States what compound the mid-west
The region consists of twelve states in the north-central United States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Traditional definitions of the Midwest include the Northwest Ordinance "Old Northwest" states and many states that were part of the Louisiana Purchase. The states of the Old Northwest are also known as "Great Lakes states". Many of the Louisiana Purchase states are also known as "Great Plains states".
- City lifestyle
The towns and cities of the midwest each present the natural surroundings specific to their area to the visitor in grand form.
The larger cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay house an eclectic selection of arts and cultures.
- Rural lifestyle
The people of Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and Illinois share the rich soil and abundant flora and wildlife of the Midwest. Much of the rural area consists of both working and hobby farms and ranches.
- Exploration and early settlement
European settlement of the area began in the 17th century following French exploration of the region. The region's fertile soil made it possible for farmers to produce abundant harvests of cereal crops such as corn, oats, and, most importantly, wheat. The region was known as "breadbasket".
- Development of transportation
Two waterways were important to its development -the first and foremost was the Ohio River and the network of routes within the Great Lakes-.
During the mid-19th century the region got its first railroads, and the railroad junction in Chicago grew to be the world's largest. Even today, a century after Henry Ford, six Class I railroads meet in Chicago.
Competition with a growing population of automobiles and buses traveling on paved highways led to a decline in the interurban and other railroad passenger business.
- 19th century sectional conflict
The Northwest Ordinance region, comprising the heart of the Midwest, was the first large region of the United States that prohibited slavery.