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city and county seat of Cook County, Illinois, United States

Chicago is the largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois, and the county seat of Cook County. It is the third largest city in the United States, although it used to be the second largest. Chicago is next to one of the five Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. In the 2000 census, almost 2,900,000 people lived there, with six million more people living nearby.

Chicago, Illinois
City of Chicago
Clockwise from top: Downtown Chicago, the Chicago Theatre, the 'L', Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Field Museum, and Willis Tower
Official seal of Chicago, Illinois
Etymology: Miami-Illinois: shikaakwa ("wild onion" or "wild garlic")
Potawatomi: Gaa-zhigaagwanzhikaag
Windy City, Chi-Town, City of Broad Shoulders, Second City
(for more, see full list)
Latin: Urbs in Horto (City in a Garden), I Will
Location within Cook and DuPage Counties
Location within Cook and DuPage Counties
Chicago is located in Illinois
Location within Illinois
Chicago is located in the United States
Location within the United States
Coordinates: 41°50′13″N 87°41′05″W / 41.83694°N 87.68472°W / 41.83694; -87.68472Coordinates: 41°50′13″N 87°41′05″W / 41.83694°N 87.68472°W / 41.83694; -87.68472[1]
Country United States
State Illinois
CountiesCook, DuPage
Settledcirca 1780
Incorporated (town)August 12, 1833
Incorporated (city)March 4, 1837
Founded byJean Baptiste Point du Sable
Named forMiami-Illinois: shikaakwa
(wild onion or wild garlic)
 • TypeMayor–council
 • BodyChicago City Council
 • MayorLori Lightfoot (D)
 • City ClerkAnna Valencia (D)
 • City TreasurerKurt Summers Jr. (D)
 • City234.14 sq mi (606.42 km2)
 • Land227.34 sq mi (588.81 km2)
 • Water6.80 sq mi (17.62 km2)  3.0%
 • Urban
2,122.8 sq mi (5,498 km2)
 • Metro
10,874 sq mi (28,160 km2)
[1] (mean)
594 ft (181 m)
Highest elevation

– near Blue Island
1 ft (0.3 m)
Lowest elevation

– at Lake Michigan
578 ft (176 m)
 • City2,695,598
 • Estimate 
 • Rank3rd, U.S.
 • Density11,898.29/sq mi (4,593.95/km2)
 • Metro
9,512,999 (3rd)[3]
 • CSA
9,882,634 (US: 3rd)[3]
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (Central)
ZIP Code Prefixes
606xx, 607xx, 608xx
Area codes312/872 and 773/872
FIPS code17-14000
GNIS feature ID0428803

The city also has about 300 bridges.[5] Chicago is sometimes called the "Windy City". The first non-Native American permanent settler in the area which is now Chicago was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable.

Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed.  The name "Chicago" is the French version of the Miami-Illinois word shikaakwa ("Wild Onion"), named for the plants common along the Chicago River. Today, Chicago is listed as an alpha+ global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and ranks seventh in the world in the 2012 Global Cities Index. The city is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, telecommunications, and transportation, with O'Hare International Airport being the second-busiest airport in the world in terms of traffic movements. The first skyscraper in the world, the Home Insurance Building,[6] was built in Chicago.[6] In September 2013, the FBI named Chicago "The Murder Capital of the United States" with 550 murders recorded in 2012.


Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the founder of Chicago, 1700s
A drawing of The Great Chicago Fire, 1871
The Chicago NATO Summit logo, 2012

Chicago was founded in the early 1700s by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. The city was founded to create a canal that allowed steamboats and sailing ships on the Great Lakes to connect to the Mississippi River.[7][8] The city later became a trading center for food, crops, and fur. The city grew very fast because of how the river back then was clean and healthy to drink. In 1837, Chicago became a city. The city grew until the Great Chicago Fire happened in 1871. The fire lasted for almost a week. Almost half the city and its population were lost in the fire. After the fire Chicago grew faster than ever.

