|City of Chicago|
Clockwise from top: Downtown Chicago, the Chicago Theatre, the ‘L’, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Field Museum, and Willis Tower.
|Nickname(s): The Windy City, Chi-Town, The Second City, City of Broad Shoulders, and others found at List of nicknames for Chicago|
|Motto: Latin: Urbs in Horto (City in a Garden), I Will|
Location in the Chicago metropolitan area and Illinois
Location in the United States
|Country||United States of America|
|Counties||Cook and DuPage|
|Incorporated (town)||August 12, 1833|
|Incorporated (city)||March 4, 1837|
|Named for||Miami-Illinois: shikaakwa
(wild onion or wild garlic)
|• Body||Chicago City Council|
|• Mayor||Rahm Emanuel (D)|
|• City Clerk||Susana A. Mendoza (D)|
|• City Treasurer||Stephanie D. Neely (D)|
|• City||234.0 sq mi (606 km2)|
|• Land||227.2 sq mi (588 km2)|
|• Water||6.9 sq mi (18 km2) 3.0%|
|• Urban||2,122.8 sq mi (5,498 km2)|
|• Metro||10,874 sq mi (28,160 km2)|
|Elevation(mean)||594 ft (181 m)|
– near Blue Island
|672 ft (205 m)|
– at Lake Michigan
|578 ft (176 m)|
|• Estimate (2013)||2,718,782|
|• Rank||3rd largest city in U.S.|
|• Density||11,864.4/sq mi (4,447.4/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||Central (UTC-5)|
|ZIP Code Prefixes||606xx, 607xx, 608xx|
|Area codes||312/872 and 773/872|
|GNIS feature ID||0428803|
Chicago (i// or //) is the third most populous city in the United States, after New York City and Los Angeles. With 2.7 million residents,  it is the most populous city in both the U.S. state of Illinois and the American Midwest. Its metropolitan area, sometimes called Chicagoland, is home to 9.5 million people and is the third-largest in the United States. Chicago is the seat of Cook County.[a]
Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed, and experienced rapid growth in the mid-nineteenth century. Today, the city is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation, with O’Hare International Airport being the second-busiest airport in the world; it also has the largest number of U.S. highways, and railroad freight entering its region. In 2012, Chicago was listed as an alpha global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and ranks seventh in the world in the 2014 Global Cities Index. As of 2012[update], Chicago had the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States, after the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, at a sum of US$571 billion.
In 2012[update], Chicago hosted 46.37 million international and domestic visitors, an overall visitation record. Chicago’s culture includes contributions to the visual arts, novels, film, theater, especially improvisational comedy, and music, particularly jazz, blues, soul, and the creation of house music. The city has many nicknames, which reflect the impressions and opinions about historical and contemporary Chicago. The best-known include the “Windy City” and “Second City.” Chicago has professional sports teams in each of the major professional leagues.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Economy
- 5 Culture and contemporary life
- 6 Sports
- 7 Parks
- 8 Law and government
- 9 Education
- 10 Media
- 11 Infrastructure
- 12 Notable people
- 13 Sister cities
- 14 See also
- 15 Notes and references
- 16 Bibliography
- 17 External links
The name “Chicago” is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, translated as “wild onion” or “wild garlic”, from the Miami-Illinois language. The first known reference to the site of the current city of Chicago as “Checagou” was by Robert de LaSalle around 1679 in a memoir. Henri Joutel, in his journal of 1688, noted that the wild garlic, called “chicagoua,” grew abundantly in the area. During the mid-18th century, the area was inhabited by a Native American tribe known as the Potawatomi, who had taken the place of the Miami and Sauk and Fox peoples. The 1780s saw the arrival of the first known non-indigenous permanent settler in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who was of African and European (French) descent. He is commonly known as the “Founder of Chicago.”
In 1795, following the Northwest Indian War, an area that was to be part of Chicago was turned over to the United States for a military post by native tribes in accordance with the Treaty of Greenville. In 1803, the United States Army built Fort Dearborn, which was destroyed in the War of 1812, Battle of Fort Dearborn and later rebuilt. The Ottawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi tribes had ceded additional land to the United States in the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis. The Potawatomi were eventually forcibly removed from their land following the Treaty of Chicago in 1833.
Founding and 19th century
On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was organized with a population of around 200. Within seven years it would grow to a population of over 4,000. On June 15, 1835, the first public land sales commenced with Edmund Dick Taylor as U.S. receiver of public moneys. The City of Chicago was incorporated on Saturday, March 4, 1837 and went on to become the fastest growing city in the world for several decades.
As the site of the Chicago Portage, the city emerged as an important transportation hub between the eastern and western United States. Chicago’s first railway, Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, opened in 1848, which also marked the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The canal allowed steamboats and sailing ships on the Great Lakes to connect to the Mississippi River.
A flourishing economy brought residents from rural communities and immigrants from abroad. Manufacturing and retail and finance sectors became dominant, influencing the American economy. The Chicago Board of Trade (established 1848) listed the first ever standardized ‘exchange traded’ forward contracts, which were called futures contracts.
In the 1850s Chicago gained national political prominence as the home of Senator Stephen Douglas, the champion of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and “popular sovereignty” approach to the issue of the spread of slavery. These issues also helped propel another Illinoisan, Abraham Lincoln, to the national stage. Lincoln was nominated in Chicago for the nation’s presidency at the 1860 Republican National Convention and went on to defeat Douglas in the general election, setting the stage for the American Civil War.
To accommodate rapid population growth and demand for better sanitation, the city implemented various infrastructural improvements. In February 1856, the Chesbrough plan for the building of the United States’ first comprehensive sewerage system was approved by the Common Council. The project raised much of central Chicago to a new grade. While raising Chicago, and at first improving the health of the city, the untreated sewage and industrial waste now flowed into the Chicago River, then 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. In 1900, the problem of sewage contamination was largely resolved when the city completed a major engineering feat. It reversed the flow of the Chicago River so that the water flowed away from Lake Michigan rather than into it. This project began with the construction and improvement of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and was completed with the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal that connects to the Illinois River, which flows into the Mississippi River.
In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire broke out, destroying an area of about 4 miles long and 1 mile wide, a large section of the city at the time. Much of the city, including railroads and stockyards, survived intact, and from the ruins of the previous wooden structures arose more modern constructions of steel and stone which would set the precedent for worldwide construction. During its rebuilding period, Chicago constructed the world’s first skyscraper in 1885, using steel-skeleton construction.
Chicago’s flourishing economy attracted huge numbers of new immigrants from Europe and migrants from the Eastern United States. Of the total population in 1900 no less than 77% were foreign-born, or born in the United States of foreign parentage. Germans, Irish, Poles, Swedes and Czechs made up nearly two-thirds of the foreign-born population (by 1900, whites were 98.1% of the city’s population).
Labor conflicts followed the industrial boom and the rapid expansion of the labor pool, including the Haymarket affair on May 4, 1886. Concern for social problems among Chicago’s immigrant poor led Jane Addams to co‑found Hull House in 1889. Programs developed there became a model for the new field of social work.
During the 1870s and 1880s, Chicago attained national stature as the leader in the movement to improve public health. City, and later state laws, that upgraded standards for the medical profession and fought urban epidemics of cholera, smallpox, and yellow fever were not only passed, but also enforced. These in turn became templates for public health reform in many other cities and states.
The city invested in many large, well-landscaped municipal parks, which also included public sanitation facilities. The chief advocate and driving force for improving public health in Chicago was Dr. John H. Rauch, M.D., who established a plan for Chicago’s park system in 1866, created Lincoln Park by closing a cemetery filled with festering, shallow graves, and helped establish a new Chicago Board of Health in 1867 in response to an outbreak of cholera. Ten years later he became the secretary and then the president of the first Illinois State Board of Health, which carried out most of its activities in Chicago.
