Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, preceded only by New York and Los Angeles. The Windy City is also the largest city in the state of Illinois and serves as the county seat of Cook County. The city is home to more than 2.7 million residents, while the Metropolitan area of Chicago has over 9.8 million people. One of its most famous residents is media queen Oprah Winfrey, while one of its favorite sons is none other than the 44th leader of the country, President Barrack Obama.
Since its incorporation as a city in 1837, Chicago has become one of the most important and exciting cities in the country. It is considered an alpha and global city, and has earned the 7th place among the world’s Global Cities in 2012.
The city is an important center for international finance and industry, bringing in one of the largest Gross Domestic Products (GDP) among the largest metropolitan cities in the world. More than 45 million visitors visit Chicago each year.
The city of Chicago could be found in the northeastern portion in the state of Illinois and at the southwestern end of Lake Michigan. It sits on an elevation of 596 feet or 182 meters above sea level. Chicago is alongside Lake Michigan and the Chicago River in downtown, as well as the Calumet River on the southern side. The highest point in the city is the landfill that is located on the south side of the city, while the lowest point is at the lakeshore.
The city has a total area that encompasses 234 square miles or 606.1 square kilometers. Its total land area covers 227.2 square miles or 568 square kilometers, while water-covered areas make up three percent of the city’s total area or 6.9 square miles or 18 square kilometers under water. When the urban area is taken into account, the size of the city swells to 2,122.8 square miles or close to 5,500 square kilometers, while the metropolitan area is measured at 10,874 square miles or 28,160 square kilometers.
About 2.7 million people call the city their home, making it the 3rd most populated city in the county. The city’s population density is a whopping 11,864 people per square mile or 4,447 per people square kilometer. The city’s urban population is at 8.7 million residents, while the metropolitan population is at over 9.4 million residents.
The primary language spoken in Chicago is English. However, almost 20% of the city’s residents speak a second language. Over 10% of the residents in Chicago could speak Spanish or Spanish Creole. Other languages spoken in the city include Polish, Chinese, German, Tagalog, Italian, Korean, French, Greek, Russian and Arabic. Given the wide diversity of languages spoken in the city, there may be times when a professional language translation service provider may be needed.
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Chicago’s central business district is an area called the Chicago Loop, in reference to the elevated “L” train tracks the city is known for. The city also comprises more than a hundred neighborhoods. The combined areas of Chicago city as well as the surrounding suburban area are referred to as Chicagoland. Chicagoland spreads across the three states of Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana and covers close to ten million residents. This makes it the 22nd largest metropolitan area in the world.
The largest city on the Great Lakes is home to top corporations in the world. Some of the companies that have made Chicago their base are Aon Corporation, Bally Total Fitness, Midway Games, Morton Salt, Tootsie Roll Industries, True Value and Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.
The city of Chicago is served by O’Hare International Airport, which is also the 2nd busiest airport in the world. It is currently being modernized at the cost of $6.6 billion. The other major airport in the city is Midway International Airport.
The Windy City is also a major transporthub in the country, ranking in behind Hong Kong and Singapore as the largest inter-modal ports in the world. Nine interstate highways bisect Chicago and its many suburbs. Residents in the city could avail of the various public transportation facilities available in the city that are operated by the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace. The Chicago Transit Authority operates the L (elevated) train. The Metra is the country’s second most used passenger regional rail network. Visitors are able to access Chicago by Amtrak or the Greyhound Lines. The city is also the base for Megabus, a Midwest bus network.
Although the city may have had an infamous past with gangs during the Prohibition era, today, lawlessness is well under control in the city. Travelers going to Chicago should exercise common sense and follow basic safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable time while visiting the Windy City. It’s best not to stay out too late and to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Never leave your personal belongings unattended and don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself by leaving expensive and flashy jewelry at home and to be discreet when using personal electronic gadgets. When using public transportation, especially the L-train, stay awake and be mindful of the signs so you don’t get lost.
Chicago has a humid continental climate and has four distinct seasons. There are times when the city has severe weather, such as extremely cold winters, or even tornados hitting the city. During the summer season, it could be quite hot and humid, with temperatures averaging about 85 °F or 29 °C. For about three weeks in summer, the temperatures top a sizzling 90 °F or 32 °C. In contrast, the winter season is cold, snowy and windy. The temperatures only average 23.5 °F or -4.7 °C. Heat waves do occur during the summer, while cold waves are common in the winter season. The most ideal climate happens during the spring and fall season since temperatures are pleasant with low humidity. The hottest month of the year is July while the coldest month is January.
