City of Chicago
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Skyline of City of Chicago


Nickname: "The Windy City", "The Second City", "ChiTown", "Hog Butcher for the World", "City of the Big Shoulders", "The City That Works"
Motto: "Urbs in Horto" (Latin: "City in a Garden"), "I Will"
Location in the Chicago metro area and Illinois
Country United States
State Illinois
Counties Cook, DuPage
Settled 1770s
Incorporated March 4 1837
 - Mayor Richard M. Daley (D)
 - City  234.0 sq mi (606.2 km)
 - Land  227.2 sq mi (588.3  km)
 - Water  6.9 sq mi (17.9 km)
 - Urban  2,122.8 sq mi (5498.1 km)
 - Metro  10,874 sq mi (28163 km)
Elevation  586 ft (179 m)
Population (2006)
 - City 2,873,321
 - Density 12,470/sq mi (4816/km)
 - Urban 8,711,000
 - Metro 9,505,748
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
This article is about the U.S. city in the state of Illinois. For other uses, see Chicago (disambiguation).
Chicago (IPA: /ʃɨˈkɑːgoʊ/ or /ʃɨˈkɔːgoʊ/; shi-kah-go, or shi-kaw-go) is the largest city in the state of Illinois, the largest in the Midwest. With a population of nearly 2.9 million people, the city is the third largest in the United States. Rich in history and renowned for its architecture, Chicago is classified as an alpha world city. It is the anchor of the Chicago metropolitan area, commonly called Chicagoland, which has a population of over 9.5 million people in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, making it the third largest metropolitan area in the U.S.[1] The City of Chicago is almost entirely located in Cook County, Illinois, with a small portion in DuPage County, while the metropolitan area extends over several counties.

Incorporated in 1833 at the site of a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed, it soon became a transportation hub and the business, financial, and cultural capital of the Midwest. Since the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, it has been regarded as one of the ten most influential cities in the world.[2]


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Chicago City Hall just before completion in 1911
The name Chicago is the French rendering of the Miami-Illinois name shikaakwa, meaning “wild leek”.[3][4][5] Etymologically, the sound /shikaakwa/ in Miami-Illinois literally meant "striped skunk", and referred to wild leek, or the smell of onions, metaphorically.[4] It was initially applied to the river, and came to denote the site of the present city later. The sound "Chicago" is the result of a French mis-transcription of the original sound. Chicago in its first century was one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Within the span of forty years, its population grew from slightly under 30,000 to over 1 million by 1890. In the next forty years the population tripled to over 3 million.[6] By the close of the 19th century, Chicago was the fifth largest city in the world [7]-- and the largest of the cities that didn't exist at the dawn of the century.

During the mid-18th century the Chicago area was inhabited primarily by Potawatomis, who took the place of the Miami and Sauk and Fox people. The first settler in Chicago, Haitian Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, arrived in the 1770s, married a Potawatomi woman, and founded the area’s first trading post. In 1803 the United States Army built Fort Dearborn, which was destroyed in 1812 in the Fort Dearborn Massacre. The Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi later ceded the land to the United States in the Treaty of St. Louis of 1816. On August 12 1833, the Town of Chicago was organized with a population of 350, and within seven years it grew to a population of over 4,000. The City of Chicago was incorporated on March 4 1837.

Starting in 1848, the city became an important transportation center between the eastern and western United States. Chicago’s first railway, Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, opened. The Illinois and Michigan Canal allowed steamboats and sailing ships on the Great Lakes to connect through Chicago to the Mississippi River. A flourishing economy brought many new residents from rural communities and Irish American, Polish American, Swedish American, German American and numerous other immigrants. The city’s manufacturing and retail sectors dominated the Midwest and greatly influenced the American economy, with the Union Stock Yards dominating the meat packing trade.

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The Chicago River at night
Beginning in 1855, Chicago constructed the first comprehensive sewer system in the U.S., requiring the level of downtown streets to be raised as much as 10 feet (3 m). However, the untreated sewage and industrial waste flowed from the Chicago River into Lake Michigan, polluting the primary source of fresh water for the city. The city responded by tunneling two miles (3 km) out into Lake Michigan to newly built water cribs. Nonetheless, spring rains continued to carry polluted water as far out as the water intakes. In 1900, the problem of sewage was largely resolved when Chicago undertook an innovative engineering feat. The city actually reversed the river's flow with the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal leading to the Illinois River which joins the Mississippi River.

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State Street in 1907
After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a third of the city, including the entire central business district, Chicago experienced rapid rebuilding and growth.[8] During Chicago's rebuilding period, the first skyscraper was constructed in 1885 using steel-skeleton construction. In 1893, Chicago hosted the World's Columbian Exposition on former marshland at the present location of Jackson Park. The Exposition drew 27.5 million visitors, and is considered among the most influential world's fairs in history.[9] The University of Chicago had been founded one year earlier in 1892 on the same location. The term "midway" for a fair or carnival referred originally to the Midway Plaisance, a strip of park land that still runs through the University of Chicago campus and connects Washington and Jackson Parks.

The city was the site of labor conflicts and unrest during this period, which included the Haymarket Riot on May 4 1886. Concern for social problems among Chicago’s lower classes led to the founding of Hull House in 1889, of which Jane Addams was a co-founder. The city also invested in many large, well-landscaped municipal parks, which also included public sanitation facilities.

The 1920s brought notoriety to Chicago as gangsters (including the notorious Al Capone) battled each other and law enforcement on the city streets during the Prohibition era. The 1920s also saw a large increase in industry with arrivals of the Great Migration which led thousands of Southern blacks to Chicago.

