Located on the shores of freshwater Lake Michigan, Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed and grew rapidly in the mid-19th century. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed several square miles and left more than 100,000 homeless, the city made a concerted effort to rebuild. The construction boom accelerated population growth throughout the following decades, and by 1900, less than 30 years after the great fire, Chicago was the fifth-largest city in the world. Chicago made noted contributions to urban planning and zoning standards, including new construction styles (including the Chicago School of architecture), the development of the City Beautiful Movement, and the steel-framed skyscraper.
The name "Chicago" is derived from a French rendering of the indigenousMiami-Illinois word shikaakwa for a wild relative of the onion; it is known to botanists as Allium tricoccum and known more commonly as "ramps". 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 eponymous wild "garlic" grew abundantly in the area. According to his diary of late September 1687:
...when we arrived at the said place called "Chicagou" which, according to what we were able to learn of it, has taken this name because of the quantity of garlic which grows in the forests in this region.
The city has had several nicknames throughout its history, such as the Windy City, Chi-Town, Second City, and City of the Big Shoulders.
On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was organized with a population of about 200. Within seven years it grew to more than 6,000 people. On June 15, 1835, the first public land sales began with Edmund Dick Taylor as U.S. Senator of Public Monies. The City of Chicago was incorporated on Saturday, March 4, 1837, and for several decades was the world's fastest-growing city.
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 the "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 US President at the 1860 Republican National Convention, which was held in Chicago in a temporary building called the Wigwam. He defeated Douglas in the general election, and this set the stage for the American Civil War.
To accommodate rapid population growth and demand for better sanitation, the city improved its infrastructure. In February 1856, Chicago's Common Council approved Chesbrough's plan to build the United States' first comprehensive sewerage system. The project raised much of central Chicago to a new grade. While elevating Chicago, and at first improving the city's health, the untreated sewage and industrial waste now flowed into the Chicago River, and subsequently into Lake Michigan, polluting the city's primary freshwater source.
The city responded by tunneling two miles (3.2 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 destroyed an area about 4 miles (6.4 km) long and 1-mile (1.6 km) 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. These set a precedent for worldwide construction. During its rebuilding period, Chicago constructed the world's first skyscraper in 1885, using steel-skeleton construction.
The city has grown significantly in size and population by incorporating many neighboring townships between 1851 and 1920, with the largest annexation happening in 1889, with five townships joining the city, including the Hyde Park Township, which now comprises most of the South Side of Chicago and the far southeast of Chicago, and the Jefferson Township, which now makes up most of Chicago's Northwest Side. The desire to join the city was driven by municipal services that the city could provide its residents.
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, more than 77% were either 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).
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 both passed and enforced. These laws became templates for public health reform in other cities and states.
The city established many large, well-landscaped municipal parks, which also included public sanitation facilities. The chief advocate for improving public health in Chicago was Dr. John H. Rauch, M.D. Rauch established a plan for Chicago's park system in 1866. He created Lincoln Park by closing a cemetery filled with shallow graves, and in 1867, in response to an outbreak of cholera he helped establish a new Chicago Board of Health. 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 1800s, Chicago became the nation's railroad hub, and by 1910 over 20 railroads operated passenger service out of six different downtown terminals. In 1883, Chicago's railway managers needed a general time convention, so they developed the standardized system of North American time zones. This system for telling time spread throughout the continent.
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, when Al Capone sent men to gun down members of a rival gang, North Side, led by Bugs Moran.
Chicago was the first American city to have a homosexual-rights organization. The organization, formed in 1924, was called the Society for Human Rights. It produced the first American publication for homosexuals, Friendship and Freedom. Police and political pressure caused the organization to disband.
