History of Chicago
The city was first settled in 1770s. Before the arrival of the Europeans, the area was inhabited by Native American tribe called Potawatomi. The land used to belong to the native tribes and in 1795 it was ceded to the U.S. Army, who built a military post there. The town of Chicago was organized in 1833 and at the time it had only around 200 inhabitants. The name derived from the French interpretation of the Indian word “shikaakwa,” meaning “wild onion.”
Chicago benefited on the fact it was positioned between eastern and western United States and soon became a major transportation hub. Its growth was boosted by the opening of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad and the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The population increased with the arrival of foreign immigrants and residents of rural zones in the Midwest and the industry was based on manufacturing and retail industry, especially meatpacking.
In the second half of the 19th century, Chicago underwent a series of infrastructure projects aimed to improve some of the serious issues in the city, such as sewerage and flooding. In 1871, it was struck by the Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed large central portions of the city. The world’s first skyscraper (Home Insurance Building) was built in 1885. In 1893 the city hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition and the University of Chicago was founded in 1892. By the turn of the century, the majority of the Chicago’s population were foreign-born, especially Germans, Irish, Czechs, Poles and Swedes.
In the 1920s, Chicago was one of the largest centers of organized crime, with gangsters such as Al Capone who came to prominence during the Prohibition Era. The same period, however, saw large industrial expansion and a new population boost provided by the Great Migration of blacks from the South. The 1950s in Chicago were marked by activities of the civil rights movement and also by numerous and often violent riots. Some of the most famous landmarks in Chicago, such as the Sears Tower, the University of Illinois in Chicago and O’Hare Airport, were completed in the 1950s and 1960s.
Geography and Climate
Chicago is located in the Midwestern USA, in the Great Lakes region, on the southwestern shores of the Lake Michigan. Other bodies of water include the Chicago and the Calumet rivers. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. The central business district is known as the Chicago Loop. The main sections in the city are Downtown (with the Loop), the North Side, the South Side and the West Side. The city has a busy waterfront, with many parks and more than two dozen beaches. In addition, more than one-third of the city population is concentrated in the neighborhoods along the lakefront.
Population of Chicago
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Chicago has 2,695,598 inhabitants. The racial makeup is 32.9% African American, 31.7% non-Hispanic White, 28.9% Hispanic, 5.5% Asian, 0.5% American Indian, 13.4% from some other race and 2.7% biracial.
Chicago has many ethnic and national communities. The largest ancestry groups are Irish, German, Polish, Italian, Assyrian, English, followed by African, Russian, Filipino, Swedish, French, Arab, Greek, Dutch, Norwegian, Scottish, West Indian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Slovak, Hungarian, Welsh, Czech, Serbian, Bosnian and others.
Politically, Chicago has had a long tradition of socialist, labor and anarchist organizations. Through much of the 20th century, the city has been a Democratic stronghold, both in the local politics and on the national level.
As mentioned above, Chicago has the third-largest GMP in the United States. Because its economy is diversified, it is also one of the most economically balanced and stable cities in the nation. It has the second-largest central business district in the USA and it is home to major exchanges and companies such as Chicago Stock Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME Group and Chase Bank. Major Chicago-based companies in other sectors include Boeing, McDonalds, Kraft Foods, United Continental Holdings, Abbott Laboratories, Groupon and many more.
Chicago is also a major convention destination (McCormick Place being the city’s largest convention center) and ranks third in number of conventions it hosts each year.
Culture and Attractions in Chicago
The city has a very rich cultural life. Theatre plays an important part in the culture of Chicago, with troupes such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Goodman Theatre and an array of improvisational theatre companies (The Second City and the I.O) and many Broadway-style theatres.
Chicago is home to one of the best orchestras in the world, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, performing at Symphony Center. It is also home of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Lithuanian Opera Company of Chicago.
The city has a number of outdoor art pieces by famous international artists such as Joan Miro, Anish Kapoor, Picasso, Calder, Chagall and Plensa.
Chicago has played a large part in development of jazz, blues, soul and gospel, creating new sub-genres such as Chicago blues and Chicago jazz. In the 1980s, it was one of the major international centers for industrial, punk and new wave music and in 1990s it has a vibrant alternative music scene. The city today hosts some of the most relevant music festivals in the world, such as Lollapalooza and Pitchfork Music Festival.
Some of the major attractions, landmarks and sites of interest in Chicago include Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Home Insurance Building, the Merchandise Mart, the Fine Arts Building, the Robie House, the historic Chicago Cultural Center, Grant Park with Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain and Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier with its famous Ferris Wheel, the Museum Campus with the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of National History and Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, and many more.
Major daily newspapers in Chicago are the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.
Education and Sports
Chicago is a major global center of higher education and research. Some of the most prestigious institutions are The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University and University of Illinois at Chicago.
In sports, Chicago is home to Major League Baseball’s the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, the NFL’s Chicago Bears, the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago is one of the largest passenger rail hubs in the USA. Amtrak’s long distance services originate from Chicago’s Union Station. The city is served by O’Hare International Airport, the second-busiest airport in the world, and by Midway International Airport.