In 1933, Mayor Anton Cermak was assassinated while in the presence of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On December 2 1942, physicist Enrico Fermi conducted the world’s first controlled nuclear reaction at the University of Chicago as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project.

Mayor Richard J. Daley was elected in 1955, in the era of so-called machine politics. Starting in the 1960s, many upper- and middle-class citizens started leaving the city for the suburbs, as was the case in many cities across the country, leaving impoverished neighborhoods in their wake. (Since the 1990s, the city has undergone a revitalization where some lower class neighborhoods were transformed into pricey neighborhoods.) The city hosted the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention, which featured physical confrontations both inside and outside the convention hall, including full-scale police riots in city streets. Major construction projects, including the Sears Tower (which in 1974 became the world’s tallest building), McCormick Place, and O'Hare Airport, were undertaken during Richard J. Daley's tenure. When he died, Michael Bilandic was mayor for three years. His loss in a primary election has been attributed to the city’s inability to properly plow city streets during a heavy snowstorm. In 1979, Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, was elected. She popularized the city as a movie location and tourist destination.

In 1983 Harold Washington became the first African American to be elected to the office of mayor in one of the closest mayoral elections in Chicago. After Washington won the Democratic primary, racial motivations caused Democratic alderman and ward committeemen to back the Republican candidate Bernard Epton, who ran on the slogan Before it’s too late, a thinly-veiled appeal to fear.[10] Washington’s term in office saw new attention given to poor and minority neighborhoods, and reduced the longtime dominance of city contracts and employment by ethnic whites. Current mayor Richard M. Daley, son of the late Richard J. Daley, was first elected in 1989. New projects during the younger Daley’s administration have made Chicago larger, more environmentally friendly, and more accessible.[11]

Since the early 1990s, some of Chicago’s formerly run-down neighborhoods are now highly sought after. Areas such as the South Loop, West Loop, Wicker Park/Bucktown, Uptown and others have attracted young middle and upper-class residents. The city has made considerable investment in infrastructure, has also revitalized downtown theaters and retail districts, and improving lakefront and riverfront cityscapes.


Main article: Geography of Chicago


Chicago is a midwestern city, located in northeastern Illinois at the southwestern tip of Lake Michigan. Chicago's official geographic coordinates are . It sits on the continental divide at the site of the Chicago Portage, connecting the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes watersheds. The city lies beside Lake Michigan, and two rivers—the Chicago River in downtown and the Calumet River in the industrial far South Side—flow entirely or partially through Chicago. The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal connects the Chicago River with the Des Plaines River, which runs to the west of the city.

When Chicago was founded in the 1830s, most of the early building began around the mouth of the Chicago River, as can be seen on a map of the city's original 58 blocks[12]. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, which analyzes the city using 77 official community areas, Chicago has a total area of 234.0 square miles (606.1 km²), of which 227.1 square miles (588.3 km²) is land and 6.9 square miles (17.8 km²) is water. The total area is 2.94% water.

The city is built on quite flat land; the average land elevation land is 579 feet (176 m) above sea level. The lowest points are along the lake shore at 577 feet (176 m), while the highest point at 735 feet (224 m) is a landfill located in the Hegewisch community area on the city's far south side ().

Lake Michigan

The history of Chicago is closely tied to that of Lake Michigan. Since before Chicago was founded, ships were bringing people and supplies from all points on the compass. Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes, with a maximum depth of 925 feet (282 m) and a size slightly greater than the country of Croatia. The average depth off Chicago’s shore averages 15–35 feet. To reach greater depths, one must travel several miles out in the lake, or head north to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The lake bottom off Chicago’s shore is littered with shipwrecks, ranging from schooners and tugboats to car ferries and even World War II airplanes. Scuba diving is a popular recreation for local residents, as are lakefront cruises. Zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Saint Clair in 1988, and soon spread, impacting the ecosystem.


The city lies within the humid continental climate zone, and experiences four distinct seasons. In July, the warmest month, high temperatures average 84.9 °F (29.4 °C) and low temperatures 65.8 °F (18.8 °C). In January, the coldest month, high temperatures average 31.5 °F (−0.3 °C) with low temperatures averaging 17.1 °F (−8.3 °C). According to the National Weather Service, Chicago’s highest official temperature reading of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded on July 24 1934. The lowest temperature of −27 °F (−33 °C) degrees was recorded on January 20 1985.

Chicago’s yearly precipitation averages about 37 inches (965 mm). Summer is the rainiest season, with short-lived rainfall and thunderstorms more common than prolonged rainy periods.[13] Winter is the driest season, with most of the precipitation falling as snow. The snowiest winter ever recorded in Chicago was 1929–30, with 114.2 inches of snow in total. Chicago’s highest one-day rain total was 6.49 inches (164 mm), on August 14 1987.
Weather averages for Chicago, IL
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high F (C)
Average low F (C)
Precipitation inch (cm)
Source: Illinois State Climatologist Data[14] Jul 2007


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Chicago Skyline stretching from Shedd Aquarium to Navy Pier taken from Adler Planetarium.
Chicago Skyline stretching from Shedd Aquarium to Navy Pier taken from Adler Planetarium.


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The Near North Side and Chicago River at night

The outcome of the Great Chicago Fire led to the largest building boom in the history of the nation. Perhaps the most outstanding of these events was the relocation of many of the nation's most prominent architects to the city from New England for construction of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. Many architects including Burnham, Root, Adler and Sullivan went on to design other well known Chicago landmarks because of the Exposition.