Travelers visiting Chicago should determine the season of their trip so that the proper items could be packed. The winter season might be quite harsh in Chicago, so bringing thick warm coats is a must. Flight cancellations and delays are quite common during the winter season due to bad weather conditions. On the other hand, the summer season is sometimes humid, so lightweight clothing is more ideal. Dressing in layers is suitable during the spring and fall season, so clothing could be easily adjusted to suit the weather.
Doing a bit of research would provide travelers with the necessary information to create the perfect travel itinerary when visiting one of the most exciting cities in America. Whether you’re visiting Chicago for business or pleasure, you’d find that Chicago exudes a charm and dynamic energy that makes it a top destination for travelers and visitors.
The Potawatomi Native American tribe inhabited the area that is now Chicago in the 18th century. Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit from France and Canadian explorer Louis Jolliet in 1673, first discovered it. Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a man of French and Haitian descent, is recognized as the first permanent settler in the city and the city’s founder. The fur trader came to the area in 1781 and others soon settled in the area. Development of the city started at the mouth of the Chicago River and spread from there. Control of the city fully transferred to the Americans when the Native Americans gave Chicago to the U.S. government after the Northwest Indian War and as a result of the Treaty of Greenville.
One of the first major installations in Chicago was Fort Dearborn. This was established by the U.S. Army in 1803, in the area of what is now Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. However, the fort was attacked and destroyed by Native Americans who allied with the British Army in the War of 1812. The size of the city grew as the Native Americans were removed forcibly from their land after the Treaty of St. Louis in 1816 and the Treaty of Chicago in 1822.
By 1833, the area was organized as a town, with a population of 200 residents. However, in less than a decade, the town’s population swelled to over 4,000 people. It was in 1837 when the City of Chicago was incorporated. From that time, there has been no stopping the growth and development of the city.
The city’s name comes from the Miami-Illinois Algonquian word “shikaakwa,” which translates to “wild garlic” or “wild onion.” These were plants that could be found along the Chicago River. When pronounced with a French accent, shikaakwa became Checagou or Chicago.
Since becoming a city, Chicago had grown exponentially, rising as one of the most important cities in the United States. One of the key strengths of the city is its ideal location as a major transport hub between various parts of the country. The Illinois and Michigan Canal provided passage for steamboats and ships from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. The city’s first railway, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, was opened in 1848, which made the water link obsolete and further cemented Chicago’s role in the transport industry.
By the mid-19th century, Chicago was a pioneer in establishing a comprehensive sewage system for an American city. The city officials laid out the sewage system above ground and allowed gravity to help the sewage along. The industrial and sewage waste flowed to the Chicago River and to Lake Michigan, which created another problem as this polluted the city’s main fresh water source. Since the area where Chicago was located was boggy and prone to flooding, the city government decided to elevate the whole city by five to eight feet, using the newly-available jackscrews. It was no mean feat, as whole blocks containing business shops and buildings were raised by thousands of jackscrews, the base filled with earth and paved, ready for new foundations. This was done without business stoppage. Meanwhile, engineers were able to reverse the flow of Chicago River to prevent contamination of Lake Michigan so that it flowed back into the river and improved the Illinois and Michigan Canal. They also accomplished the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which led to the Illinois River and then to the Mississippi River.
Unfortunately, the city’s landscape was changed in 1871 with the outbreak of the Great Chicago Fire. This destroyed much of the buildings and houses made of wood, although the stockyards and railroads were spared. However, the Great Fire allowed the city to reinvent itself once again, prompting the massive use of stone and steel for construction, laying another precedent.
The debris from the fire was discarded at Lake Michigan, creating a landfill and reclamation area that would later become Grant Park, Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. As the city repaired itself, steel and stone were used, which would change the way construction was done around the world.
The city instituted a number of improvements and pioneered massive changes in public policy, such as an improvement to public health policies and sanitation facilities, and the development of various municipal parks. Dr. John H. Rauch was recognized as one of the main advocates for the improvement of the city’s public health. He was also credited with establishing the plan for the city’s park system in 1866, creating Lincoln Park and establishing the new Chicago Board of Health. These changes helped standardize and upgrade the medical profession and at the same time help contain cholera, small pox and yellow fever urban epidemics.
