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Chicago, Illinois
City of Chicago
From top, left to right: Downtown Chicago skyline; Willis Tower; Chicago Theatre; Chicago "L"; Navy Pier; Field Museum; and Pritzker Pavilion
Flag of Chicago, Illinois Official seal of Chicago, Illinois
Seal
Official logo of Chicago, Illinois
Logo
Etymology: Miami-Illinois: shikaakwa ("wild onion" or "wild garlic")
Nicknames: 
Windy City, Chi-Town, City of the Big Shoulders, Second City, My Kind of Town
(for more, see full list)
Motto(s): 
Latin: Urbs in Horto (City in a Garden); I Will
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|}|300px|Interactive map of Chicago]]
Interactive map of Chicago
Country United States
State Illinois
Counties Cook, DuPage
Settled c. 1780; 242 years ago (1780)
Incorporated (town) August 12, 1833; 188 years ago (1833-08-12)
Incorporated (city) March 4, 1837; 185 years ago (1837-03-04)
Founded by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
Government
 • Type Mayor–council
 • Body Chicago City Council
Area
 • City 234.53 sq mi (607.44 km2)
 • Land 227.73 sq mi (589.82 km2)
 • Water 6.80 sq mi (17.62 km2)
Elevation
(mean)
597.18 ft (182.02 m)
Highest elevation

– near Blue Island
672 ft (205 m)
Lowest elevation

– at Lake Michigan
578 ft (176 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • City 2,746,388
 • Rank
  • 3rd in the United States
  • 1st in Illinois
 • Density 12,059.84/sq mi (4,656.33/km2)
 • Metro
9,618,502 (3rd)
Demonym(s) Chicagoan
Time zone UTC−06:00 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (Central)
ZIP code prefixes
606xx, 607xx, 608xx
Area codes 312, 773, and 872
FIPS code 17-14000
GNIS feature ID 0428803
Major airports
Commuter rail Metramlogo.svg
Rapid transit Chicago Transit Authority Logo.svg

Chicago ( shih-KAH-goh, locally also shih-KAW-goh), officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Illinois, and the third-most populous city in the United States, following New York City and Los Angeles. With a population of 2,746,388 in the 2020 census, it is also the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the fifth most populous city in North America. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the U.S., while a small portion of the city's O'Hare International Airport also extends into DuPage County. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, defined as either the U.S. Census Bureau's metropolitan statistical area (9.6 million people) or the combined statistical area (almost 10 million residents), often called Chicagoland. It is one of the 40 largest urban areas in the world.

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. It grew rapidly in the mid-19th century; by 1860, Chicago was the youngest U.S. city to exceed a population of 100,000. Even after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed several square miles and left more than 100,000 homeless, Chicago's population grew to 503,000 by 1880 — and then doubled to more than a million within the decade. 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.

Chicago is an international hub for finance, culture, commerce, industry, education, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. It is the site of the creation of the first standardized futures contracts, issued by the Chicago Board of Trade, which today is part of the largest and most diverse derivatives market in the world, generating 20% of all volume in commodities and financial futures alone. O'Hare International Airport is routinely ranked among the world's top six busiest airports according to tracked data by the Airports Council International. The region also has the largest number of federal highways and is the nation's railroad hub. The Chicago area has one of the highest gross domestic products (GDP) in the world, generating $689 billion in 2018. The economy of Chicago is diverse, with no single industry employing more than 14% of the workforce. It is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie, Allstate, Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Caterpillar, Conagra Brands, Exelon, JLL, Kraft Heinz, McDonald's, Mondelez International, Motorola Solutions, Sears, United Airlines Holdings, US Foods, and Walgreens.

Chicago's 58 million tourist visitors in 2018 set a new record. Landmarks in the city include Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Campus, the Willis (Sears) Tower, Grant Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago is also home to the Barack Obama Presidential Center being built in Hyde Park on the city's South Side. Chicago's culture includes the visual arts, literature, film, theatre, comedy (especially improvisational comedy), food, dance, including modern dance and jazz troupes and the famed Joffrey Ballet, and music, particularly jazz, blues, soul, hip-hop, gospel, and electronic dance music including house music. Chicago is also the location of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Of the area's colleges and universities, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago are classified as "highest research" doctoral universities. Chicago has professional sports teams in each of the major professional leagues, including two Major League Baseball teams.