In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building rose in Chicago ushering in the skyscraper era.[15] Today, Chicago's skyline is among the world's tallest.[16] Downtown's historic buildings include the Chicago Board of Trade Building in the Loop, with others along the lakefront and the Chicago River. Once first on the list of largest buildings in the world and still listed sixth, the Merchandise Mart stands near the junction of the north and south river branches. The three tallest in the city are the Sears Tower (tallest in the U.S.), the Aon Center, and the John Hancock Center. The city's architecture includes lakefront high-rise residential towers, low-rise structures, and single-family homes. Industrialized areas such as the Indiana border, south of Midway Airport, and the banks of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal are clustered.

Future skyline plans entail the supertall Waterview Tower, Chicago Spire, and Trump International Hotel and Tower. The 60602 zip code was named by Forbes as the hottest zip code in the country with upscale buildings such as The Heritage at Millennium Park (130 N. Garland) leading the way for other buildings such at Waterview Tower, The Legacy and Momo. Other new skyscraper construction may be found directly south (South Loop) and north (River North) of the Loop.

Every kind and scale of houses, townhouses, condominiums and apartment buildings can be found in Chicago. Large swaths of Chicago's residential areas away from the lake are characterized by bungalows built either during the early 20th century or after World War II. Chicago was a center of the Polish Cathedral style of church architecture.

Parks line Lake Shore Drive; a few of the more notable include Grant Park, Millennium Park, and Lincoln Park. Burnham Park and Jackson Park in Hyde Park are to the south. Interspersed are 31 beaches in Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo, several bird sanctuaries, McCormick Place Convention Center, Navy Pier, Soldier Field, the Museum Campus, and the Jardine Water Purification Plant.


Regionally, Chicago can be divided by the river and its branches into three main sections: the North Side, the South Side, and the West Side. In the late 1920s the city was subdivided into 77 "community areas" by sociologists at the University of Chicago. The boundaries of the community areas are better defined than those of the over 210 neighborhoods, allowing for better year-by-year comparisons.

The Loop

Main article: Chicago Loop
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Aerial view of Chicago looking north during winter
The Loop, named for a circuit of cable cars and later for the elevated train Loop where practically all branches of the CTA train system lead, is the main commercial and cultural center, and includes the city's tallest buildings. It is generally not considered to be part of any of the "sides" of the city.

North Side

The city's North Side is densely populated, and is the more commercially active section of the city, with Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Rogers Park and Uptown being prime examples of multi-zoned neighborhoods.

Immigrants from Poland settled along Milwaukee Avenue, the Swedish established a community in neighborhoods such as Andersonville, and Germans settled along Lincoln Avenue; today, there are immigrant populations from all parts of the world. People of Middle Eastern, Asian, Caribbean, or African origin may all live within the space of a few city blocks. The heart of the city's Orthodox Jewish community is West Rogers Park, while the American Indian Center of Chicago has been in Uptown since 1966.

Much of the North Side reaped the benefits of an economic boom which began in the 1990s. For example, the River North area, just north of the Chicago River and the Loop, has undergone a transition from an abandoned warehouse district to an active commercial, residential, and entertainment hub, featuring the city's largest concentration of contemporary art galleries. Just west of River North's galleries and bistros, demolition of the CHA's Cabrini-Green housing project began in 2003[17]. High-priced townhouses contrast with the gray, low-income highrises along Halsted near Division Street.

South Side

Main article: South Side of Chicago
The South Side is by far the largest section of the city in terms of geography, comprising roughly 60% of the city's total land area. It has a higher ratio of single-family homes and large sections zoned for industry. Although there is an assumption of the South Side having higher crime than the North Side and West Side, the reality is much more varied as the South Side is so large in area. It encompasses the affluent, the middle-class, and the poor. South Side neighborhoods such as Armour Square, Back of the Yards, Bridgeport, Englewood, Little Village and Pullman tend to be lower to middle-class and blue collar, while Hyde Park, Kenwood, Avalon Park, Mount Greenwood, and Beverly tend to have upper-middle class, and affluent homes and incomes.. Neighborhoods close to the Loop such as Kenwood, Oakland, Bronzeville and the South Loop have, since the 1990s, seen tremendous real estate development.

During the early 20th century, the South Side became the final destination for many African-Americans during the Great Migration. Many well-known African-Americans resided on the South Side, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright and Louis Armstrong. Today, the South Side continues to be the home of very well-known African-Americans, including Jesse Jackson Jr., Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama.

The South Side has two of Chicago's largest public parks. Jackson Park is considered to be the only public park in the nation that has a profesional sports stadium (Soldier Field, home of the National Football League's Chicago Bears). Washington Park is currently being considered as the primary site of the Olympic Stadium for the 2016 Summer Olympics if Chicago wins the bid.

The South Side is serviced by the CTA's Green Line, Red Line, and Orange Line.

West Side

The West Side is made up of neighborhoods such as Austin, Lawndale, Garfield Park, West Town, and Humboldt Park. Some neighborhoods, particularly Garfield Park and Lawndale, have prolonged socio-economic problems ranging from urban decay, overcrowding, and high crime. Attempts to remedy it have included razing of many CHA public housing units in favor of a more mixed income community.

Other West Side neighborhoods closer to the Loop, such as Wicker Park and the Ukrainian Village, have, since the mid-1990s, seen extensive economic and residential developments to the point of gentrification. Humboldt Park, once home to a large German-American population, is now the apex of Chicago's Puerto Rican community, although it too is slowly beginning to gentrify. The West Loop, Greektown and the other communities surrounding University of Illinois at Chicago, such as Little Italy, Tri-Taylor, the Fulton River District and University Village, neighborhoods experiencing new construction, renovation, and an influx of the middle to upper income residents.