In the 19th century, Chicago became the nation’s railroad center, by 1910 over 20 railroads operated passenger service out of 6 different downtown terminals. In 1883, the standardized system of North American Time Zones was adopted by the general time convention of railway managers in Chicago. This gave the continent its uniform system for telling time.
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 the most influential world’s fair in history. The University of Chicago was founded in 1892 on the same South Side 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.
20th and 21st centuries
The World War I period and the 1920s also saw a major expansion in industry. The availability of jobs attracted blacks from the Southern United States. Between 1910 and 1930, the black population of Chicago dramatically increased from 44,103 to 233,903. Arriving in the hundreds of thousands during the Great Migration, the newcomers had an immense cultural impact, called the Chicago Black Renaissance, part of the New Negro Movement, in art, literature, and music. Continuing racial tensions and violence, such as the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, also occurred.
The ratification of the 18th amendment to the Constitution in 1919 made the production and sale (including exportation) of alcoholic beverages illegal in the United States. This ushered in the beginning of what is known as the Gangster Era, a time that roughly spans from 1919 until 1933 when Prohibition was repealed. The 1920s saw gangsters, including Al Capone, Dion O’Banion, Bugs Moran and Tony Accardo battle law enforcement and each other on the streets of Chicago during the Prohibition era. Chicago was the location of the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, where Al Capone sent men to gun down members of his rival gang, North Side, led by Bugs Moran.
In 1924, Chicago was the first American city to have a homosexual-rights organization, the Society for Human Rights. This organization produced the first American publication for gays, Friendship and Freedom. Police and political pressure soon caused it to disband.
In 1933, Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak was fatally wounded in Miami, Florida during a failed assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1933 and 1934, the city celebrated its centennial by hosting the Century of Progress International Exposition Worlds Fair. The theme of the fair was technological innovation over the century since Chicago’s founding.
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. This led to the creation of the atomic bomb by the United States, which it used in World War II in 1945.
Mayor Richard J. Daley, a Democrat, was elected in 1955, in the era of machine politics. Starting in the early 1960s due to blockbusting, many white residents, as in most American cities, left the city for the suburbs. Whole neighborhoods were completely changed based on race. Structural changes in industry, such as globalization and job outsourcing, caused heavy losses of jobs for lower skilled workers. In 1966, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Albert Raby led the Chicago Freedom Movement, which culminated in agreements between Mayor Richard J. Daley and the movement leaders.
Two years later, the city hosted the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention, which featured physical confrontations both inside and outside the convention hall, including full-scale riots, or in some cases police riots, in city streets. Major construction projects, including the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower, which in 1974 became the world’s tallest building), University of Illinois at Chicago, McCormick Place, and O’Hare International Airport, were undertaken during Richard J. Daley’s tenure. In 1979, Jane Byrne, the city’s first female mayor, was elected. She helped mitigate crime in the Cabrini-Green housing project and guide Chicago’s school system out of a financial crisis.
In 1983, Harold Washington became the first black mayor of the city of Chicago. Washington’s first term in office saw attention given to poor and previously neglected minority neighborhoods. He was re‑elected in 1987 but died of a heart attack a short time later. The balance of Washington’s second term was served by 6th ward Alderman Eugene Sawyer.
Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, was elected in 1989. His accomplishments included improvements to parks and creating incentives for sustainable development. After successfully standing for re-election five times, and becoming Chicago’s longest serving mayor, Richard M. Daley declined to run for a seventh term.
On February 23, 2011, former Illinois Congressman and White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, won the mayoral election, beating five rivals with 55 percent of the vote, and was sworn in as Mayor on May 16, 2011.
Chicago is located in northeastern Illinois on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan. It is the principal city in Chicago Metropolitan Area situated in the Midwestern United States and the Great Lakes region. Chicago rests on a continental divide at the site of the Chicago Portage, connecting the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes watersheds. The city lies beside huge freshwater 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. Chicago’s history and economy are closely tied to its proximity to Lake Michigan. While the Chicago River historically handled much of the region’s waterborne cargo, today’s huge lake freighters use the city’s Lake Calumet Harbor on the South Side. The lake also provides another positive effect, moderating Chicago’s climate; making waterfront neighborhoods slightly warmer in winter and cooler in summer.
When Chicago was founded in 1833, 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. The overall grade of the city’s central, built-up areas, is relatively consistent with the natural flatness of its overall natural geography, generally exhibiting only slight differentiation otherwise. The average land elevation is 579 ft (176 m) above sea level. The lowest points are along the lake shore at 578 ft (176 m), while the highest point, at 672 ft (205 m), is the morainal ridge of Blue Island in the city’s far south side.
The Chicago Loop is the central business district, but Chicago is also a city of neighborhoods. Lake Shore Drive runs adjacent to a large portion of Chicago’s lakefront. Some of the parks along the waterfront include Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park and Jackson Park. Twenty-four public beaches are also found across 26 miles (42 km) of the waterfront. Landfill extends into portions of the lake providing space for Navy Pier, Northerly Island, the Museum Campus, and large portions of the McCormick Place Convention Center. Most of the city’s high-rise commercial and residential buildings can be found close to the waterfront.
An informal name for the entire Chicago metropolitan area is “Chicagoland”. There is no precise definition for the term “Chicagoland”, but it generally means the city and its suburbs combined together. The Chicago Tribune, which coined the term, includes the city of Chicago, the rest of Cook County, eight nearby Illinois counties: Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Will and Kankakee, and three counties in Indiana: Lake, Porter and LaPorte. The Illinois Department of Tourism defines Chicagoland as Cook County without the city of Chicago, and only Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will counties. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce defines it as all of Cook and DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.
Major sections of the city include the central business district, called The Loop, and the North, the South, and West Sides. The three sides of the city are represented on the Flag of Chicago by three horizontal white stripes. The North Side is the most densely populated residential section of the city and many high-rises are located on this side of the city along the lakefront. The South Side is the largest section of the city, encompassing roughly 60% of the city’s land area. The South Side contains the University of Chicago and most of the facilities of the Port of Chicago.
In the late 1920s, sociologists at the University of Chicago subdivided the city into 77 distinct community areas, which can further be subdivided into over 200 informally defined neighborhoods.
Chicago’s streets were laid out in a street grid that grew from the city’s original townsite plat. Streets following the Public Land Survey System section lines later became arterial streets in outlying sections. As new additions to the city were platted, city ordinance required them to be laid out with eight streets to the mile in one direction and sixteen in the other direction. The grid’s regularity would provide an efficient means to develop new real estate property. A scattering of diagonal streets, many of them originally native American trails, also cross the city (Elston, Milwaukee, Ogden, Lincoln, etc.). Many additional diagonal streets were recommended in the Plan of Chicago, but only the extension of Ogden Avenue was ever constructed.
Most of the city’s residential streets tend to have a wide patch of grass and/or trees between the street and the sidewalk itself. This has the effect of keeping pedestrians walking on the sidewalk further away from the street traffic. Chicago’s Western Avenue is the longest continuous urban street in the world. Other famous streets include North Michigan Avenue, North State Street, Clark, and Belmont Avenue. The City Beautiful movement inspired Chicago’s boulevards and parkways.
The destruction caused by the Great Chicago Fire led to the largest building boom in the history of the nation. In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building, the Home Insurance Building, rose in the city as Chicago ushered in the skyscraper era, which would then be followed by many other cities around the world. Today, Chicago’s skyline is among the world’s tallest and most dense.