By 1885, the first skyscraper in the world was erected, the Home Insurance Building, which had a steel frame and stood at ten stories tall. The city also hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, which is still regarded as the most influential world’s fair. A building used for the exposition would later become the Museum of Science and Industry. In 1892, the University of Chicago was founded.
As the city entered the 20th century, it continued to grow and it firmly established itself as the country’s railroad center. It was the railway managers in Chicago who adopted North American Time Zones’ standardized system in a general convention. This allowed the rest of the country to finally have a uniform time telling system.
With such a massive economic boom, the city became the favorite destination of a number of immigrants. Many of these workers worked in factories as well as the meatpacking plants in the city. These were people who came from various parts of Europe, such as Germany, Ireland, Poland, Sweden and Czechoslovakia. There were also those who migrated from the Eastern portion of the country. More than 2/3 of the city’s residents were foreign-born. By the turn of the 20th century, 98.1% of the city’s population was white and the city had become the fifth largest city in the world in terms of population. However, this was about to change, thanks to the Great Migration.
By the 1930s, many Blacks hailing from the Southern states migrated to the city, peaking at over 230,000 by the 1930s. They were attracted by the job availability in the city, largely due to an impressive industrial expansion. This changed the racial profile of the city and altered the culture in the city. During this time the city rose into prominence as a center for jazz.
The city of Chicago continued to grow and develop in the 20th century. Many important construction projects were completed, such as the Sears Tower, now Willis Tower, McCormick Place and the opening of two international airports. The city had its first female mayor in 1979, with Jane Margaret Byrne, while the city’s first Black Mayor was elected in 1983, Harold Lee Washington.
Today, the city of Chicago is a dynamic city on the move. More than half of the county’s rail freight passes through it. At the same time, the city is the country’s busiest aviation center, with the presence of O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. The city has become an important economic, political and cultural center in the country.
As of 2010, 2,695,598 people call Chicago their home. There are more than a million households in the city and it is recorded to be one of the most densely populated cities in the United States. At the same time, almost a full quarter of the residents of the state of Illinois reside in Chicago.
It is also a culturally diverse city, with its citizens coming from various parts of the world. 45% of the city’s residents are White, of which, 31.7% are non-Hispanic Whites. Those who are non-Hispanic Whites have European lineage originating from Ireland, Germany, Poland, Italy and England. Blacks comprise close to 33% of the population, while other races form 13.4% of the citizenry. There is a growing Asian community in Chicago, coming from China, India, the Philippines, Korea, Pakistan, Vietnam, Japan and Thailand. Close to 3% of the population comes from two or more races. At the same time, there is also a growing Assyrian population in the city. Between 2006 and 2010, over 21% of the city’s residents are foreign-born. This translates to a population wherein more than 35% of the citizens speak a language other than English in their homes.
The city has a large Hispanic or Latino population, with close to 29% of the citizens coming from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Cuba, Columbia, Honduras, El Salvador and Peru. Although Mexicans make up the majority of the Hispanic population in the city, there is a growing community of residents who are from Guatemala, Columbia and Peru.
The median income of a typical household in the city is pegged at $38,625 a year. The median family income is at $42,724. More than 16% of the city’s families and over 20% of the city’s residents live below the poverty line. Almost 80% of the city’s residents have graduated college, while over 32% of the city residents have obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher degree.
In the last decade, the city’s population has been on a decline, with a percent change of -6.9%. Minors or those under 18 years of age make up 23.1% of the city’s population, while more than 10% of the residents are senior citizens aged 65 years and older. There are slightly more females than males in Chicago, with 51.5% of the city’s residents belonging to the female gender. Each home has an average of 2.56 members.
Close to 48% of the city’s residents own their home. The median home value of owner-occupied homes in the city is at $269,200.
Chicago enjoys a thriving economy, thanks to its diversified industries, which included manufacturing, printing and publishing, as well as finance and insurance. The city is the candy capital of the United States. Tootsie Roll Industries, raw chocolate producer Blommer, Brach’s Fannie May, Primrose Candy Co., and Frango Mints were at one time or another based here. The publishing industry of the city is the second largest in the country, next only to New York. Media giant Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions is based in Chicago.
The city’s Gross Regional Product (GRP) is an outstanding $496 billion. In 2010, the metropolitan gross product of Chicago was at $532 billion, giving it the third largest metropolitan gross product in the U.S. Trade of the city was at $177 billion as of 2011. The World Business Chicago also named more than 300 facilities that are being built or expanded in the city, which will generate $2.6 billion for the local economy. At the same time, Chicago is the third highest metro region in the United States with jobs that have been created by Inc. Magazine’s 5,000 companies.