The southernmost neighborhood of the Near West Side is predominantly Mexican-American Pilsen, a community known historically as an immigrant gateway. As a result of Pilsen's close proximity to the Loop and south University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) campus, Pilsen has seen many immigrants begin to leave for more affordable neighborhoods. The creation of upscale University Village, which borders Pilsen on the north, replaced the low income Maxwell Street neighborhood. The redevelopment of Maxwell Street and the rest of the near West Side has been gaining momentum. East Pilsen, home to an established artist's colony, has already seen much new construction, and the rest of Pilsen is poised to begin its redevelopment.

The West Side has three of Chicago's largest parks: Douglas Park, Garfield Park, and Humboldt Park, all of which are attractively landscaped. Garfield Park Conservatory houses one of the largest collections of tropical plants of any major U.S. city. Other attractions on the West Side include the United Center, Humboldt Park's Puerto Rican Day festival, and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen.

The West Side is serviced by the CTA's Green Line, Blue Line, and Pink Line.


Main article: Culture of Chicago

The city's waterfront allure and nightlife has attracted residents and tourists alike. Over one-third of the city population is concentrated in the lakefront neighborhoods (from Rogers Park in the north to Hyde Park in the south). The city has many upscale dining establishments as well as many ethnic restaurant districts. These include "Greektown" on South Halsted, "Little Italy" on Taylor Street, just west of Halsted, "Chinatown" on the near South Side, and South Asian (Indian/Pakistani) on Devon Avenue.

Entertainment and performing arts

See also: Chicago theatre
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A Chicago jazz club

Chicago’s theater district spawned modern improvisational comedy.[18] Two renowned comedy troupes emerged—The Second City and I.O. (formerly known as ImprovOlympic). Renowned Chicago theater companies include the Steppenwolf Theatre Company (on the city's north side), the Goodman Theatre, and the Victory Gardens Theater. Chicago offers Broadway-style entertainment at theatres such as Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre, LaSalle Bank Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, and Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place.

Classical music offerings include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, recognized as one of the finest orchestras in the world, which performs at Symphony Center. In the summer, many outdoor concerts are given in Grant Park and Millennium Park. The Ravinia Festival, located 25 miles (40 km) north of Chicago, is also a favorite destination for many Chicagoans, with performances occasionally given in Chicago locations such as the Harris Theater. The Civic Opera House is home to the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Festival Ballet performs in various venues, including the Harris Theater in Millenium Park. Chicago is home to several other modern and jazz dance troupes, such as the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

Various forms of music are distinct to Chicago. Among them are Chicago blues, Chicago soul, jazz, and gospel. The city is the birthplace of the house style and is the site of an influential hip-hop scene. In the 1980s, the city was a center for industrial, punk and new wave. This influence continued into the alternative music of the 1990s. The city has been an epicenter for rave culture since the 1980s. A flourishing independent rock music culture brought forth Chicago indie. Annual festivals feature various acts such as Lollapalooza, the Intonation Music Festival and Pitchfork Music Festival.


Chicago attracted 44.17 million visitors in 2006 from around the nation and world.[19] Upscale shopping along the Magnificent Mile, thousands of restaurants, as well as Chicago's eminent architecture, continue to draw tourists. The city is the United States' third-largest convention destination.[20] Most conventions are held at McCormick Place, just south of Soldier Field.

Navy Pier, 3,000 feet (900 m) long, houses retail, restaurants, museums, exhibition halls, and auditoriums. Its 150 foot (46 m) tall Ferris wheel is north of Grant Park on the lakefront and is one of the most visited landmarks in the Midwest, attracting about 8 million people annually.[21]

The historic Chicago Cultural Center (1897), originally serving as the Chicago Public Library, now houses the city's Visitor Information Center, galleries, and exhibit halls. The ceiling of Preston Bradley Hall includes a 38-foot (11 m) Tiffany glass dome.

Millennium Park is a rebuilt section of a former railyard that was planned for unveiling at the turn of the 21st century, though it was delayed for several years. The park includes the Cloud Gate sculpture (known locally as "The Bean"). When facing Cloud Gate and Lake Michigan, a curved skyline image reflects. A Millennium Park restaurant outdoor transforms into an ice skating rink in the winter. Two tall glass sculptures make up the Crown Fountain. Architects Krueck & Sexton implemented this design concept of artist Jaume Plensa. The fountain's two towers display visual effects from LED images of Chicagoans' faces, with water spouting from their lips. Frank Gehry's detailed stainless steel bandshell, Pritzker Pavilion, hosts the classical Grant Park Music Festival concert series. Behind the pavilion's stage is the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, an indoor venue for mid-sized performing arts companies, including Chicago Opera Theater and Music of the Baroque. Gehry's stainless steel BP Bridge connects Millennium Park with Daley Bicentennial Plaza.

In 1998, the city officially opened the Museum Campus, a 10-acre (4-ha) lakefront park surrounding three of the city's main museums: the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium. The Museum Campus joins the southern section of Grant Park which includes the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Buckingham Fountain anchors the downtown park along the lakefront. During the summer of 2007, Grant Park hosts the public art exhibit, .

The Museum of Science and Industry, in Hyde Park, is the only remaining building from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.

The Oriental Institute, part of the University of Chicago, has an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeological artifacts, while the Freedom Museum is dedicated to exploring and explaining the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Other museums and galleries in Chicago are the Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum of African-American History, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, the Polish Museum of America, Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Hyde Park Art Center and The Renaissance Society.


