American manufacturing plant for Mitsubishi is in Normal, Illinois, where the college is located.

8. The university is one of the 10 largest producers of teachers in the United States, according to American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.

7. The twin cities of Bloomington-Normal were the site of the first Steak-N-Shake. It opened in 1934.

6. The term “normal” (nor-MAHL) is French and is a type of education for teachers. The school was originally called Illinois State Normal University and the city name was changed from North Bloomington to Normal in 1885.

5. The VISA credit card originated in Bloomington at the McLean County Bank. The VISA acronym stands for Vacation Insurance Savings Account.

4. The university’s Gamma Phi Circus, established in 1929, is the oldest collegiate circus in the country and is one of two colleges to sponsor full-fledged circuses.

3. Illinois State’s mascot was the Cardinal until the local newspaper, The Pantograph, started using the term “Redbirds” to avoid confusion with the St. Louis Cardinals.

2. Legend has it that when a woman from a city in Illinois named Oblong married a man in Normal a newspaper ran the headline “Normal man marries Oblong woman.”

1. Normal city mayor Chris Koos will award $50 to anyone who can tell him a joke about the town’s name that he has not heard before. Examples: “What’s next to Normal? Abnormal?” or “Is it really normal in Normal?”

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