Some of the United States’ tallest towers are located in Chicago; Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere after One World Trade Center, and Trump International Hotel and Tower is the third tallest in the country. The Loop’s historic buildings include the Chicago Board of Trade Building, the Fine Arts Building, 35 East Wacker, and the Chicago Building, 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments by Mies van der Rohe. Many other architects have left their impression on the Chicago skyline such as Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Charles B. Atwood, John Root, and Helmut Jahn.
The Merchandise Mart, once first on the list of largest buildings in the world, currently listed as 44th largest (as of September 9, 2013), has its own zip code, and stands near the junction of the North and South branches of the Chicago River. Presently, the four tallest buildings in the city are Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower, also a building with its own zip code), Trump International Hotel and Tower, the Aon Center (previously the Standard Oil Building), and the John Hancock Center. Industrial districts, such as some areas on the South Side, the areas along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, and Northwest Indiana are clustered.
Chicago gave its name to the Chicago School and was home to the Prairie School, two movements in architecture. Multiple kinds and scales of houses, townhouses, condominiums, and apartment buildings can be found throughout Chicago. Large swaths of the city’s residential areas away from the lake are characterized by brick bungalows built from the early 20th century through the end of World War II. Chicago is also a prominent center of the Polish Cathedral style of church architecture. The Chicago suburb of Oak Park was home to famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who had designed The Robie House located near the University of Chicago.
Monuments and public art
Chicago is famous for its outdoor public art with donors establishing funding for such art as far back as Benjamin Ferguson’s 1905 trust. A number of Chicago’s public art works are by modern figurative artists. Among these are Chagall’s Four Seasons; the Chicago Picasso; Miro’s Chicago; Calder’s Flamingo; Oldenburg’s Batcolumn; Moore’s Large Interior Form, 1953-54, Man Enters the Cosmos and Nuclear Energy; Dubuffet’s Monument with Standing Beast, Abakanowicz’s Agora; and, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate which has become an icon of the city. Some events which shaped the city’s history have also been memorialized by art works, including the Great Northern Migration (Saar) and the centennial of statehood for Illinois. Finally, two fountains near the Loop also function as monumental works of art: Plensa’s Crown Fountain and Burnham and Bennett’s Buckingham Fountain.
More representational and portrait statuary includes a number of works by Lorado Taft (Fountain of Time, The Crusader, Eternal Silence, and the Heald Square Monument completed by Crunelle), French’s Statue of the Republic, Edward Kemys’s Lions, Saint-Gaudens’s Abraham Lincoln: The Man (aka Standing Lincoln) and Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State (aka Seated Lincoln), Brioschi’s Christopher Columbus, Meštrović’s The Bowman and The Spearman, Dallin’s Signal of Peace, Fairbanks’s The Chicago Lincoln, Boyle’s The Alarm, Polasek’s memorial to Masaryk, memorials along Solidarity Promenade to Kościuszko, Havliček and Copernicus by Chodzinski, Strachovský, and Thorvaldsen, a memorial to General Logan by Saint-Gaudens, and Kearney’s Moose (W-02-03). A number of statues also honor recent local heroes such as Michael Jordan (by Amrany and Rotblatt-Amrany), Stan Mikita, and Bobby Hull outside of the United Center; Harry Caray (by Amrany and Cella) outside Wrigley field, Jack Brickhouse (by McKenna) next to the WGN studios, and Irv Kupcinet at the Wabash Avenue Bridge.
There are preliminary plans to erect a 1:1‑scale replica of Wacław Szymanowski‘s Art Nouveau statue of Frédéric Chopin found in Warsaw‘s Royal Baths along Chicago’s lakefront in addition to a different sculpture commemorating the artist in Chopin Park for the 200th anniversary of Frédéric Chopin‘s birth.
The city lies within the humid continental climate zone (Köppen: Dfa ), and experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with a July daily average of 75.8 °F (24.3 °C). In a normal summer, temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on 21 days. Winters are cold and snowy with few sunny days, and the normal January high is just below freezing. Spring and autumn are mild seasons with low humidity. The city is part of the USDA Plant Hardiness zone 6a, transitioning to 5b in the suburbs.
According to the National Weather Service, Chicago’s highest official temperature reading of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded on July 24, 1934,  although Midway Airport reached 109 °F (43 °C) the same day. The lowest official temperature of −27 °F (−33 °C) was recorded on January 20, 1985, at O’Hare Airport. The city can experience extreme winter cold waves and summer heat waves that may last for several consecutive days. There are also many mild winter and summer days. Thunderstorms are not uncommon during the spring and summer months which may sometimes produce hail, high winds, and tornadoes.
|Climate data for Chicago (Midway Airport), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1928–present|
|Record high °F (°C)||67
|Average high °F (°C)||31.5
|Average low °F (°C)||18.2
|Record low °F (°C)||−25
|Precipitation inches (mm)||2.06
|Snowfall inches (cm)||11.5
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||10.7||8.8||11.2||11.1||11.4||10.3||9.9||9.0||8.2||10.2||11.2||11.1||123.1|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||8.1||5.5||3.8||0.7||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||1.8||6.7||26.7|
|Source: NOAA, WRCC|
|Climate data for Chicago (O’Hare Int’l Airport), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1871–present[b]|
|Record high °F (°C)||67
|Average high °F (°C)||31.0
|Average low °F (°C)||16.5
|Record low °F (°C)||−27
|Precipitation inches (mm)||1.73
|Snowfall inches (cm)||10.8
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||10.5||8.8||11.1||12.0||11.6||10.2||9.8||9.8||8.3||10.2||10.8||11.0||124.1|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||8.2||5.9||4.2||0.9||0||0||0||0||0||0.2||1.7||6.9||28.0|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||135.8||136.2||187.0||215.3||281.9||311.4||318.4||283.0||226.6||193.2||113.3||106.3||2,508.4|
|Percent possible sunshine||46||46||51||54||62||68||69||66||60||56||38||37||56|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)|
During its first 100 years, Chicago was one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. When founded in 1833, fewer than 200 people had settled on what was then the American frontier. By the time of its first census, seven years later, the population had reached over 4,000. Within the span of forty years, the city’s population grew from slightly under 30,000 in 1850 to over 1 million by 1890. By the close of the 19th century, Chicago was the fifth largest city in the world, and the largest of the cities that did not exist at the dawn of the century. Within sixty years of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the population went from about 300,000 to over 3 million, and reached its highest ever-recorded population of 3.6 million for the 1950 census.
From the last two decades of the 19th century, Chicago was the destination of waves of immigrants from Ireland, Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, including Italians, Jews, Poles, Bosnians and Czechs. To these ethnic groups, the basis of the city’s industrial working class, was added an additional influx of African-Americans from the American South — with Chicago’s black population doubling between 1910 and 1920 and doubling again between 1920 and 1930.
The great majority of American blacks moving to Chicago in these years were clustered in a so‑called “Black Belt” on the city’s South Side. By 1930, two-thirds of Chicago’s African-American population lived in sections of the city which were 90% black in racial composition. Chicago’s South Side emerged as America’s second largest urban black concentration, following New York’s Harlem.
|Black or African American||32.9%||39.1%||32.7%||8.2%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||28.9%||19.6%||7.4%||0.5%|
As of the 2010 census, there were 2,695,598 people with 1,045,560 households living in Chicago. More than half the population of the state of Illinois lives in the Chicago metropolitan area. Chicago is one of the United States’ most densely populated major cities, and the largest city in the Great Lakes Megalopolis. The racial composition of the city was:
- 45.0% White (31.7% non-Hispanic whites);
- 32.9% Black or African American;
- 13.4% from some other race;
- 5.5% Asian (1.6% Chinese, 1.1% Indian, 1.1% Filipino, 0.4% Korean, 0.3% Pakistani, 0.3% Vietnamese, 0.2% Japanese, 0.1% Thai);
- 2.7% from two or more races;
- 0.5% American Indian.