Some of the top companies in the world are based in Chicago. Of the Fortune 500 Companies, 27 are based in Chicago. These include RR Donnelley, Exelon, Aon Corporation, Smurfit-Stone Container, Tribune Company, and USG Corporation. Other companies based in Chicago are Boeing, Bally Total Fitness, Citadel LLC, CNA Financial, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Groupon, Hartmarx, Hyatt Hotels, Morningstar, Inc., Morton Salt, Orbitz, Playboy Enterprises, True Value and U.S. Cellular. The world headquarters of United Airlines, the second largest airline in the world, is in Chicago. When United Airlines merged with Continental Airlines, the largest airline in the world was created, the United Continental Holdings. Southwest Airlines is also based in Chicago’s Midway Airport. The Federal Reserve Bank, as well as the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are based in the city.
Transportation is a major contributor to the city’s economy. It is one of the three largest inter-modal ports in the world, aside from Hong Kong and Singapore and is the largest inter-modal port in the United States. Since the St. Lawrence Seaway was opened in 1959, the city has been at the heart of the busiest shipping hub in the world. The airports of the city handle a combined volume of a million metric tons of cargo each year. On the road, trucking companies carry more than 50 million tons of freight for various destinations each year, while the railroads carry over 40 million tons of cargo.
The unemployment rate in Chicago is pegged at 9.3%, which is slightly higher than the nation’s average of 9.1%. This is attributed to plant closing and an overall ailing economy. Most jobs are in the sales and office industries (23.3%), and professional and other related occupations (21.4%). The service industry accounts for about 17% of the city’s work force while production, transportation and materials-moving employ over 16% of the city’s employees.
In 2002, there were 255,502 firms based in the city. Of these, close to 23% are owned by Blacks, while Hispanics own 8.7% of the businesses in the city. On the other hand, Asians own 7.2% of the city’s businesses. More than 36% of the businesses in the city are owner-owned. Given the city’s diversity and being an important hub of finance and industry, the services of a professional language translation service provider company might be needed. There would definitely be instances wherein professional translations of important documents, contracts and other important matters relating to business would be needed to deal with the city’s diversified workforce and to be able to operate on the international business stage.
Today, the city of Chicago continues to be an important economic contributor to the country. With its young, vibrant and diverse work force, ideal location and strategic economic planners, the city is poised to overcome many economic challenges and to continue to be one of the world’s important financial centers.
More than 45 million visitors come to Chicago each year, making it one of the most favorite tourist destinations in the United States.
The top tourist destination in the Midwest is Navy Pier, which sits on over 50 acres of land comprising parks, promenades and a number of exciting attractions. More than eight million visitors check out the attractions here, including the giant Ferris Wheel, a 3D IMAX movie theater (the largest flat movie screen in the city), the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Travelers who wish to take a boat cruise to view the Chicago shoreline are able to do so from this location.
For a bird’s eye view of the city, visitors could go up on the 15-story Ferris wheel that is found on Navy Pier. This Ferris wheel is reminiscent of the world’s first Ferris wheel, which made its debut to the world in the city of Chicago back in 1893. Travelers with children would like the Musical Carousel as well as the Light Tower Ride, mini golf and the RC boat pond. Those looking for something more exciting should go on the Wave Swinger. During summer evening, the night skies are lit up with an amazing fireworks show. The Children’s Museum has three stories filled with interactive exhibits and displays. Another museum in the complex is the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. This is the country’s first museum that is dedicated to the art of stained glass. There are more than 150 pieces on display spread across the museum’s four galleries. There’s even a stained glass portrait made of glass soda bottles featuring Michael Jordan.
One of the top attractions in the city is the Willis Tower, which is formerly known as the Sears Tower. When it was opened in 1974, it had the distinction of being the tallest building in the United States. Standing at 110 stories, the structure has some of the fastest elevators anywhere in the world. An elevator cart could move as much as 1,600 feet a minute. The Skydeck Deck Chicago on Willis Tower provides visitors with some of the most impressive views of the city. The view from the Skydeck allows visitors to see views of up to four states: Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.
