Chicago, Illinois: Wikis


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—  City  —
From top left: Chicago Theatre, the Willis Tower, the University of Chicago, the skyline from the Museum Campus, Navy Pier, the Field Museum, and Crown Fountain in Millennium Park


Nickname(s): The Windy City, The Second City, Chi-Town, Hog Butcher for the World, City of Big Shoulders, The City That Works, and others found at List of nicknames for Chicago
Motto: Latin: Urbs in Horto (English: City in a Garden), Make Big Plans (Make No Small Plans), I Will
Location in the Chicago metropolitan area and Illinois
Chicago is located in the USA
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 41°50′13″N 87°41′4″W / 41.83694°N 87.68444°W / 41.83694; -87.68444
Country  United States
State  Illinois
Counties Cook, DuPage
Settled 1770s
Incorporated March 4, 1837
Named for Miami-Illinois: shikaakwa
("Wild onion")
Seat Cook County
 - Type Mayor-council
 - Mayor Richard M. Daley
 - City Council
 - State House
 - State Senate
 - U.S. House
 - City 234.0 sq mi (606.1 km2)
 - Land 227.2 sq mi (588.4 km2)
 - Water 6.9 sq mi (17.9 km2)  3.0%
 - Urban 2,122.8 sq mi (5,498 km2)
 - Metro 10,874 sq mi (28,163.5 km2)
Elevation 597 ft (182 m)
Population (2009)[1]
 - City 2,853,114 (3rd U.S.)
 Density 12,649/sq mi (4,883.8/km2)
 Urban 8,711,000
 Metro 9,785,747
 - Demonym Chicagoan
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 312, 773, 872

Chicago (Chicago-en-US-pronunciation.ogg /ʃɨˈkɑːɡoʊ/ or /ʃɨˈkɔːɡo ʊ/) is the third largest city in the United States in terms of population, and with more than 2.8 million people, the largest city in the state of Illinois and the Midwestern United States. Located on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, bordering the Illinois-Indiana State Line, Chicago is the third-most densely populated major city in the U.S.,[3] and anchor to the world's 26th largest metropolitan area[4] with about 9.6 million people across three states.[5][6] The Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI MSA also grew by an estimated 470,995 people between April 1, 2000 and July 1, 2008.[7] Except for the southwest corner of O'Hare International Airport which is in DuPage County, the city of Chicago is located in Cook County.

Chicago was founded in 1833, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. The Potawatomi were forcibly removed from their land following the Treaty of Chicago. The city became a major transportation and telecommunications hub in North America.[8] Today, the city retains its status as a major hub, both for industry and infrastructure, with Chicago-O'Hare International Airport as the second busiest airport in the world. In 2007, the city attracted 32.8 million domestic visitors[9] and about 1.15 million foreign visitors.[10]

In modern times, the city has taken on an additional dimension as a center for business and finance and is listed as one of the world's top ten Global Financial Centers. Chicago is a stronghold of the Democratic Party and has been home to influential politicians, including the current President of the United States, Barack Obama. The World Cities Study Group at Loughborough University rated Chicago as an "alpha world city" due to Chicago's important role in the global economic system.[11]

Globally recognized,[nb 1] Chicago has numerous nicknames, which reflect the impressions and opinions about historical and contemporary Chicago. The best known include: "Chi-town" and the "Windy City" with reference to Chicago politicians and residents boasting about their city; "Second City,"[nb 2] due to the city's rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871[13], although often also attributed to generally being the second largest city in the nation at the time and the second most prestigious in the nation in terms of culture, entertainment, and finance,[nb 3] and because for much of the twentieth century Chicago's population was the second largest of any city in the United States; and the "City of Big Shoulders", referring to its numerous skyscrapers (whose steel frame designs were largely pioneered in Chicago), described as being husky and brawling.[15] Chicago has also been called "the most American of big cities".[16][17][18][19][20]



Early history

During the mid 18th century the area was inhabited by a native American tribe known as the Potawatomis, who had taken the place of the Miami and Sauk and Fox peoples. The first known non-indigenous permanent settler in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, who was a man of mixed African and European heritage born in Saint-Domingue (modern day Haiti), arrived in the 1770s, married a Potawatomi woman, and founded the area's first trading post. In 1795, following the Northwest Indian War, an area that was to be part of Chicago was turned over by some Native Americans in the Treaty of Greenville to the United States for a military post. In 1803 the United States Army built Fort Dearborn, which was destroyed in the 1812 Battle of Fort Dearborn. The Ottawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi later ceded additional land to the United States in the 1804 Treaty of St. Louis. The Potawatomi were eventually forcibly removed from their land following the Treaty of Chicago in 1833. On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was organized with a population of around 200.[21] Within seven years it grew to a population of over 4,000. The City of Chicago was incorporated on March 4, 1837. The name "Chicago" is a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, meaning "wild onion", from the Miami-Illinois language.[22][23][24][25] The first known reference to the site of the current city of Chicago as "Checagou" was by La Salle himself around 1679 in a memoir written about the time.[26]

Infrastructure and regional development

Chicago - State St at Madison Ave, 1897.ogv
State and Madison Streets, the busiest corner in Chicago (1897)

The city began its step toward national primacy as an important transportation hub between the eastern and western United States. Chicago's first railway, Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, opened in 1838, which also marked the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The canal allowed steamboats and sailing ships on the Great Lakes to connect to the Mississippi River. A flourishing economy brought residents from rural communities and immigrants abroad. Manufacturing and retail sectors became dominant among Midwestern cities, influencing the American economy, particularly in meatpacking, with the advent of the refrigerated rail car and the regional centrality of the city's Union Stock Yards.[27]

In February 1856, the Chesbrough plan for the building of Chicago's and the United States' first comprehensive sewerage system was approved by the Common Council.[28] The project raised much of central Chicago to a new grade. Untreated sewage and industrial waste now flowed into the Chicago River, thence into Lake Michigan, polluting the primary source of fresh water for the city. The city responded by tunneling two miles (3 km) out into Lake Michigan to newly built water cribs. In 1900, the problem of sewage was largely resolved when Chicago reversed the flow of the river, a process that began with the construction and improvement of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and completed with the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal leading to the Illinois River which joins the Mississippi River.

Artist's rendering of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed a third of the city, including the entire central business district, Chicago experienced rapid rebuilding and growth.[29] During its rebuilding period, Chicago constructed the world's first skyscraper in 1885, using steel-skeleton construction. Labor conflicts and unrest followed, including the Haymarket affair on May 4, 1886. Concern for social problems among Chicago's lower classes led Jane Addams to be a co-founder of Hull House in 1889. Programs developed there became a model for the new field of social work. The city also invested in many large, well-landscaped municipal parks, which also included public sanitation facilities.

In 1893, Chicago hosted the World's Columbian Exposition on former marshland at the present location of Jackson Park. The Exposition drew 27.5 million visitors, and is considered the most influential world's fair in history.[30] The University of Chicago was founded in 1892 on the same South Side location. The term "midway" for a fair or carnival referred originally to the Midway Plaisance, a strip of park land that still runs through the University of Chicago campus and connects Washington and Jackson Parks.

20th & 21st century

buildings along the sides of a river in a panorama view
Chicago River is the south border (right) of the Near North Side and Streeterville and the north border (left) of Chicago Loop, Lakeshore East and Illinois Center (from Lake Shore Drive's Link Bridge with Trump International Hotel and Tower at jog in the river in the center)

The 1920s brought notoriety to Chicago as gangsters, including the notorious Al Capone, battled each other and law enforcement on the city streets during the Prohibition era. Chicago had over 1,000 gangs in the 1920s.[31] The 1920s also saw a major expansion in industry. The availability of jobs attracted African Americans from the South. Between 1910 and 1930, the Black population of Chicago increased from 44,103 to 233,903.[32] Arriving in the tens of thousands during the Great Migration, the newcomers had an immense cultural impact. It was during this wave that Chicago became a center for jazz, with King Oliver leading the way.[33] In 1933, Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak was fatally wounded in Miami during a failed assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt.

At 110 stories, Willis Tower stands as Chicago's and the Western Hemisphere's tallest building since its completion in 1973.

On December 2, 1942, physicist Enrico Fermi conducted the world's first controlled nuclear reaction 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 machine politics. Starting in the 1960s, many residents, as in most American cities, left the city for the suburbs. Structural changes in industry caused heavy losses of jobs for lower skilled workers. In 1966 James Bevel, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Albert Raby led the Chicago Open Housing Movement, which culminated in agreements between Mayor Richard J. Daley and the movement leaders. Two years later, the city hosted the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention, which featured physical confrontations both inside and outside the convention hall, including full-scale riots, or in some cases police riots, in city streets. Major construction projects, including Willis Tower (which in 1974 became the world's tallest building), University of Illinois at Chicago, McCormick Place, and O'Hare International Airport, were undertaken during Richard J. Daley's tenure. When Richard J. Daley died, Michael Anthony Bilandic served as mayor for three years. Bilandic's subsequent loss in a primary election has been attributed to the city's inability to properly plow city streets during a heavy snowstorm. In 1979, Jane Byrne, the city's first female mayor, was elected. She popularized the city as a movie location and tourist destination.

In 1983 Harold Washington became the first African American to be elected to the office of mayor, in one of the closest mayoral elections in Chicago. After Washington won the Democratic primary, racial motivations caused a few Democratic alderman and ward committeemen to back the Republican candidate Bernard Epton, who ran on the slogan Before it's too late, a thinly veiled appeal to fear.[34] Washington's term in office saw new attention given to poor and minority neighborhoods. His administration reduced the longtime dominance of city contracts and employment by ethnic whites. Washington died in office of a heart attack in 1987, shortly after being elected to a second term. Current mayor Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, was elected in 1989. He has led many progressive changes to the city, including improving parks; creating incentives for sustainable development, including green roofs; and major new developments. Since the 1990s, some neighborhoods have undergone revitalization in which some lower class areas have been transformed to high priced and middle-class neighborhoods.



Aerial view of downtown and the North Side.

Chicago is located in northeastern Illinois at the southwestern tip of Lake Michigan. It sits on a continental divide at the site of the Chicago Portage, connecting the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes watersheds. The city lies beside Lake Michigan, and two rivers—the Chicago River in downtown and the Calumet River in the industrial far South Side—flow entirely or partially through Chicago. The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal connects the Chicago River with the Des Plaines River, which runs to the west of 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 lakefront neighborhoods slightly warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

When Chicago was founded in the 1830s, most of the early building began around the mouth of the Chicago River, as can be seen on a map of the city's original 58 blocks.[35] 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 m) above sea level. The lowest points are along the lake shore at 577 ft (176 m), while the highest point, at 735 ft (224 m), is a landfill located in the Hegewisch community area on the city's far south side.

Lake Shore Drive runs adjacent to a large portion of Chicago's lakefront. Parks along the lakeshore include: Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park and Jackson Park; 29 public beaches are also found along the shore. Near downtown, landfills extend into the Lake, providing space for the Jardine Water Purification Plant, Navy Pier, Northerly Island, the Museum Campus, Soldier Field and large portions of the McCormick Place Convention Center. Most of the city's high-rise commercial and residential buildings can be found within a few blocks of the lake.

Chicagoland is an informal name for the Chicago metro area, used primarily by copywriters, advertising agencies, and traffic reporters. There is no precise definition for the term "Chicagoland", but it generally means the city and its suburbs together. The Chicago Tribune, which coined the term, includes the city of Chicago, the rest of Cook County, eight nearby Illinois counties: Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Will and Kankakee, and three counties in Indiana: Lake, Porter, and LaPorte.[36] The Illinois Department of Tourism defines Chicagoland as Cook County without the city of Chicago, and only Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will counties.[37] The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce defines it as all of Cook and DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.[38]


The city lies within the humid continental climate zone, and experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and humid with average high temperatures of 80 to 85 °F (27 to 29 °C) and lows of 61 to 66 °F (16 to 19 °C). Winters are cold, snowy, and windy with temperatures well below freezing. Spring and fall are mild 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. The lowest temperature of −27 °F (−33 °C) was recorded on January 20, 1985. Along with long, hot dry spells in the summer, Chicago is subject to extreme winter cold spells, for example in the entire month of January 1977, the temperature did not rise above 31 °F (−1 °C). The average temperature that month was ca 10 °F (−12 °C).

Sunshine Hours:[41] Daily Mean:[42]


>Lakefront view of Chicago's downtown skyline
Lakefront view of Chicago's downtown skyline


Looking north from the Michigan Avenue Bridge on Chicago's 'Magnificent Mile', the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower are in the foreground, with the John Hancock Center in the distance.

The outcome of the Great Chicago Fire led to the largest building boom in the history of the nation. Perhaps the most outstanding of these events was the relocation of many of the nation's most prominent architects from New England to the city for construction of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.