Chicago has a Hispanic or Latino population of 28.9%. (Its members may belong to any race; 21.4% Mexican, 3.8% Puerto Rican, 0.7% Guatemalan, 0.6% Ecuadorian, 0.3% Cuban, 0.3% Colombian, 0.2% Honduran, 0.2% Salvadoran, 0.2% Peruvian)
According to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for 2011, the median income for a household in the city was $43,628, and the median income for a family was $49,442. Male full-time workers had a median income of $44,647 versus $41,168 for females. About 19.7% of families and 23.7% of the population lived below the poverty line.
- Irish: (208,562)
- German: (201,863)
- Polish: (165,177)
- Italian: (102,188)
- English: (66,107).
According to the 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates for Total Ancestry Reported, for the city of Chicago, 64% of residents reported their ancestry as “other groups”. Of the 36% of residents that reported their ancestries in groups that were measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, the largest groups, based on the total population, were: Irish (6.6%); German (6.5%); Polish (5.3%); Italian (3.5%); Assyrian (3.5%); and English (2.0%). The city also has a large Assyrian population numbering between 80,000–120,000, and it is the location of the seat of the head of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV.
Christianity is predominant among the city’s population who worship. The Chicago metropolitan area also includes adherents of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and the Bahá’í, among others.
The wealth of Chicago’s religious heritage is evident in its many noted examples of sacred architecture and institutions. Many of these religious edifices are Christian in origin, with Roman Catholic structures particularly prevalent. However, the city of Polish Cathedrals is rife with numerous historic synagogues, as well as the noteworthy sacred spaces of other religions. The Kehilath Anshe Ma’ariv Synagogue, now the Pilgrim Baptist Church was designed by Adler & Sullivan in 1890. Chicago’s northern suburb of Wilmette, Illinois, has the Bahá’í Temple, the only temple for the Bahá’í Faith in North America.
The city played host to the first two Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 and 1993. Chicago contains many theological institutions, which include seminaries and colleges such as the Meadville Lombard Theological School, the Moody Bible Institute, the Chicago Theological Seminary and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Chicago is the seat of numerous religious leaders from a host of bishops of a wide array of Christian denominations as well as other religions.
Many international religious leaders have visited Chicago, including Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. Pope John Paul II visited Chicago in 1979 during his first trip ever to the United States after being elected to the papacy in 1978.
Chicago has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States—approximately $532 billion according to 2010 estimates, after only the urban agglomerations of New York City and Los Angeles, in the first and second place, respectively. The city has also been rated as having the most balanced economy in the United States, due to its high level of diversification. Chicago was named the fourth most important business center in the world in the MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index. Additionally, the Chicago metropolitan area recorded the greatest number of new or expanded corporate facilities in the United States for six out of the seven years from 2001 to 2008. The Chicago metropolitan area has the third largest science and engineering work force of any metropolitan area in the nation. In 2009 Chicago placed 9th on the UBS list of the world’s richest cities. Chicago was the base of commercial operations for industrialists John Crerar, John Whitfield Bunn, Richard Teller Crane, Marshall Field, John Farwell, Morris Selz, Julius Rosenwald and many other commercial visionaries who laid the foundation for Midwestern and global industry.
Chicago is a major world financial center, with the second largest central business district in the United States. 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 major financial and futures exchanges, including the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the “Merc”), which is owned, along with the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) by Chicago’s CME Group. The CME Group, in addition, owns the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the Commodities Exchange Inc. (COMEX) and the Dow Jones Indexes. Perhaps due to the influence of the Chicago school of economics, the city also has markets trading unusual contracts such as emissions (on the Chicago Climate Exchange) and equity style indices (on the U.S. Futures Exchange). Chase Bank has its commercial and retail banking headquarters in Chicago’s Chase Tower.
The city and its surrounding metropolitan area are home to the second largest labor pool in the United States with approximately 4.25 million workers. In addition, the state of Illinois is home to 66 Fortune 1000 companies, including those in Chicago. The city of 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 Chicago Loop in 2001. Two more Dow 30 companies, Kraft Foods and McDonald’s are in the Chicago suburbs, as are Sears Holdings Corporation and the technology spin-offs of Motorola. Chicago is also home to United Continental Holdings, with headquarters in the United Building and operations center at Willis Tower, and its United Airlines subsidiary.
Manufacturing, printing, publishing and food processing also play major roles in the city’s economy. Several medical products and services companies are headquartered in the Chicago area, including Baxter International, Boeing, Abbott Laboratories, and the Healthcare Financial Services division of General Electric. In addition to aircraft maker Boeing, which located its headquarters in Chicago in 2001, and United Airlines in 2011, GE Transportation moved its offices to the city in 2013, as did ThyssenKrupp North America, and agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland. 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 and Company, created global enterprises. Though the meatpacking industry currently plays a lesser role in the city’s economy, Chicago continues to be a major transportation and distribution center. Lured by a combination of large business customers, federal research dollars, and a large hiring pool fed by the area’s universities, Chicago is also home to a growing number of web startup companies like CareerBuilder, Orbitz, 37signals, Groupon, and Feedburner.
Chicago has been a hub of the Retail sector since its early development in America, when it was the home of Montgomery Ward, Sears, and Marshall Field’s. Today the Chicago metro area is the home of several retailers, including Walgreens, Sears, OfficeMax, Ace Hardware, Claire’s, and Crate & Barrel.
Late in the 19th century, Chicago was part of the bicycle craze, as home to Western Wheel Company, which introduced stamping to the production process and significantly reduced costs, while early in the 20th century, the city was part of the automobile revolution, hosting the Brass Era car builder Bugmobile, which was founded there in 1907. Chicago was also home to the Schwinn Bicycle Company.
Chicago is a major world convention destination. The city’s main convention center is McCormick Place. With its four interconnected buildings, it is the largest convention center in the nation and third largest in the world. Chicago also ranks third in the U.S. (behind Las Vegas and Orlando) in number of conventions hosted annually.
Culture and contemporary life
The city’s waterfront location and nightlife has attracted residents and tourists alike. Over a third of the city population is concentrated in the lakefront neighborhoods of Rogers Park in the north to South Shore in the south. The city has many upscale dining establishments as well as many ethnic restaurant districts. These districts include the Mexican American neighborhoods, such as Pilsen along 18th street, and La Villita along 26th Street; the Puerto Rican enclave of Paseo Boricua in the Humboldt Park neighborhood; Greektown, along South Halsted Street, immediately west of downtown; Little Italy, along Taylor Street; Chinatown in Armour Square; Polish Patches in West Town; Little Seoul in Albany Park around Lawrence Avenue; Little Vietnam near Broadway in Uptown; and the Desi area, along Devon Avenue in West Ridge.
Downtown is the center of Chicago’s financial, cultural, governmental and commercial institutions and home to Grant Park and many of the city’s skyscrapers. Many of the city’s financial institutions, such as the CBOT and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, are located within a section of downtown called “The Loop“, which is an eight-block by five-block area of city streets that is encircled by elevated rail tracks. The term “The Loop” is largely used by locals to refer to the entire downtown area as well. The central area includes the Near North Side, the Near South Side, and the Near West Side, as well as the Loop. These areas contribute famous skyscrapers, abundant restaurants, shopping, museums, a stadium for the Chicago Bears, convention facilities, parkland, and beaches.