Also after the fire happened the city's economy grew and also more people migrated here from parts of the world. The immigrants include, Germans, Jews, Irish, Swedes, Poles, and Czechs. The immigrants made almost two-thirds of the city's population. In 1889, Jane Addams had built the first Hull house in Chicago for children and the poor. The city's public health became better, so that the city would be healthy. In 1893, the city hosted the World's Columbian Exposition. And later the University of Chicago was founded in 1892.

In 1919 the city later became known for its gangsters such as Al Capone, Dean O’Banion, Bugs Moran and Tony Accardo. Later the city also became known for one of the most infamous massacres, the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre when Al Capone ordered many gangsters to be shot on St. Valentine's Day in 1929. Shortly after that the city became known for John Dillinger, a bank robber who could rob an entire bank under two minutes. Dillinger was shot and killed at the Biograph Theatre in 1934.

During a Democratic party convention in 1933, the 44th Mayor of Chicago, Anton Cermak was shot and killed when a man tried to shoot at Franklin D. Roosevelt when Cermak blocked the bullet so that the President would not be hurt. Cermak died hours later. In 1955, Mayor Richard J. Daley became one of the most powerful and well known Democrats in the country. He also helped Martin Luther King and other activist share their thoughts and opinions without being arrested in Chicago.

In 1968, during the 1968 Democratic National Convention led to a massive protest and riots that happened where the convention was held. Richard J. Daley helped create the construction sites for the Willis Tower, O'Hare International Airport, the McCormick Place, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jane Byrne helped Chicago to become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United State s. She was the first female mayor of Chicago.

In 1982, seven people were poisoned with cyanide in Tylenol pills across the city. These incidents led to reforms in the packaging of over-the-counter substances and to federal anti-tampering laws.

In 1983, Harold Washington became the first African American mayor of Chicago and helped clean all dangerous and poor neighborhoods in the city. He was later re-elected, but died of a heart attack. He would become the second mayor of Chicago to die from a heart attack while in office, the first was Richard J. Daley. Washington's second full term was finished by Eugene Sawyer, the second African American Mayor of Chicago.

In 1989, Richard M. Daley, the son of Richard J. Daley, became the mayor of Chicago. Daley was the longest serving Mayor of Chicago.

In 2011, Rahm Emanuel became the first Jewish Mayor of Chicago.

In 2012, the NATO Summit was held in Chicago and lasted for three days. The city would also host the 38th G8 summit, but was moved to Camp David because the city was already hosting the NATO summit in Chicago.

Chicago has the fourth-largest gross domestic product (GDP) of any city in the world, just behind Tokyo, New York City, and Los Angeles, and ahead of London and Paris.

Chicago is the largest city in the United States to have a female mayor since 2012.[9][10]


The Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum was the first planetarium in the Northern Hemisphere

Chicago has a very well-known culture. Some of the many things Chicago is famous for are: Chicago-style hot dogs, Chicago-style (deep dish) pizza, Maxwell Street Polish Sausage, jazz music, and 1920s gangsters like Al Capone. Chicago is also known for interesting architecture like the Sears Tower, many museums, and many loyal sports fans.

Chicago was home to the Bijou Theater, the longest-running gay adult theater and sex club in the United States. It opened in 1970,[11] and it permanently closed its doors in September 2015.

For many years, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world. It is the second tallest building in the United States.

Chicago has the most Polish people inside its city limits outside of Warsaw.[8] Historic U.S. Route 66 starts in Chicago by Grant Park in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.[12]


Chicago is a major world financial center, with the second largest central business district in the United States.[13] The city is the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (the Seventh District of the Federal Reserve). The city is also home to major financial and futures exchanges, including the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the "Merc"), which is owned, along with the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) by Chicago's CME Group. The CME Group, in addition, owns the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the Commodities Exchange Inc. (COMEX) and the Dow Jones Indexes.[14] Perhaps due to the influence of the Chicago school of economics, the city also has markets trading unusual contracts such as emissions (on the Chicago Climate Exchange), and equity style indices (on the U.S. Futures Exchange). Chase Bank has its commercial and retail banking headquarters in Chicago's Chase Tower.[15]