The Great Depression brought unprecedented suffering to Chicago, in no small part due to the city's heavy reliance on heavy industry. Notably, industrial areas on the south side and neighborhoods lining both branches of the Chicago River were devastated; by 1933 over 50% of industrial jobs in the city had been lost, and unemployment rates amongst blacks and Mexicans in the city were over 40%. The Republican political machine in Chicago was utterly destroyed by the economic crisis, and every mayor since 1931 has been a Democrat. From 1928 to 1933, the city witnessed a tax revolt, and the city was unable to meet payroll or provide relief efforts. Unemployed workers, relief recipients, and unpaid schoolteachers held huge demonstrations during the early years of the Great Depression. The fiscal crisis was resolved by 1933, and at the same time, federal relief funding began to flow into Chicago and enabled the city to complete construction of Lake Shore Drive, landscape numerous parks, construct 30 new schools, and build a thoroughly modernized State Street Subway. Chicago was also a hotbed of labor activism, with Unemployed Councils contributing heavily in the early depression to create solidarity for the poor and demand relief, these organizations were created by socialist and communist groups. By 1935 the Workers Alliance of America begun organizing the poor, workers, the unemployed. In the spring of 1937 Republic Steel Works witnessed the Memorial Day massacre of 1937 in the neighborhood of East Side.
When general prosperity returned in 1940, Chicago had an entrenched Democratic machine, a fully solvent city government, and a population that had enthusiastically shared mass culture and mass movements. Over one-third of the workers in Chicago's manufacturing sector were unionized. During World War II, the city of Chicago alone produced more steel than the United Kingdom every year from 1939 - 1945, and more than Nazi Germany from 1943 - 1945. The city's diversified industrial base made it second only to Detroit in the value—$24 billion—of war goods produced. Over 1,400 companies produced everything from field rations to parachutes to torpedoes, while new aircraft plants employed 100,000 in the construction of engines, aluminum sheeting, bombsights, and other components. The Great Migration, which had been on pause due to the Depression, resumed at an even faster pace in the second wave, as hundreds of thousands of blacks from the South arrived in the city to work in the steel mills, railroads, and shipping yards.
Mayor Richard J. Daley, a Democrat, was elected in 1955, in the era of machine politics. In 1956, the city conducted its last major expansion when it annexed the land under O'Hare airport, including a small portion of DuPage County.
By the 1960s, white residents in several neighborhoods left the city for the suburban areas – in many American cities, a process known as white flight – as Blacks continued to move beyond the Black Belt. While home loan discriminatory redlining against blacks continued, the real estate industry practiced what became known as blockbusting, completely changing the racial composition of whole neighborhoods. Structural changes in industry, such as globalization and job outsourcing, caused heavy job losses for lower-skilled workers. At its peak during the 1960s, some 250,000 workers were employed in the steel industry in Chicago, but the steel crisis of the 1970s and 1980s reduced this number to just 28,000 in 2015. 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.
In 1983, Harold Washington became the first black mayor of Chicago. Washington's first term in office directed attention to poor and previously neglected minority neighborhoods. He was re‑elected in 1987 but died of a heart attack soon after. Washington was succeeded by 6th ward AldermanEugene Sawyer, who was elected by the Chicago City Council and served until a special election.
Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, was elected in 1989. His accomplishments included improvements to parks and creating incentives for sustainable development, as well as closing Meigs Field in the middle of the night and destroying the runways. After successfully running for re-election five times, and becoming Chicago's longest-serving mayor, Richard M. Daley declined to run for a seventh term.
In 1992, a construction accident near the Kinzie Street Bridge produced a breach connecting the Chicago River to a tunnel below, which was part of an abandoned freight tunnel system extending throughout the downtown Loop district. The tunnels filled with 250 million US gallons (1,000,000 m3) of water, affecting buildings throughout the district and forcing a shutdown of electrical power. The area was shut down for three days and some buildings did not reopen for weeks; losses were estimated at $1.95 billion.
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.
A satellite image of Chicago
When Chicago was founded in 1837, most of the early building was 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 (176.5 m) above sea level. While measurements vary somewhat, the lowest points are along the lake shore at 578 ft (176.2 m), while the highest point, at 672 ft (205 m), is the morainal ridge of Blue Island in the city's far south side.
Major sections of the city include the central business district, called The Loop, and the North, 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 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 plot, which was bounded by Lake Michigan on the east, North Avenue on the north, Wood Street on the west, and 22nd Street on the south. 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 (about one street per 200 meters in one direction and one street per 100 meters in the other direction). The grid's regularity provided an efficient means of developing 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.
