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about Chicago

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States with an official population of 2,896,016 as of the 2000 US Census and when combined with its suburbs a metro area population rapidly approaching ten million. A recent (2003) population estimates put the number for the city proper at 2,869,121 while suburban populations continue to grow with estimates at 9,650,137 for the combined city and suburbs, although there is skepticism about the accuracy of this estimate with regard to the city proper. (

Chicago is located in the state of Illinois on the shores of Lake Michigan. When combined with its surrounding suburbs and with Milwaukee Wisconsin, Chicago is part of a megalopolis cluster of cities.

The city of Chicago is the county seat of Cook County. The Chicago metropolitan area is known colloquially as Chicagoland, after a term promoted by the Chicago Tribune in the early 20th century. The name Chicago comes from "Checagou" (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah) or "Checaguar" which in the language of the Potawatomi Indians means 'wild onions' or 'skunk.' The area was so named because of the smell of rotting marshland onions that used to cover it.

Four ships called the USS Chicago were named after the city by the U.S. Navy.

Chicago geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 606.1 km² (234.0 mi²). 588.3 km² (227.1 mi²) of it is land and 17.8 km² (6.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.94% water.

Urban Setting

As mentioned later in the Street Layout subsection in the Transportation section, Madison Street in the heart of Chicago separates the city into North and South sides. More than just an address landmark, it serves as Chicago's own version of the Mason-Dixon Line. Part of this is in someway linked to history of segregation in Chicago; the South Side has large African American neighborhoods while the North Side tends to be hugely Caucasian. Unfortunately, history has not been too kind to the South Side, so while it is undergoing a resurgeance in recent years, it was the sight of many urban renewal projects that decimated the urban geography as well as upset the local economy. This is not particularly helped by the fact that common literature tends to spread the notion that the South Side is largely undesirable or unsafe (usually stemming from the segregationist sentiments about all-African American areas) despite the fact that large areas of the South Side are stable and/or middle-to-upper class. Regardless, residents identify with their side, and this fact is expressed in the tendency for South Siders to be strict adherents to the White Sox (whose stadium is on the South Side), and the tendency for North Siders to be strict adherents to the Cubs (whose stadium is on the North Side).

The West Side, that is, the area loosely west of the Loop and South Loop, while long considered a part of either the South Side or not even considered at all, as well as home to some of the most neglected and blighted neighborhoods in the city, is beginning to develop its identity, thanks in part to massive economic development in the Near West Side (bordering the Loop), city investment in the area, and a surging immigrant population. In fact, office/high-rise development in Chicago is slowly creeping across the river into the Near West Side, where transit connections are as strong, if not stronger, than the actual Loop itself.

When it comes to skyscrapers, Chicago is king, being the first US city to reach new heights, shortly joined by New York City. Chicago, along with New York City and Hong Kong, makes up the "big three" when it comes to city skylines.

Realistically by modern standards, Chicago has very little reason to build up: being located in the Midwest, Chicago has plenty of room to sprawl outwards on almost Euclidean-esque flat ground. There is, of course, the Chicago River, which may bring some argument as to geographic restriction, but the impact of which was strongly lessened by the strict adherence to the Chicago grid across the river. Mostly though, Chicago runs on energy and inertia. Even today, Chicago is going through a massive skyscraper building boom, with projects like 55 East Erie (the tallest residential building in the US outside New York City) and Trump International Hotel (to be completed in 2007, to be the fourth tallest in Chicago and the tallest building built in the US for nearly three decades) breaking ground frequently. All this can really be attributed to precedent: Chicago has always had a history of frantic skyscraper building, mostly beginning after the Great Chicago Fire, and since this time developers simply follow the pattern set before them.

Community areas

Chicago is divided into 77 Community Areas. The community areas were defined by sociologists at the University of Chicago during the 1920s, and at that time corresponded to neighborhoods. Now, many of the communities no longer correspond to any neighborhood, and many have fallen out of use as a useful signifier. However, census data and zipcodes are tied to the community areas, and they are considered more durable than the names of neighborhoods which can change very rapidly.

For purposes of relevancy, community area designation is useful more as a historical curiosity, since its use for census data and zipcodes are quite independent of the actual character of the once neighborhood. A full listing and a map is available in the article Chicago community areas.