Chicago Stations




There are many museums in Chicago. These include:
Adler Planetarium - built in 1930, it is the oldest planetarium in the world
Art Institute of Chicago - has a large collection of American and Impressionist art
Field Museum of Natural History - has Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus fossil known
Museum of Science and Industry - has many exhibits including a real Boeing 727 jet plane which was given to the museum by United Airlines
Polish Museum of America - Museum haunted by famous piano player Ignace Paderewski, has large collection of Polish art in the biggest Polish city outside of Poland
Shedd Aquarium - at one time the world's largest aquarium. Has 19 million liters (5 million gallons) of water and 22,000 fish


Sports are a big part of the cultural life in Chicago. Chicago is home to 15 sports teams. All of the city's major sports teams play within the city limits.

Wrigley Field is the home of the Chicago Cubs

Chicago is one of only three cities in the United States to have two Major League Baseball teams: the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs.[16] The White Sox play at the Guaranteed Rate Field and the Cubs play at Wrigley Field. The White Sox won the World Series in 2005. The Cubs won the World Series in 2016.

Chicago's National Basketball Association (NBA) team is the Chicago Bulls. For many years, Michael Jordan played for the Bulls, and he helped them win six Championships during the 1990s.

At American football, Chicago is the home of the Chicago Bears (National Football League) and the Chicago Rush (Arena Football League).

Chicago has two ice hockey teams, the Chicago Blackhawks (who play for the National Hockey League) and the Chicago Wolves (who play for the American Hockey League).

Chicago also has a Major League Soccer team, the Chicago Fire, although it plays outside of its city limits, in Bridgeview.


Many people and things travel through Chicago to get to other places. Chicago has a complex network of trains and buses, which help people who live in Chicago travel across the city. Chicago's commuter train system is called the Metra. It runs within the city and also into the suburbs that are around Chicago. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is a system of buses and elevated trains (called the 'L') that run inside the city.

O'Hare International Airport is a major center for air travel, the second-busiest after Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Chicago has another airport called Midway Airport. Many trains use Chicago as a place to change loads and to change directions. There is also a canal between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River called the Chicago River. The Chicago River is the only river to travel backwards.


The city lies within the humid continental climate zone, and has four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with a July daily average of 75.8 °F (24.3 °C). In a normal summer, temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on 21 days. Winters are cold and snowy with many sunny days, and with a January daytime average of 31 °F (−1 °C). Spring and autumn are mild seasons with low humidity.

According to the National Weather Service, Chicago's highest official temperature reading of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded on July 24, 1934,[17] although it is unknown about the reading of 109 °F (43 °C) was also recorded at Midway Airport during that month. The lowest temperature of −27 °F (−33 °C) was recorded on January 20, 1985, at O'Hare Airport.[18] The city can experience extreme winter cold waves and summer heat waves that may last for several consecutive days. There are also many mild winter and summer days. Thunderstorms are usually common during the spring and summer months; sometimes they may produce tornadoes which are more likely in the far suburban areas than the city itself. The heaviest snowfall record that Chicago had was in January 1999 when it snowed 18.6 inches (47.2 centimeters).


Although Chicago is known as the Windy City, it is in fact less windy than many other major American cities. Average wind speeds range from 8 miles per hour (13 km/h) in late summer to 12 miles per hour (19 km/h) in spring months. The "Windy City" moniker is believed to actually be a reference to the boostering politicians of Chicago from the 1800s. The phrase may have also been created by Chicago tourism boosters promoting the city, suggesting that the cool breezes from Lake Michigan make Chicago an ideal summer destination.

Community areasEdit

The community areas in Chicago, as defined by the Social Science Research Committee at the University of Chicago, are 77 divisions of Chicago. They are officially recognized by the City of Chicago.[28][29] These areas are well-defined and static. Census data are tied to the community areas, and they serve as the basis for a variety of urban planning initiatives on both the local and regional levels.