In 2016, Chicago was ranked the sixth-most walkable large city in the United States. Many of the city's residential streets have a wide patch of grass and/or trees between the street and the sidewalk itself. This helps to keep pedestrians on the sidewalk further away from the street traffic. Chicago's Western Avenue is the longest continuous urban street in the world. Other notable streets include Michigan Avenue, State Street, Oak, Rush, Clark Street, and Belmont Avenue. The City Beautiful movement inspired Chicago's boulevards and parkways.
The city lies within the typical hot-summer humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfa), and experiences four distinct seasons.Summers are hot and humid, with frequent heat waves. The July daily average is 75.9 °F (24.4 °C) with temperatures peaking at 85.0 °F (29.4 °C). In a normal summer, temperatures can reach anywhere between 90–100 °F (32–38 °C) on as many as 23 days, with Lakefront locations staying cooler when winds blow off the Lake. Winters are cold and snowy, although the city typically sees less snow and rain in winter than that experienced on the eastern Great Lakes; blizzards do occur, as in 2011. There are many sunny but cold days in winter. The normal winter high from December through March is about 36 °F (2 °C), with January and February being the coldest months; January 2019's polar vortex nearly broke the city's cold record of minus 27 degrees, which was set on January 20, 1985.Spring and autumn are mild, short seasons, typically with low humidity. Dew point temperatures in the summer range from an average of 55.7 °F (13.2 °C) in June to 61.7 °F (16.5 °C) in July, but can reach nearly 80 °F (27 °C), such as during the July 2019 heat wave. The city lies within 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) one day prior and recorded a heat index of 125 °F (52 °C) during the 1995 heatwave. The lowest official temperature of −27 °F (−33 °C) was recorded on January 20, 1985, at O'Hare Airport. Most of the city's rainfall is brought by thunderstorms, averaging 38 a year. The region is also prone to severe thunderstorms during the spring and summer which can produce large hail, damaging winds, and occasionally tornadoes. Like other major cities, Chicago experiences an urban heat island, making the city and its suburbs milder than surrounding rural areas, especially at night and in winter. The proximity to Lake Michigan tends to keep the Chicago lakefront somewhat cooler in summer and less brutally cold in winter than inland parts of the city and suburbs away from the lake. Northeast winds from wintertime cyclones departing south of the region sometimes bring the city lake-effect snow.
Climate data for Chicago (Midway Airport), 1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1928–present
As in the rest of the state of Illinois, Chicago forms part of the Central Time Zone. The border with the Eastern Time Zone is located a short distance to the east, used in Michigan and certain parts of Indiana.
During its first hundred 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. In the forty years from 1850 to 1890, the city's population grew from slightly under 30,000 to over 1 million. At the end 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.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the great majority of African Americans moving to Chicago settled in a so‑called "Black Belt" on the city's South Side. A large number of blacks also settled on the West Side. By 1930, two-thirds of Chicago's black population lived in sections of the city which were 90% black in racial composition. Chicago's South Side emerged as United States second-largest urban black concentration, following New York's Harlem. Today, Chicago's South Side and the adjoining south suburbs constitute the largest black majority region in the entire United States.
Chicago's population declined in the latter half of the 20th century, from over 3.6 million in 1950 down to under 2.7 million by 2010. By the time of the official census count in 1990, it was overtaken by Los Angeles as the United States' second largest city.
The city has seen a rise in population for the 2000 census and is expected to have an increase for the 2020 census.
Per U.S. Census estimates as of July 2019, Chicago's largest racial or ethnic group is non-Hispanic White at 32.8% of the population, Blacks at 30.1% and the Hispanic population at 29.0% of the population
Map of racial distribution in Chicago, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)
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:
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 U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey data estimates for 2008–2012, the median income for a household in the city was $47,408, and the median income for a family was $54,188. Male full-time workers had a median income of $47,074 versus $42,063 for females. About 18.3% of families and 22.1% of the population lived below the poverty line. In 2018, Chicago ranked 7th globally for the highest number of ultra-high-net-worth residents with roughly 3,300 residents worth more than $30 million.
According to the 2008–2012 American Community Survey, the ancestral groups having 10,000 or more persons in Chicago were:
Chicago has the third-largest gross metropolitan product in the United States—about $670.5 billion according to September 2017 estimates. The city has also been rated as having the most balanced economy in the United States, due to its high level of diversification. In 2007, 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 calendar year 2014. The Chicago metropolitan area has the third-largest science and engineering work force of any metropolitan area in the nation. In 2009 Chicago placed ninth 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, Julius Rosenwald and many other commercial visionaries who laid the foundation for Midwestern and global industry.
The city and its surrounding metropolitan area contain the third-largest labor pool in the United States with about 4.63 million workers. 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 three Dow 30 companies: aerospace giant Boeing, which moved its headquarters from Seattle to the Chicago Loop in 2001,McDonald's and Walgreens Boots Alliance. For six consecutive years since 2013, Chicago was ranked the nation's top metropolitan area for corporate relocations.
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 division of General Electric. In addition to Boeing, which located its headquarters in Chicago in 2001, and United Airlines in 2011, GE Transportation moved its offices to the city in 2013 and GE Healthcare moved its HQ to the city in 2016, 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. Although 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 the site of a growing number of web startup companies like CareerBuilder, Orbitz, Basecamp, Groupon, Feedburner, Grubhub and NowSecure.
Late in the 19th century, Chicago was part of the bicycle craze, with the 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 the site of 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.
Chicago's minimum wage for non-tipped employees is one of the highest in the nation at $13 per hour and will reach $15 by 2021.
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.
Navy Pier, located just east of Streeterville, is 3,000 ft (910 m) long and houses retail stores, restaurants, museums, exhibition halls and auditoriums. In the summer of 2016, Navy Pier constructed a DW60 Ferris wheel. Dutch Wheels, a world renowned company that manufactures ferris wheels, was selected to design the new wheel. It features 42 navy blue gondolas that can hold up to eight adults and two kids. It also has entertainment systems inside the gondolas as well as a climate controlled environment. The DW60 stands at approximately 196 ft (60 m), which is 46 ft taller than the previous wheel. The new DW60 is the first in the United States and is the sixth tallest in the U.S. Chicago was the first city in the world to ever erect a ferris wheel.
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.
In 2013, Chicago was chosen as one of the "Top Ten Cities in the United States" to visit for its restaurants, skyscrapers, museums, and waterfront, by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler.
Chicago lays claim to a large number of regional specialties that 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. Certain Chicago pizza favorites include Lou Malnati's and Giordano's.
A distinctly Chicago sandwich, the Italian beef sandwich is thinly sliced beef 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. The Maxwell Street Polish is a grilled or deep-fried kielbasa—on a hot dog roll, topped with grilled onions, yellow mustard, and hot sport peppers.
Chicken Vesuvio is roasted bone-in chicken cooked in oil and garlic next to garlicky oven-roasted potato wedges and a sprinkling of green peas. The Puerto Rican-influenced jibarito is a sandwich made with flattened, fried green plantains instead of bread. The mother-in-law is a tamale topped with chili and served on a hot dog bun. 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.
Carl Sandburg's most famous description of the city is as "Hog Butcher for the World/Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat/ Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler,/ Stormy, Husky, Brawling, City of the Big Shoulders."
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.
Sporting News named Chicago the "Best Sports City" in the United States in 1993, 2006, and 2010. Along with Boston, Chicago is the only city to continuously host major professional sports since 1871, having only taken 1872 and 1873 off due to the Great Chicago Fire. Additionally, Chicago is one of the eight cities in the United States to have won championships in the four major professional leagues and, along with Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, is one of five cities to have won soccer championships as well. All of its major franchises have won championships within recent years – the Bears (1985), the Bulls (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998), the White Sox (2005), the Cubs (2016), the Blackhawks (2010, 2013, 2015), and the Fire (1998). Chicago has the third most franchises in the four major North American sports leagues with five, behind the New York and Los Angeles Metropolitan Areas, and have six top-level professional sports clubs when including Chicago Fire FC of Major League Soccer (MLS).
The city has two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams: the Chicago Cubs of the National League play in Wrigley Field on the North Side; and the Chicago White Sox of the American League play in Guaranteed Rate 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 (New York hosted only one between 1958 and early 1962). The two teams have faced each other in a World Series only once: in 1906, when the White Sox, known as the "Hitless Wonders," defeated the Cubs, 4–2.
The Cubs are the oldest Major League Baseball team to have never changed their city; they have played in Chicago since 1871, and continuously so since 1874 due to the Great Chicago Fire. They have played more games and have more wins than any other team in Major League baseball since 1876. They have won three World Series titles, including the 2016 World Series, but had the dubious honor of having the two longest droughts in American professional sports: They had not won their sport's title since 1908, and had not participated in a World Series since 1945, both records, until they beat the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series.
The White Sox have played on the South Side continuously since 1901, with all three of their home fields throughout the years being within blocks of one another. They have won three World Series titles (1906, 1917, 2005) and six American League pennants, including the first in 1901. The Sox are fifth in the American League in all-time wins, and sixth in pennants.
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, which is in the northwestern corner of one of Chicago's oldest parks, Grant Park in the Chicago Loop.
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 current mayor is Lori Lightfoot. The mayor appoints commissioners and other officials who oversee the various departments. As well as the mayor, Chicago's clerk and treasurer are also elected citywide. 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.
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 rural and farm concerns while the Democrats support urban issues such as Chicago's public school funding.
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. 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.
Formerly a state legislator representing Chicago and later a US Senator, the city is home of former United States President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The Obamas' residence is located near the University of Chicago in Kenwood on the city's south side.
Chicago had a murder rate of 18.5 per 100,000 residents in 2012, ranking 16th among US cities with 100,000 people or more. This was higher than in New York City and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in the United States, which have lower murder rates and lower total homicides. However, it was less than in many smaller American cities, including New Orleans, Newark, and Detroit, which had 53 murders per 100,000 residents in 2012. The 2015 year-end crime statistics showed there were 468 murders in Chicago in 2015 compared with 416 the year before, a 12.5% increase, as well as 2,900 shootings—13% more than the year prior, and up 29% since 2013. Chicago had more homicides than any other city in 2015 in total but not on per capita basis, according to the Chicago Tribune. In its annual crime statistics for 2016, the Chicago Police Department reported that the city experienced a dramatic rise in gun violence, with 4,331 shooting victims. The department also reported 762 murders in Chicago for the year 2016, a total that marked a 62.79% increase in homicides from 2015. In June 2017, the Chicago Police Department and the Federal ATF announced a new task force, similar to past task forces, to address the flow of illegal guns and repeat offenses with guns.
According to reports in 2013, "most 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 is active in several American cities. By 2006, the cartel sought to control most illicit drug sells. 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. In 2013, the violent crime rate was 910 per 100,000 people; the murder rate was 10.4 – while high crime districts saw 38.9, low crime districts saw 2.5 murders per 100,000.
The number of murders in Chicago peaked at 970 in 1974, when the city's population was over 3 million people (a murder rate of about 29 per 100,000), and it reached 943 murders in 1992, (a murder rate of 34 per 100,000). However, Chicago, like other major U.S. cities, experienced a significant reduction in violent crime rates through the 1990s, falling to 448 homicides in 2004, its lowest total since 1965 and only 15.65 murders per 100,000. Chicago's homicide tally remained low during 2005 (449), 2006 (452), and 2007 (435) but rose to 510 in 2008, breaking 500 for the first time since 2003. In 2009, the murder count fell to 458 (10% down). and in 2010 Chicago's murder rate fell to 435 (16.14 per 100,000), a 5% decrease from 2009 and lowest levels since 1965. In 2011, Chicago's murders fell another 1.2% to 431 (a rate of 15.94 per 100,000). but shot up to 506 in 2012.
In 2012, Chicago ranked 21st in the United States in numbers of homicides per person, and in the first half of 2013 there was a significant drop per-person, in all categories of violent crime, 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. In 2013, the city's murder rate was only slightly higher than the national average as a whole.) According to the FBI, St. Louis, New Orleans, Detroit, and Baltimorehad the highest murder rate along with several other cities.Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, estimated that shootings cost the city of Chicago $2.5 billion in 2012.
In September 2016, an Illinois state appellate court found that cities do not have an obligation under the Illinois Constitution to pay certain benefits if those benefits had included an expiration date under whichever negotiated agreement they were covered. The Illinois Constitution prohibits governments from doing anything that could cause retirement benefits for government workers to be "diminished or impaired." In this particular case, the fact that the workers' agreements had expiration dates let the city of Chicago set an expiration date of 2013 for contribution to health benefits for workers who retired after 1989.