In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building, the Home Insurance Building, rose in Chicago, ushering in the skyscraper era.[43] Today, Chicago's skyline is among the world's tallest and most dense.[44] The Loop's historic buildings include the Chicago Board of Trade Building, the Fine Arts Building, 35 East Wacker, and the Chicago Building, along with many others. The Merchandise Mart, once first on the list of largest buildings in the world, and still listed as twentieth with its own ZIP code, 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), Trump International Hotel and Tower, the Aon Center (previously the Standard Oil Building), and the John Hancock Center. Industrial districts, such as on the South Side, the areas along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Chicago Southland, and Northwest Indiana are clustered. Future skyline plans include, amongst others, the supertall Chicago Spire.

Multiple kinds and scales of houses, townhouses, condominiums, and apartment buildings can be found in Chicago. Large swaths of Chicago's residential areas away from the lake are characterized by 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. One of Chicago's suburbs, Oak Park, was home to the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.


The central business district of Chicago is known as "The Loop". Aside from the Loop, the Chicago River divides Chicago into three main sections: the North Side, the West Side, and the South Side. In the late 1920s, sociologists at the University of Chicago subdivided the city into 75 distinct community areas which at the time corresponded to observable neighborhoods. Now the city recognizes 215 neighborhoods,[45] and realtors and locals invent more.

The Loop is the center of Chicago's cultural, commercial and financial institutions, and home to Grant Park and many of the city's skyscrapers. The "Loop" takes its name from a streetcar and later elevated train circuit which runs around an eight block by five block square of city streets. The larger Loop community area is bounded by the River, the Lake and Roosevelt Road.

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. Lincoln Park is a 1,200-acre (490 ha) park stretching for 5.5 mi (8.9 km) along the lakefront and is also home to the Lincoln Park Zoo. The River North neighborhood features the nation's largest concentration of contemporary art galleries outside of New York City. As a Polonia center, due to the city having a very large Polish population, Chicago celebrates every Labor Day weekend at the Taste of Polonia Festival in the Jefferson Park area.[46]

The West Side holds the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest collections of tropical plants of any U.S. city. Cultural attractions include Humboldt Park's Puerto Rican Day Parade, Institute of Puerto Rican Arts, and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. The Near West Side holds the television production company of Harpo Studios.

The South Side is home to the University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. It also hosts one of the city's largest parades, the annual African American Bud Billiken Day parade. Parkland stretches along the lakefront of the South Side. Two of the city's largest parks are located here: Jackson Park, bordering the lakefront, hosted the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and is home of the aforementioned museum. Slightly west sits Washington Park. The two parks themselves are connected by a separate strip of parkland called Midway Plaisance. Also, the U.S. automaker, Ford Motor Company, has an assembly plant located on the South Side.

Culture and contemporary life

A Chicago jazz club

The city's lakefront allure and nightlife has attracted residents and tourists alike. Over one-third of the city population is concentrated in the lakefront neighborhoods (from Rogers Park in the north to South Shore in the south). The North Side has a large gay and lesbian community.[citation needed] Two North Side neighborhoods in particular, Lakeview and the Andersonville area of the Edgewater neighborhood, are home to many LGBT businesses and organizations.[citation needed] The area surrounding the North Side intersections of Halsted, Belmont, and Clark is a gay district known as "Boystown".[citation needed] The city has many upscale dining establishments as well as many ethnic restaurant districts. These include the Mexican villages, such as Pilsen on 18th street and La Villita on 26th street, the Puerto Rican enclave Paseo Boricua in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, "Greektown" on South Halsted, "Little Italy" on Taylor Street, just west of Halsted, "Chinatown" on the near South Side, Polish fare reigns at Belmont-Central, "Little Seoul" on and around Lawrence Avenue, a cluster of Vietnamese restaurants on Argyle Street and South Asian (Indian/Pakistani) on Devon Avenue.

Entertainment and performing arts

The legendary Chicago Theatre

Chicago's theatre community spawned modern improvisational theatre.[47] Two renowned comedy troupes emerged—The Second City and I.O. (formerly known as ImprovOlympic). Renowned Chicago theater companies include the Steppenwolf Theatre Company (on the city's north side), the Goodman Theatre, and the Victory Gardens Theater. Chicago offers Broadway-style entertainment at theaters such as Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre, Bank of America Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University, and Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place. Polish language productions for Chicago's large Polish speaking population can be seen at the historic Gateway Theatre in Jefferson Park. Since 1968, the Joseph Jefferson Awards are given annually to acknowledge excellence in theater in the Chicago area.

Classical music offerings include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, recognized as one of the finest orchestras in the world,[48] which performs at Symphony Center. Also performing regularly at Symphony Center is the Chicago Sinfonietta, a more diverse and multicultural counterpart to the CSO. In the summer, many outdoor concerts are given in Grant Park and Millennium Park. Ravinia Park, located 25 miles (40 km) north of Chicago, is also a favorite destination for many Chicagoans, with performances occasionally given in Chicago locations such as the Harris Theater. The Civic Opera House is home to the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The Joffrey Ballet and Chicago Festival Ballet perform in various venues, including the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. Chicago is home to several other modern and jazz dance troupes, such as the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

Other live music genre which are part of the city's cultural heritage include Chicago blues, Chicago soul, jazz, and gospel. The city is the birthplace of house music and is the site of an influential hip-hop scene. In the 1980s, the city was a center for industrial, punk and new wave. This influence continued into the alternative rock of the 1990s. The city has been an epicenter for rave culture since the 1980s. A flourishing independent rock music culture brought forth Chicago indie. Annual festivals feature various acts such as Lollapalooza, the Intonation Music Festival and Pitchfork Music Festival.


View of Navy Pier from the 23rd floor of Lake Point Tower.
The Magnificent Mile hosts numerous upscale stores, as well as landmarks like the Chicago Water Tower.

Chicago attracted an approximate combined 35 million people in 2007 from around the nation and abroad.[9][10] Upscale shopping along the Magnificent Mile and State Street, thousands of restaurants, as well as Chicago's eminent architecture, continue to draw tourists. The city is the United States' third-largest convention destination. Most conventions are held at McCormick Place, just south of Soldier Field. The historic Chicago Cultural Center (1897), originally serving as the Chicago Public Library, now houses the city's Visitor Information Center, galleries and exhibit halls. The ceiling of its Preston Bradley Hall includes a 38 ft (12 m) Tiffany glass dome. Millennium Park sits on a deck built over a portion of the former Illinois Central Railroad yard. The park includes the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture (known locally as "The Bean"). An outdoor Millennium Park restaurant transforms into an ice rink in the winter. Two tall glass sculptures make up the Crown Fountain. The fountain's two towers display visual effects from LED images of Chicagoans' faces, along with water spouting from their lips. Frank Gehry's detailed, stainless steel band shell, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, hosts the classical Grant Park Music Festival concert series. Behind the pavilion's stage is the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, an indoor venue for mid-sized performing arts companies, including the Chicago Opera Theater and Music of the Baroque.

Navy Pier, located just east of Streeterville, is 3,000 ft (910 m) long and houses retail stores, restaurants, museums, exhibition halls and auditoriums. Its 150-foot (46 m) tall Ferris wheel is one of the most visited landmarks in the Midwest, attracting about 8 million people annually.[49]

In 1998, the city officially opened the Museum Campus, a 10-acre (4.0 ha) lakefront park, surrounding three of the city's main museums: the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium. The Museum Campus joins the southern section of Grant Park, which includes the renowned Art Institute of Chicago. Buckingham Fountain anchors the downtown park along the lakefront. The Oriental Institute, part of the University of Chicago, has an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern archaeological artifacts. Other museums and galleries in Chicago include the Chicago History Museum, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Polish Museum of America, the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Museum of Science and Industry.

The top activity while visitors tour Chicago for leisure is entertainment, approximately 33% of all leisure travelers. Facilities such as McCormick Place and the Chicago Theatre contribute to this percentage.[50]


When Chicago was incorporated in 1837, it chose the motto Urbs in Horto, a Latin phrase which translates into English as "City in a Garden". Today, the Chicago Park District consists of 552 parks with over 7,300 acres (3,000 ha) of municipal parkland, as well as 33 sand beaches, nine museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, and 10 bird and wildlife gardens.[51] Lincoln Park, the largest of the city's parks, covers 1,200 acres (490 ha) and has over 20 million visitors each year, making it second only to Central Park in New York City in number of visitors.[52] With berths for more than 5,000 boats, the Chicago Park District operates the nation's largest municipal harbor system; even larger than systems in cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, or Miami. In addition to ongoing beautification and renewal projects for the existing parks, a number of new parks have been added in recent years, such as the Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown, DuSable Park on the Near North Side, and most notably, Millennium Park in the Chicago Loop.

The wealth of greenspace afforded by Chicago's parks is further augmented by the Cook County Forest Preserves, a network of open spaces containing forest, prairie, wetland, streams, and lakes that are set aside as natural areas which lie along the city's periphery, home to both the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe and the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield.


Chicago Style Pizza with a rich tomato topping
Polish market in Chicago

Chicago lays claim to a large number of regional specialties, all of which reflect the city's ethnic and working class roots. Included among these are its nationally renowned deep-dish pizza, although locally the Chicago-style thin crust is still popular. There are very few pizzerias that specialize in true Chicago-style deep dish, the most prominent being Gino's East, Pizzeria Uno and Due, Giordano's (originators of the "stuffed pizza) and Lou Malnati's. The number of "authentic" Chicago pizzerias specializing in the thin crust version is much higher, with many being "Mom and Pop" style shops. Among the largest chains in Chicago area are Home Run Inn, Rosati's and Aurelio's. The Chicago-style hot dog, typically a Vienna Beef dog loaded with an array of fixings that often includes Chicago's own neon green pickle relish, yellow mustard, pickled sport peppers, tomato wedges, dill pickle spear and topped off with celery salt. Ketchup on a Chicago hot dog is frowned upon.[53] There are two other distinctly Chicago sandwiches, the Italian beef sandwich, which is thinly sliced beef slowly simmered in an au jus served on an Italian roll with sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera (also popular is the Italian Combo - an Italian beef sandwich with the addition of an Italian sausage), and the Maxwell Street Polish, which is a grilled kielbasa—typically from either the Vienna Beef Company or the Bobak Sausage Company—on a hot dog roll, topped with grilled onions, yellow mustard and hot sport peppers. The very popular Chicken Vesuvio originated as an Italian specialty in the 1930s, with roasted bone-in chicken in an oil and garlic sauce next to garlicky oven-roasted potato wedges and a side of fresh-cooked peas. Two other ethnic local creations are the Puerto Rican jibarito, a sandwich made with flattened, fried green plantains instead of bread and Greek saganaki, an appetizer of fired-at-your-table cheese.[54]

One of the flagship locations for McDonald's is the Rock N Roll McDonald's, located in the Near North Side neighborhood of Chicago. This is where McDonald's celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The grand tour of Chicago cuisine culminates annually in Grant Park at the Taste of Chicago which runs from the final week of June through Fourth of July weekend. Chicago features a number of celebrity chefs, a list which includes Charlie Trotter, Rick Tramonto, Jean Joho, Grant Achatz, and Rick Bayless.

Chicago features a wide selection of vegetarian cuisine, with 22 fully vegetarian restaurants and many vegetarian-friendly establishments within the city.[55][56]


Chicago was named the Best Sports City in the United States by The Sporting News in 1993 and 2006.[57] The city is home to two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams: the Chicago Cubs of the National League (NL), who play in Wrigley Field on the city's North Side, and the Chicago White Sox of the American League (AL), who play in U.S. Cellular Field on the city's South Side. Chicago is the only city in North America that has had more than one MLB franchise every year since the AL began in 1900. The Chicago Bears, one of the last two remaining charter members of the National Football League (NFL), have won nine NFL Championships, including Super Bowl XX. The other remaining charter franchise, the Chicago Cardinals, also started out in the city, but are now known as the Arizona Cardinals. The Bears play their home games at Soldier Field on Chicago's lakefront.

The Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) are one of the most recognized basketball teams in the world. During the 1990s with Michael Jordan leading them, the Bulls took six NBA championships in eight seasons (only failing to do so in the two years of Jordan's absence). The Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL), who began play in 1926, have won three Stanley Cups. The Blackhawks also hosted the 2009 NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Both the Bulls and Blackhawks play at the United Center on the Near West Side.

The Chicago Marathon has been held each year since 1977 except for in 1987, when a half marathon was run in its place. This event is one of five World Marathon Majors.[58] In 1994, the United States hosted a successful FIFA World Cup with games played at Soldier Field.

Chicago was selected on April 14, 2007, to represent the United States internationally in the bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympics.[59][60] Chicago also hosted the 1959 Pan American Games and the 2006 Gay Games. Chicago was selected to host the 1904 Olympics, but they were transferred to St. Louis to coincide with the World's Fair.[61] On June 4, 2008, the International Olympic Committee selected Chicago as one of four candidate cities for the 2016 games. On October 2, 2009, Rio de Janeiro was selected to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Starting just off Navy Pier is Chicago Yacht Club's Race to Mackinac, a 330-mile (530 km) offshore sailboat race held each July that is the longest annual freshwater sailing distance race in the world. 2010 marks the 102nd running of the "Mac".[62]

At the collegiate level, Chicago and suburban Evanston have two national athletic conferences, the Big East Conference with DePaul University, and the Big Ten Conference with Northwestern University in Evanston. Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago play Division I sports as members of the Horizon League.