Lincoln Park is home to the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. The River North Gallery District features the nation’s largest concentration of contemporary art galleries outside of New York City. Lakeview is home to Boystown, which, along with Andersonville, are the best-known LGBT neighborhoods.
The South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park is home to the University of Chicago (U of C), ranked one of the world’s top ten universities; and the Museum of Science and Industry. The 6-mile (9.7 km) long Burnham Park stretches along the waterfront of the South Side. Two of the city’s largest parks are also located on this side of the city: Jackson Park, bordering the waterfront, hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and is home of the aforementioned museum; and slightly west sits Washington Park. The two parks themselves are connected by a wide strip of parkland called the Midway Plaisance, running adjacent to the U of C. The South Side hosts one of the city’s largest parades, the annual African American Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic, which travels from Bronzeville to Washington Park. Ford Motor Company has an automobile assembly plant located in Hegewisch, and most of the facilities of the Port of Chicago are also on the South Side.
The West Side holds the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest collections of tropical plants in any U.S. city. Prominent Latino cultural attractions found here include Humboldt Park‘s Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture and the annual Puerto Rican People’s Parade, as well as the National Museum of Mexican Art and St. Adalbert’s Church in Pilsen. The Near West Side holds the University of Illinois at Chicago and Oprah Winfrey‘s Harpo Studios.
Entertainment, the arts, and performing arts
Renowned Chicago theater companies include the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Victory Gardens Theater in Lincoln Park; the Goodman Theatre in the Loop; and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier. Broadway In Chicago offers Broadway-style entertainment at five theaters: the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre, Bank of America Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University, and Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. Polish language productions for Chicago’s large Polish speaking population can be seen at the historic Gateway Theatre in Jefferson Park. Since 1968, the Joseph Jefferson Awards are given annually to acknowledge excellence in theater in the Chicago area. Chicago’s theater community spawned modern improvisational theater, and includes the prominent groups The Second City and I.O. (formerly ImprovOlympic).
Classical music offerings include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), which performs at Symphony Center, and is recognized as one of the best orchestras in the world. Also performing regularly at Symphony Center is the Chicago Sinfonietta, a more diverse and multicultural counterpart to the CSO. In the summer, many outdoor concerts are given in Grant Park and Millennium Park. Ravinia Festival, located 25 miles (40 km) north of Chicago, is the summer home of the CSO, and is a favorite destination for many Chicagoans. The Civic Opera House is home to the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The Lithuanian Opera Company of Chicago was founded by Lithuanian Chicagoans in 1956, and presents operas in Lithuanian.
The Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Festival Ballet perform in various venues, including the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. Chicago is home to several other contemporary and jazz dance troupes, such as the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Chicago Dance Crash.
Other live-music genre which are part of the city’s cultural heritage include Chicago blues, Chicago soul, jazz, and gospel. The city is the birthplace of house music 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 rock 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 and the Pitchfork Music Festival. A 2007 report on the Chicago music industry by the University of Chicago Cultural Policy Center ranked Chicago third among metropolitan U.S. areas in “size of music industry” and fourth among all U.S. cities in “number of concerts and performances.”
Chicago has a distinctive fine art tradition. For much of the twentieth century, it nurtured a strong style of figurative surrealism, as in the works of Ivan Albright and Ed Paschke. In 1968 and 1969, members of the Chicago Imagists, such as Roger Brown, Leon Golub, Robert Lostutter, Jim Nutt, and Barbara Rossi produced bizarre representational paintings.
Chicago is home to a number of large, outdoor works by well-known artists. These include the Chicago Picasso, Miró’s Chicago, Flamingo and Flying Dragon by Alexander Calder, Agora by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Monument with Standing Beast by Jean Dubuffet, Batcolumn by Claes Oldenburg, Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor, Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa, and the Four Seasons mosaic by Marc Chagall.
Chicago also has a nationally televised Thanksgiving parade that occurs annually. The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade is seen across the nation on WGN-TV and WGN America, featuring a variety of diverse acts from the community, marching bands from across the country, and is the only parade in the city to feature inflatable balloons every year.
In 2012[update], Chicago attracted 34.07 million domestic leisure travelers, 10.92 million domestic business travelers and 1.369 million overseas visitors. These visitors contributed more than US$12.8 billion to Chicago’s economy. Upscale shopping along the Magnificent Mile and State Street, thousands of restaurants, as well as Chicago’s eminent architecture, continue to draw tourists. The city is the United States’ third-largest convention destination. A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Chicago the fourth most walkable of fifty largest cities in the United States. Most conventions are held at McCormick Place, just south of Soldier Field. 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 its Preston Bradley Hall includes a 38-foot (12 m) Tiffany glass dome. Grant Park holds Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain (1927), and the Art Institute of Chicago. The park also hosts the annual Taste of Chicago festival. In Millennium Park, there is the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture. Cloud Gate, a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park. Also, an outdoor restaurant transforms into an ice rink in the winter season. Two tall glass sculptures make up the Crown Fountain. The fountain’s two towers display visual effects from LED images of Chicagoans’ faces, along with water spouting from their lips. Frank Gehry‘s detailed, stainless steel band shell, the Jay 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 the Chicago Opera Theater and Music of the Baroque.
Navy Pier, located just east of Streeterville, is 3,000 ft (910 m) long and houses retail stores, restaurants, museums, exhibition halls and auditoriums. Its 150-foot (46 m) tall Ferris wheel is one of the most visited landmarks in the Midwest, attracting about 8 million people annually. Chicago was the first city in the world to ever erect a ferris wheel.
On June 4, 1998, the city officially opened the Museum Campus, a 10-acre (4.0 ha) lakefront park, surrounding three of the city’s main museums, each of which is of national importance: the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, 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. The University of Chicago Oriental Institute has an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeological artifacts. Other museums and galleries in Chicago include the Chicago History Museum, the Driehaus Museum, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Polish Museum of America, the Museum of Broadcast Communications, the Pritzker Military Library, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the Museum of Science and Industry.
The Willis Tower (formerly named Sears Tower) is a popular destination for tourists. The Willis Tower has an observation deck open to tourists year round with high up views overlooking Chicago and Lake Michigan. The observation deck includes an enclosed glass balcony that extends 10 feet out on the side of the building. Tourists are able to look straight down.
Chicago lays claim to a large number of regional specialties, all of which reflect the city’s ethnic and working class roots. Included among these are its nationally renowned deep-dish pizza, this style is said to have originated at Pizzeria Uno. The Chicago-style thin crust is also popular in the city.
The Chicago-style hot dog, typically a Vienna Beef dog, is loaded with an array of toppings that often includes neon green pickle relish, yellow mustard, pickled sport peppers, tomato wedges, dill pickle spear and topped off with celery salt on a S. Rosen’s poppy seed bun. Enthusiasts of the Chicago-style dog frown upon the use of ketchup as a garnish, but may prefer to add giardiniera.
There are several distinctly Chicago sandwiches, among them the Italian beef sandwich, which is thinly sliced beef slowly simmered in au jus and served on an Italian roll with sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera. A popular modification is the Combo—an Italian beef sandwich with the addition of an Italian sausage. Another is the Maxwell Street Polish, a grilled or deep-fried kielbasa — on a hot dog roll, topped with grilled onions, yellow mustard, and hot sport peppers.