Main article: Sports in Chicago
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Soldier Field
Chicago was named the best sports city in the United States by The Sporting News in 2006.[22] As of 2007 Chicago was also the only North American city to have had champion teams in all five major sports, the big four plus soccer, which is currently the only other team sport with average attendances over 10,000 spectators.

The Chicago Cubs of the National League play in the second-oldest major league stadium and are famous as "lovable losers". They have not won the World Series since 1908. They won the National League Central Division championship in 2007. The Chicago White Sox of the American League won the World Series championship in 2005, their first since 1917. The Chicago Bears football team is one of two charter NFL teams still in existence. The Bears have won nine total NFL Championships, the last occurring in Super Bowl XX. The Chicago Bulls of the NBA are one of the most recognized basketball teams in the world, thanks to the heroics of a player often cited as the best ever, Michael Jordan, who led the team to six NBA championships in eight seasons in the 1990s. The Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL began playing in 1926 as a member of the Original Six and have won several Stanley Cups. The Chicago Fire soccer club are members of MLS and are one of the league's most successful and best-supported since its founding in 1997, winning one league and four US Open Cups in that timespan. The Chicago Marathon is held every October since 1977. This event is one of five World Marathon Majors.[23]

The city was selected on April 14 2007 to represent the United States internationally for the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.[24][25] Chicago also hosted the 1959 Pan American Games, and Gay Games VII in 2006. Chicago was selected to host the 1904 Olympics, but they were transferred to St. Louis to coincide with the World's Fair.[26]


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Harpo Studios, home of talk show host Oprah Winfrey
Main article: Media in Chicago
Chicago is the third-largest media market in North America (after New York City and Los Angeles).[27] Each of the big four United States television networks directly owns and operates stations in Chicago. WGN-TV, which is owned by the Tribune Company, is carried (with some programming differences) as "Superstation WGN" on cable nationwide. The city is also the home of The Oprah Winfrey Show and Jerry Springer, while Chicago Public Radio produces programs such as PRI's This American Life and NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.

There are two major daily newspapers published in Chicago: the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, with the former having the larger circulation. There are also several regional and special-interest newspapers such as the Chicago Reader, the Daily Southtown, the Chicago Defender, the Chicago Sports Weekly, the Daily Herald, StreetWise, and the Windy City Times.

See also:  and


See also: , , and
Chicago has some signature foods which reflect the city's ethnic and working-class roots. These include the deep-dish pizza and the Chicago hot dog, which is almost always made of Vienna Beef and loaded with an array of condiments, such as pickle relish, sport peppers, a dill pickle spear, and more. [28] However, putting ketchup on a Chicago hot dog is often taken as an insult. Chicago is also known for Italian Beef sandwiches and the Maxwell Street Polish (always served topped with grilled onions and mustard). The city has many upscale dining establishments as well as many ethnic restaurant districts. These include "Greektown" on South Halsted, "Little Italy" on Taylor Street, just west of Halsted, "Chinatown" on the near South Side, and South Asian on Devon Avenue. Grant Park celebrates the Taste of Chicago festival in late June and early July (basically the week of the Fourth of July). Every type of food in the city is represented, with free concerts and events daily.

In the June 2006 issue of GQ magazine, Chicago was hailed as the best restaurant city in America.


Main article: Economy of Chicago

Chicago has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the nation—approximately $442 billion according to 2007 estimates.[29] The city has also been rated as having the most balanced economy in the United States, due to its high level of diversification.[30] Chicago was named the fourth most important business center in the world in the MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index. [31] Additionally, the Chicago metropolitan area recorded the greatest number of new or expanded corporate facilities in the United States for five of the past six years.[32] The Boeing Company relocated its corporate headquarters from Seattle to Chicago in 2001.

Chicago is a major financial center with the second largest central business district in the U.S. The city is the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (the Seventh District of the Federal Reserve). The city is also home to four major financial and futures exchanges, including the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the "Merc"). The city and the surrounding suburbs are home to 66 Fortune 500 companies.[33] Chicago and the surrounding areas also house many major brokerage firms and insurance companies, such as Allstate Corporation and Zürich North America. In addition, despite Chicago commonly being perceived as a rust-belt city, a study indicated that Chicago has the largest high-technology and information-technology industry employment in the United States.[34]

Manufacturing (which includes chemicals, metal, machinery, and consumer electronics), printing and publishing, and food processing also play major roles in the city's economy. Nevertheless, much of the manufacturing occurs outside the city limits, especially since World War II.[35] Several medical products and services companies are headquartered in the Chicago area, including Baxter International, Abbott Laboratories, and the Healthcare Financial Services division of General Electric. Moreover, the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which helped move goods from the Great Lakes south on the Mississippi River, and of the railroads in the 19th century made the city a major transportation center in the United States. In the 1840s, Chicago became a major grain port, and in the 1850s and 1860s Chicago's pork and beef industry expanded. As the major meat companies grew in Chicago many, such as Armour, created global enterprises. Though the meatpacking industry currently plays a lesser role in the city's economy,[35] Chicago continues to be a major transportation and distribution center.

The city is also a major convention destination; Chicago is third in the U.S. behind Las Vegas and Orlando as far as the number of conventions hosted annually.[36] In addition, Chicago is home to eleven Fortune 500 companies, while the metropolitan area hosts an additional 21 Fortune 500 companies.[37] Chicago also hosts 12 Fortune Global 500 companies and 17 Financial Times 500 companies. The city claims one Dow 30 company, aerospace giant Boeing, which moved its headquarters from Seattle to the Loop in 2001. The city and its surrounding metropolitan area are also home to the second largest labor pool in the United States with approximately 4.25 million workers.[38] In 2006, Chicago placed 10th on the UBS list of the world's richest cities.[39]

See also:  and


City of Chicago
Population by year[40]

Residents of Chicago are referred to as Chicagoans.