At the Museum of Science and Industry, visitors are able see the Greenest Home in Chicago. It is a 3-story model house that showcases recycled furnishings in its eco-friendly interior. The museum has many educational displays geared towards children, such as an authentic jet plane complete with lights, an exhibit that explains the workings of the Internet, a feature on toy making, A Mythbuster’s Exhibit and a coal mine that could be explored.
Lincoln Park is a favorite attraction of visitors and residents alike since it opened its doors in 1868. It is now one of the three major zoos in the United States and sits on 35 acres of land. It is also the oldest public zoo in the county and is visited by more than three million visitors each year. There are close to 1,250 animals in the zoo, including polar bears, big cats, penguins, gorillas, monkeys and various reptiles. Other zoos in the city are the Brookfield Zoo, Phillips Park Zoo, Cosley Zoo and the Indian Boundary Park. Other wonderful parks in the city include Washington Park, Grant Park, Midway Park inside Hyde Park and Jackson Park.
Millennium Park sits on 24.5 acres of space right in the center of downtown Chicago, facing the lakefront of the city. Aside from the many attractions here such as the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture, the 50-foot black granite Crown Fountain, digital videos through LED lights, the open air exhibits at the Boeing Galleries, the McCormick Tribune Ice Skating Rink and an indoor cabaret and the urban oasis known as Lurie Garden. The 2.5-acre garden cost US$13.2 million to construct, showing Chicago’s history with shade loving plants in one plate and the city’s future with plants that thrive in light and heat. The JayPritzker Pavilion, a 4,000-seat outdoor performing arts venue is the main point interest in the Millennium Park. Every Saturday morning in the summer season, it becomes a place for group workouts. The pavilion is the venue for a number of musical events throughout the year and more than 525 free events annually, such as the Grant Park Music Festival. It is also the home of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.
The Chicago Cultural Center opened its doors to the public in 1897. It is a historical landmark building in the city, and it where the city’s leaders have welcomed various dignitaries from all over the world. The structure was originally designed to be the city library, although it was later converted into the city’s cultural center. It is the fifth most visited cultural institution in the city, attracting more than 821,000 visitors. The exhibits vary depending on the season.
The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum has the distinction of being the Western Hemisphere’s first planetarium. It opened in 1930 and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. One of the largest indoor aquariums in the world is also in Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium. The oceanarium first opened in 1930 and contains more than 25,000 varieties of fish. More than two million visitors go each year, making it one of the most visited aquariums in the world. It also has various marine mammals, birds, snakes, insects and amphibians.
Sports enthusiasts would be delighted to pass by the historic Wrigley Field. This baseball park was built in 1914, making it the oldest National League Park and home of the Chicago Cubs. The baseball field still retains its red painted Art Deco marquee that was installed around 1934. Chicago Bulls fans might want to pass by Michael Jordan’s statue that’s located at the United Center, the indoor sports stadium sponsored by United Airlines. This is the home of the Chicago Black Hawks (National Hockey League) and Chicago Bulls (National Basketball League).
Travelers who wish to shop have a number of options in the city. There are more than 250 Chicago-based designers to choose from, as well as more than 400 boutiques in the city. The premiere shopping destination in the city is Magnificent Mile, located on Michigan Avenue. Top department stores Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales have branches here. State Street is home to the flagship store of Marshall Field’s, which is now called Macy’s. Oak Street is another favorite shopping haunt, with stores like Prada and Tory Burch.
One of the most frequented areas in the city isn’t a man-made attraction. It is Lake Michigan. Not only is the lake the source of the city’s drinking water, it also provides the city’s all important access to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a popular destination for residents who want to hit the beach during the warm summer season. The beaches in Chicago might not be that well-known or popular, but the city has miles of sandy beaches, with North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach being the favorite among locals.
Chicago’s 2.7 million residents enjoy a number of cultural institutions, historical sites and a variety of museums for entertainment. There are over 200 theaters in the city, as well as close to 200 art galleries, 7,300 restaurants, 26 miles of lakefront, 15 miles of beaches perfect for swimming and 552 parks. The city also has 19 miles of lakefront bicycle paths, 77 communities with more than a hundred neighborhoods, and celebrates 36 parades throughout the year.
Chicago puts a strong emphasis on art. The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the most important Impressionist and post-Impressionist collections in the world. At the same time, the city was one of the first municipalities to make public art a part of the renovation and construction of municipal buildings with a Percentage for Arts city ordinance passed in 1978. Also, the world’s biggest stained glass Tiffany dome is located in the Chicago Cultural Center that also happens to be the country’s very first municipal cultural center that is free to the general public.
Music is a major part of the culture in Chicago. The jazz scene came to life in the 20th century after the Great Migration from the south, creating the distinct sound of Chicago Blues music. King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton are just two of the musical greats to come out of the Chicago jazz scene. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs masterful classical pieces at the Symphony Center. The city is also home to the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Sinfonietta. Folk music rose into prominence with John Prine, Steve Goodman and Bonnie Koloc. House music, similar to techno, also has its roots in Chicago. Modern artists from the city include Kanye West, Twista, Lupe Fiasco and Jennifer Hudson.
Sports is a way of life in the city. After all, the city has been the home of some of the most notable figures in sports, such as Michael Jordan (NBA), Walter Payton (NFL), Ernie Banks (MLB), Bobby Hull (NHL) and Luis Aparacio (MLB). The city of Chicago has seven professional sports teams: NBA’s Bulls, baseball’s White Sox and The Cubs; football’s Bears and hockey’s Blackhawks. For women’s basketball, the city cheers Sky and in soccer, Chicago Fire. Wrigley Field is a historic sports arena in the city and is the home of the Chicago Cubs.
Food is another important aspect of the city’s culture. Due to the massive waves of immigrants to the city, Chicago is the place where travelers would be able to enjoy a variety of international flavors. There are more than 7,300 restaurants to choose from in the city, which means that travelers would never run out of dining options. The city has the most number of AAA five diamond-rated restaurants in the country. The diversity in food choices reflects the city’s cultural diversity as a whole. At the same time, Chicago is known for some delicious food items created in the city, such as the Chicago-style deep dish pizza and the Chicago hotdog.
Several of ethnic communities in Chicago operate their own restaurants so it is possible to taste a variety of native dishes of different countries while touring the city. In Rogers Park’s Devon Avenue, you would have a taste of India, while at Albany Park’s Lawrence Avenue, popularly known as Seoul Drive, you’d be treated to South Korean food. You would get to sample Persian cuisine on Kedzie Avenue and have Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese food at the intersection of Broadway and Argyle. Swedish food and other things are still available at Andersonville while things German could be found in Lincoln Square. There’s also the Greektown and Little Italy on Near West Side. Little Village and Pilsen are neighborhoods where you would feel like you are in Mexico or Puerto Rico. Chicago’s Chinatown in one of the most active Chinese communities in the world.
Every February, Chicagoans hold Capricon!, an annual four-day science fiction convention. Towards the end of the year, one of the biggest gatherings is the Chicago Marathon, which started in 1977 and draws thousands of runners from all over the world. Another important event in the city is the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac Island in Lake Huron. This dates back to 1898 and is regarded as the longest race done in fresh water anywhere in the world. The Chicago Air and Water Show transforms the shore of Lake Michigan into a stage for one of the most popular festivals in the city. It is an aviation spectacular featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds that dates back to 1959.
Given the large Irish heritage in the city, it’s not surprising that St. Patrick’s Day is a massive celebration in the city. Each March, the Chicago River is dyed a brilliant green in honor of the holiday.
Each spring, Magnificent Mile becomes a beautiful botanic paradise, with thousands of tulips in full bloom to signify the arrival of spring. North Michigan Avenue is decked with these colorful blossoms during the month of May.
To usher in the summer season, there are free music concerts in the city, starting on Memorial Day. The Millennium Park Summer Music covers different genres of music, such as jazz, rock and pop. Chicago is known as the Blues Capital of the World. The Chicago Blues Festival is held at Maxwell Street Market in May. Maxwell Street is also a bargain hunter’s paradise where buyers could find a number of local and international items.
Asians celebrate their heritage in May, with the Asian Heritage month. Some of the celebrations to mark the event include a farmer’s market, as well as a number of activities in Daley Plaza.
As a celebration of its diversity, the city also hosts a festival each year held at Daley Plaza in honor of its sister cities all over the world. In May, travelers are welcomed to Tourism Day and the Chicago Kids and Kites Festival for the whole family. The Celtic Fest Chicago celebrates not only all things Irish, but also a celebration of Brittany, Galicia, Spain, Scotland, Wales and France. The Polish have their turn with Taste of Polonia, also in May.
In July, one of the most awaited festivals is celebrated in the city, The Taste of Chicago. This is an international food festival, and is the largest of its kind in the world. Grant Park is the venue for this gastronomic event.
German-Americans in the city celebrate Von Steuben Day, held in September, with a parade, Oktoberfest-style food and drink and live music. This is the celebration that was featured in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
There are many interesting things about Chicago that make it an ideal place to live and visit. With a picturesque lakeside location, beautiful architecture, interesting culture and important history, Chicago has earned its distinction as being one of the most important cities in the world today.
- Chicago is known by many aliases. It is best known as the Windy City, although it has also been referred to as Chi-town, Second City and the City of Big Shoulders. Other names are Hog Butcher for the World, The City that Works and White city.
- Chicago also became the home to the Society for Human Rights, a pioneering gay-rights organization in the country, which also produced the “Friendship and Freedom,” which is the first publication catering to homosexuals in the United States.
- Chicago is a pioneering city. In 1884, the world’s very first skyscraper was built in the city, the Home Insurance Building. The world also got to see the first Ferris wheel in the city, back in the 1893 Columbian Exposition. As a city of many firsts, it is here that the first controlled nuclear reaction was conducted by Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago in 1942. This ushered in the Atomic Age.
- The city of Chicago is also the birthplace in 1865 of the refrigerated rail car, as well as the first steel railroad in the United States. Mail-order retailing was popularized in the city by Sears and Montgomery Ward in 1872. Motorola also launched the car radio here. Zenith created the TV remote control here in 1950. The first blood bank in the U.S. started in Chicago back in 1937 at the Cook County hospital. In 1946, the first drive-in bank opened its doors to the public.
- One of the world’s tallest towers is in Chicago. The Sears Tower stands at 1,450 feet and was completed in 1974. It is the tallest building in the United States and is the third tallest building in the world. It is also known as Willis Tower.
- The “Historic Route 66” starts at Grant Park in Chicago on Adams Street. It was also called the Mother Road as it was one of the original highways in the United States and was laid down on November 11, 1926.
- Chicago is a green city. It has been given the distinction as one of the United States’ most sustainable cities. There are more LEED-certified and registered buildings in Chicago than in any other city in the country. There are also 18 wind energy companies and 2,600 employees who are LEED-credentialed.
- Inc. Magazine listed some 212 Chicago-based companies in its list of the 5,000 U.S. fastest growing companies.
- Chicago residents have been voting for the Democrats since 1927, and have been choosing a Democrat for President since 1992. Because almost 25% of the residents of Illinois come from Chicago, Chicagoans have a large presence in Congress. Eight of the 19 U.S. Representatives from the state of Illinois have a part of Chicago under their district.
- The most number of Poles outside of Warsaw has a community in Chicago.
- Western Avenue is the longest continuous street in the world. It has a total length of 23.5 miles or 37.82 kilometers.
- The Chicago Public Library contains almost six million volumes, making it the 30th largest library in the U.S. and the 9th largest public library in the U.S. in terms of volumes held. Its central library, The Harold Washington Library holds a Guinness Book World Record for being the world’s largest public library building.
- McCormick Place has more than 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space. This makes it the convention center in the U.S. with the largest exhibit space.
- The largest medical school in the United States is the University of Illinois College of Medicine, with 2,600 students.
- Several famous movies were shot or are set in the Windy City. Some of the best ones are Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money, My Best Friend’s Wedding with Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise’s Risky Business, The Untouchables, Primal Fear with Richard Gere, Road to Perdition, Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, part of When Harry Met Sally, Backdraft, While You Were Sleeping, Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, Charlie Chaplin’s His New Job, Demi Moore’s About Last Night and High Fidelity with John Cusack. The Dark Knight by Chris Nolan also used Chicago as its cityscape for Gotham City. Most films by moviemaker John Hughes were filmed in Chicago, including Sixteen Candles with Molly Ringwald, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Home Alone.
- Comedian Bernie Mac is getting a street named after him in the Windy City, his hometown.
- Chicago is a sister city to 28 other important cities all over the world. It is a partner city of Paris. Some of its sister cities are: Warsaw, Poland; Osaka, Japan; Milan, Italy; Casablanca, Morocco; Shanghai, Tianjin and Shenyang in China; Accra, Ghana; Toronto, Canada; Birmingham, UK; Hamburg in Germany; Galway in Ireland; Moscow, Russia; Lucerne in Switzerland; Delhi, India; Busan, South Korea; Sao Paulo in Brazil and Bogota in Colombia.