Ethnically originated creations include chicken Vesuvio, with roasted bone-in chicken cooked in oil and garlic next to garlicky oven-roasted potato wedges and a sprinkling of green peas. Another is the Puerto Rican-influenced jibarito, a sandwich made with flattened, fried green plantains instead of bread. There is also the tamale with chile, mother-in-law sandwich. The tradition of serving the Greek dish, saganaki while aflame, has its origins in Chicago’s Greek community. The appetizer, which consists of a square of fried cheese, is doused with Metaxa and flambéed table-side by the server to shouts of ‘Opa!’
A number of well-known chefs have had restaurants in Chicago, including Charlie Trotter, Rick Tramonto, Grant Achatz, and Rick Bayless. In 2003, Robb Report named Chicago the country’s “most exceptional dining destination.”
Chicago literature finds its roots in the city’s tradition of lucid, direct journalism, lending to a strong tradition of social realism. In the Encyclopedia of Chicago, Northwestern University Professor Bill Savage describes Chicago fiction as prose which tries to “capture the essence of the city, its spaces and its people.” The challenge for early writers was that Chicago was a frontier outpost that transformed into a global metropolis in the span of two generations. Narrative fiction of that time, much of it in the style of “high-flown romance” and “genteel realism”, needed a new approach to describe the urban social, political, and economic conditions of Chicago. Nonetheless, Chicagoans worked hard to create a literary tradition that would stand the test of time, and create a “city of feeling” out of concrete, steel, vast lake, and open prairie. Much notable Chicago fiction focuses on the city itself, with social criticism keeping exultation in check.
At least, three short periods in the history of Chicago have had a lasting influence on American Literature. These include from the time of the Great Chicago Fire to about 1900, what became known as the Chicago Literary Renaissance in the 1910s and early 1920s, and the period of the Great Depression through the 1940s.
What would become the influential Poetry Magazine was founded in 1912 by Harriet Monroe, who was working as an art critic for the Chicago Tribune. The magazine discovered such poets as Gwendolyn Brooks, James Merrill, and John Ashbery. T. S. Eliot‘s first professionally published poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock“, was first published by Poetry. Contributors have included Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats, William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, and Carl Sandburg, among others. The magazine was instrumental in launching the Imagist and Objectivist poetic movements.
Chicago was named the “Best Sports City” in the United States by the Sporting News in 1993, 2006, and 2010. The city is home to two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams: the Chicago Cubs of the National League (NL), who play in Wrigley Field on the North Side; and the Chicago White Sox of the American League (AL), who play in U.S. Cellular Field on the South Side. Chicago is the only city that has had more than one MLB franchise every year since the AL began in 1901.
The Chicago Bears, one of the last two remaining charter members of the National Football League (NFL), has won nine NFL Championships, including Super Bowl XX. The other remaining charter franchise, the Chicago Cardinals, also started out in the city, but is now known as the Arizona Cardinals. The Bears play their home games at Soldier Field, named after “The men and women of the armed forces”. It is located next to the shores of Lake Michigan, on Lake Shore Drive. Soldier Field was an aging stadium and was in dire need of renovation by the end of the 20th century. In 2003, the stadium re-opened after an extensive renovation, which increased the number of luxury boxes and dramatically improved the game day experience for Bears fans. However, because of this renovation, the stadium lost its National Historic Landmark designation on February 17, 2006.
The Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most recognized basketball teams in the world. During the 1990s with Michael Jordan leading them, the Bulls took six NBA championships in eight seasons. They also boast the youngest player to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, Derrick Rose, who won it for the 2010–11 season.
The Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL) began play in 1926, and are one of the “Original Six” teams of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team has won five Stanley Cups, including in 2013. Both the Bulls and the Blackhawks play at the United Center on the Near West Side.
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is a member of Major League Soccer (MLS) and plays at Toyota Park in suburban Bridgeview, after playing its first eight seasons at Soldier Field. The Fire have won one league title and four U.S. Open Cups, since their founding in 1997. In 1994, the United States hosted a successful FIFA World Cup with games played at Soldier Field.
The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team based in Rosemont, Illinois, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). They play home games at the Allstate Arena. The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began. It is owned by Michael J. Alter (principal owner) and Margaret Stender (minority owner).
While six of the eight major franchises have won championships within recent years – the Bears (1985), the Bulls (91, ’92, ’93, ’96, ’97, and ’98), the White Sox (2005), the Blackhawks (2010, 2013),the Fire (1998) and the Chicago Wolves (2008) — the Chicago Cubs are known for their drought of over 100 years without a championship (currently 105 years, as of the 2013 MLB season). The last time the Cubs were in a World Series was 1945. Some fans claim the Curse of the Billy Goat is responsible for the drought.
|Chicago Bears||NFL||Football||Soldier Field||62,358||1919||1 Super Bowl, (8 prior championships)|
|Chicago Cubs||MLB||Baseball||Wrigley Field||32,625||1870||2 World Series wins (and 1 tie)|
|Chicago White Sox||MLB||Baseball||U.S. Cellular Field||22,105||1900||3 World Series|
|Chicago Blackhawks||NHL||Ice hockey||United Center||21,775||1926||5 Stanley Cups|
|Chicago Bulls||NBA||Basketball||United Center||21,716||1966||6 NBA Championships|
|Chicago Fire||MLS||Soccer||Toyota Park (Bridgeview)||16,409||1997||1 MLS Cup, 1 Supporters Shield|
|Chicago Sky||WNBA||Basketball||Allstate Arena (Rosemont)||6,520||2005||0 WNBA Championships|
Five area colleges play in Division I conferences: the Chicago State Cougars (Western Athletic Conference); the DePaul Blue Demons (Big East Conference); the Loyola Ramblers (Missouri Valley Conference); the Northwestern Wildcats (Big Ten Conference); and the UIC Flames (Horizon League).
When Chicago was incorporated in 1837, it chose the motto Urbs in Horto, a Latin phrase which translates into English as “City in a Garden”. Today, the Chicago Park District consists of 552 parks with over 7,300 acres (3,000 ha) of municipal parkland. There are 33 sand Chicago beaches, a plethora of museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, and 10 bird and wildlife gardens. Lincoln Park, the largest of the city’s parks, covers 1,200 acres (490 ha) and has over 20 million visitors each year, making it second only to Central Park in New York City in number of visitors.
With berths for more than 6,000 boats, the Chicago Park District operates the nation’s largest municipal harbor system. In addition to ongoing beautification and renewal projects for the existing parks, a number of new parks have been added in recent years, such as the Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown, DuSable Park on the Near North Side, and most notably, Millennium Park in a section of one of Chicago’s oldest parks, Grant Park in the Chicago Loop.
The wealth of greenspace afforded by Chicago’s parks is further augmented by the Cook County Forest Preserves, a network of open spaces containing forest, prairie, wetland, streams, and lakes that are set aside as natural areas which lie along the city’s periphery, home to both the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe and the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois . In addition, Washington Park is one of the cities biggest parks as well; covering nearly as much as 400 acres (162 ha). The park is also one of Chicago’s most historic sites too.
Law and government
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, with no term limits. 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 takes official action through the passage of ordinances and resolutions and approves the city budget.
The Chicago Police Department provides law enforcement for the City of Chicago and its residents. The Chicago Fire Department provides fire suppression and emergency medical services for the City of Chicago and its residents. Civil and criminal law cases are heard in the Cook County Circuit Court of the State of Illinois court system, or in the Northern District of Illinois, in the federal system. In the former, the public prosecutor is the Illinois State’s Attorney, in the latter, the United States Attorney.