A 2006 estimate puts the city's population at 2,873,790.[41] As of the 2000 census, there were 2,896,016 people, 1,061,928 households, and 632,909 families residing within Chicago. More than half the population of the state of Illinois live in the Chicago metropolitan area. The population density of the city itself was 12,750.3 people per square mile (4,923.0/km²). There were 1,152,868 housing units at an average density of 5,075.8 per square mile (1,959.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 36.39% White, 31.32% Black, 26.02% Hispanic or Latino(of any race), 4.33% Asian and Pacific Islander, 1.64% from two or more races, 0.15% Native-American, and 0.15% from other races.[42] With over 12,700 people per square mile, Chicago is one of the nation's most densely populated cities.

Of the 1,061,928 households, 28.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.1% were married couples living together, 18.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.4% were non-families. Of all households, 32.6% are made up of individuals and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.50.

Of the city population, 26.2% are under the age of 18, 11.2% are from 18 to 24, 33.4% are from 25 to 44, 18.9% are from 45 to 64, and 10.3% are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,625, and the median income for a family was $46,748. Males had a median income of $35,907 versus $30,536 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,175. Below the poverty line are 19.6% of the population and 16.6% of the families. Of the total population, 28.1% of those under the age of 18 and 15.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Chicago has a large Irish-American population on its South Side. Many of the city’s politicians have come from this population, including current mayor Richard M. Daley. Other European ethnic groups are the Poles, Germans, Czechs, and Italians. The majority of African Americans are also located on Chicago’s South and West Sides. The Chicago metropolitan area also has the second largest African American population, behind only New York City.[43] Chicago has the largest population of Swedish Americans of any city in the U.S. with approximately 123,000. After the Great Chicago Fire, many Swedish carpenters helped to rebuild the city, which led to the saying "the Swedes built Chicago".[44] Swedish influence is particularly evident in Andersonville on the far north side.

Poles in Chicago make up the largest ethnically Polish population outside of Warsaw, Poland making it one of the most important centers of Polonia, a fact that the city celebrates every Labor Day weekend at the Taste of Polonia Festival in Jefferson Park.[45] The Southwest Side is home to the largest concentration of Górals (Carpathian highlanders) outside of Europe; it is the location of the Polish Highlanders Alliance of North America. Chicago has one of the largest concentrations of Italian Americans in the US, with 500,000 living in the metropolitan area.[46] The city has a large population of Bulgarians (about 150,000), Lithuanians,[47], the second largest Serbian[48],- and the third largest Greek population of any city in the world.[49][50] Chicago has a large Romanian-American community with more than 100,000,[51] as well as a large Assyrian population with about 80,000. The city is the seat of the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV, the Evangelical Covenant Church,[52] and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America headquarters.[53]

Chicago has the third-largest South Asian population in the United States. The Devon Avenue corridor on the north side is one of the largest South Asian neighborhoods/markets in North America. Chicago has the second-largest Puerto Rican population in the continental United States.[54] and the second largest Mexican population in the United States after Los Angeles.[55] There are about 185,000 Arabs in Cook County with another 75,000 in the five surrounding counties.[56][57]

Law and government

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A Critical Mass gathering on the Daley Plaza, with Chicago City Hall in the background

Chicago is the county seat of Cook County. The government of the City of Chicago is divided into executive and legislative branches. The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive, elected by general election for a term of four years. The mayor appoints commissioners and other officials who oversee the various departments. In addition to the mayor, Chicago's two other citywide elected officials are the clerk and the treasurer.

The City Council is the legislative branch and is made up of 50 aldermen, one elected from each ward in the city. The council enacts local ordinances and approves the city budget. Government priorities and activities are established in a budget ordinance usually adopted each November. The council takes official action through the passage of ordinances and resolutions.

During much of the last half of the 19th century, Chicago's politics were dominated by a growing Democratic Party organization dominated by ethnic ward-heelers. During the 1880s and 1890s, Chicago had a powerful radical tradition with large and highly organized socialist, anarchist and labor organizations.[58] For much of the 20th century, Chicago has been among the largest and most reliable Democratic strongholds in the United States, with Chicago's Democratic vote totals leading the state of Illinois to be "solid blue" in presidential elections since 1992. The citizens of Chicago have not elected a Republican mayor since 1927, when William Thompson was voted into office. The strength of the party in the city is partly a consequence of Illinois state politics, where the Republicans have come to represent the rural and farm concerns while the Democrats support urban issues such as Chicago's public school funding. Although Chicago includes less than 25% of the state's population, eight of Illinois' nineteen U.S. Representatives have part of the city in their districts.

Former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's mastery of machine politics preserved the Chicago Democratic Machine long after the demise of similar machines in other large U.S. cities.[59] During much of that time, the city administration found opposition mainly from a liberal "independent" faction of the Democratic Party. The independents finally gained control of city government in 1983 with the election of Harold Washington. Since Washington's death, Chicago has since been under the leadership of Richard M. Daley, the son of Richard J. Daley. Because of the dominance of the Democratic Party in Chicago, the Democratic primary vote held in the spring is generally more significant than the general elections in November.