History

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable Andreas 1884
Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, the founder of Chicago, 1700s
Chicago-fire1
A drawing of The Great Chicago Fire, 1871
2012 Chicago summit
The Chicago NATO Summit logo, 2012
Richard M. Daley (4655925743 aacdba6297 n) (cropped)
Richard M. Daley is the city's longest serving mayor

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable founded Chicago in the early 1700s. It was founded to create a canal to let boats on the Great Lakes to connect to the Mississippi River. Later, the city 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 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.

Then, city's economy grew and more people migrated there from other parts of the world. many of the immigrants were Germans, Jews, Irish, Swedes, Poles, and Czechs. The immigrants were almost two-thirds of the city's population. In 1889, Jane Addams built Hull house in Chicago for children and the poor. In 1893, the city hosted the World's Columbian Exposition. In 1892, they created the University of Chicago.

In 1919, the city became known for its gangsters, for example Al Capone, Dean O’Banion, Bugs Moran, and Tony Accardo. In the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, Al Capone ordered gangsters to be shot on St. Valentine's Day. Then, the city became known for John Dillinger, a bank robber. He could rob a bank in under two minutes. Dillinger was shot and killed at the Biograph Theatre in 1934.

Anton Cermak was the 44th mayor of Chicago. He was shot and killed during the Democratic party convention in 1933. A man tried to shoot Franklin D. Roosevelt and Cermak blocked the bullet to save the President. Cermak died hours later. In 1955, Mayor Richard J. Daley was a powerful and well known Democrat. He helped Martin Luther King and other activists share their thoughts without being arrested in Chicago.

The 1968 Democratic National Convention had large protests and riots outside the convention. 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 States. She was the first female mayor of Chicago.

In 1983, Harold Washington became the first African American mayor of Chicago. He 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. Eugene Sawyer finished Washington's second full term. Sawyer was 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. The G8 summit was moved to Camp David because Chicago already hosted the NATO summit.

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

In 2019, Lori Lightfoot was elected mayor, making Chicago the largest city in the country to have a female, African-American, and LGBT+ mayor.

Weather

Frozen Chicago River
The Chicago River frozen
Polar vortex photos Chicago (32003936567)
The Chicago River during the 2019 Polar Vortex

Chicago has four seasons. Summers are hot and humid. The July average is 75.8 °F (24.3 °C). In a normal summer, temperatures are above 90 °F (32 °C) for 21 days. Winters are cold and snowy. There are often sunny days. The January daytime average is 31 °F (−1 °C). Spring and autumn are mild with low humidity. Chicago is in the humid continental climate zone.

Chicago's highest official temperature is 105 °F (41 °C). It was recorded on July 24, 1934, There was a reading of 109 °F (43 °C) 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. Bad winter cold waves and summer heat waves can last for many days. There are also many mild winter and summer days. Thunderstorms are common in spring and summer. Sometimes they make tornadoes. They are more common in the suburban areas and not in the city. The heaviest snowfall record was in January 1999. It snowed 18.6 inches (47.2 centimeters).

Winds

Chicago is known as the Windy City, but it is less windy than many other big American cities. 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" nickname could be connected to Chicago politicians from the 1800s. When Chicago hosted the World's Fair, citizens of Chicago started to brag about it. They bragged so much that the city of Chicago became known as "The Windy City. The phrase may have also been created by Chicago tourism boosters promoting the city. They suggested that the cool breezes from Lake Michigan make Chicago a good summer destination.

Geography

Chicago skyline at dusk, from North Avenue Beach looking south

Topography

Full chicago skyline
Downtown and the North Side with beaches lining the waterfront

Chicago is located in northeastern Illinois on the southwestern shores of freshwater Lake Michigan. It is the principal city in the Chicago metropolitan area, situated in both the Midwestern United States and the Great Lakes region. The city rests on a continental divide at the site of the Chicago Portage, connecting the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes watersheds. In addition to it lying beside Lake Michigan, two rivers—the Chicago River in downtown and the Calumet River in the industrial far South Side—flow either entirely or partially through the city.

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.

Chicago by Sentinel-2
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.

While the Chicago Loop is the central business district, Chicago is also a city of neighborhoods. Lake Shore Drive runs adjacent to a large portion of Chicago's waterfront. Some of the parks along the waterfront include Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park, and Jackson Park. There are 24 public beaches across 26 miles (42 km) of the waterfront. Landfill extends into portions of the lake providing space for Navy Pier, Northerly Island, the Museum Campus, and large portions of the McCormick Place Convention Center. Most of the city's high-rise commercial and residential buildings are close to the waterfront.

An informal name for the entire Chicago metropolitan area is "Chicagoland", which generally means the city and all its suburbs. The Chicago Tribune, which coined the term, includes the city of Chicago, the rest of Cook County, and eight nearby Illinois counties: Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Will and Kankakee, and three counties in Indiana: Lake, Porter and LaPorte. The Illinois Department of Tourism defines Chicagoland as Cook County without the city of Chicago, and only Lake, DuPage, Kane, and Will counties. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce defines it as all of Cook and DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties.

Communities

See also: Neighborhoods in Chicago
Chicago community areas map
Community areas of the City of Chicago

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.

Streetscape

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.

Architecture

2010-03-03 1856x2784 chicago chicago building
The Chicago Building (1904–05) is a prime example of the Chicago School, displaying both variations of the Chicago window.

The destruction caused by the Great Chicago Fire led to the largest building boom in the history of the nation. In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building, the Home Insurance Building, rose in the city as Chicago ushered in the skyscraper era, which would then be followed by many other cities around the world. Today, Chicago's skyline is among the world's tallest and densest.

Some of the United States' tallest towers are located in Chicago; Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere after One World Trade Center, and Trump International Hotel and Tower is the third tallest in the country. The Loop's historic buildings include the Chicago Board of Trade Building, the Fine Arts Building, 35 East Wacker, and the Chicago Building, 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments by Mies van der Rohe. Many other architects have left their impression on the Chicago skyline such as Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Charles B. Atwood, John Root, and Helmut Jahn.

The Merchandise Mart, once first on the list of largest buildings in the world, currently listed as 44th-largest (as of 9 September  2013 (2013 -09-09)), had its own zip code until 2008, and stands near the junction of the North and South branches of the Chicago River. Presently, the four tallest buildings in the city are Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower, also a building with its own zip code), Trump International Hotel and Tower, the Aon Center (previously the Standard Oil Building), and the John Hancock Center. Industrial districts, such as some areas on the South Side, the areas along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, and the Northwest Indiana area are clustered.

Chicago gave its name to the Chicago School and was home to the Prairie School, two movements in architecture. Multiple kinds and scales of houses, townhouses, condominiums, and apartment buildings can be found throughout Chicago. Large swaths of the city's residential areas away from the lake are characterized by brick bungalows built from the early 20th century through the end of World War II. Chicago is also a prominent center of the Polish Cathedral style of church architecture. The Chicago suburb of Oak Park was home to famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who had designed The Robie House located near the University of Chicago.

A popular tourist activity is to take an architecture boat tour along the Chicago River.

Monuments and public art

2004-08-08 1580x2800 chicago republic
Replica of Daniel Chester French's Statue of the Republic at the site of the World's Columbian Exposition.

Chicago is famous for its outdoor public art with donors establishing funding for such art as far back as Benjamin Ferguson's 1905 trust. A number of Chicago's public art works are by modern figurative artists. Among these are Chagall's Four Seasons; the Chicago Picasso; Miro's Chicago; Calder's Flamingo; Oldenburg's Batcolumn; Moore's Large Interior Form, 1953-54, Man Enters the Cosmos and Nuclear Energy; Dubuffet's Monument with Standing Beast, Abakanowicz's Agora; and, Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate which has become an icon of the city. Some events which shaped the city's history have also been memorialized by art works, including the Great Northern Migration (Saar) and the centennial of statehood for Illinois. Finally, two fountains near the Loop also function as monumental works of art: Plensa's Crown Fountain as well as Burnham and Bennett's Buckingham Fountain.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 4,470
1850 29,963 570.3%
1860 112,172 274.4%
1870 298,977 166.5%
1880 503,185 68.3%
1890 1,099,850 118.6%
1900 1,698,575 54.4%
1910 2,185,283 28.7%
1920 2,701,705 23.6%
1930 3,376,438 25.0%
1940 3,396,808 0.6%
1950 3,620,962 6.6%
1960 3,550,404 −1.9%
1970 3,366,957 −5.2%
1980 3,005,072 −10.7%
1990 2,783,726 −7.4%
2000 2,896,016 4.0%
2010 2,695,598 −6.9%
2020 2,746,388 1.9%
United States Census Bureau
2010–2020

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.

From the last two decades of the 19th century, Chicago was the destination of waves of immigrants from Ireland, Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, including Italians, Jews, Russians, Poles, Greeks, Lithuanians, Bulgarians, Albanians, Romanians, Turkish, Croatians, Serbs, Bosnians, Montenegrins and Czechs. To these ethnic groups, the basis of the city's industrial working class, were added an additional influx of African Americans from the American South—with Chicago's black population doubling between 1910 and 1920 and doubling again between 1920 and 1930.

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 after a decrease in 2010, it rose again 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.

Racial composition 2020 2010 1990 1970 1940
White (non-Hispanic) 31.4% 31.7% 37.9% 59.0% 91.2%
Hispanic or Latino 29.8% 28.9% 19.6% 7.4% 0.5%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 28.7% 32.3% 39.1% 32.7% 8.2%
Asian (non-Hispanic) 6.9% 5.4% 3.7% 0.9% 0.1%
Two or more races (non-Hispanic) 2.6% 1.3% n/a n/a n/a
Race and ethnicity 2010- Chicago (5560488484)
Map of racial distribution in Chicago, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or Other (yellow)

Chicago has the third-largest LGBT population in the United States. In 2018, the Chicago Department of Health, estimated 7.5% of the adult population, approximately 146,000 Chicagoans, were LGBTQ. In 2015, roughly 4% of the population identified as LGBT. Since the 2013 legalization of same-sex marriage in Illinois, over 10,000 same-sex couples have wed in Cook County, a majority of them in Chicago.

Chicago became a "de jure" sanctuary city in 2012 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council passed the Welcoming City Ordinance.

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:

Persons identifying themselves in "Other groups" were classified at 1.72 million, and unclassified or not reported were approximately 153,000.

Religion

Circle frame-1.svg

Religion in Chicago (2014)      Protestantism (35%)     Roman Catholicism (34%)     Eastern Orthodoxy (1%)     Jehovah's Witness (1%)     No religion (22%)     Judaism (3%)     Islam (2%)     Buddhism (1%)     Hinduism (1%)

Most people in Chicago are Christian, with the city being the 4th-most religious metropolis in the United States after Dallas, Atlanta and Houston. Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are the largest branches (34% and 35% respectively), followed by Eastern Orthodoxy and Jehovah's Witnesses with 1% each. Chicago also has a sizable non-Christian population. Non-Christian groups include Irreligious (22%), Judaism (3%), Islam (2%), Buddhism (1%) and Hinduism (1%).

Chicago is the headquarters of several religious denominations, including the Evangelical Covenant Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is the seat of several dioceses. The Fourth Presbyterian Church is one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in the United States based on memberships. Since the 20th century Chicago has also been the headquarters of the Assyrian Church of the East. In 2014 the Catholic Church was the largest individual Christian denomination (34%), with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago being the largest Catholic jurisdiction. Evangelical Protestantism form the largest theological Protestant branch (16%), followed by Mainline Protestants (11%), and historically Black churches (8%). Among denominational Protestant branches, Baptists formed the largest group in Chicago (10%); followed by Nondenominational (5%); Lutherans (4%); and Pentecostals (3%).

Non-Christian faiths accounted for 7% of the religious population in 2014. Judaism has at least 261,000 adherents which is 3% of the population, making it the second largest religion. A 2020 study estimated the total Jewish population of the Chicago metropolitan area, both religious and irreligious, at 319,600.

The first two Parliament of the World's Religions in 1893 and 1993 were held in Chicago. Many international religious leaders have visited Chicago, including Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and Pope John Paul II in 1979.

Law and Government

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Lori Lightfoot was elected mayor in April 2019

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.

Mayors of Chicago

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.

The current mayor is Lori Lightfoot since 2019. Chicago is the largest city in the United States to have an African-American female and LGBT person as mayor.

Culture

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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, for example Al Capone. Chicago is also known for architecture, for example the Sears Tower and museums. It is also known for its loyal sports fans.

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. Historic U.S. Route 66 starts in Chicago by Grant Park in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Economy

See also: List of companies in the Chicago metropolitan area

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.

Chicago is a major world financial center, with the second-largest central business district in the United States. The city is the seat of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Bank's Seventh District. The city has 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. In 2017, Chicago exchanges traded 4.7 billion derivatives with a face value of over one quadrillion dollars. Chase Bank has its commercial and retail banking headquarters in Chicago's Chase Tower. Academically, Chicago has been influential through the Chicago school of economics, which fielded some 12 Nobel Prize winners.

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.

Prominent food companies based in Chicago include the world headquarters of Conagra, Ferrara Candy Company, Kraft Heinz, McDonald's, Mondelez International, Quaker Oats, and US Foods.

Chicago has been a hub of the retail sector since its early development, with Montgomery Ward, Sears, and Marshall Field's. Today the Chicago metropolitan area is the headquarters of several retailers, including Walgreens, Sears, Ace Hardware, Claire's, ULTA Beauty and Crate & Barrel.

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 and reached $15 in 2021.

Movies

Chicago is in many movies. for example The Blues Brothers; Ferris Bueller's Day Off; Child's Play, Home Alone; The Fugitive; The Untouchables, I, Robot; Wanted; Batman Begins; The Dark Knight; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Man of Steel; Widows and Rampage.

Museums

There are many museums in Chicago.

Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum - was 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.
Museum of Science and Industry - has many exhibits, for example a real Boeing 727 jet plane. United Airlines gave it to the museum.
Polish Museum of America - The museum is haunted by famous piano player Ignacy Jan Paderewski. It has large collection of Polish art.
Shedd Aquarium - at one time the world's largest aquarium. It has 19 million liters (5 million gallons) of water and 22,000 fish.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Circle Interchange 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.

Expressways

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.

Transit systems

Chicago (ILL) Union Station, great Hall, 1925
Chicago Union Station, opened in 1925, is the third-busiest passenger rail terminal in the United States

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, 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.

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

Passenger rail

20110821 AmtrakEmpireBuilder
Amtrak train on the Empire Builder route departs Chicago from Union Station

Amtrak long distance and commuter rail 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 Orleans, 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 never completed.

Bicycle and scooter sharing systems

In July 2013, the bicycle-sharing system Divvy was launched with 750 bikes and 75 docking stations It is operated by Lyft for the Chicago Department of Transportation. As of July 2019, Divvy operated 5800 bicycles at 608 stations, covering almost all of the city, excluding Pullman, Rosedale, Beverly, Belmont Cragin and Edison Park.

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.

Freight rail

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.

Airports

Chicago is served by O'Hare International Airport, the world's busiest airport measured by airline operations, on the far Northwest Side, and Midway International Airport on the Southwest Side. In 2005, O'Hare was the world's busiest airport by aircraft movements and the second-busiest by total passenger traffic. Both O'Hare and Midway are owned and operated by the City of Chicago. Gary/Chicago International Airport and Chicago Rockford International Airport, located in Gary, Indiana and Rockford, Illinois, respectively, can serve as alternative Chicago area airports, however they do not offer as many commercial flights as O'Hare and Midway. In recent years the state of Illinois has been leaning towards building an entirely new airport in the Illinois suburbs of Chicago. The City of Chicago is the world headquarters for United Airlines, the world's third-largest airline.

Port authority

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.

Utilities

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.

Sports

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.

The Chicago Bears, one of the last two remaining charter members of the National Football League (NFL), have won nine NFL Championships, including the 1985 Super Bowl XX. The other remaining charter franchise, the Chicago Cardinals, also started out in the city, but is now known as the Arizona Cardinals. The Bears have won more games in the history of the NFL than any other team, and only the Green Bay Packers, their longtime rivals, have won more championships. The Bears play their home games at Soldier Field. Soldier Field re-opened in 2003 after an extensive renovation.

The Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most recognized basketball teams in the world. During the 1990s, with Michael Jordan leading them, the Bulls won six NBA championships in eight seasons. They also boast the youngest player to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, Derrick Rose, who won it for the 2010–11 season.

The Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL) began play in 1926, and are one of the "Original Six" teams of the NHL. The Blackhawks have won six Stanley Cups, including in 2010, 2013, and 2015. Both the Bulls and the Blackhawks play at the United Center.

Major league professional teams in Chicago (ranked by attendance)
Club League Sport Venue Attendance Founded Championships
Chicago Bears NFL Football Soldier Field 61,142 1919 9 Championships (1 Super Bowl)
Chicago Cubs MLB Baseball Wrigley Field 41,649 1870 3 World Series
Chicago White Sox MLB Baseball Guaranteed Rate Field 40,615 1900 3 World Series
Chicago Blackhawks NHL Ice hockey United Center 21,653 1926 6 Stanley Cups
Chicago Bulls NBA Basketball 20,776 1966 6 NBA Championships
Chicago Fire MLS Soccer Soldier Field 17,383 1997 1 MLS Cup, 1 Supporters Shield
Chicago Sky WNBA Basketball Wintrust Arena 10,387 2006 1 WNBA Championships
20070909 Chicago Half Marathon
Chicago Half Marathon on Lake Shore Drive on the South Side.

Chicago Fire FC is a member of Major League Soccer (MLS) and plays at Soldier Field. After playing its first eight seasons at Soldier Field, the team moved to suburban Bridgeview to play at SeatGeek Stadium. In 2019, the team announced a move back to Soldier Field. The Fire have won one league title and four U.S. Open Cups, since their founding in 1997. In 1994, the United States hosted a successful FIFA World Cup with games played at Soldier Field.

The Chicago Sky is a professional basketball team playing in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). They play home games at the Wintrust Arena. The team was founded before the 2006 WNBA season began.

The Chicago Marathon has been held each year since 1977 except for 1987, when a half marathon was run in its place. The Chicago Marathon is one of six World Marathon Majors.

Five area colleges play in Division I conferences: two from major conferences—the DePaul Blue Demons (Big East Conference) and the Northwestern Wildcats (Big Ten Conference)—and three from other D1 conferences—the Chicago State Cougars (Western Athletic Conference); the Loyola Ramblers (Missouri Valley Conference); and the UIC Flames (Horizon League).

Chicago has also entered into eSports with the creation of the Chicago Huntsmen, a professional Call of Duty team that participates within the CDL. At the Call of Duty League's Launch Week games in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Chicago Huntsmen went on to beat both the Dallas Empire and Optic Gaming Los Angeles.

Famous people from Chicago

These famous people have lived in or are from Chicago.

Sister cities

Sister cities

Partner city

Education

Harold Washington Library, Chicago, IL - front oblique
When it was opened in 1991, the central Harold Washington Library appeared in Guinness World Records as the largest municipal public library building in the world.

Schools and libraries

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the governing body of the school district that contains over 600 public elementary and high schools citywide, including several selective-admission magnet schools. There are eleven selective enrollment high schools in the Chicago Public Schools, designed to meet the needs of Chicago's most academically advanced students. These schools offer a rigorous curriculum with mainly honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Walter Payton College Prep High School is ranked number one in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. Northside College Preparatory High School is ranked second, Jones College Prep is third, and the oldest magnet school in the city, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, which was opened in 1975, is ranked fourth. The magnet school with the largest enrollment is Lane Technical College Prep High School. Lane is one of the oldest schools in Chicago and in 2012 was designated a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

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).

Chicago has a network of Lutheran schools, and several private schools are run by other denominations and faiths, such as the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in West Ridge. Several private schools are completely secular, such as the Latin School of Chicago in the Near North Side neighborhood, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Hyde Park, the British School of Chicago and the Francis W. Parker School in Lincoln Park, the Lycée Français de Chicago in Uptown, the Feltre School in River North and the Morgan Park Academy. There are also the private Chicago Academy for the Arts, a high school focused on six different categories of the arts and the public Chicago High School for the Arts, a high school focused on five categories (visual arts, theatre, musical theatre, dance, and music) of the arts.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago operates Catholic schools, that include Jesuit preparatory schools and others including St. Rita of Cascia High School, De La Salle Institute, Josephinum Academy, DePaul College Prep, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Brother Rice High School, St. Ignatius College Preparatory School, Mount Carmel High School, Queen of Peace High School, Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, Marist High School, St. Patrick High School and Resurrection High School.

The Chicago Public Library system operates 79 public libraries, including the central library, two regional libraries, and numerous branches distributed throughout the city.

Colleges and universities

Harper Midway Chicago

Since the 1850s, Chicago has been a world center of higher education and research with several universities. These institutions consistently rank among the top "National Universities" in the United States, as determined by U.S. News & World Report. Highly regarded universities in Chicago and the surrounding area are: the University of Chicago; Northwestern University; Illinois Institute of Technology; Loyola University Chicago; DePaul University; Columbia College Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago. Other notable schools include: Chicago State University; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; East–West University; National Louis University; North Park University; Northeastern Illinois University; Robert Morris University Illinois; Roosevelt University; Saint Xavier University; Rush University; and Shimer College.

William Rainey Harper, the first president of the University of Chicago, was instrumental in the creation of the junior college concept, establishing nearby Joliet Junior College as the first in the nation in 1901. His legacy continues with the multiple community colleges in the Chicago proper, including the seven City Colleges of Chicago: Richard J. Daley College, Kennedy–King College, Malcolm X College, Olive–Harvey College, Truman College, Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College, in addition to the privately held MacCormac College.

Chicago also has a high concentration of post-baccalaureate institutions, graduate schools, seminaries, and theological schools, such as the Adler School of Professional Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, the Erikson Institute, The Institute for Clinical Social Work, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the Catholic Theological Union, the Moody Bible Institute, the John Marshall Law School and the University of Chicago Divinity School.

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