During much of the last half of the 19th century, Chicago’s politics were dominated by a growing Democratic Party organization. During the 1880s and 1890s, Chicago had a powerful radical tradition with large and highly organized socialist, anarchist and labor organizations. 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 the state of Illinois has been “solid blue” in presidential elections since 1992. Even before then, it was not unheard of for Republican presidential candidates to win handily in downstate Illinois, only to lose statewide due to large Democratic margins in Chicago. 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. Chicago contains less than 25% of the state’s population, but 8 of Illinois’ 19 U.S. Representatives have part of Chicago in their districts.
Machine politics persisted in Chicago after the decline of similar machines in other large U.S. cities. 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 (in office 1983–1987). From 1989 until May 16, 2011, Chicago was under the leadership of its longest serving mayor, Richard M. Daley, the son of Richard J. Daley. On May 16, 2011, Rahm Emanuel was sworn in as the 55th mayor of Chicago. 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 for U.S. House and Illinois State seats. The aldermanic, mayoral, and other city offices are filled through nonpartisan elections with runoffs as needed.
Chicago had a murder rate of 18.5 per 100,000 residents in 2012, ranking 16th among cities with 100,000 people or more.” This was less in comparison to smaller American cities, including New Orleans, Newark, and Detroit, which saw 53 murders per 100,000 residents in 2012. Though it has a significantly lower murder rate than many smaller American cities, the two largest cities in the United States, New York City and Los Angeles, have lower rates and lower total homicides. According to reports in 2013, “[m]ost of Chicago’s violent crime comes from gangs trying to maintain control of drug-selling territories”, and is specifically related to the activities of the Sinaloa Cartel, which by 2006 had decided to seek to control illicit drug distribution, over against local street gangs. Violent crime rates vary significantly by area of the city, with more economically developed areas having low rates, but other sections have much higher rates of crime.
The total number of murders in Chicago peaked in 1974, with 970 murders when the city’s population was over 3 million people (resulting in a murder rate of around 29 per 100,000), and came close to peaking again in 1992 with 943 murders, resulting in a murder rate of 34 per 100,000. Chicago, along with other major US cities, experienced a significant reduction in violent crime rates through the 1990s, eventually recording 448 homicides in 2004, the lowest total since 1965 (15.65 per 100,000.) Chicago’s homicide tally remained steady throughout 2005, 2006, and 2007 with 449, 452, and 435 respectively.
In 2008, murders rebounded to 510, breaking 500 for the first time since 2003. For 2009 the murder count was down about 10% for the year, to 458. 2010 saw Chicago’s murder rate at its lowest levels since 1965. Overall, 435 homicides were recorded for the year (16.14 per 100,000), a 5% decrease from 2009. 2011 saw Chicago’s murders at 431 for a murder rate of 15.94 per 100,000 for a drop of 1.2% from 2010.
2012 saw a spike in murders to 506. That year the city ranked 21st in the United States in numbers of homicides per person, while the first half of 2013 saw a significant drop per-person, in all categories of violent crime in Chicago, including homicide (down 26%). Chicago ended 2013 with 415 murders, the lowest number of murders since 1965, and overall crime rates dropped by 16 percent.
It is estimated that in 2012 shootings cost the city of Chicago $2.5 billion according to Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab.
Schools and libraries
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the governing body of the school district that contains over 600 public elementary and high schools citywide, including several selective-admission magnet schools. There are ten selective enrollment high schools in the Chicago Public Schools. They are designed to meet the needs of Chicago’s most academically advanced students. The schools offer a rigorous curriculum with mainly honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Northside College Preparatory High School is ranked number one in the city of Chicago. Walter Payton College Prep High School is ranked second. The oldest magnet school in the City of Chicago, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, was opened in 1975 is ranked number three. The magnet school with the largest enrollment is Lane Tech College Prep High School. Lane is one of the oldest schools in Chicago and in 2012 was designated a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Chicago high school rankings are determined by the average test scores on state achievement tests. The district, with an enrollment exceeding 400,000 students (2005 stat.), ranks as the third largest in the US On September 10, 2012, teachers for the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike for the first time since 1987 over pay, resources and other issues. According to data complied in 2014, Chicago’s “choice system” where students who test or apply, and may attend one of a number of public high schools (there are approximately 130), sorts students of different achievement levels into different schools (high performing, middle performing, and low performing schools).
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago operates the city’s Catholic schools, including the Jesuit preparatory schools. Some of the more prominent Catholic schools are St. Rita of Cascia High School, De La Salle Institute, Josephinum Academy (Near west/northwest side of Chicago) (Girls only) Gordon Technical High School, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Brother Rice High School, St. Ignatius College Preparatory School, Mount Carmel High School, Queen of Peace High School, Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, Marist High School, St. Patrick High School, Maria High School and Resurrection High School. In addition to Chicago’s network of Lutheran schools, there are also several private schools run by other denominations and faiths, such as the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in West Ridge. Additionally, a number of private schools are run in a completely secular educational environment, such as the Latin School of Chicago, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Hyde Park, the Global Citizenship Experience School in Lincoln Park, the Francis W. Parker School, the Chicago City Day School in Lake View, the Feltre School in River North and the Morgan Park Academy. Chicago is also home of the private Chicago Academy for the Arts, a high school focused on six different categories of the art. Also Chicago is home of the public Chicago High School for the Arts, a high school focused on five categories (visual arts, theatre, musical theatre, dance, and music) of the arts.
The Chicago Public Library system operates 79 public libraries including the central library, two regional libraries, and numerous branches distributed throughout the city.
Colleges and universities
Since the 1850s, Chicago has been a world center of higher education and research with several universities that are in the city proper or in the immediate environs. These institutions consistently rank among the top “National Universities” in the United States, as determined by U.S. News & World Report. Top universities in Chicago are: The University of Chicago; Northwestern University; Loyola University Chicago; Illinois Institute of Technology; DePaul University; and University of Illinois at Chicago. Other notable schools include: Chicago State University; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago; East–West University; National-Louis University; North Park University; Northeastern Illinois University; Columbia College Chicago; Robert Morris University; Roosevelt University; Saint Xavier University; Rush University; and Shimer College.
William Rainey Harper, the first president of the University of Chicago, was instrumental in the creation of the junior college concept, establishing nearby Joliet Junior College as the first in the nation in 1901. His legacy continues with the multiple community colleges in the Chicago proper, including the seven City Colleges of Chicago, Richard J. Daley College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Truman College, Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College, in addition to the privately held MacCormac College.
Chicago also has a high concentration of post-baccalaureate institutions, graduate schools, seminaries, and theological schools such as the Adler School of Professional Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Erikson Institute, the Institute for Clinical Social Work, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Catholic Theological Union, Moody Bible Institute, and the University of Chicago Divinity School.
The Chicago metropolitan area is the third-largest media market in North America, after New York City and Los Angeles. Each of the big four U.S. television networks, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox, directly owns and operates a high-definition television station in Chicago (WBBM, WLS, WMAQ and WFLD, respectively). WGN‑TV, which is owned by the Tribune Company, is carried with some programming differences, as “WGN America” on cable and satellite TV nationwide and in parts of the Caribbean. The city is also the home of several talk shows, including former The Oprah Winfrey Show on WLS‑TV, while Chicago Public Radio produces programs such as PRI‘s This American Life and NPR‘s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! Chicago’s PBS station can be seen on WTTW, producer of shows such as Sneak Previews, The Frugal Gourmet, Lamb Chop’s Play-Along and The McLaughlin Group, just to name a few and WYCC.
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 and magazines, such as Chicago, the Dziennik Związkowy (Polish Daily News), Draugas (the Lithuanian daily newspaper), the Chicago Reader, the SouthtownStar, the Chicago Defender, the Daily Herald, Newcity, StreetWise and the Windy City Times. The entertainment and cultural magazine Time Out Chicago and GRAB magazine are also published in the city, as well as local music magazine Chicago Innerview. In addition, Chicago is the recent home of satirical national news outlet, The Onion, as well as its sister pop-culture publication, The A.V. Club.
Chicago is a filming-friendly location. Since the 1980s, many motion pictures have been filmed in the city, most notably The Blues Brothers; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Home Alone; The Fugitive; I, Robot; Wanted; Batman Begins; The Dark Knight; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Divergent and Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Chicago has also been the setting for many popular television shows, including the situation comedies Perfect Strangers and its spinoff Family Matters, Married…with Children, The League, The Bob Newhart Show, and Shake It Up. The city served as the venue for the medical dramas ER and Chicago Hope, as well as the fantasy drama series Early Edition and the 2005–2009 drama Prison Break. Discovery Channel films two shows in Chicago: Cook County Jail and the Chicago version of Cash Cab. Chicago is currently the setting CBS’s The Good Wife and Mike and Molly, Showtime’s Shameless, and NBC’s Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D..
Chicago has five 50,000 watt AM radio stations: the CBS Radio-owned WBBM and WSCR; the Tribune Broadcasting-owned WGN; the Cumulus Media-owned WLS; and the ESPN Radio-owned WMVP. Chicago is also home to a number of national radio shows, including Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont on Sunday evenings.
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.
Seven mainline and four auxiliary interstate highways (55, 57, 65 (only in Indiana), 80 (also in Indiana), 88, 90 (also in Indiana), 94 (also in Indiana), 190, 290, 294, and 355) run through Chicago and its suburbs. Segments that link to the city center are named after influential politicians, with three of them named after former U.S. Presidents (Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan) and one named after two-time Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson.
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 the City of Chicago and a few adjacent suburbs outside of the Chicago city limits. The CTA operates an extensive network of buses and a rapid transit elevated and subway system known as the ‘L’ (for “elevated”), with lines designated by colors. These rapid transit lines also serve both Midway and O’Hare Airports. The CTA’s rail lines consist of the Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Brown, Purple, Pink, and Yellow lines. Both the Red and Blue lines offer 24‑hour service which makes Chicago one of a handful of cities around the world (and one of two in the United States, the other being New York City) to offer rail service 24 hours a day, every day of the year, within the city’s limits.
- Metra, the nation’s second-most used passenger regional rail network, operates an 11-line commuter rail service in Chicago and throughout the Chicago suburbs. The Metra Electric Line shares its trackage with Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s South Shore Line, which provides commuter service between South Bend and Chicago.
- Pace provides bus and paratransit service in over 200 surrounding suburbs with some extensions into the city as well. A 2005 study found that one quarter of commuters used public transit.
Amtrak long distance and commuter rail services originate from Union Station. Chicago is one of the largest hubs of passenger rail service in the nation. The services terminate in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York City, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Portland, Seattle, Milwaukee, Quincy, St. Louis, Carbondale, Boston, Grand Rapids, Port Huron, Pontiac, Los Angeles, and San Antonio. An attempt was made in the early 20th century to link Chicago with New York City via the Chicago – New York Electric Air Line Railroad. Parts of this were built, but it was ultimately never completed.
Chicago is the largest hub in the railroad industry. Six of the seven Class I railroads meet in Chicago, with the exception being the Kansas City Southern Railway. As of 2002, severe freight train congestion caused trains to take as long to get through the Chicago region as it took to get there from the West Coast of the country (about 2 days). About one-third of the country’s freight trains pass through the city, making it a major national bottleneck. Announced in 2003, the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) initiative is using about $1.5 billion in private railroad, state, local, and federal funding to improve rail infrastructure in the region to reduce freight rail congestion by about one third.
Chicago is served by O’Hare International Airport, the world’s second busiest airport, on the far Northwest Side, and Midway International Airport on the Southwest 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). Both O’Hare and Midway are owned and operated by the City of Chicago. Gary/Chicago International Airport and Chicago Rockford International Airport, located in Gary, Indiana and Rockford, Illinois, respectively, can serve as alternate Chicago area airports, however they do not offer as many commercial flights as O’Hare and Midway. In recent years the state of Illinois has been leaning towards building an entirely new airport in the Illinois suburbs of Chicago. The City of Chicago is the world headquarters for United Airlines, the world’s largest airline.
The Port of Chicago consists of several major port facilities within the city of Chicago operated by the Illinois International Port District (formerly known as the Chicago Regional Port District). The central element of the Port District, Calumet Harbor, is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Iroquois Landing Lakefront Terminal: at the mouth of the Calumet River, it includes 100 acres (0.40 km2) of warehouses and facilities on Lake Michigan with over 780,000 square meters (8,390,000 square feet) of storage.
- Lake Calumet terminal: located at the union of the Grand Calumet River and Little Calumet River 6 miles (9.7 km) inland from Lake Michigan. Includes three transit sheds totaling over 29,000 square meters (315,000 square feet) adjacent to over 900 linear meters (3,000 linear feet) of ship and barge berthing.
- Grain (14 million bushels) and bulk liquid (800,000 barrels) storage facilities along Lake Calumet.
- The Illinois International Port district also operates Foreign trade zone No. 22, which extends 60 miles (97 km) from Chicago’s city limits.
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.
Natural Gas is provided by Peoples Gas, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group, which is headquartered in Chicago.
Domestic and industrial waste was once incinerated but it is now landfilled, mainly in the Calumet area. From 1995 to 2008, the city had a blue bag program to divert certain refuse from landfills. In the fall of 2007 the city began a pilot program for blue bin recycling similar to that of other cities due to low participation rates in the blue bag program. After completion of the pilot the city will determine whether to roll it out to all wards.
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, Jesse Brown VA Hospital, and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation.
Two of the country’s premier academic medical centers reside in Chicago, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the University of Chicago Medical Center. The Chicago campus of Northwestern University includes the Feinberg School of Medicine; Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which is ranked as the best hospital in the Chicago metropolitan area by U.S. News & World Report for 2010–11; the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, which is ranked the best U.S. rehabilitation hospital by U.S. News & World Report; the new Prentice Women’s Hospital; and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
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, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, American Osteopathic Association, American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, American College of Surgeons, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Hospital Association, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association are all based in Chicago.
Chicago has 28 sister cities around the world. Like Chicago, many of them are or were the second most populous city or second most influential city of their country, or they are the main city of a country that has had large amounts of immigrants settle in Chicago. These relationships have sought to promote economic, cultural, educational, and other ties.
To celebrate the sister cities, Chicago hosts a yearly festival in Daley Plaza, which features cultural acts and food tastings from the other cities. In addition, the Chicago Sister Cities program hosts a number of delegation and formal exchanges. In some cases, these exchanges have led to further informal collaborations, such as the academic relationship between the Buehler Center on Aging, Health & Society at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University and the Institute of Gerontology of Ukraine (originally of the Soviet Union), that was originally established as part of the Chicago-Kiev sister cities program.
- List of cities with most skyscrapers
- List of fiction set in Chicago
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Central Chicago
- National Register of Historic Places listings in North Side Chicago
- National Register of Historic Places listings in South Side Chicago
- National Register of Historic Places listings in West Side Chicago
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- City of Chicago official website
- City of Chicago data portal
- Choose Chicago: City of Chicago’s official tourism website
- Chicago at DMOZ
- Maps of Chicago from the American Geographical Society Library
- Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) No. IL-10, “Chicago Cityscape, Chicago, Cook County, IL“, 45 photos, 4 photo caption pages
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