Chicago has experienced a decline in overall crime since the 1990s.[60] Murders in the city peaked first in 1974, with 970 murders when the city's population was over three million people (resulting in a murder rate of around 29 per 100,000), and again in 1992 with 943 murders, resulting in a murder rate of 34 per 100,000.[61] After adopting crime-fighting techniques recommended by Los Angeles and New York City Police Departments in 2004,[62] Chicago recorded 448 homicides, the lowest total since 1965 (15.65 per 100,000.) Chicago's homicide tally remained steady throughout 2005 and 2006 to 449 and 452, respectively, and the overall crime rate in 2006 continued the downward trend that has taken place since the early 1990s.[63]


Public education

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the school district that controls over 600 public elementary and high schools in Chicago. The school district, with more than 400,000 students enrolled,[64] is led by CEO Arne Duncan. The CPS also includes several selective-admission magnet schools.

Like many urban U.S. school districts, Chicago Public Schools suffered many problems throughout the latter half of the 20th century, including overcrowding, underfunding, mismanagement and a high dropout rate. In 1987, then U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett named the Chicago Public Schools as the "worst in the nation." Several school reform initiatives have since been undertaken to improve the system's performance. Reforms have included a system of Local School Councils, Charter Schools, and efforts to end social promotion. The most notable and public of these reforms has been a concerted effort at aggressively closing down underperforming schools while at the same time renovating and improving successful ones or building new ones.[65]

Private schools

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago operates the city's Roman Catholic schools. Among the well-known private schools are the Latin School and Francis W. Parker School (Chicago) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Hyde Park.

Higher education

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The University of Chicago's Midway Plaisance, a long stretch of parkland that bisects the campus

Since the 1890s, Chicago has been a world center in higher education and research. Two of America's top research universities are located in Chicago: the University of Chicago in Hyde Park on the south side of the city and Northwestern University in the northern suburb of Evanston. The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business maintains a campus in downtown Chicago, and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and School of Law are located in Streeterville, a neighborhood in the Near North Side community area of Chicago. Catholic universities are located in Chicago, such as DePaul University (the largest Catholic university in the U.S.), and Loyola University, which has one campus in the North Side and one in the downtown area, as well as a Medical Center in the western suburb of Maywood. Loyola University Chicago is the largest Jesuit Catholic university in the country.

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DePaul University's College of Commerce at State Street and Jackson Boulevard downtown in the Chicago Loop

The University of Illinois at Chicago is the city's largest university and features the nation's largest medical school. Chicago State University and Northeastern Illinois University are other state universities in Chicago. The city also has a large community college system known as the City Colleges of Chicago.

Founded on the principles of social justice, Roosevelt University was named in honor of president Franklin D. Roosevelt, two weeks after his death. The Illinois Institute of Technology in Bronzeville has renowned engineering and architecture programs, and was host to world-famous modern architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for many years.

Rush Medical College, now part of Rush University, was the first institution of higher learning chartered in Illinois and one of the first medical schools to open west of the Alleghenies. In fact, Rush Medical College received its charter on March 2, 1837, two days before the city of Chicago was incorporated.

The world class The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is well-known for fine arts programs. The Illinois Institute of Art Chicago is known for its applied arts programs. Columbia College Chicago is known for its performing arts and communications programs and Harrington College of Design is known for its interior design program.


Health systems

Chicago is home to the Illinois Medical District on the Near West Side. It includes Rush University Medical Center, the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, the largest trauma-center in the city. The University of Chicago operates the University of Chicago Hospitals, which was ranked the fourteenth best hospital in the country by U.S. News and World Report.[66] It is the only hospital in Illinois ever to be included in the magazine's "Honor Roll" of the best hospitals in the United States.[67]

The University of Illinois College of Medicine at UIC is the largest medical school in the United States (1300 students, including those at campuses in Peoria, Rockford and Urbana-Champaign).[68] Chicago is also home to other nationally recognized medical schools including Rush Medical College, the Pritzker School of Medicine of the University of Chicago, and the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University. In addition, the Chicago Medical School and Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine are located in the suburbs of North Chicago and Maywood, respectively. The Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine is in Downers Grove.

The American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, American Dietetic Association, American College of Surgeons, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Hospital Association are all based in the city.


Chicago is a major transportation hub in the United States. It is an important component in global distribution, as it is the third largest inter-modal port in the world after Hong Kong and Singapore.[69] Additionally, it is the only city in North America in which six Class I railroads meet.[70]

Chicago is one of the largest hubs of passenger rail service in the nation. Many Amtrak long distance services originate from Union Station. Such services provide connections to New York, Seattle, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Amtrak also provides a number of short-haul services throughout Illinois and toward nearby Milwaukee.

Nine interstate highways run through Chicago and its suburbs. Segments that link to the city center are named after influential politicians, with four of them named after former US Presidents. Traffic reports tend to use the names rather than interstate numbers.

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) coordinates the operation of the three service boards: CTA, Metra, and Pace. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) handles public transportation in Chicago and a few adjacent suburbs. The CTA operates an extensive network of buses and a rapid transit system known locally as the "L" (for "elevated"), with several lines, including service to Midway and O'Hare airports. Pace provides bus and paratransit service in over 200 surrounding suburbs with some extensions into the city. Bicycles are permitted on all CTA and Metra trains during non-rush hours and on all buses 24 hours. Metra operates commuter rail service in Chicago and its suburbs. The Metra Electric Line shares the railway with the South Shore Line's NICTD Northern Indiana Commuter Rail Service, providing commuter service between South Bend and Chicago.

Chicago offers a wide array of bicycle transportation facilities, such as miles of on-street bike lanes, 10,000 bike racks, and a state-of-the-art central bicycle commuter station in Millennium Park. The city has a 100 mile (0 km) on-street bicycle lane network that is maintained by the Chicago Department of Transportation Bike Program and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation.[71] In addition, trails dedicated to bikes only are built throughout the city.

