Welcome to the City of Chicago, the most populated city in the State of Illinois and one of the most exciting areas to call home. Located along the western shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is recognized as an international hub for numerous things, including business, culture, finance, telecommunications, transportation, and much more. Currently, the third-most populated city in the United States, Chicago is a city with a list of nicknames nearly as long as its subdivided regions.
Chicago is subdivided into 77 community areas, which can be further separated into over 200 distinct and often disputed neighborhoods. Chicago is commonly referred to as the Windy City, due to the natural breeze coming off of Lake Michigan. Perhaps a more accurate, although less frequently used nickname is the Second City, given the city's meteoric rise from the ashes following a large conflagration in 1871 that left nearly one-third of its residents homeless and destroyed approximately 3.3 square miles of Downtown Chicago. Historians report that Chicago’s latter form varied greatly though from the one that was originally incorporated in 1837. Its proximity to an ancient portage that connected the Mississippi River waterway system to the Great Lakes waterway system made Chicago an invaluable location for early settlers and soldiers, as well as the Native Americans who had been using this route for thousands of years before ceding the land to the United States.
The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848 allowed water transport from the St. Lawrence River through Chicago to the Mississippi River, helping establish this city as the transportation hub of the United States before the railroad era. Steamboats and ships regularly passed through the City of Chicago on the way to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The population in Chicago exploded as it settled into its newfound role as the link between the East and West. Chicago was the fastest-growing city in the world for several decades leading up to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The immediate reconstruction of Chicago using the newest building materials and methods available would inevitably save the city's status as the predominant transportation hub of the Midwest. The advent of the skyscraper, which first appeared in Chicago in 1885, and other largely steel-frame structures accelerated population growth and put Chicago on par with cities like New York. By the turn of the 20th century, approximately 30 years after the fire, Chicago had become the fifth-largest city in the world.
Considered the birthplace of modern architecture in the United States, Chicago offers a tremendous variety of architectural styles seen throughout its many community areas and neighborhoods. Rated the second-most beautiful city in the world in 2021 and voted the best large city in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler in 2020, Chicago attracts tens of millions of visitors each year, setting a new record in 2018 at 58 million. Chicago is a socially diverse area, especially when it comes to its economy and culture. With no single industry employing more than 14-percent of the workforce, Chicago is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, including Allstate, Boeing, Caterpillar, McDonald’s, United Airlines, and Walgreens to name a few. You can find almost every type of cultural attraction spread out amongst the 77 community areas that constitute the City of Chicago. If you are looking for shopping and dining options and want to explore areas outside of Chicago’s central business district, commonly referred to as the Loop, you will want to be sure to cruise North Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square. Art galleries, cocktail bars, trendy restaurants, live music venues, and retail stores line this bustling commercial avenue. Chicago also offers numerous educational institutions, such as Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, which attract college students and young professionals to hip areas like West Town, where the housing stock is as diverse as its population. Home to professionals sports teams in each of the major professional leagues, Chicago is no doubt a sports city with fans that are as loyal as they come. Being one of the largest hubs of passenger rail service in the United States, Chicago is an ideal city for daily commuters and those that prefer to utilize public transportation. The Chicago Transit Authority handles all public transit in the City of Chicago, as well as a few suburbs outside city limits, offering a vast network of bus routes and rapid transit lines to get you where you need to go.