Number Community area Neighborhoods
08 Near North Side
32 Loop
33 Near South Side

North SideEdit

North Side
Number Community area Neighborhoods
05 North Center
06 Lake View
07 Lincoln Park
21 Avondale
22 Logan Square
Far North side
Number Community area Neighborhoods
01 Rogers Park
02 West Ridge
03 Uptown
04 Lincoln Square
09 Edison Park
10 Norwood Park
11 Jefferson Park
12 Forest Glen
13 North Park
14 Albany Park
76 O'Hare
77 Edgewater

Northwest side
Number Community area Neighborhoods
15 Portage Park
16 Irving Park
17 Dunning
18 Montclare
19 Belmont Cragin
20 Hermosa

West SideEdit

Number Community area Neighborhoods
23 Humboldt Park
24 West Town
25 Austin
26 West Garfield Park
27 East Garfield Park
28 Near West Side
29 North Lawndale
30 South Lawndale
31 Lower West Side

South SideEdit

Number Community area Neighborhoods
34 Armour Square
35 Douglas
36 Oakland
37 Fuller Park
38 Grand Boulevard
39 Kenwood
40 Washington Park
41 Hyde Park
42 Woodlawn
43 South Shore
60 Bridgeport
69 Greater Grand Crossing
Southwest side
Number Community area Neighborhoods
56 Garfield Ridge
57 Archer Heights
58 Brighton Park
59 McKinley Park
61 New City
62 West Elsdon
63 Gage Park
64 Clearing
65 West Lawn
66 Chicago Lawn
67 West Englewood
68 Englewood
Far Southeast side
Number Community area Neighborhoods
44 Chatham
45 Avalon Park
46 South Chicago
47 Burnside
48 Calumet Heights
49 Roseland
50 Pullman
51 South Deering
52 East Side
53 West Pullman
54 Riverdale
55 Hegewisch
Far Southwest side
Number Community area Neighborhoods
70 Ashburn
71 Auburn Gresham
72 Beverly
73 Washington Heights
74 Mount Greenwood
75 Morgan Park

Famous people from ChicagoEdit

Some famous people who lived in or are from Chicago.

Law and GovernmentEdit

Chicago is the county seat of Cook County. The government of the City of Chicago is divided into executive and legislative branches. Civil and criminal law cases are heard in the Cook County Circuit Court of the State of Illinois court system, or in the Northern District of Illinois, in the federal system. In the former, the public prosecutor is the Illinois State's Attorney, in the latter, the United States Attorney.

The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive, elected by general election for a term of four years, with no term limits. The mayor appoints commissioners and other officials who oversee the various departments. In addition to the mayor, Chicago's two other citywide elected officials are the clerk and the treasurer. The City Council is the legislative branch and is made up of 50 aldermen, one elected from each ward in the city. The council enacts local ordinances and approves the city budget. Government priorities and activities are established in a budget ordinance usually adopted each November. The council takes official action through the passage of ordinances and resolutions.

Mayors of ChicagoEdit


Chicago had a murder rate of 14.5 per 100,000 residents in 2012. This pales in comparison to smaller cities, including New Orleans, Newark, and Detroit, which saw 53 murders per 100,000 residents in 2012.[30] The total number of murders in the city peaked in 1974, with 970 murders when the city's population was over 3 million people (resulting in a murder rate of around 29 per 100,000), and came close to peaking again in 1992 with 943 murders, resulting in a murder rate of 34 per 100,000.[31] Chicago, along with other major US cities, experienced a significant reduction in violent crime rates through the 1990s, eventually recording 448 homicides in 2004, the lowest total since 1965 (15.65 per 100,000.) Chicago's homicide tally remained steady throughout 2005, 2006, and 2007 with 449, 452, and 435 respectively.


Amtrak and Metra rail yard south of Union Station
A CTA Brown Line train leaving the Madison/Wabash station in the Chicago Loop.