Chicago high school rankings are determined by the average test scores on state achievement tests. The district, with an enrollment exceeding 400,545 students (2013–2014 20th Day Enrollment), is the third-largest in the U.S. 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 compiled 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 about 130), sorts students of different achievement levels into different schools (high performing, middle performing, and low performing schools).
As of 2018, Windy City Live is Chicago's only daytime talk show, which is hosted by Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini at ABC7 Studios with a live weekday audience. Since 1999, Judge Mathis also films his syndicated arbitration-based reality court show at the NBC Tower. Beginning in January 2019, Newsy began producing 12 of its 14 hours of live news programming per day from its new facility in Chicago.
Aerial photo of the Jane Byrne Interchange, opened in the 1960s
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.
The city of Chicago has a higher than average percentage of households without a car. In 2015, 26.5 percent of Chicago households were without a car, and increased slightly to 27.5 percent in 2016. The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Chicago averaged 1.12 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.
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 Kennedy and Dan Ryan Expressways are the busiest state maintained routes in the entire state of Illinois.
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.
In May 2019, The City of Chicago announced its Chicago's Electric Shared Scooter Pilot Program, scheduled to run from June 15 to October 15. The program started on June 15 with 10 different scooter companies, including scooter sharing market leaders Bird, Jump, Lime and Lyft. Each company was allowed to bring 250 electric scooters, although both Bird and Lime claimed that they experienced a higher demand for their scooters. The program ended on October 15, with nearly 800,000 rides taken.
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). According to U.S. Department of Transportation, the volume of imported and exported goods transported via rail to, from, or through Chicago is forecast to increase nearly 150 percent between 2010 and 2040. CREATE, the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program, comprises about 70 programs, including crossovers, overpasses and underpasses, that intend to significantly improve the speed of freight movements in the Chicago area.
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 (8,400,000 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 (310,000 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 began installing wind turbines on government buildings to promote 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 recyclable refuse from landfills. Because of low participation in the blue bag programs, the city began a pilot program for blue bin recycling like other cities. This proved successful and blue bins were rolled out across the city.
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.
^ abMean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
^Official records for Chicago were kept at various locations in downtown from January 1871 to 31 December 1925, University of Chicago from 1 January 1926 to 30 June 1942, Midway Airport from 1 July 1942 to 16 January 1980, and at O'Hare Airport since 17 January 1980.
^ ab"Timeline: Early Chicago History". Chicago: City of the Century. WGBH Educational Foundation And Window to the World Communications, Inc. 2003. Archived from the original on March 25, 2009. Retrieved May 26, 2009.
^Lopez, Russell (2012). "Nineteenth-Century Reform Movements". Building American Public Health: Urban Planning, Architecture, & the Quest for Better Health in the United States. The 1893 Columbian Exhibition. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 41. ISBN978-1137002433. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
^Gordon, Matthew J. (2004). "New York, Philadelphia, and other northern cities: phonology". Kortmann, Bernd, Kate Burridge, Rajend Mesthrie, Edgar W. Schneider and Clive Upton (eds). A Handbook of Varieties of English. Volume 1: Phonology, Volume 2: Morphology and Syntax. Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter. p. 297.
^Gemignani, Tony. (2014). The pizza bible : the world's favorite pizza styles, from Neapolitan, deep-dish, wood-fired, Sicilian, calzones and focaccia to New York, New Haven, Detroit, and more (First ed.). Berkeley. ISBN978-1-60774-605-8. 879642419.
^Bledstein, Burton J., Project Director. "Chicago's Park & Boulevard System"(PDF). In the vicinity of Maxwell Street Market – Virtual Museum (tigger.uic.edu/depts/hist/hull-maxwell/). University of Illinois at Chicago. Archived from the original(PDF) on June 12, 2010. Retrieved April 7, 2016.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
^"Partnerská města HMP" [Prague – Twin Cities HMP]. Portál "Zahraniční vztahy" [Portal "Foreign Affairs"] (in Czech). July 18, 2013. Archived from the original on June 25, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
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