Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States, and it is the most populous city in both Illinois and the American Midwest. Its metropolitan area, sometimes called “Chicagoland,” is home to 9.5 million people.
Today, Chicago is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. 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 nicknames include the "Windy City" and "Second City."
The Founding of Chicago
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. During the mid-18th century, the area was inhabited by a Native American tribe known as the Potawatomi. The 1780s saw the arrival of the first known non-indigenous permanent settler in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable.
On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was organized, and the City of Chicago was incorporated on March 4, 1837. Chicago then went on to become the fastest growing city in the world for several decades.
The Great Chicago Fire
In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire broke out, destroying a large section of the city. 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.
The World’s Columbian Exposition
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 it is considered the most influential world's fair in history.
The ratification of the 18th amendment to the Constitution ushered in the beginning of the Gangster Era, a time that roughly spans from 1919 until 1933 when the Prohibition was repealed. As a result, the 1920s saw gangsters battle law enforcement and each other on the streets of Chicago during the Prohibition era.
When Chicago was founded in 1833, most of the early building began around the mouth of the Chicago River. An informal name for the entire Chicago metropolitan area is "Chicagoland." Although there is no precise definition for the term, it generally refers to the city and its suburbs.
Architecture & Art
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.
Chicago is famous for its outdoor public art. A number of Chicago's public artworks are by famous artists, including Cloud Gate, or “The Bean,” which has become an icon of the city.
Culture & Contemporary Life
The city's waterfront allure and nightlife has attracted residents and tourists alike. As a result, over a third of the city population is concentrated in the lakefront neighborhoods. The city has many upscale dining establishments as well as many ethnic restaurant districts.
Downtown is the center of Chicago's financial, cultural, governmental and commercial institutions and home to many of the city's skyscrapers. Many of the city's financial institutions are located within a section of downtown called "The Loop."
Upscale shopping along the Magnificent Mile and State Street, thousands of restaurants, as well as Chicago's eminent architecture, continue to draw tourists. Navy Pier, located just east of Streeterville, 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. In 1998, the city officially opened the Museum Campus, a 10-acre lakefront park surrounding three of the city's main museums, each of which is of national importance.
Chicago lays claim to a large number of regional specialties, including the nationally renowned deep-dish pizza.
The Chicago-style hot dog is loaded with an array of fixings 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 poppy seed bun.
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.
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 Bears play their home games at Soldier Field next to the shores of Lake Michigan.
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.
The Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL) began play in 1926, and it is one of the "Original Six" teams of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team has won five Stanley Cups, including in 2013, and hosted the 2009 NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is a member of Major League Soccer (MLS). 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 on Chicago's downtown lakefront.