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.[32]


The Kennedy Expressway and Dan Ryan Expressways are the busiest state maintained routes in not only the City of Chicago and its suburbs, but also the entire state of Illinois.[33]

Night view of the Chicago Skyway tollbooths at the entrance to Chicago's southern city limits

Transit systemsEdit

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) coordinates the operation of the three service boards: CTA, Metra, and Pace.

  • The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) handles public transportation in the city of Chicago and a few adjacent suburbs outside of the Chicago city limits. The CTA operates an extensive network of buses and a rapid transit elevated and subway system known as the 'L' (for "elevated"), with lines designated by colors. These rapid transit lines also serve both Midway and O'Hare Airports. The CTA's rail lines consist of the Red Line, Blue Line, Green Line, Orange Line, Brown Line, Purple Line, Pink Line, and Yellow Line. 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.[34]

Greyhound Lines provides inter-city bus service to and from the city, and Chicago is also the hub for the Midwest network of Megabus.

Amtrak long distance services originate from Union Station. Chicago is one of the largest hubs of passenger rail service in the nation. The services terminate in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York City, Indianapolis, New Oreleans, Portland, Seattle, Milwaukee, Quincy, St. Louis, Carbondale, Boston, Grand Rapids, Port Huron, Pontiac, Los Angeles, and San Antonio. An attempt was made in the early 20th century to link Chicago with New York City via the Chicago – New York Electric Air Line Railroad. Parts of this were built, but it was ultimately never completed.


Sister citiesEdit

Sister cities

Partner city


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mean 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.
  2. 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.[24][25]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "City of Chicago". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bureau, US Census. "Metro/Micro Area Population Totals Tables: 2010-2016". Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  4. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  5. Nearly 300 Chicago Area Bridges ‘Structurally Deficient’
  6. 6.0 6.1 Smith, Chrysti M. (2006). Verbivore's Feast: Second Course: More Word & Phrase Origins. Farcountry Press. p. 289. ISBN 1-56037-402-0, 9781560374022 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help). Retrieved 2012-01-19. The word skyscraper, in its architectural context, was first applied to the Home Insurance Building, completed in Chicago in 1885.
  7. Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
  8. 8.0 8.1 Facts about Chicago at
  9. Jane Byrne at
  10. Chicago Tribune
  11. U.S. v. Toushin, 714 F.Supp. 1452 at 1454 (M.D.Tenn. April 21, 1989)
  12. Begin (or End?) Route 66 in Chicago at
  13. "50 Largest Urban Areas: 2000 Data on Employment & Transit Work Trips" (PDF). demographia. Retrieved August 7, 2009.
  14. "Futures & Options Trading for Risk Management". CME Group. April 13, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  15. "JPMorgan History | The History of Our Firm". Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  16. Nielsen DMA Rankings
  17. Chicago's Official Records. National Weather Service. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  18. Monthly Averages for O'Hare International Airport. The Weather Channel. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
  19. "Station Name: IL CHICAGO MIDWAY AP". National Climatic Data Center. Retrieved 2013-03-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  20. 20.0 20.1 "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". NWS Romeoville, IL. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  21. "Top 20 Weather Events of the Century for Chicago and Northeast Illinois 1900–1999". NWS Romeoville, IL. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  22. "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". Chicago Weather Forecast Office. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  23. "CHICAGO MIDWAY AP 3 SW, ILLINOIS". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  24. History of the Chicago and Rockford weather observation sites
  25. ThreadEx
  26. "Station Name: IL CHICAGO OHARE INTL AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-03-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  27. "Chicago/O'Hare, IL Climate Normals 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  28. "Community Areas Map" (PDF). City of Chicago. June 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  29. "Community Maps". City of Chicago. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  30. Munshi, N. (2013) Chicago toll rises despite gun clampdown. Financial Times, Jan. 31 [1]
  31. Heinzmann, David (January 1, 2003). Chicago falls out of 1st in murders. Chicago Tribune, found at
  32. Madigan 2004, p.52.
  33. "Illinois Department of Transportation". Retrieved April 17, 2010.
  34. "New Yorkers are top transit users", by Les Christie,, 2007-6-29. Retrieved 2009-9-21.

Other websitesEdit