The following companies are based in Chicago's suburbs:

Chicago history

By the middle of the 1700s, the Chicago area was inhabited primarily by Potawatomis, who thus took the place of the Miami and Sauk and Fox who had controlled the area previously. The first non-native settler in Chicago was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian of African descent, who settled on the Chicago River in the 1770s and married a local Potawatomi woman. In 1795, following the War of the Wabash Confederacy, the area of Chicago was ceded by the Native Americans in the Treaty of Greenville to the United States for a military post. In 1803, Fort Dearborn was built and remained in use until 1837, except between 1812 and 1816 when it was destroyed in the Fort Dearborn Massacre during the War of 1812.

On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was incorporated as a town with a population of 350. Within 7 years of being incorporated, the primarily French and Native American town had a population of over 4,000. Chicago was granted a city charter by Illinois on March 4, 1837. The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848, allowed shipping from the Great Lakes through Chicago to the Mississippi River and so to the Gulf of Mexico. The first rail line to Chicago, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad was completed the same year. Chicago would go on to become the transportation hub of the United States with its road, rail, water and later air connections. Chicago also became home to nationwide retailers offering catalog shopping utilizing these connections like Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Because of the geography of Chicago early citizens faced many problems. The prairie bog nature of the area provided a fertile ground for disease-carrying insects. Early on, Chicago's population and commerce growth was stymied by lack of good transportation infrastructure, history shows that this problem soon remedied itself. In the spring Chicago was so muddy from the high water that horses would often be stuck waist deep in the street. One dirt road was so hazardous that it became known as the "Slough of Despond". Comical signs proclaiming "Fastest route to China" or "No Bottom Here" were placed out to warn passersby of the deep mud.

To address these transportation problems, the board of Cook County commissioners, at its second meeting after being created by the Illinois legislature on January 15, 1831, decided to improve two country roads toward the west and southwest. The first road went west, crossing the "dismal Nine-mile Swamp," crossed the Des Plaines River, and went southwest to Walker's Grove, which is today known as Plainfield. There is a dispute about the route of the second road to the south.

Early Chicago was also plagued by sewer and water problems. Many people described it as the filthiest city in America. To solve this problem Chicago embarked on the creation of a massive sewer system. In the first phase sewage pipes were laid across the city above ground with gravity moving the waste. Then in 1855 the level of the city was raised 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 m), with individual buildings jacked up and fill brought in to raise streets above the swamp and the newly laid sewer pipes.

Next the city decided to work on their water problem. Because Lake Michigan—the primary source of fresh water for the city—was already highly polluted from the rapidly growing industries in and around Chicago, a new way of procuring clean water was needed. The city embarked on a large tunnel excavation project and started building tunnels underneath Lake Michigan to newly built Water Cribs. The water cribs were 2 miles (3.2 km) off the shore of Lake Michigan but they still didn't bring enough clean water because spring rains would wash the polluted water from the Chicago River into them. To solve this problem the direction of flow of the Chicago River was reversed in 1900 by the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent sewage from running into Lake Michigan.

By 1857 Chicago was the largest city in then what was known as the Northwest. In a period of 20 years Chicago grew from 4,000 people to over 90,000.

The 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago nominated home state candidate Abraham Lincoln.

In 1871, most of the city burned in the Great Chicago Fire. By this time the city had grown to a population of over 300,000. As a result of the fire much of the city needed to be rebuilt; this gave city planners a clean slate to fix the problems of the past. In the following years, Chicago architecture would become influential throughout the world because of this. The first skyscraper in the world was constructed in 1885 using novel steel skeleton construction.

On December 2, 1942, the world's first controlled nuclear reaction was conducted at the University of Chicago as part of the top secret Manhattan Project.

Mayor Richard J. Daley was elected in 1955, in the era of so-called machine politics. During Daley's tenure (he died in office in 1976), the 1968 Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago, four major expressways were built, the Sears Tower became the world's tallest building and O'Hare Airport (which later became the world's busiest airport) was constructed. In 1983, Harold Washington became the first African American mayor of Chicago. Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, became mayor in 1989.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chicago, Illinois".

This city is also known as: Chicago, Illinois.

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