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O'Hare International Airport Terminal 1 - Concourse B

Chicago is served by Midway International Airport on the south side and O'Hare International Airport, one of the world's busiest airports, on the far northwest side. In 2005, O'Hare was the world's busiest airport by aircraft movements and the second busiest by total passenger traffic (due to government enforced flight caps).[72] Both O'Hare and Midway are owned and operated by the City of Chicago. Gary/Chicago International Airport, located in nearby Gary, Indiana, serves as the third Chicago area airport, although it currently lacks scheduled passenger service. Chicago/Rockford International Airport, formerly Greater Rockford Airport, serves as a regional base for United Parcel Service cargo flights, some passenger flights, and occasionally as a reliever to O'Hare, usually in times of bad weather. Chicago is the world headquarters for United Airlines, world's second-largest airline by revenue-passenger-kilometers. Midway airport serves as a 'focus city' for Southwest Airlines, the world's largest low-cost airline.

A small airport, Meigs Field, was located on the Lake Michigan waterfront adjacent to Grant Park and downtown. There were long-term scheduled flights to Springfield as well as some service to other cities. At 1:30 a.m. on March 31 2003, the airport runways were unexpectedly destroyed by order of the Mayor, who had sought closure of the airport and development of the land.[73] This resulted in a fine to the city by the Federal Aviation Administration for closure of the airport without sufficient notice, but the airport was eventually demolished.


Electricity for most of northern Illinois is provided by Commonwealth Edison, also known as ComEd. Their service territory borders Iroquois County to the south, the Wisconsin border to the north, the Iowa border to the west and the Indiana border to the east. In northern Illinois, ComEd (a division of Exelon) operates the greatest number of nuclear generating plants in any US state. Because of this, ComEd reports indicate that Chicago receives about 75% of its electricity from nuclear power. Recently, the city started the installation of wind turbines on government buildings with the aim to promote the use of renewable energy.[74][75][76]

Domestic and industrial waste was once incinerated but it is now landfilled, mainly in the Calumet area. Since 1995, the city has had a blue bag program to divert certain refuse from landfills.[77]

Sister cities

Chicago has twenty-seven sister cities:[78] Many of them, like Chicago, are the second city of their country, or are the main city of a country that has sent many immigrants to Chicago over the years.


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2. ^ The World According to GaWC (2006). Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network.
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12. ^ Thompson's Plat of 1830. Chicago Historical Society (2004).
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14. ^ Monthly Weather Averages for Chicago Midway Airport (1928-2006 Data). Retrieved on Jul 06, 2007.
15. ^ Chicago (2004). Chicago Public Library.
16. ^ World's Tallest Cities.
17. ^ "Tearing Down Cabrini-Green", CBS News, July 23 2003.2003"> 
18. ^ Sawyer, R Keith (September 30, 2002). Improvised Dialogue. Ablex/Greenwood, 14. ISBN 1-56750-677-1. 
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20. ^ Las Vegas and Orlando Bruising Chicago's Trade Show Business. Hotel Online (September 11 2003).
21. ^ About Navy Pier - The Pier. Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (2007).
22. ^ Best Sports Cities 2006: Who, where and how. Sporting News (August 1 2006).
23. ^ World Marathon Majors. The LaSalle Bank Marathon. Retrieved on 2007-07-25.
24. ^ Levine, Jay. "Chicago In The Running To Host 2016 Summer Games." CBS. July 26, 2006. Retrieved on December 1 2006.
25. ^ "Official Chicago 2016 Website." Retrieved on December 1 2006.
26. ^ 1904 Summer Olympics. International Olympics Committee.
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31. ^ "London named world's top business center by MasterCard", CNN, June 13, 2007.
32. ^ Ron Starner. 'Freaking Awesome' City Tops All U.S. Metro Areas. Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
33. ^ FORTUNE 500 2007: States - Illinois. Retrieved on 2007-09-13.
34. ^ Gauging Metropolitan "High-Tech" and "I-Tech" Activity (2004). Accessed from 'SAGE Publications'.
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50. ^ Chicago Stories - The Greeks in Chicago (2006). Accessed June 5, 2006.
51. ^ About Us. Romanian Museum in Chicago at
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55. ^ Mexican Hometown Associations, Xochitl Bada, PBS.
56. ^ "Palestinians", Encyclopedia of Chicago.
57. ^ "Little Arabia on Chicago’s Northwest Side", Ray Hanania.
58. ^ Schneirov, Richard (April 1, 1998). Labor and Urban Politics. University of Illinois Press, 173-174. ISBN 0-252-06676-6. 
59. ^ (January 1, 1998) in Montejano, David: Chicano Politics and Society in the Late Twentieth Century. University of Texas Press, 33-34. ISBN 0-292-75215-6. 
60. ^ CPD 2004 Annual Report. [4]PDF (1.06 MiB)
61. ^ Heinzmann, David (1/1/2003). Chicago falls out of 1st in murders. Chicago Tribune, found at
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Further reading

  • Chicago Timeline. Chicago Public Library at
  • USGS—Chicago - Elevation and topography.
  • James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, Janice L. Reiff. The Encyclopedia of Chicago (University of Chicago Press 2005) ISBN 0-226-31015-9; The Encyclopedia of Chicago (online version)
  • (September 1, 2004) in Charles Madigan.: Global Chicago. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02941-0. 
  • Miller, Donald L. (April 1996). City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80194-9. 

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