Harpo Studios, headquarters of talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

The Chicago metropolitan area is the third-largest media market in North America, after New York City and Los Angeles.[63] Each of the big four U.S. television networks, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox, directly owns and operates a high-definition television station in Chicago (WBBM, WLS, WMAQ and WFLD, respectively). WGN-TV, which is owned by the Tribune Company, is carried with some programming differences, as "WGN America" on cable TV nationwide and in parts of the Caribbean. The city is also the home of several talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show on WLS-TV, while Chicago Public Radio produces programs such as PRI's This American Life and NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! Chicago's PBS station can be seen on WTTW, producer of shows, such as Sneak Previews, The Frugal Gourmet, Lamb Chop's Play-Along and The McLaughlin Group, just to name a few and WYCC.

There are two major daily newspapers published in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, with the former having the larger circulation. There are also several regional and special-interest newspapers, such as the Dziennik Związkowy (Polish Daily News), Draugas (the Lithuanian daily newspaper), the Chicago Reader, the SouthtownStar, the Chicago Defender, the Daily Herald, StreetWise and the Windy City Times.

Chicago is a filming-friendly location. Since the 1980s, many motion pictures have been filmed in the city, most notably The Blues Brothers, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone, The Fugitive, and The Dark Knight.

Chicago is also home to a number of national radio shows, including Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont on Sunday evenings.


Chicago has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the nation—approximately $506 billion according to 2007 estimates.[64] The city has also been rated as having the most balanced economy in the United States, due to its high level of diversification.[65] Chicago was named the fourth most important business center in the world in the MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index.[66] Additionally, the Chicago metropolitan area recorded the greatest number of new or expanded corporate facilities in the United States for six of the past seven years.[67] The Chicago metropolitan area has the third largest science and engineering work force of any metropolitan area in the nation.[68] In 2008, Chicago placed 16th on the UBS list of the world's richest cities.[69] Chicago was the base of commercial operations for industrialists John Crerar, John Whitfield Bunn, Richard Teller Crane, Marshall Field, John Farwell, Morris Selz, 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 U.S.[70] 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 three major financial and futures exchanges, including the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the "Merc"), which includes the former Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). 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).

The city and its surrounding metropolitan area are home to the second largest labor pool in the United States with approximately 4.25 million workers.[71]

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, Abbott Laboratories, and the Healthcare Financial Services division of General Electric. 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. Though the meatpacking industry currently plays a lesser role in the city's economy, Chicago continues to be a major transportation and distribution center.

Late in the 19th Century, Chicago was part of the bicycle craze, as home to Western Wheel Company, which introduced stamping to the production process and significantly reduced costs,[72] 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.[73] Chicago was also home to 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.[74] Chicago also ranks third in the U.S. (behind Las Vegas and Orlando) in number of conventions hosted annually.[75] In addition, Chicago is home to eleven Fortune 500 companies, while the metropolitan area hosts an additional 21 Fortune 500 companies.[76] The state of Illinois is home to 66 Fortune 1000 companies.[77] The city of Chicago also hosts 12 Fortune Global 500 companies and 17 Financial Times 500 companies. The city claims one Dow 30 company as well: aerospace giant Boeing, which moved its headquarters from Seattle to the Chicago Loop in 2001. The Globalization and World Cities Research Network at Loughborough University in England classified Chicago as an "alpha− world city" in a 2008 study.[78][79]


Historical populations
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%
Est. 2008 2,853,114 [80] −1.5%

During its first century as a city, Chicago grew at a rate that ranked among the fastest growing in the world. Within the span of forty years, the city's population grew from slightly under 30,000 to over 1 million by 1890. By the close of the 19th century, Chicago was the fifth largest city in the world,[81] and the largest of the cities that did not exist at the dawn of the century. Within fifty years of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the population had tripled to over 3 million,[82] and reached its highest ever-recorded population of 3.6 million for the 1950 census.

As of the 2000 census, there were 2,896,016 people, 1,061,928 households, and 632,558 families residing within Chicago. More than half the population of the state of Illinois lives in the Chicago metropolitan area. The population density of the city itself was 12,750.3 /sq mi (4,922.9 /km2), making it one of the nation's most densely populated cities. There were 1,152,868 housing units at an average density of 5,075.8 /sq mi (1,959.8 /km2). Of the 1,061,928 households, 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 35.1% were married couples living together, 18.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.4% were non-families.[83] The median income for a household in the city was $38,625, and the median income for a family was $42,724. Males had a median income of $35,907 versus $30,536 for females. About 16.6% of families and 19.6% of the population lived below the poverty line.[84]

As of the 2006-2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 41.2% of Chicago's population; of which 31.5% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks made up 35.3% of Chicago's population; of which 34.3% were non-Hispanic blacks. American Indians and Alaska Natives made up 0.5% of Chicago's population; of which 0.1% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 5.3% of Chicago's population; of which 4.9% were non-Hispanic. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander Americans made up 0.1% of the city's population; of which less than 0.1% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from some other race made up 19.3% of Chicago's population; of which 0.4% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 1.7% of Chicago's population; of which 0.9% were non-Hispanic. In addition, Hispanic and Latino Americans of any race made up 27.8% of Chicago's population.[85][86]

According to the 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates for Total Ancestry Reported, for the city of Chicago, the majority of residents, or 64% of 2,986,974 people, reported their ancestry as "other groups".[87] Of the 36% of residents that reported their ancestries in groups that were measured by the U.S. Census Bureau, the largest groups, based on the total population, were: Irish (6.6%); German (6.5%); Polish (5.8%); Italian (3.4%); English (1.98%); Sub-Saharan African (1.2%); American (1.1%); Russian (0.97%); Swedish (0.91%); French (except Basque) (0.85%); Arab (0.68%); Greek (0.63%); Dutch (0.53%); Norwegian (0.52%); Scottish (0.49%); European (0.47%); West Indian (0.46%); Lithuanian (0.43%); Ukrainian (0.38%); Czech (0.36%); Hungarian (0.27%); Scotch-Irish (0.21%); Welsh (0.20%); Danish (0.18%); French Canadian (0.16%); Slovak (0.15%); British (0.12%); Swiss (0.10%); and Portuguese (0.05%).[87]

Because of Chicago's large multi-ethnic population, a wide variety of faiths are practiced. Various Christian denominations, such as diverse Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches, are found throughout the area, along with adherents of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Bahá'í, and many others.

Law and government

A Critical Mass gathering on the Daley Plaza, with Chicago City Hall in the background and Chicago Picasso on the right

Chicago is the county seat of Cook County. The government of the City of Chicago is divided into executive and legislative branches. The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive, elected by general election for a term of four years, with no term limits. The 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.

During much of the last half of the 19th century, Chicago's politics were dominated by a growing Democratic Party organization dominated by ethnic ward-heelers. During the 1880s and 1890s, Chicago had a powerful radical tradition with large and highly organized socialist, anarchist and labor organizations.[88] For much of the 20th century, Chicago has been among the largest and most reliable Democratic strongholds in the United States, with Chicago's Democratic vote the state of Illinois has been "solid blue" in presidential elections since 1992. The citizens of Chicago have not elected a Republican mayor since 1927, when William Thompson was voted into office. The strength of the party in the city is partly a consequence of Illinois state politics, where the Republicans have come to represent the rural and farm concerns while the Democrats support urban issues such as Chicago's public school funding. Chicago contains close to 25% of the state's population, and as such, eight of Illinois' nineteen U.S. Representatives have part of Chicago in their districts.

Former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's mastery of machine politics preserved the Chicago Democratic Machine long after the demise of similar machines in other large U.S. cities.[89] During much of that time, the city administration found opposition mainly from a liberal "independent" faction of the Democratic Party. The independents finally gained control of city government in 1983 with the election of Harold Washington. Since 1989, Chicago has been under the leadership of Richard M. Daley, the son of Richard J. Daley. Because of the dominance of the Democratic Party in Chicago, the Democratic primary vote held in the spring is generally more significant than the general elections in November.


Murders in the city peaked first in 1974, with 970 murders when the city's population was over three million people (resulting in a murder rate of around 29 per 100,000), and again in 1992 with 943 murders, resulting in a murder rate of 34 per 100,000.[90] 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.

In 2008, murders rebounded to 510 to lead the country, breaking 500 for the first time since 2003.[91][92] As of late September 2009 the murder count was down about 10% for the year.[93][94]


There are 666 public schools,[95] 394 private schools, 83 colleges, and 88 libraries in the Chicago proper. 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. The district, with an enrollment exceeding 400,000 students (2005 stat.), ranks as the third largest in the U.S.[96] Chicago's private schools are largely run by religious groups, with the two largest systems being the Catholic and Lutheran schools. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago operates the city's Catholic schools, including the Jesuit preparatory schools. Some of the more prominent Catholic schools are: De La Salle Institute, Brother Rice High School, St. Ignatius College Preparatory School, St. Scholastica Academy, Mount Carmel High School, Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School, Marist High School, St. Patrick High School and Resurrection High School. In addition to Chicago's network of 32 Lutheran schools,[97] there are also several private schools run by other denominations and faiths, such as the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in West Ridge and the Fasman Yeshiva High School in Skokie, a nearby suburb. Additionally, a number of private schools are run in a completely secular educational environment, such as the Latin School of Chicago, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Hyde Park, the Francis W. Parker School, the Chicago City Day School in Lake View, and the Morgan Park Academy. Chicago is also home of the private Chicago Academy for the Arts, a high school focused on six different categories of the arts, such as Media Arts, Visual Arts, Music, Dance, Musical Theatre and Theatre.

Colleges and universities

Since the 1850s, Chicago has been a world center of higher education and research with several universities that are in the city proper or in the immediate environs. These institutions consistently rank among the top "National Universities" in the United States, as determined by U.S. News & World Report. They include: the University of Chicago, which also ranks among the world's top ten; Northwestern University; Illinois Institute of Technology; Loyola University Chicago; DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.[98] Other notable schools include: Chicago State University; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; East-West University; North Park University; Northeastern Illinois University; Columbia College Chicago; Robert Morris University; Roosevelt University; Saint Xavier University and Rush University.

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.[99] 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, Harry S Truman College, Harold Washington College and Wilbur Wright College, in addition to the privately held MacCormac College.

Chicago proper also has a large concentration of graduate schools, seminaries and theological schools such as the Adler School of Professional Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, the Catholic Theological Union and the University of Chicago Divinity School.



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.[100] Additionally, it is the only city in North America in which six Class I railroads meet.[101] 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).[102] About one-third of the country's freight trains pass through the city, making it a major national bottleneck.[103] Announced in 2003, the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) initiative is using about $1.5B in private railroad, state, local, and federal funding to improve rail infrastructure in the region to reduce freight rail congestion by about one third.[104] This is also expected to have a positive impact on passenger rail and road congestion, as well as create new greenspace.[105]

Chicago is one of the largest hubs of passenger rail service in the nation. Many Amtrak long distance services originate from Union Station. Such services terminate in New York, Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Washington, D.C. Amtrak also provides a number of short-haul services throughout Illinois and toward nearby Milwaukee, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Detroit. 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.

Nine interstate highways run through Chicago and its suburbs. Segments that link to the city center are named after influential politicians, with four of them named after former U.S. Presidents. When referring to the expressways, local citizens tend to use the names of the expressways rather than the interstate numbers, primarily because the names denote certain sections of the interstate(s).

The Kennedy Expressway and the Dan Ryan Expressway are the busiest state maintained routes in the City of Chicago and its suburbs.[106]

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 Chicago '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 the few cities in the world (and one of only three cities in the United States of America) to offer rail service every day of the year for 24 hours around the clock. A new subway/elevated line, the Circle Line, is also in the planning stages by the CTA. Metra, the nation's second-most used passenger regional rail network, operates an 11-line commuter rail service in Chicago and its 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.[107]

Chicago offers a wide array of bicycle transportation facilities and events, including several miles of on-street bike lanes, 10,000 bike racks, a state-of-the-art central bicycle commuter station in Millennium Park and the annual Bike Chicago festival.[108] The network has 100 mi (160 km) of on-street bike lanes and 50 mi (80 km) of off-street trails.[109] Bicycles are permitted on CTA trains and their fleet of over 2,000 buses that have been equipped with racks that carry bikes. The successes of the Bike Program are due in large part to Mayor Daley's leadership and the incorporation of bicycling into the mandates and programs of the Chicago Department of Transportation, CTA, Chicago Park District and the Mayor's Office of Special Events, in partnership with the Active Transportation Alliance.[110]

Chicago is served by Midway International Airport on the south side and O'Hare International Airport, the world's second busiest airport, on the far northwest side. In 2005, O'Hare was the world's busiest airport by aircraft movements and the second busiest by total passenger traffic (due to government enforced flight caps).[111] Both O'Hare and Midway are owned and operated by the City of Chicago. Gary/Chicago International Airport, located in nearby Gary, Indiana, serves as the third Chicago area airport. Chicago is the world headquarters for United Airlines, the world's second-largest airline by revenue-passenger-kilometers and the city is the second largest hub for American Airlines. Midway is the second largest hub for low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines.

Health systems

The new Prentice Women's Hospital at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University.

Chicago is home to the Illinois Medical District, on the Near West Side. It includes Rush University Medical Center, the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, Jesse Brown VA Hospital, and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, the largest trauma-center in the city.

The University of Chicago Medical Center was ranked the fourteenth best hospital in the country by U.S. News & World Report.[112] It is the only hospital in Illinois ever to be included in the magazine's "Honor Roll" of the best hospitals in the United States.[113]

The Chicago campus of Northwestern University includes the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (rated best U.S. rehabilitation hospital by U.S. News & World Report), the new Prentice Women's Hospital, and the new Lurie Children's Hospital, which is currently under construction.

The University of Illinois College of Medicine at UIC is the largest medical school in the United States (2600 students including those at campuses in Peoria, Rockford and Urbana-Champaign).[114]

In addition, the Chicago Medical School and Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine are located in the suburbs of North Chicago and Maywood, respectively. The Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine is in Downers Grove.

The American Medical Association, Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, American Osteopathic Association, American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, American Dietetic Association, American College of Surgeons, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Hospital Association, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association are all based in Chicago.


Using only 3% of the total available bandwidth capacity and 13% of the available fiber pairs, Chicago area data centers move data for local, area, regional and international networks.[8]


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 started the installation of wind turbines on government buildings with the aim to promote the use of renewable energy.[115][116][117]

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 certain refuse from landfills.[118] In the fall of 2007 the city began a pilot program for blue bin recycling similar to that of other cities due to low participation rates in the blue bag program. After completion of the pilot the city will determine whether to roll it out to all wards.

Sister cities

Chicago has twenty-seven Sister Cities and one Friendship City.[119] Like Chicago, many of them are or were, the second city of their country, or they are the main city of a country that has had many immigrants settle in Chicago. Paris is a Partner City, due to the one sister city policy of their respective French commune.[120]

To celebrate the sister cities, Chicago hosts a yearly festival in Daley Plaza, which features cultural acts and food tastings from the other cities.[119] In addition, the Chicago Sister Cities program hosts a number of delegation and formal exchanges.[119] In some cases, these exchanges have led to further informal collaborations, such as the academic relationship between the Buehler Center on Aging, Health & Society at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University and the Institute of Gerontology of the Ukraine (originally of the Soviet Union), that was originally established as part of the Chicago-Kiev sister cities program.[121]


  • Clymer, Floyd (1950). Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925. New York: Bonanza Books. OCLC 1966986. 
  • Madigan, Charles, ed (2004). Global Chicago. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02941-0. OCLC 54400307. 
  • Montejano, David, ed (1999). Chicano Politics and Society in the Late Twentieth Century. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-75215-6. OCLC 38879251. 
  • Norcliffe, Glen (2001). The Ride to Modernity: The Bicycle in Canada, 1869-1900. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-4398-4. OCLC 46625313. 
  • Pogorzelski, Daniel; Maloof, John (2008). Portage Park (IL) (Images of America). Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-5229-1. OCLC 212843071. 
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  • Schneirov, Richard (1998). Labor and urban politics: class conflict and the origins of modern liberalism in Chicago, 1864-97. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-06676-6. OCLC 37246254. 
  • Spears, Timothy B. (2005). Chicago dreaming: Midwesterners and the city, 1871-1919. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-76874-0. OCLC 56086689. 


  1. ^ Chicago notoriety comes from being the subject or being referenced in novels, plays, movies, songs, various types of journals (e.g., sports, entertainment, business, trade, and academic), and the news media.
  2. ^ A.J.Liebling coined the "Second City" phrase and applied it to Chicago[12]
  3. ^ "Chicago came to be known as America's Second City - second that is, to New York - because it appeared so intent on becoming number one"[14]


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Further reading

  • Cronon, William (1992) [1991]. Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0393308731. OCLC 26609682. 
  • Grossman, James R.; Keating, Ann Durkin; Reiff, Janice L. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226310159. OCLC 54454572. 
  • Miller, Donald L. (1996). City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0684801949. OCLC 493430274. 
  • Pacyga, Dominic A. (2009). Chicago: A Biography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226644316. OCLC 298670853. 
  • Smith, Carl S. (2006). The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City. Chicago visions + revisions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226764710. OCLC 261199152. 
  • Swanson, Stevenson (1997). Chicago Days: 150 Defining Moments in the Life of a Great City. Chicago Tribune (Firm). Chicago: Cantigny First Division Foundation. ISBN 1890093033. OCLC 36066057. 

External links

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Travel guide

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From Wikitravel

Chicago is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
Chicago's skyline viewed from Millennium Park
Chicago's skyline viewed from Millennium Park

Chicago [1] is the home of the blues and the truth of jazz, the heart of comedy and the idea of the skyscraper. Here, the age of railroads found its center, and airplanes followed suit. Butcher of hogs and believer in progress, it is one of the world's great cities, and yet the metropolitan luxuries of theater, shopping, and fine dining have barely put a dent in real Midwestern friendliness. It's a city with a swagger, but without the surliness or even the fake smiles found in other cities of its size.

As the hub of the Midwest, Chicago is easy to find — its picturesque skyline calls across the waters of Lake Michigan, a first impression that soon reveals world-class museums of art and science, miles of sandy beaches, huge parks and public art, and perhaps the finest downtown collection of modern architecture in the world.

With a wealth of iconic sights and neighborhoods to explore, there's enough to fill a visit of days, weeks, or even months without ever seeing the end. Dress warm in the winter, and prepare to cover a lot of ground: the meaning of Chicago is only found in movement, through subways and archaic elevated tracks, in the pride of tired feet and eyes raised once more to the sky.


Many visitors never make it past the attractions downtown, but you haven't truly seen Chicago until you have ventured out into the neighborhoods. Chicagoans understand their city by splitting it into large "sides" to the north, west, and south of the central business district (the Loop). Chicagoans also tend to identify strongly with their neighborhood, reflecting real differences in culture and place throughout the city. Rivalries between the North and South Sides run particularly deep, while people from the West Side are free agents in critical issues like baseball loyalty.

Districts of Chicago
Districts of Chicago
Downtown (The Loop, Near North, Near South)
The center of Chicago for work and play, with shopping, skyscrapers, big theaters, and the city's most famous travel sights
North Side (Lakeview, Boystown, Lincoln Park, Old Town)
Upscale neighborhoods with entertainment aplenty in storefront theaters and the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, along with a ton of bars and clubs, and one of the largest LGBT communities in the nation
South Side (Hyde Park, Bronzeville, Bridgeport-Chinatown, Chatham-South Shore)
The historic Black Metropolis, brainy Hyde Park and the University of Chicago, Chinatown, the White Sox, soul food, and the real Chicago blues
West Side (Wicker Park, Logan Square, Greektown, Pilsen)
Ethnic enclaves, dive bars, and hipsters abound on the fashionably rough side of town
Far North Side (Uptown, Lincoln Square, Rogers Park)
Ultra-hip and laid-back, with miles of beaches and some of the most vibrant immigrant communities in the country
Far West Side (Little Village, Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Austin)
So far off the beaten tourist track you might not find your way back, but that's OK given all the great food, a couple of top blues clubs, and enormous parks.
Southwest Side (Back of the Yards, Marquette Park, Midway)
Former home to the massive meatpacking district of the Union Stockyards, huge Polish and Mexican neighborhoods, and Midway Airport
Far Northwest Side (Avondale, Irving Park, Portage Park)
Polish Village, historic homes and theaters, and some undiscovered gems in the neighborhoods near O'Hare International Airport
Far Southeast Side (Historic Pullman, East Side, Port of Chicago)
The giant, industrial underbelly of Chicago, home to one large tourist draw: the historic Pullman District
Far Southwest Side (Beverly, Mount Greenwood)
Ireland in Chicago: authentic Irish pubs, brogues, galleries, and the odd haunted castle, all extremely far from the city center


Chicago was known as a fine place to find a wild onion if you were a member of the Potawatomi tribe, who lived in this area of Illinois before European settlers arrived. It was mostly swamps, prairie and mud long past the establishment of Fort Dearborn in 1803 and incorporation as a town in 1833. It could be argued that nature never intended for there to be a city here; brutal winters aside, it took civil engineering projects of unprecedented scale to establish working sewers, reverse the flow of the river to keep it out of the city's drinking supply, and stop buildings from sinking back into the swamps — and that was just the first few decades.

By 1871, the reckless growth of the city was a sight to behold, full of noise, Gothic lunacy, and bustling commerce. But on October 8th, Mrs. O'Leary's cow reportedly knocked over a lantern in the crowded immigrant quarters in the West Side, and the Great Chicago Fire began. It quickly spread through the dry prairie, killing 300 and destroying virtually the entire city. The stone Water Tower in the Near North is the most famous surviving structure. But the city seized this destruction as an opportunity to rebuild bigger than before, giving canvas for several architects and urban planners who would go on to become legends of modern architecture.

At the pinnacle of its rebirth and the height of its newfound powers, Chicago was known as The White City. Cultures from around the world were summoned to the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition, to bear witness to the work of Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, and the future itself. Cream of Wheat, soft drinks, street lights and safe electricity, the fax machine, and the Ferris Wheel bespoke the colossus now resident on the shores of Lake Michigan.

As every road had once led to Rome, every train led to Chicago. Carl Sandburg called Chicago the Hog Butcher for the World for its cattle stockyards and place on the nation's dinner plate. Sandburg also called it the City of the Big Shoulders, noting the tall buildings in the birthplace of the skyscraper — and the city's "lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning." But Chicago is a city in no short supply of nicknames. Fred Fisher's 1922 song (best known in Frank Sinatra's rendition) calls it That Toddlin' Town, where "on State Street, that great street, they do things they don't do on Broadway." It's also referenced by countless blues standards like Sweet Home Chicago.

Chicago is also known as The Second City, which refers to its rebuilding after the fire — the current city is literally the second Chicago, after the one that disappeared in 1871. It can also refer to the city's long-held position as the United States' second largest city, after New York City, although it has since been surpassed in population by Los Angeles. And many know the nickname from Chicago's great comedy theater in Old Town.

Chicago's history with corruption is legendary. During the Prohibition era, Chicago's criminal world, emblemized by names like Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, and later Sam Giancana, practically ran the city. The local political world had scarcely more legitimacy in a town where voter turnout was highest among the dead and their pets, and precinct captains spread the word to "vote early, vote often." Even Sandburg acknowledged the relentless current of vice than ran under the surface of the optimistic city.

Today, Chicago is known as The Windy City. Walking around town, you might suspect that Chicago got this nickname from the winds off Lake Michigan, which shove through the downtown corridors with intense force. But the true origin of the saying comes from politics. Some say it may have been coined by rivals like Cincinnati and New York as a derogatory reference to the Chicagoan habit of rabid boosterism and endless political conventions. Others say that the term originated from the fact that Chicago politicians change their minds as "often as the wind."

Finally, the city is known as the The City That Works, as promoted by current Mayor Richard M. Daley, which refers to Chicago's labor tradition and the long hours worked by its residents, its willingness to tackle grand civic projects and to make fortunes for a lucky few. Daley and his father, former Mayor Richard J. Daley, have ruled the city for decades in what can only be described as a benevolent dictatorship. The Daleys kept Chicago pre-eminent through decades when other Midwestern manufacturing cities went into decline, transforming it from a city of stockyards and factories to a financial giant at the forefront of modern urban design. It's not democracy, but it has worked pretty well for most (and not as well for a few others).

While the city has many great attractions downtown, most Chicagoans live and play outside of the central business district. To understand Chicago, travelers must venture away from the Loop and Michigan Avenue and out into the vibrant neighborhoods, to soak up the local nightlife, sample the wide range of fantastic dining, and see the sights Chicagoans care about most — thanks to the city's massive public transit system, every part of Chicago is only slightly off the most beaten path.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 29 34 45 58 70 80 84 82 75 63 48 35
Nightly lows (°F) 13 18 28 39 48 57 63 62 54 42 31 20
Precipitation (in) 1.7 1.4 2.7 3.6 3.2 3.8 3.6 4.1 3.5 2.6 2.9 2.2

Check Chicago's 7 day forecast at NOAA
Insider tip: it has been known to snow in Chicago
Insider tip: it has been known to snow in Chicago

Weather is definitely not one of the attractions in Chicago. There's a good time to be had in any season, but it is a place where the climate has to be taken into consideration.

Obscured by Chicago's ferocious winters are the heat waves of summer. Many days in July and August are disgustingly hot and humid. Summer nights are more reasonable, though, and you'll get a few degrees' respite along the lakefront — in the local parlance, that's "cooler by the lake."

But then there are those winters. The months from December to March will see very cold temperatures, with even more bitter wind chill factors. Snow is usually limited to a handful of heavy storms per season, with a few light dustings in-between. (And a little more along the lakefront — again in the local parlance, that's "lake effect snow".) Ice storms are also a risk. It's a city that's well-accustomed to these winters, though, so city services and public transportation are highly unlikely to shut down.

That said, Chicago does have a few nice months of weather. May and September are pleasant and mild; April and June are mostly fine, although thunderstorms with heavy winds can also occur suddenly. Although there may be a chill in the air in October, it rarely calls for more than a light coat. The lake effect may prolong a pleasant autumn through October, and sometimes into November.


Chicago literature found its roots in the city's tradition of lucid, direct journalism, lending to a strong tradition of social realism. Consequently, most notable Chicago fiction focuses on the city itself, with social criticism keeping exultation in check. Here is a selection of Chicago's most famous works about itself:

  • Karen Abbott's Sin in the Second City is a recent best-seller about Chicago's vice district, the Levee, and some of the personalities involved: gangsters, corrupt politicians, and two sisters who ran the most elite brothel in town.
  • Nelson Algren's Chicago: City on the Make is a prose poem about the alleys, the El tracks, the neon and the dive bars, the beauty and cruelty of Chicago. It's best saved for after a trip, when at least twenty lines will have you enraptured in recognition.
  • Saul Bellow's Adventures of Augie March charts the long drifting life of a Jewish Chicagoan and his myriad eccentric acquaintances throughout the early 20th century: growing up in the then Polish neighborhood of Humboldt Park, cavorting with heiresses on the Gold Coast, studying at the University of Chicago, fleeing union thugs in the Loop, and taking the odd detour to hang out with Trotsky in Mexico while eagle-hunting giant iguanas on horseback. This book has legitimate claim to be the Chicago epic (for practical purposes, that means you won't finish it on the plane).
  • Gwendolyn Brooks' A Street in Bronzeville was the collection of poems that launched the career of the famous Chicago poetess, focused on the aspirations, disappointments, and daily life of those who lived in 1940s Bronzeville. It is long out of print, so you'll likely need to read these poems in a broader collection, such as her Selected Poems.
  • Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street is a Mexican-American coming-of-age novel, dealing with a young Latina girl, Esperanza Cordero, growing up in the Chicago Chicano ghetto.
  • Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie is a cornerstone of the turn of the 20th century Chicago Literary Renaissance, a tale of a country girl in the big immoral city, rags-to-riches and back again.
  • Stuart Dybek's The Coast of Chicago is a collection of fourteen marvelous short stories about growing up in Chicago (largely in Pilsen and Little Village) in a style blending the gritty with the dreamlike.
  • Erik Larson's Devil in the White City is a best-selling pop history about the 1893 Colombian Exposition; it's also about the serial killer who was stalking the city at the same time. For a straight history of the Exposition and also the workers' paradise in Pullman, try James Gilbert's excellent Perfect Cities: Chicago's Utopias of 1893.
  • Audrey Niffenegger's The Time-Traveler's Wife is a recent love story set in Chicago nightclubs, museums, and libraries.
  • Mike Royko's Boss is the definitive biography of Mayor Richard J. Daley and politics in Chicago, written by the beloved late Tribune columnist. American Pharaoh (Cohen and Taylor) is a good scholarly treatment of the same subject.
  • Carl Sandburg's Chicago Poems is without a doubt the most famous collection of poems about Chicago by its own "bard of the working class."
  • Upton Sinclair's The Jungle sits among the canon of both Chicago literature and US labor history for its muckraking-style depiction of the desolation experienced by Lithuanian immigrants working in the Union Stockyards on Chicago's Southwest Side.
  • Richard Wright's Native Son is a classic Chicago neighborhood novel set in Bronzeville and Hyde Park about a young, doomed, black boy hopelessly warped by the racism and poverty that defined his surroundings.


Chicago is America's third most prolific movie industry and a host of very Chicago-centric movies have been produced here. These are just a few:

  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off (John Hughes, 1986). The dream of the northern suburbs: to be young, clever, and loose for a day in Chicago. Ferris and friends romp through the old Loop theater district, catch a game at Wrigley Field, and enjoy the sense of invincibility that Chicago shares with its favorite sons when all is well.
  • Adventures in Babysitting (Chris Columbus, 1987). The flip side of Ferris Bueller — the dangers that await the suburbanite in the Loop at night, including memorable trips to lower Michigan Avenue and up close with the Chicago skyline.
  • The Blues Brothers (John Landis, 1980). Probably Chicago's favorite movie about itself: blues music, white men in black suits, a mission from God, the conscience that every Chicago hustler carries without question, and almost certainly the biggest car chase ever filmed.
  • The Untouchables (Brian De Palma, 1987). With a square-jawed screenplay by David Mamet, this is a retelling of Chicago's central fable of good vs. evil: Eliot Ness and the legendary takedown of Al Capone. No film (except perhaps The Blues Brothers) has made a better use of so many Chicago locations, especially Union Station (the baby carriage), the Chicago Cultural Center (the rooftop fight), and the LaSalle Street canyon.
  • High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000). John Cusack reviews failed relationships from high school at Lane Tech to college in Lincoln Park and muses over them in trips through Uptown, River North, all over the city on the CTA, his record store in the rock snob environs of Wicker Park, and returning at last to his record-swamped apartment in Rogers Park.
  • Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005) and its sequel The Dark Knight (2008). Making spectacular use of the 'L', the Chicago Board of Trade Building, Chicago skyscrapers, the Loop at night, and lower Wacker Drive, the revived action series finally sets the imposing power and intractable corruption of Gotham City where it belongs, in Chicago.

Others include Harrison Ford vs. the one-armed man in The Fugitive, the CTA vs. true love in While You Were Sleeping, and the greatest Patrick Swayze hillbilly ninja vs. Italian mob film of all time, Next of Kin.


Smoking is prohibited by state law at all restaurants, bars, nightclubs, workplaces, and public buildings. It's also banned within fifteen feet of any entrance, window, or exit to a public place, and at CTA train stations. The fine for violating the ban can range from $100 to $250.

Tourist Information

Chicago's visitor information centers offer maps, brochures and other information for tourists.

  • Chicago Water Works Visitor Information Center, 163 E Pearson Ave, +1 877 244-2246, [2]. 7:30AM-7PM daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, & New Year's Day). The city's main visitor information center is located on the Magnificent Mile in the historic Water Works. In addition to extensive free visitor materials, there is a popular gift shop inside.   edit
  • Chicago Cultural Center Visitor Information Center, 77 E Randolph St, +1 312 744-8000, [3]. M-Th 10AM-7PM, F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM. The Chicago Cultural Center is a good, centrally located place to pick up a host of useful, free materials relevant to virtually anyone visiting the city.   edit

By plane

Chicago is served by two major airports: O'Hare International Airport [4] and Midway Airport [5]. There are plenty of taxis both to and from the city center, but they are quite expensive, especially during rush hours. Expect upwards of $40 for O'Hare and $30 for Midway. CTA trains provide direct service to both larger airports for $2.25 from anywhere in the city — faster than a taxi during rush hour and a lot less expensive.

Many large hotels offer complimentary shuttle vans to one or both airports, or can arrange one for a charge ($15-25) with advance notice.


O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORD) is 17 miles northwest of downtown and serves many international and domestic carriers. United Airlines [6] has the largest presence here (about 50%) followed by American Airlines [7] with about 40%. Most connecting flights for smaller cities in the Midwest run through O'Hare. It's one of the biggest airports in the world, and it has always been notorious for delays and cancellations. Unfortunately, it's too far northwest for most travelers who get stuck overnight to head into the city. As a result, there are plenty of hotels in the O'Hare area. See the O'Hare article for listings.

The CTA Blue Line runs between the Loop and O'Hare in 45-60 sluggish minutes. On weekends, the Blue Line is usually getting some overdue repair work — this means you will have to take a (free) shuttle bus between stations, which can add even more time to the trip. If you've got a plane to catch, allow extra time.


Midway International Airport (IATA: MDW) is 10 miles southwest of downtown. Southwest Airlines [8] is the largest carrier here, followed by AirTran [9]. If it's an option for your trip, Midway is more compact, less crowded, has fewer delays, and usually cheaper.

The CTA Orange Line train runs between the Loop and Midway in around 25 minutes. There are a number of hotels clustered around Midway, too — see the Southwest Side article for listings.


Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport [10] (IATA: MKE) is served by 7 Amtrak trains per day (6 on Sunday), and the Hiawatha Service was Amtrak's most on-time route in 2006. The trip from Chicago Union Station to Mitchell Airport Station is about one hour and 15 minutes.

  • Greyhound, 630 W Harrison St, +1 312 408-5800, [11]. 24 hours. America's largest bus carrier offers service to destinations throughout the Midwest. The main terminal is near the southwestern corner of the Loop. There are secondary terminal at the CTA Red Line station at 95th/Dan Ryan and the CTA transit building (5800 N Cumberland). With advance purchase, the trip to Detroit costs about $27.  edit
  • Megabus, 4400 S Racine Ave, +1 877 462-6342, [12]. M-Sa 6:30AM-10PM, Su 6:30AM-8PM. Popular in the United Kingdom, Megabus recently established a branch in Chicago. These buses stop in Chicago near Union Station (see below). At present, buses run express from Chicago to sixteen other major Midwestern cities. With advance purchase, the trip to Detroit costs about $8.  edit
Hold on to your baby carriages in Union Station!
Hold on to your baby carriages in Union Station!

Chicago is historically the rail hub of the entire United States. Today, Amtrak [13], ☎ +1 800 872-7245, uses the magisterial Union Station (Canal St and Jackson Blvd) as the hub of its Midwestern routes, making Chicago one of the most convenient U.S. cities to visit by train, serving the majority of the passenger rail company's long-distance routes, with options from virtually every major US city. With its massive main hall, venerable history, and cinematic steps, Union Station is worth a visit even if you're not coming in by train.

Most (but not all) Metra suburban trains run from Union Station and nearby Ogilvie/Northwestern Station (Canal St and Madison St), which are west of the Loop. Some southern lines run from stations on the east side of the Loop. The suburban trains run as far as Kenosha, Aurora, and Joliet, while the South Shore line runs through Indiana as far as South Bend. Several CTA buses converge upon the two stations, and the Loop CTA trains are within walking distance.

By car

Chicagoans have a maddening habit of referring to some expressways by their names, not the numbers used to identify them on the signs you'll see posted on the U.S. interstate highway system, so you'll have to commit both name and number to memory. I-55 (the Stevenson Expressway) will take you directly from St. Louis into downtown Chicago. I-90/94 (The Dan Ryan) comes in from Indiana to the east (via the Chicago Skyway and Bishop Ford Freeway) and from central Illinois (via I-57). I-90 (The Kennedy) comes in from Madison to the northwest. I-94 (the Edens Expressway) comes in from Milwaukee to the north, but recent roadwork has slowed traffic considerably compared to I-90. I-80 will get you to the city from Iowa which neighbors Illinois to the west.

If arriving downtown from Indiana, from the south on I-94 or I-90, or from the north, Lake Shore Drive (U.S. Highway 41) provides a scenic introduction in both directions, day or night. If arriving on I-55 from the southwest, or on I-290 (the Eisenhower Expressway, formerly and sometimes still called The Congress Expressway) from the west, the skyline may also be visible from certain clear spots, but without the shore view. It should also be noted that I-55 from the southwest and I-90 through much of northwest Indiana are chock full of heavy industries with odors that'll knock your socks off, so plan your route downtown wisely.

CTA trains route map
CTA trains route map

Navigating Chicago is easy. Block numbers are consistent across the whole city. Standard blocks, of 100 addresses each, are roughly 1/8th of a mile long. (Hence, a mile is equivalent to a street number difference of 800.) Each street is assigned a number based on its distance from the zero point of the address system, the intersection of State Street and Madison Street. A street with a W (west) or E (east) number runs north-south, while a street with a N (north) or S (south) number runs east-west. A street's number is usually written on street signs at intersections, below the street name. Major thoroughfares are at each mile (multiples of 800) and secondary arteries at the half-mile marks. Thus, Western Ave at 2400 W is a north-south major thoroughfare, while Montrose Ave at 4400 N is an east-west secondary artery.

In general, "avenues" run north-south and "streets" run east-west, but there are numerous exceptions. (e.g., 48th Street may then be followed by 48th Place). In conversation, however, Chicagoans rarely distinguish between streets, avenues, boulevards, etc.

Several streets follow diagonal or meandering paths through the city such as Clark St, Lincoln Ave, Broadway, Milwaukee Ave, Ogden Ave, Archer Ave, Vincennes Ave, and South Chicago Ave.

By public transit

The best way to see Chicago is by public transit. It is cheap (basically), efficient (at times), and safe (for the most part). The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) [14] oversees the various public transit agencies in the Chicagoland area. You can plan trips online with the RTA trip planner [15] or get assistance by calling 836-7000 in any local area code between 5AM-1AM. The RTA also has an official partnership with Google Maps, which can provide routes with public transit.


The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) [16] operates trains and buses in the city of Chicago and some of the suburbs. Put simply, the CTA is Chicago. It is a marvel and a beast, convenient, frustrating, and irreplaceable. Even if you have the option of driving while you're in town, no experience of Chicago is complete without a trip on the CTA.

Fares are paid with transit cards, which can be purchased and re-filled at kiosks in the lobby of every CTA station. All accept cash, and some accept credit cards. Many locals use the Chicago Card, which cannot be purchased at stations, but can be ordered online [17] and also purchased at grocery stores and currency exchanges. Visitor passes are sold for unlimited travel on the CTA and Pace: 1-Day (24 hours) for $5.75; 3-Days for $14; 7-Days for $23 and 30-Days for $86. These passes are on sale at certain train stations (notably, the O'Hare Blue Line station), currency exchanges and some convenience stores, and online [18]. Transit cards for single rides or larger increments can also be purchased online.

Train rides of any length, from one side of the city to another or just one stop, cost $2.25. At certain stations, you can transfer to other train lines at no extra cost. Once you have exited the turnstiles, entering another CTA station or boarding a CTA bus costs $0.25 — and doing it a third time is free, provided it's still within two hours of when you started the trip.

Locals refer to Chicago's public train system as the "L". (Most lines run on el-evated tracks — get it?) All train lines radiate from the Loop to every corner of the city. The "Loop" name originally referred to a surface-level streetcar loop, which pre-dated the elevated tracks; that any form of transportation preceded the present one may come as a surprise, given how old some of the stations look. But they work.

A CTA bus - note the number/destination and symbol for wheelchair accessibility
A CTA bus - note the number/destination and symbol for wheelchair accessibility

CTA train lines are divided by colors: Red, Green, Brown, Blue, Purple, Yellow, Orange and Pink. All lines lead to the Loop except the Yellow Line, which is a nonstop shuttle between the suburb of Skokie and the northern border of Chicago. The Red and Blue lines run 24/7, making Chicago one of only two American cities with 24-hour rail service. Hours for the other lines vary somewhat by day, but as a general rule are from about 4:30AM-12:40AM, slightly later on weekends.

Before you travel, find out the name of the train stop closest to your destination, and the color of the train line on which it is located. Once you're on-board, you'll find route maps in each train car, above the door. The same map is also available online [19]. The name signs on platforms often have the station's location in the street grid, e.g. "5900 N, 1200 W" for Thorndale.

There should be an attendant on duty at every train station. They can't provide change or deal with money, but they can help you figure out where you need to go and guide you through using the machines.

A CTA bus stop - note the symbols for wheelchair accessibility and late-night hours
A CTA bus stop - note the symbols for wheelchair accessibility and late-night hours

Buses run on nearly every major street in the city. Look for the blue and white sign, which should give a map of the route taken by the bus and major streets/stops along the way. Once inside, watch the front of the bus — a red LED display will list the names of the streets as they pass, making it easy to stop exactly where you'd like, even if it's a small side-street. To request a stop, pull the cord hanging above the window and make sure you hear an audible 'ding'. Hollering at the bus driver will raise tempers but works in a pinch.

Rides of any length cost $2 with a transit card or Chicago Card, and $2.25 in cash. Major bus routes run 7-15 minutes apart during daylight hours, depending on the route. Less-traveled routes or routes during off-peak hours may run less frequently. Check the sign to be sure the bus is still running. There are several bus routes that are on a 24 hour/7 day a week schedule — these are called OWL routes, and the signs usually have an owl to belabor that point. (See individual district articles for major bus routes through different parts of the city.)

If you have a web-enabled mobile device, the CTA runs a little godsend called the CTA Bus Tracker [20], which uses GPS to provide reliable, real-time tracking information for almost all bus routes.

CTA buses accept transit cards but do not sell them. They also accept cash, but do not provide change. If you overpay, the CTA keeps the extra cash, so carry exact change if possible.

In compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, all CTA buses and some train stations are accessible to wheelchairs. Wheelchair-accessible 'L' stations are indicated by the international wheelchair symbol and have elevators or are at ground level. If you are trying to get to a place with a non-accessible station, there will be alternate routes by bus — contact the CTA for more information.

Crime on the CTA is low, but as with any major urban area, travelers should be aware of their surroundings when traveling in the wee hours of the night, and sit close to the driver if you feel uncomfortable for any reason. Buses are being equipped with video cameras as the fleet is upgraded. Some train cars have a button and speaker for emergency communication with the driver, located in the center aisle of the car on the wall next to the door. Do not press this just to chat — the driver is required to halt the train until the situation has been confirmed as resolved, and your fellow passengers will be unamused.

Metra and South Shore

Metra train on the way to the Loop
Metra train on the way to the Loop
Metra system map
Metra system map

Metra [21], ☎ +1 312 322-6777, runs commuter trains for the suburbs, providing service within Illinois, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, out west, and to the South Shore railroad, which provides service to South Bend, Indiana. Metra trains are fast, clean, and on-time, but unpleasantly crowded during rush hour. Generally, every car or every other car on the train has a bathroom.

Metra's Electric Line provides service to the convention center (McCormick Place), Hyde Park (Museum of Science and Industry, University of Chicago), and the Far Southeast Side's Pullman Historic District and Rainbow Beach. The Electric Line is fast, taking at most 15 minutes to reach Hyde Park from the Loop. Unfortunately, service outside of rush hours is infrequent (about once/hour), so be sure to check the schedules while planning your trip.

Although there are plans to change this in the future, none of the commuter trains currently accept CTA transit cards as payment. The fare to McCormick Place and Hyde Park, however, is only $2. Buy your tickets before boarding the train at a window or one of the automated vending machines. You can buy a ticket on the train, but that comes with an extra $2/ticket surcharge.

Ten-ride, weekly, and monthly passes are available. If you have a group of four or more people, it may be cheaper to purchase a ten-ride card and have all of your fares punched from that one card. If using Metra on Saturday and/or Sunday, you can purchase an unlimited ride weekend pass for just $5. Keep in mind that Metra only accepts cash at this time.


Pace [22] runs buses in the suburbs, although some routes do cross into the city, particularly in Rogers Park at the Howard (Red/Purple/Yellow Line) CTA station and the Far Northwest Side at the Jefferson Park (Blue Line) CTA station. Pace provides paratransit services should you need to go somewhere inconvenient via CTA.

By car

Avoid driving in downtown Chicago if at all possible. Traffic is awful, pedestrians are constantly wandering into the street out of turn, and garages in the Loop can cost as much as $40 per day. And although downtown streets are laid out on the grid, many have multiple levels which confuse even the most hardened city driver. Even outside of the city center, street parking may not be readily available. If you do find a spot, check street signs to make sure that a) no residential permit is required to park here and b) parking is not disallowed during certain hours for "street cleaning", rush hour or something along those lines. Parking restrictions are swiftly and mercilessly enforced in the form of tickets and towing — be especially wary during snowy weather.

Parking meters are mixed between old coin-op meters and newer one-per-block kiosks, which will issue a slip for you to put in your front window.

Be advised: talking on a handheld cell phone while driving is illegal in Chicago, and the police are eager to write tickets for it. If you need to take a call, use a hands-free headset — or better yet, pull over.

The perpetual construction is bad enough, but drivers on the city expressways can be very aggressive. For those used to driving on expressways in the Northeast, this may be a welcome reminder of home. For everyone else, though, it can be intimidating.

Your Name Here

Determined to shake off the burden of a world-class cultural heritage, Chicago has always found ways to undercut its own treasures in exchange for a quick buck. Of late, "naming rights" are all the rage; while official city tourism guides rush to comply, using the new names will earn an eye roll or an oblivious look from most Chicagoans (and cab drivers). A few of the worst offenders:

  • Sears Tower — 36 years after it was built, North America's tallest building was redubbed the "Willis Tower" for a bunch of junk bond traders; even more surprising than the renaming was how little the owners got for it.
  • Comiskey Park — Winning the city's first World Series in nearly a century helped earn some acceptance for the "U.S. Cellular Field" ("The Cell") moniker, but it's still regarded as profanity by the old-timers in Bridgeport, where the first Comiskey Park was built in 1910.
  • Hollywood Beach — The favorite beach of Chicago's GLBT community was renamed "Kathy Osterman Beach" for one of the mayor's Edgewater based political cronies, but more than a decade later, only city signage knows it by that name.

Chicago has some of the cheapest taxi fares in the U.S. Taxis are readily available throughout the major areas of interest for tourists and can be hailed from the street. All taxis are carefully regulated by the city. Taxi fares are standard and the initial charge ("flag pull") is $2.25 for the first 1/9 mile, then $0.20 for each additional mile or $0.20 for each elapsed 36 seconds. As of June 11, 2008, there is a $1.00 fuel surcharge added to the initial charge. There is also a flat $1.00 charge for the second passenger, and then a $0.50 charge for each additional passenger after that (for example, if four people take a taxi together, there will be $2.00 in additional flat fees). There is no additional charge for baggage or credit card use. Taxi rides from O'Hare and Midway to outer suburbs cost an additional one half the metered fee. Taxi drivers work best if you give them the nearest major intersection to which you are heading and then the specific address.

Outside of the downtown, North Side, Near West and Near South neighborhoods, you will likely have greater difficulty hailing a taxi directly from the street. In these situations, you can easily call for a taxi to come pick you up. Taxis typically take less than 10 minutes from the time you call to arrive. The principal Chicago taxi companies are:

  • American-United Taxi, ☎ +1 773 248-7600
  • Checker Cab, ☎ +1 312 243-2537
  • Flash Cab, ☎ +1 773 561-1444 [23]
  • Yellow Cab, ☎ +1 312 829-4222 [24]

The above applies only to City of Chicago taxis. Suburban-based taxi cabs have their own fares and rates, depending on the laws and regulations of the town in which they are based.

By bicycle

Chicago has a bike path along the shores of Lake Michigan, making north-south travel very convenient if you're far enough east, as long as the weather is favorable by the lake. Most major city streets have bike lanes, and the biking culture is established enough that cars tend to accommodate and (grudgingly) yield to bicycles. Bike trips can also be combined with rides on the CTA. See the bicycling section below for more details.

  • Along the Magnificent Mile — one day and night in Chicago, with skyscrapers, shopping, food, parks, and amazing views of the city from high and low.
  • Loop Art Tour — a 2-4 hour walking tour of downtown Chicago's magnificent collection of modern sculpture.
Penguin triumphant, Lincoln Park Zoo
Penguin triumphant, Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago's set of museums and cultural institutions are among the best in the world. Three of them are located within a short walk of each other in the Near South, on what is known as the Museum Campus, in a beautiful spot along the lake: the Adler Planetarium, with all sorts of cool hands-on space exhibits and astronomy shows; the Field Museum of Natural History, which features "Sue," the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, and a plethora of Egyptian treasures; and the Shedd Aquarium, with dolphins, whales, sharks, and the best collection of marine life east of California. A short distance away, in Hyde Park, is the most fun of them all, the Museum of Science and Industry — or, as generations of Chicago-area grammar school students know it, the best field trip ever.

In the Loop, the Art Institute of Chicago has a handful of iconic household names among an unrivaled collection of Impressionism, modern and classical art, and tons of historical artifacts. And in Lincoln Park, a short trip from the Loop, the cheerful (and free) Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes visitors every day of the week, with highlights including the brand-new Great Ape House.

Those are the most famous ones, but Chicago has some knockout small museums scattered throughout the city like the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, The Polish Museum of America (purportedly haunted by the once famous pianist Paderewski) in Wicker Park, and the Museum of Photography in the Loop. The University of Chicago, in Hyde Park, has several cool (and free) museums that are open to all visitors, including a spectacular collection of antiquities.

Discount packages like the CityPass [25] and the Go Chicago Card [26] can be purchased before you arrive in town. They cover admission to some museums and other tourist attractions, allowing you to cut to the front of lines, and may include discounts for restaurants and shopping.


See the Chicago skyline guide to find out more about the city's skyscrapers.

Prairie School Style Home, Oak Park
Prairie School Style Home, Oak Park

From the sternly classical to the space-age, from the Gothic to the coolly modern, Chicago is a place with an embarrassment of architectural riches, where the past meets the future. Modern architecture was born here. Frank Lloyd Wright fans will swoon to see his earliest buildings in Chicago, where he began his professional career and established the Prairie School architectural style, with numerous homes in Hyde Park/Kenwood, Oak Park, and Rogers Park — over 100 buildings in the Chicago metropolitan area! He learned his craft at the foot of the lieber meister, Louis Sullivan, whose ornate, awe-inspiring designs were once the jewels of the Loop, and whose few surviving buildings (Auditorium Theater, Carson Pirie Scott Building, one in the Ukrainian Village) still stand apart.

The 1871 Chicago Fire forced the city to rebuild. The ingenuity and ambition of Sullivan, his teacher William Le Baron Jenney (Manhattan Building), and contemporaries like Burnham & Root (Monadnock, Rookery) and Holabird & Roche/Root (Chicago Board of Trade) made Chicago the definitive city of their era. The world's first skyscrapers were built in the Loop as those architects received ever more demanding commissions. Later, Mies van der Rohe would adapt Sullivan's ethos with landmark buildings in Bronzeville (Illinois Institute of Technology) and the Loop (Chicago Federal Center). Unfortunately, Chicago's world-class architectural heritage is almost evenly matched by the world-class recklessness with which the city has treated it, and the list is long of masterpieces that have been needlessly demolished for bland new structures.

Architectural tours cover the landmarks on foot and by popular river boat tours, or by just standing awestruck on a downtown bridge over the Chicago River; see individual district articles for details. For a tour on the cheap, the short trip around the elevated Loop train circuit (Brown/Purple Lines) may be worth every penny of the $2 fare.

Chicago is also the birthplace of the skyscraper. It was here that steel-frame construction was invented, allowing buildings to rise above the limits of load-bearing walls. Naturally, competition with New York was fierce, but in the end, Chicago built them taller. Chicago boasts three out of America's tallest five buildings: the Sears Tower (1st), the Trump Tower (2nd), and the Aon Center (5th) (although the local favorite is actually #6: the John Hancock Center). For years, the Sears Tower was the tallest building in the world, but it's since lost the title. Various developers insist they're bringing the title back. Until they do, though, the Sears Tower will have to settle for being the tallest building in North America, although the Hancock is not much shorter, is better located for tourists, has a better view, and is quite frankly better-looking.

African-American history

Chicago's African-American history begins with the city's African-American founder, Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable. Born to a Haitian slave and a French pirate, he married a woman from the Potawatomi tribe, and built a house and trading post on the Chicago River on the spot of today's Pioneer Court (the square just south of the Tribune Tower in the Near North). Du Sable lived on the Chicago River with his family from the 1770s to 1800, when he sold his house to John Kinzie, whose family and friends would later claim to have founded the city.

Relative to other northern cities, African-Americans constituted a fairly large part of Chicago's early population because of Illinois' more tolerant culture, which was inherited from fervent anti-slavery Mormon settlers. As a non-slave state generally lacking official segregation laws, Illinois was an attractive place to live for black freedmen and fugitive slaves.

By the 1920s, Chicago had a thriving middle class African-American community based in the Bronzeville neighborhood, which at the time became known as "The Black Metropolis," home to a cultural renaissance comparable to the better-known Harlem Renaissance of New York. African-American literature of the time was represented by local poetess Gwendolyn Brooks and novelist Richard Wright, most famous for his Native Son, nearly all of which takes place in Chicago's Bronzeville and Hyde Park/Kenwood. The Chicago school of African-American literature distinguished itself from the East Coast by its focus on the new realities of urban African-American life. Chicago became a major center of African-American jazz, and the center for the blues. Jazz great Louis Armstrong got his start there; other famous black Chicagoans of the day included Bessie Coleman — the world's first licensed black pilot, the hugely influential African-American and women's civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, the great pitcher/manager/executive of Negro League Baseball Andrew "Rube" Foster, and many more.

Both fueling and threatening Chicago's black renaissance was the single most influential part of Chicago's African-American history: the Great Migration. African-Americans from the rural South moved to the industrial cities of the North due to the post-WWI shortage of immigrant industrial labor, and to escape the Jim Crow Laws and racial violence of the South. The massive wave of migrants, most from Mississippi, increased Chicago's black population by more than 500,000. With it came southern food, Mississippi blues, and the challenges of establishing adequate housing for so many recent arrivals — a challenge that they would have to meet themselves, without help from a racist and neglectful city government.

Black Chicago's renaissance was brought to its knees by the Great Depression; its fate was sealed ironically by the 1937 creation of the Chicago Housing Authority, which sought to build affordable public housing for the city. However well-intentioned the project may have sounded, the results were disastrous. The largest housing projects by far were the 1940 Ida B. Wells projects, which were designed to "warehouse" Chicago's population of poor African-Americans in a district far away from white population centers, the Cabrini Green projects, which developed a reputation as the most violent housing projects in the nation, and the massive 1962 Robert Taylor Homes in Bronzeville, which were forced to house an additional 16,000 people beyond their intended 11,000 capacity. The Black Metropolis proved unable to cope with this massive influx of new, impoverished residents, and the urban blight that came from concentrating such a great number of them in one place.

Further damaging to Chicago's black population was the phenomenon of "white flight" that accompanied the introduction of African-Americans to Chicago neighborhoods. Unwilling to live beside black neighbors, many Chicagoans fled desegregation to the suburbs. This trend was accelerated by the practice of "blockbusting," where unsavory real estate agents would fan racist fears in order to buy homes on the cheap. As a result, Chicago neighborhoods (with the notable exceptions of Hyde Park/Kenwood, and Rogers Park) never truly integrated, and the social, educational, and economic networks that incoming African-Americans hoped to join disintegrated in the wake of fleeing white communities. During this period, Chicago experienced a huge population loss and large sections of the city became covered with vacant lots, which in turn created the conditions for crime to flourish. A number of Chicago's major roads, most notably the Dan Ryan Expressway, were built in part to segregate these areas from more prosperous ones like the Loop.

In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. decided to come north and chose Chicago as his first destination. However, from the moment of his arrival on the Southwest Side, King was utterly confounded. The death threats that followed his march through Marquette Park were challenge enough, but nowhere in the South was there a more expert player of politics than Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley. King left town frustrated and exhausted, but Rev. Jesse Jackson continued civil rights efforts in Chicago through his Operation PUSH. The 1983 election of Mayor Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, was a watershed event for Chicago's African-American population, and although long battles with obstructionist white politicians lay ahead, it marked the moment when African-American elected officials became major, independent forces in Chicago.

Today, with a plurality of nearly 40%, Chicago's black population is the country's second largest, after New York. The broader South Side is the cultural center of Chicago's black community; it constitutes the largest single African-American neighborhood in the country and boasts the nation's greatest concentration of black-owned businesses. Chicagoans ignorant of these areas may tell you that they are dangerous and crime-ridden, but the reality is much more complex. There are strong, middle and upper class black communities throughout the city, some of the more prominent of which include upper Bronzeville, Hyde Park/Kenwood, Chatham, South Shore, and Beverly.

Bronzeville is the obvious destination for those interested in African-American history, although Kenwood also boasts interesting recent history, as it has been (or is) home to championship boxer Muhammad Ali, Nation of Islam leaders Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan, and President Barack Obama. No one should miss the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Bronzeville, the first museum of African-American history in the United States. And if your interest is more precisely in African-American culture than history, head down to Chatham and South Shore to enter the heart of Chicago's black community.

Wentworth Ave, Chinatown's main street
Wentworth Ave, Chinatown's main street

Chicago is among the most diverse cities in America, and many neighborhoods reflect the character and culture of the immigrants who established them. Some, however, do more than just reflect: they absorb you in a place that, for several blocks at a time, may as well be a chunk of another country, picked up and dropped near the shores of Lake Michigan. The best of Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods are completely uncompromised, and that makes them a real highlight for visitors.

Chicago's Chinatown is among the most active Chinatowns in the world. It even has its own stop on the CTA Red Line. It's on the South Side near Bridgeport, birthplace of the Irish political power-brokers who have run Chicago government for most of the last century. More Irish communities exist on the Far Southwest Side, where they even have an Irish castle to seal the deal. The Southwest Side houses enormous populations of Polish Highlanders and Mexicans, as well as reduced Lithuanian and Bohemian communities.

No serious Chicago gourmand would eat Indian food that didn't come from a restaurant on Devon Avenue in Rogers Park. It's paradise for spices, saris, and the latest Bollywood flicks. Lawrence Avenue in Albany Park is sometimes called Seoul Drive for the Korean community there, and the Persian food on Kedzie Avenue nearby is simply astonishing. At the Argyle Red Line stop, by the intersection of Argyle and Broadway in Uptown, you'd be forgiven for wondering if you were still in America; Vietnamese, Thais, and Laotians share space on a few blocks of restaurants, grocery stores, and even dentists. Neither the Swedish settlers who built Andersonville or the Germans from Lincoln Square are the dominant presence in those neighborhoods any more, but their identity is still present in restaurants, cultural centers, and other small discoveries to be made. Likewise, Little Italy and Greektown on the Near West Side survive only as restaurant strips.

A more contemporary experience awaits in Pilsen and Little Village, two neighborhoods on the Lower West Side where the Spanish signage outnumbers the English; in fact, Chicago has the second largest Mexican and Puerto Rican populations outside of their respective home countries. Pilsen and its arts scene is an especially an exciting place to visit.

It's hard to imagine displacement being a concern for the Polish community on the city's Far Northwest and Southwest sides. The Belmont-Central business district is what you might consider the epicenter of Polish activity. Bars, restaurants, and dozens of other types of Polish businesses thrive on this strip, and on a smaller section of Milwaukee Avenue (between Addison and Diversey). Taste of Polonia, held over Labor Day weekend, draws an annual attendance of about 50,000 people.



Chicago is not well known as a beach destination, but Lake Michigan is the largest freshwater lake located entirely within the United States, and Chicagoans flock to it. Anyone can show up and swim — virtually none of Chicago's lakefront is spoiled by "private" beaches. And despite the latitude, the water is quite warm in the late summer and early fall (check with the NOAA for temperatures [27]) . The Chicago shore has been called the second cleanest urban waterfront in the world, although bacteria levels in the water do force occasional — but rare — beach closures (which are clearly posted at the beach, and online [28]). Lifeguards keep a stern watch for safety, and if one's in a row boat, they're both keeping an eye out and setting a boundary for swimmers (usually waist-deep).

Oak Street Beach and North Avenue Beach (in the Near North and Lincoln Park) are the fashionable places to sun-tan and be seen, but Rogers Park has mile after mile of less pretentious sand and surf. Hyde Park's Promontory Point is beautiful, and offers skyline views from its submerged beach by the rocks (although a swim there is technically against city rules). Rainbow Beach in South Shore is actually one of the city's nicest, although it is rarely visited by sun lovers from outside the neighborhood.

The Osaka Garden on Jackson Park's Wooded Isle
The Osaka Garden on Jackson Park's Wooded Isle

Where there are beaches, there are lakefront parks. During the summer months, the lakefront parks are a destination for organized and impromptu volleyball and soccer games, chess matches, and plenty more. There are also a couple of tennis courts in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Rogers Park. There are also terrific parks further away from the lake. In the Loop, Grant Park hosts music festivals throughout the year, and Millennium Park is a fun destination for all ages, especially during the summer. In Hyde Park, Midway Park offers skating, and summer and winter gardens in the shadow of the academic giant, the University of Chicago, and Jackson Park has golf, more gardens and the legacy of the city's shining moment, the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition. In Bronzeville, Washington Park is one of the city's best places for community sports. And that's just a brief overview. Almost every neighborhood in Chicago has a beloved park.

Events & Festivals

If you're absolutely determined and you plan carefully, you may be able to visit Chicago during a festival-less week. It's a challenge, though. Most neighborhoods, parishes, and service groups host their own annual festivals throughout the spring, summer, and fall [29]. There are a few can't-miss city-wide events, though. In the Loop, Grant Park hosts Taste of Chicago in July, and four major music festivals: Blues Fest and Gospel Fest in June, Lollapalooza in August, and Jazz Fest over Labor Day Weekend. All but Lollapalooza are free. The Chicago-based music website Pitchfork Media also hosts their own annual three day festival of rock, rap, and more in the summer.


With entries in every major professional sports league and several universities in the area, Chicago sports fans have a lot to keep them occupied. The Chicago Bears play football at Soldier Field in the Near South from warm September to frigid January. Since the baseball teams split the city in half, nothing seizes the Chicago sports consciousness like a playoff run from the Bears, who dominated the 2006 season before losing in the Super Bowl. Aspiring fans will be expected to be able to quote a minimum of two verses of the Super Bowl Shuffle from memory, tear up at the mention of Walter Payton, and provide arguments as to how Butkus, Singletary, and Urlacher represent the premier linebackers of their respective eras, with supporting evidence in the form of grunts, yells, and fists slammed on tables.

The Chicago Bulls play basketball at the United Center on the Near West Side. After a few miserable years, the Bulls are in playoff form again, and while ticket prices may never reach Jordan-era mania, they're still an exciting team to watch, even if the United Center doesn't hold in noise like the old Chicago Stadium did. The Chicago Blackhawks share a building with the Bulls. As one of the "Original Six" teams in professional hockey, they have a long history in their sport, and while they've been awful for years, the team is experiencing a renaissance. Home games tend to sell out, but tickets can usually be found if you check in advance. Both the Bulls and the Blackhawks play from the end of October to the beginning of April.

It's baseball, though, in which the tribal fury of Chicago sports is best expressed. The Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field on the North Side, in Lakeview, and the Chicago White Sox play at U.S. Cellular Field (Comiskey Park, underneath the corporate naming rights) on the South Side, in Bridgeport. Both stadiums are open-air, and both franchises have more than a century's worth of history. Everything else is a matter of fiercely held opinion. Both teams play 81 home games from April to the beginning of October. The two three-game series when the teams play each other are the hottest sports tickets in Chicago during any given year. If someone offers you tickets to a game, pounce.

There are plenty of smaller leagues in the city as well, although some play their games in the suburbs. The Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer) and Chicago Red Stars (Women's Professional Soccer) play soccer in the suburb of Bridgeview, the Chicago Sky play women's professional basketball at the UIC Pavilion on the Near West Side, and the Windy City Rollers skate flat-track roller derby in neighboring Cicero. Minor league baseball teams dot the suburbs as well.

While college athletics are not one of the city's strong points, Northwestern football (in Evanston) and DePaul basketball (in Lincoln Park) show occasional signs of life, and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is usually at least competitive. If you find yourself in Hyde Park, ask someone how the University of Chicago football team is doing — it's a surefire conversation starter.


Modern American comedy — the good parts, at least — was born when a group of young actors from Hyde Park formed The Compass Players, fusing intelligence and a commitment to character with an improvisational spark. One strand of their topical, hyper-literate comedy led, directly or indirectly, to Shelly Berman, Mike Nichols & Elaine May, Lenny Bruce, M*A*S*H and The Mary Tyler Moore Show; another strand, namely The Second City, led to Saturday Night Live and a pretty huge percentage of the funny movies and television of the last thirty years. Still in Chicago's Old Town (and few other places as well), still smart and still funny, Second City does two-act sketch revues followed by one act of improv. As the saying goes, if you can only see one show while you're in Chicago, even if you have no particular interest in theater, Second City is one to see.

Improvisational comedy as a performance art form is a big part of the Chicago theater scene. At Lakeview and Uptown theaters like The Annoyance Theater, I.O., and The Playground, young actors take classes and perform shows that range from ragged to inspired throughout the week. Some are fueled by the dream of making the cast of SNL or Tina Fey's latest project, and some just enjoy doing good work on-stage, whether or not they're getting paid for it (and most aren't). There's no guarantee that you'll see something great on any given night, but improv tends to be cheaper than anything else in town, and it can definitely be worth the risk. Another popular theater experience is the comedy/drama hybrid Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, offering 30 plays in 60 minutes every weekend in Andersonville.

Steppenwolf, in Lincoln Park, is Chicago's other landmark theater. Founded in 1976, they have a history of taking risks onstage, and they have the ensemble to back it up, with heavyweights like Joan Allen, John Malkovich, and Gary Sinise. Steppenwolf isn't cheap any more, but they mix good, young actors with their veteran ensemble and still choose interesting, emotionally-charged scripts. It's the best place in town to see modern, cutting-edge theater with a bit of "I went to..." name-drop value for the folks back home.

Most of the prestige theaters, including the Broadway in Chicago outlets, are located in the Loop or the Near North. Tickets are expensive and can be tough to get, but shows destined for Broadway like The Producers often make their debut here. For the cost-conscious, the League of Chicago Theatres operates Hot Tix [30], which offers short-notice half-price tickets to many Chicago shows.

One theater to see, regardless of the production, is The Auditorium in the Loop. It's a masterpiece of architecture and of performance space. Designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, who were on a commission from syndicate of local business magnates to bring some culture to the heathen city, it was the tallest building in Chicago and one of the tallest in the world at the time of its opening in 1889, and it's still an impressive sight, inside and out.


Chicago has a strong, passionate bicycle culture, and riding opportunities abound. Pedaling your way around the city is one of the best ways to get to know Chicago. And the terrain is mostly flat — a boon for easy-going cyclists!

The scenic Lakefront Trail runs for 18 continuous miles along the city's beautiful shoreline. Even while riding at a moderate pace, traveling downtown along the lakefront can be faster than driving or taking the CTA! Further inland, many streets have bike lanes, and signs direct riders to major bike routes. The City of Chicago maintains helpful bicycle resources online [31], including major civic bike events and (slow) interactive maps of major streets with bike lanes.

Bicyclists have to follow the same "rules of the road" as automobiles. Police officers will write citations for bicyclists in violation of traffic laws (especially disregarding stop signs and traffic lights). Bicycle riding is never allowed on sidewalks (except for children under age 12). This rule is strictly enforced in higher density neighborhoods, mostly areas near the lake, and is considered a criminal misdemeanor offense. You must walk your bike on the sidewalk.

Conveniently, CTA buses are all equipped with bike racks which carry up to two bicycles, and 'L' trains permit two bicycles per car except during rush hour (roughly 7-9:30AM and 3:30-6:30PM weekdays, excluding major holidays on which the CTA is running on a Sunday schedule). With the buses, inspect the rack closely for wear or damage and be absolutely certain that the bike is secured before you go, lest it fall off in traffic (and be immediately flattened by the bus). The CTA will fight tooth and nail to avoid reimbursing you for the loss, and the driver might not stop to let you retrieve it.

Bikes may be rented from the North Avenue Beach House (Lincoln Park), Navy Pier, (Near North), the Millennium Park bike station (Loop), and from several bike shops in the city. Another option is to contact the terrific Working Bikes Cooperative [32], an all-volunteer group of bike lovers that collects and refurbishes bikes, and then sells a few in Chicago to support their larger project of shipping bikes to Africa and South America. You could buy a cheap bike and donate it back when you're done, or even spend a day or two working as a volunteer.

For an opportunity to connect with the local bike community and take a memorable trip through the city, don't miss the Critical Mass [33] rides on the last Friday of every month, starting from Daley Plaza in the Loop (5:30PM). With numbers on their side, the hundreds or even thousands of bike riders wind up taking over entire streets along the way, with themed routes that are voted upon at the outset of the trip. Anyone is free to join or fall away wherever they like. Police are generally cooperative — take cues from more experienced riders.


Several major and minor universities call Chicago home. The University of Chicago and Northwestern University are undoubtedly the most prestigious among them. The University of Chicago's Gothic campus is in Hyde Park, which is, famously, "home to more Nobel Prizes per square kilometer than any other neighborhood on Earth." Further north, in the Bronzeville area, is the Illinois Institute of Technology, which has notable programs in engineering and architecture. Northwestern University has its main campus in Evanston, just north of Chicago, but it also has campuses in the Near North off Michigan Ave, including its medical, law, and business schools.

On the North Side, there are two major Catholic universities with over a hundred years in Chicago: DePaul University, in Lincoln Park, and Loyola University, in Rogers Park. Both schools also have campuses in the Loop. Rush University Medical School, on the Near West Side, traces its roots back even further, to 1837. Dating back to 1891, North Park University serves as another fine private liberal arts university in Albany Park on the Northwest Side.

A handful of schools in the Loop attract students in the creative arts. Columbia College has an enviable location on Michigan Avenue, and its programs in creative writing and photography are well-regarded. The School of the Art Institute is generally regarded as one of the top three art and design schools in the country and is one of the few art schools that does not require its students to declare majors. The Illinois Institute of Art specializes in different fields of art and design. The main campus of Roosevelt University, former home to Chicago heavyweights like Harold Washington and Ramsey Lewis, is in the Auditorium Building on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway. Northwestern University has its main campus in Evanston, just north of Chicago, but it also has campuses in the Loop including its medical, law, and business schools.

To the west of the Loop, built over the remains of Little Italy and Maxwell Street neighborhoods is the brutalist Near West Side campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the second-largest member of the Illinois state university system.

The City Colleges of Chicago [34] are scattered throughout the city. They include Harold Washington College (Loop), Harry S. Truman College (Uptown), Malcolm X College (Near West Side), Wright College (Humboldt Park), Kennedy-King College (Englewood), Daley College (Southwest Side), and Olive-Harvey College (Far Southeast Side).

The L rumbling overhead in the Loop
The L rumbling overhead in the Loop

Chicago still loves Carl Sandburg and his poems, but the city shucked off the hog butcher's apron a long time ago. In terms of industry, there's little that distinguishes Chicago from any other major city in America, save for size. The Chicago Board of Trade [35] and Chicago Mercantile Exchange [36] are among the biggest employers, with stables of traders and stock wizards. Boeing [37] moved its headquarters to Chicago amid much fanfare a few years ago; United Airlines [38] is another international company with headquarters in town. Abbott Labs [39], just outside city limits, is the biggest employer of foreign nationals in scientific fields. The Big Five consulting firms all have one or more offices in the Loop. And there's always construction work in Chicago, but with a strong union presence in the city, it's not easy for a newcomer to break into without an introduction.

For younger workers, the museums in the Loop and the Near South are always looking for low-paid, high-enthusiasm guides, and the retail outlets on the Magnificent Mile also need seasonal help. And with so many colleges and universities in the city, study abroad opportunities abound.

In Chicago, business is politics, and there's one word in Chicago politics: clout. The principal measure of clout is how many jobs you can arrange for your friends. Hence, if you want to work in Chicago, start asking around — email someone from your country's embassy or consulate and see if they have any leads, or figure out if there is a cultural association that might be able to help you. It's no coincidence that the Mayor's Office [40] employs scores of Irish workers every summer. If you happen to contact somebody who met the right person at a fundraiser a few days ago, you might fall into a cushy job or a dream internship; it's worth a try.


Whatever you need, you can buy it in Chicago, on a budget or in luxury. The most famous shopping street in Chicago is a stretch of Michigan Avenue known as The Magnificent Mile, in the Near North area. It includes many designer boutiques, and several multi-story malls anchored by large department stores like 900 N Michigan and Water Tower Place. Additional brands are available from off-strip shops to the south and west of Michigan.

State Street used to be a great street for department stores in the Loop, but it's now a shadow of its former self, with Carson Pirie Scott's landmark Louis Sullivan-designed building closed, and invading forces from New York holding the former Marshall Field's building hostage under the name Macy's. Discounts can still be found at places like Filene's Basement, though.

For a classic Chicago souvenir, pick up a box of Frango Mints, much-loved mint chocolates that were originally offered by Marshall Field's and are still available at Macy's stores. Although no longer made in the thirteenth-floor kitchen of the State Street store, the original recipe appears to still be in use, which pleases the loyal crowds fond of the flavor — and too bad for anyone looking to avoid trans-fats.

However, for a more unique shopping experience, check out the fun, eclectic stores in Lincoln Square, or the cutting-edge shops in Bucktown and Wicker Park, which is also the place to go for music fiends — although there are also key vinyl drops in other parts of the city as well. Southport in Lakeview and Armitage in Lincoln Park also have browser-friendly fashion boutiques.

For art or designer home goods, River North is the place to go. Centered between the Merchandise Mart and the Chicago Avenue Brown Line "L" stop in the Near North, River North's gallery district boasts the largest arts and design district in North America outside of Manhattan. The entire area is walkable and makes for fun window-shopping.

Goods from around the world are available at the import stores in Chicago's many ethnic neighborhoods; check See for descriptions and district articles for directions.

If you are the type that loves to browse through independent bookstores, Hyde Park has a stunning assortment of dusty used bookstores selling beat-up-paperbacks to rare 17th century originals, and the world's largest academic bookstore. Printer's Row in the Near South is also a great stop for book lovers.

Chicago's deep dish pizza is incredible
Chicago's deep dish pizza is incredible

Chicago is one of the great restaurant towns in America. If you're looking for a specific kind of cuisine, check out the neighborhoods. Greektown, the Devon Ave Desi corridor, Chinatown, and Chatham's soul food and barbecue are just the tip of the iceberg. Other areas are more eclectic: Lincoln Square and Albany Park have unrivaled Middle Eastern, German, and Korean food, while Uptown offers nearly the whole Southeast Asian continent with Ghanaian, Nigerian, contemporary American, stylish Japanese, and down-home Swedish a few blocks away.

If you're interested in celebrity chefs and unique creations, Lincoln Park and Wicker Park have plenty of award-winners. River North has several good upscale restaurants, but don't waste your time on tourist traps like Rainforest Cafe, Cheesecake Factory or Hard Rock Cafe. In fact, you should never submit to standing in line—there are always equally good restaurants nearby. No matter what you enjoy, you'll have a chance to eat well in Chicago, and you won't need to spend a lot of money doing it—unless you want to, of course.

But while Chicago has a world class dining scene downtown, it is the low-end where it truly distinguishes itself. No other city on earth takes fast food so seriously; for those who don't concern themselves with calorie counting, Chicago is cheap, greasy heaven. A couple "culinary specialties" in particular deserve further description.

Chicago pizza

Chicago's most prominent contribution to world cuisine might be the deep dish pizza. Delivery chains as far away as Kyoto market "Chicago-style pizza," but the only place to be sure you're getting the real thing is in Chicago. To make a deep dish pizza, a thin layer of dough is laid into a deep round pan and pulled up the sides, and then meats and vegetables — Italian sausage, onions, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, and more — are lined on the crust. At last, tomato sauce goes on top, and the pizza is baked. It's gooey, messy, not recommended by doctors, and delicious. When you dine on deep dish pizza, don't wear anything you were hoping to wear again soon. Some nationally-known deep dish pizza hubs are Pizzeria UNO and DUE, Gino's East, Giordano's, and Lou Malnati's, but plenty of local favorites exist. Ask around — people won't be shy about giving you their opinion.

But deep dish is not the end of the line in a city that takes its pizza so seriously. