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Chicago, Illinois
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Chicago, Illinois

For other uses of the term, see Chicago (disambiguation)
]] Chicago is the third largest city in the United States with a population of 2,886,251 (2002). It is located in the state of Illinois, on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city is the county seat of Cook County. The Chicago metropolitan area is known colloquially as Chicagoland, after a term promoted by the Chicago Tribune in the early 20th century. The name Chicago comes from "Checagou" (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah) or "Checaguar" which in the language of the Potawatomi Indians means 'wild onions' or 'skunk'. The area was so named because of the smell of rotting marshland onions that used to cover it.

Four ships called the USS Chicago were named after the city by the U.S. Navy.

Chicago, Illinois
City flag City seal
City nickname: "The Windy City"

Location in the state of Illinois
CountyCook County, Illinois
 - Total
 - Water

606.1 km^2 (234.0 mi²)
17.8 km² (6.9 mi²) 2.94%
 - Total (2000)
 - Density

Time zoneCentral: UTC-6
41°54' N
87°39' W
External link: City web page

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geography
3 Demographics
4 Law & Government
5 Communications & media
6 Arts & culture
7 Famous attractions, landmarks & areas of interest
8 Colleges & universities
9 Business & commerce
10 Sports teams
11 Events
12 Health
13 Transportation
14 External links


Chicago was first settled by Europeans when Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, an African American from Haiti, settled on the Chicago River. In 1795, the area of Chicago was ceded by the Native Americans in the Treaty of Greenville to the United States for a military post. In 1803, Fort_Dearborn was built and remained in use until 1837 except between 1812 and 1816 when it was destroyed in the Fort Dearborn Massacre dring the War of 1812.

On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was incorporated as a town with a population of 350. Within 7 years of being incorporated, the primarily French and Native American town had a population of over 4,000. Chicago was granted a city charter by Illinois on March 4, 1837. The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848, allowed shipping from the Great Lakes through Chicago to the Mississippi River and so to the Gulf of Mexico. The first rail line to Chicago, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad; was completed the same year. Chicago would go on to become the transportation hub of the United States with it road, rail, water and later air connections. Chicago also became home to nationwide retailers offering catalog shopping utilizing these connections like Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Because of the geography of Chicago early citizens faced many problems. The prairie bog nature of the area provided a fertile ground for disease carrying insects. The growth of early Chicago and its commerce was stymied by lack of transportation. In the spring Chicago was so muddy from the high water that horses would often be stuck waist deep in the street. One dirt road was so hazardous that it became known as the "Slough of Despond." Comical signs proclaiming "Fastest route to China" or "No Bottom Here" were placed out to warn passersby of the deep mud.

To address these transportation problems, the board of Cook County commissioners, at its second meeting, after being created by the Illinois legislature on January 15, 1831, decided to improve two country roads toward the west and southwest. The first road went west, crossing the "dismal Nine-mile Swamp," crossed the Des Plaines River, and went southwest to Walker's Grove, which is today known as Plainfield. There is a dispute about the route of the second road to the south.

Early Chicago was also plagued by sewer and water problems. Many people described it as the filthiest city in America. To solve this problem Chicago embarked on the creation of a massive sewer system. In the first phase sewage pipes were laid across the city above ground with gravity moving the waste. Then in 1855 the level of the city was raised 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 m), with individual buildings jacked up and fill brought in to raise streets above the swamp and the newly laid sewer pipes.

Next the city decided to work on their water problem. Because Lake Michigan was the source of water for the city and it was already highly polluted from the rapidly growing industries in and around Chicago a new way of procuring clean water was needed. The city embarked on a large tunnel excavation project and started building tunnels underneath Lake Michigan to newly built Water Cribs. The water cribs were 2 miles (3.2 km) off the shore of Lake Michigan but they still didn't bring enough clean water because spring rains would wash the polluted water from the Chicago River into them. To solve this problem the direction of flow of the Chicago River was reversed in 1871 by the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent sewage from running into Lake Michigan.

By 1857 Chicago was the largest city in then what was known as the Northwest. In a period of 20 years Chicago grew from 4,000 people to over 90,000.

The 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago nominated home state candidate Abraham Lincoln. In 1871, most of the city burned in the Great Chicago Fire. By this time the city had grown to a population of over 300,000. As a result of the fire much of the city needed be rebuilt, this gave city planners a clean slate to fix the problems of the past. In the following years, Chicago architecture would become influential throughout the world because of this. The first skyscraper in the world was constructed in 1885 using novel steel skeleton construction.

On December 2, 1942, the world's first controlled nuclear reaction was conducted 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. During Daley's tenure (he died in office in 1976), the 1968 Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago, four major expressways were built, the Sears Tower became the world's tallest building and O'Hare Airport, which later became the world's busiest airport, was constructed. In 1983, Harold Washington became the first African American mayor of Chicago. Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, became mayor in 1989.

See Also

Important Historical Events



According to the
United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 606.1 km² (234.0 mi²). 588.3 km² (227.1 mi²) of it is land and 17.8 km² (6.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.94% water.

Urban Setting

When it comes to skyscrapers, Chicago is king, being the first US city to reach new heights, shortly joined by New York City. Chicago, along with New York City and Hong Kong, makes up the "big three" when it comes to city skylines. This is, of course, a very interesting quirk about Chicago as a city. Realistically by modern standards, Chicago has very little reason to build up: being located in the Midwest, Chicago has plenty of room to sprawl outwards on an almost Euclidean-esque flat ground. There is, of course, the Chicago River, which may bring some argument as to geographic restriction. Mostly though, Chicago runs on energy and inertia. Even today, Chicago is going through a massive skyscraper building boom, with projects like 55 East Erie (the tallest residential building in the US outside New York City) and Trump International Hotel (to be completed in 2007, to be the fourth tallest in Chicago and the tallest building built in the US for nearly three decades) breaking ground frequently. All this can really be attributed to precedent: Chicago has always had a history of frantic skyscraper building, mostly beginning after the Great Chicago Fire, and since this time developers simply follow the pattern set before them.

Community areas

Chicago is divided into 77 Community Areas. The community areas were defined by sociologists at the University of Chicago during the 1920s, and at that time corresponded to neighborhoods. Now, many of the communities no longer correspond to any neighborhood, and many have fallen out of use as a useful signifier. However, census data and zipcodes are tied to the community areas, and they are considered more durable than the names of neighborhoods which can change very rapidly.

For purposes of relevancy, community area designation is useful more as a historical curiosity, since its use for census data and zipcodes are quite independent of the actual character of the once neighborhood. A full listing and a map is available in the article Chicago community areas.


Chicago has many informal or traditional neighborhoods that do not correspond to a community areas.

Albany Park Fuller Park Norwood Park
Altged Gardens Galewood O'Hare
Andersonville Garfield Park Old Town
Ashburn Garfield Ridge Oriole Park
Ashburn Estates Grand Crossing Park Manor
Austin Gresham Pilsen
Avondale Guage Park Portage Park
Back of the Yards Hamilton Park Pullman
Belmont Central Heart of Chicago Ravenswood
Beverly Hegewisch Rogers Park
Brainerd Hermosa Rosehill
Bridgeport Humboldt Park Roseland
Brighton Park Hyde Park Sauganash
Bronzeville Irving Park Scottsdale
Bucktown Lakeview (contains Boystown) South Chicago
Burnside Lathrop Homes South Deering
Canaryville Lawndale South Shore
Chatham Lincoln Park Stoney Island
Chicago Lawn Lincoln Square Streeterville (contains the Magnificent Mile)
Chinatown Little Village The Loop
Clearing Logan Square Ukrainian Village
Craigia Marquette Park Uptown
East Side Mayfair Washington Heights
Edgewater Monteclare Washington Park
Edison Park Morgan Park West Elsdon
Elsdon Mount Greenwood West Lawn
Englewood Near North Side West Pullman
Fairview Near South Side West Town
Fernwood Near West Side Wicker Park
Ford City North Center Woodlawn
Forest Glenn North Park Wrightwood

Other fairly notable neighborhoods not on the map are Buena Park, Cabrini-Green, and Gold Coast.

Major Parks

Chicago boasts the largest park district in the United States and is managed by the Chicago Park District. The Park District manages over 220 facilities throughout the city with 7,300 acres (2,954 hectares) of parkland. Each year the Park District holds thousands of special events for the citizens. The Park District also has the excellent reputation of spending the most per capita on its parks, beating out even Boston in terms of park expenses per capita. Some of the more famous parks and facilities include:

See also


As of the
census of 2000, there are 2,896,016 people, 1,061,928 households, and 632,909 families residing in the city. The population density is 4,923.0/km² (12,750.3/mi²). There are 1,152,868 housing units at an average density of 1,959.8/km² (5,075.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 41.97% White, 36.77% African American, 0.36% Native American, 4.35% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 13.58% from other races, and 2.92% from two or more races. 26.02% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

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

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

The median income for a household in the city is $38,625, and the median income for a family is $42,724. Males have a median income of $35,907 versus $30,536 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,175. 19.6% of the population and 16.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 28.1% are under the age of 18 and 15.5% are 65 or older.

Law & Government

The City of Chicago is divided into executive and legislative branches. The mayor is the Chief Executive, elected by general election for a term of four years. The mayor appoints commissioners who oversee the various departments.

The city council is the legislative branch and made up of 50 aldermen, one elected from each ward in the city. The city council makes local ordinances and passes the city budget.

Government priorities and activities are established in a budget ordinance usually adopted in November of each year. The city takes official action through the passage of ordinances and resolutions.

In addition to the mayor, Chicago's two other city-wide elected officials are the clerk and the treasurer.

Chicago is considered to be one of the largest Democratic strongholds in the United States, as an example, the citizens of Chicago have not elected a Republican mayor since 1927 when William Thompson was voted into office.

City departments

Municipal flag of Chicago

The three white stripes of the flag represent, from top to bottom, the North, West and South sides of the city. The top blue stripe represents Lake Michigan and the North Branch of the Chicago River. The bottom blue stripes represents the South Branch of the Chicago River and the Great Canal. Finally, the four red stars on the center white stripe represent, from left to right, Fort Dearborn Massacre, the Great Chicago Fire, the World Columbian Exposition, and the Century of Progress Exposition.

In addition, each of the six points of the stars stand for a value of the city:

Sister Cities

Chicago actively pursues the
sister cities program and has, in fact, the largest number of sister city connections out any city in the United States. Chicago also takes great pride in its many sister city connections; O'Hare International Airport displays all its sister city flags on the main thoroughfare connecting all the terminals and the Blue Line stop. Chicago's sister cities are:

Communications & media

Broadcast television stations

Radio stations

According to
Arbitron, Chicago is the America's 3rd largest radio market trailing New York and Los Angeles.

AM Radio Stations

Registered Name Call Sign AM Frequency Format Network(s)
Chicago News & Talk Radio 720WGN-AM720News Talk InformationWGN
Newsradio 780WBBM-AM780All NewsCBS, CNN, AP Radio
None Listed with ArbitronWAIT-AM850VarietyIndependent
Newstalk 890WLS-AM890News Talk InformationABC
Air America WNTD-AM950News Talk InformationAir America (temporarily off the air)
Chicago ESPN Radio 1000WMVP-AM1000All SportsWestwood, ESPN, Premiere Radio Networks
Gospel Radio 1390WGRB-AM1390GospelAmerican Urban Radio, Premiere Radio Networks
The Score Sports RadioWSCR-AM670All SportsCBS, Westwood, FoxSports Net
The Talk of ChicagoWVON-AM1450Talk/PersonalityWestwood, ABC, American Urban Radio

FM Radio Stations
Registered Name Call Sign FM Frequency Format Network(s)
The New Killer BeeWBBM-FM96.3Rhythmic Contemporary Hit RadioCBS
Chicago Public RadioWBEZ-FM91.5News Talk InformationNPR
The Great 105.9WCKG-FM 105.9Talk/PersonalityWestwood One Source
Chicago's Fine Arts Station WFMT-FM 98.7ClassicalIndependent
107.5 #1 For Hip-Hop & R & B WGCI-FM107.5 Urban ContemporaryClear Channel
Oldies 104.3 Magic WJMK-FM104.3 OldiesWestwood, CNN
ONDA 92 WKIE-FM92.7 Spanish ContemporaryIndependent
The Alternative Q101WKQX-FM 101.1AlternativeIndependent
La Ley 107.9 WLEY-FM 107.9Mexican RegionalIndependent
The Lite Soft Rock Less TalkWLIT-FM 93.5 Adult ContemporaryPremiere Radio Networks
The LoopWLUP-FM 97.9 Classic RockIndependent
Windy 100 80's & 90's WNND-FM100.3 Adult ContemporaryIndependent
Smooth Jazz WNUA-FM95.5 Smooth JazzPremiere Radio Networks
La Que Buena 105.1 FM WOJO-FM 105.1 Mexican RegionalIndependent
The MixWTMX-FM 101.9 Modern Adult ContemporaryIndependent
Power 92.3 WUBT-FM 92.3Urban Contemporary
US99 America's Country WUSN-FM99.5 CountryWestwood
Today's R & B & Old School V103WVAZ-FM 102.7 Urban Adult ContemporaryABC, Premiere Radio Networks
Chicago's Finest Rock WXRT-FM 93.1Album Adult AlternativeIndependent
The New 103.5 KISS-FMWKSC-FM 103.5 Today's HitsIndependent


By far, the Chicago Tribune enjoys the highest readership among the two main principle papers, the other being the Chicago Sun-Times. Aside from these two main giants, there are some smaller papers that enjoy city-wide readership, as well as various smaller, community-level papers. Downtown Chicago has a reputation for being filled with newspaper dispensers, a characteristic enjoyed and treasured by many residents, but many of the newspaper dispenser hotspots have been replaced with sleek, group dispensers designed to reduce clutter and improve visual aesthetics. Critics have argued that, due to the limited number of positions available in these conglomerated dispensers, smaller, independent newspapers cannot enjoy a relative freedom in display, but on the flip side, newspapers that do have a position in these dispensers get the same, clean, equal presentation as all the other papers.



Community newspapers

Business, legal, entertainment and other local periodicals

Arts & culture

For its relative youth compared to eastern cities and older Californian cities, Chicago has made many significant pop-cultural contributions. In the field of music, Chicago is very well-known for its Chicago Blues, but it is also the origin of
House style of music, whose history is related to the development and fostering of an electronic style of music in nearby Detroit. In addition, in the field of culinary arts, Chicago provides the antithesis to New York styles of pizza and hot dogs, being synonymous with deep dish pizza in addition to being linked to a robustly complex hot dog that challenges the relative simplicity of a New York coney dog. In addition, Chicago Schools have developed in various aspects of study, such as the famed Chicago School of architecture and the University of Chicago-founded Chicago Schools of economic theory, literary criticism and urban sociology.

Historically, Chicago is remembered for machine politics ("Vote early and vote often" and "A city run of the Daleys, by the Daleys, for the Daleys" are two phrases associated with Chicago politics), meat packing (as mentioned in the nicknames section and made infamous by Upton Sinclair's The Jungle), and gangster violence during Prohibition (some key figures are linked to Chicago, such as Al Capone or John Dillinger).

Musicians & bands from Chicago

Novels set in Chicago

Musicals and plays set in Chicago

Movies & TV shows set in Chicago

Important Citizens or people born here

Famous attractions, landmarks & areas of interest

Colleges & universities

Nearby Evanston has Northwestern University, which also has a Chicago campus in Streeterville, north of the loop. Hamburger University, a training facility for McDonald's, is located in Oak Brook.

Business & commerce

Chicago has been a hub for commerce in the United States for most of its modern history. Before it was incorporated as a town in 1833 the primary industry was fur trading. Chicago's early explosive growth led many land speculators and enterprising individuals to the area. Located on the Great Lakes and with so many new people settling the area Chicago became an ideal location for shipping and receiving goods to other parts of the country and world. With that, many railroads started to be built from Chicago to other parts of the country further aiding in the growth of the city. Additionally, the building of the Illinois and Michigan canal helped move goods south down the Mississippi River.

During the 1840s Chicago became the largest grain port in the world shipping food from the Mississippi Valley region which was also growing into the largest food producing region in the world. In 1848 Chicago built its first grain elevator, by 1858 there were 12 grain elevators dotting the skyline. Carl Sandburg described Chicago as a "stacker of wheat" and some would argue that the grain elevators built were Chicago's first skyscrapers.

In the 1850s and 1860s Chicago's pork and beef industry exploded. Great entrepreneurs such as Gustavus Swift and Philip Armour helped the area to become the largest producer of meat products in the world at the time. By 1862 Chicago had displaced Cincinnati, OH as "Porkapolis". During the 60's two factors helped push this more than anything else. First, the Civil War increased the demand for food products and Chicago's vast transportation ensured that goods could be delivered to soldiers quickly all over the northern United States. The second factor in increasing Chicago's meat production was the utilization of ice in meat packing plants. Before this time meat production/distribution facilities, otherwise known as dis-assembly plants had to shut down in the hot summer months. Increased operating months created hundreds of thousands of new man-hours in which people could work.

The efficiency of Chicago's meat packing industry, and particularly the dis-assembly plants inspired others such as Henry Ford later on when he developed his assembly lines for the Model-T. Today, we consider industries such as steel, oil and banking to be the great global market segments. But, in the 1860's Chicago's pork and beef industry represented the first global industry. As the major meat companies grew in Chicago many like Armour, created global companies and communicated with divisions spread across the globe via telegraph.

Modern day futures and commodity trading markets were pioneered in Chicago. A number of events led to this along with Chicago's grand transportation systems and geographic proximity to the rest of the country. Because of this, massive amounts of goods that passed through Chicago from places such as the Mississippi Valley and St. Louis. All of this grain was stored and people began buying contracts on the grain stored there. Later people as far away as New York City began buying contracts, via telegraph, on the goods that would be stored there in the future. From this the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was established and the modern systems we use today for futures & commodity trading.

Companies based in Chicago & surrounding suburbs

The following companies are based in the city limits: McDonald's Corporation is headquartered in nearby Oak Brook. United Airlines is headquartered in Elk Grove Village. Sears has its headquarters in Hoffman Estates. Motorola is based in Schaumburg. Kraft Foods is based in Northfield. Walgreens is based in Deerfield. Abbott Laboratories is based in North Chicago. ComDisco is based in Rosemont. Allstate is based in Northbrook. Azteca Foods is based in Summit-Argo.

Sports teams



United States has the largest healthcare system in the world and Chicago is arguably the capital of that system. In addition to the sprawling Illinois Medical District on the Near West Side, the city is home to the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the American Dental Association, the American College of Surgeons, and other health-related organizations, schools and institutions.


Listed below are the ten largest hospital systems in the Chicagoland region.

Rank Name # of Beds
1. Northwestern Memorial Hospital 621
2. University of Chicago Hospitals 552
3. Loyola University Medical Center 523
4. Avocate Christ Medical Center (Oak Lawn) 586
5. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Ctr. 598
6. Advocate Lutheran (Park Ridge) 475
7. Evanston Hospital (Evanston) 416
8. Central DuPage (Winfield) 345
9. Advocate/Illinois Masonic Medical Center 467
10. University of Illinois Medical Ctr. 393


Chicago has long been considered the transportation hub of America. Much of this stems from its geographic proximity during a time when the country was fast growing. The Illinois and Michigan Canal completed in 1848 allowed for transport around the world with connecting waterways through Chicago all the way to New York and the Atlantic, west to St. Louis and south to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. Chicago then became one of the largest grain and lumber ports in the world with grain sent to more established populations and lumber being sent to the forest-starved prairies where new settlers needed to build.

In the 1850's the railroads started growing from Chicago faster than anywhere else in the world. By 1856 Chicago was the railroad hub of America and by the end of the decade more than 100 trains were coming and going each and every day. This network allowed Chicago to become the center of the meatpacking industry.

In the 20th century Chicago held on to its status as a transportation hub with the building of three major airports. O'Hare Airport, Midway Airport and Meigs Field. Meigs Field, which closed by Mayor Richard M. Daley in a night coup, was a relatively small airstrip but unique because of its proximity to Chicago's downtown and, as a private airstrip, it was one of the busiest in the world. With it closed, plans to use the land are to create new parkspace along the lake.


Name Airport Code (Location Identifier)
Meigs Field (closed - see history) CGX
Midway AirportMDW
O'Hare International AirportORD

Mass transit

The Regional Transportation Authority ("RTA"), installed by referendum in 1974, funds three subordinate agencies:

Street layout

The streets of Chicago for the most part follow the grid system. The base lines from which all streets and houses in Chicago are numbered are State Street, which runs North and South, and Madison Street, which runs East and West. Street numbers begin at "1" at the base lines and run numerically in directions indicated to the city limits. Letters, N,S,E and/or W indicate directions.

The City of Chicago is divided into one mile sections which contain 8 blocks to the mile. Every average block is assigned a new series of 100 numbers. Therefore, every 800 in numbers is approximately one mile.

Even numbers are found on the North and West sides of the street. Odd numbers are found on the South and East sides.

Lowest and highest house numbers for all streets are given regardless of the continuity of the street.

South of Madison street many of the streets are simply numbered. These streets run East and West and the number of the street indicates its location and distance.

Many of the suburbs of Chicago continue with the Chicago numbering system, and their exact location can be determined by street names and numbers. However, some suburbs do have their own numbering system.

Driving Distances

The driving distances listed below are approximate estimates, the actual distance may vary slightly based on the starting point, route taken or what is considered the "city center" from Chicago to another city. You can generally assume that each distance listed is the shortest distance from Chicago to another city.

City Miles Kilometers
Kansas City,MO526871
Los Angeles,CA20773306
San Antonio,TX12101951
San Diego,CA20903371
San Francisco,CA21703500
Washington, DC7101145

See also

External links

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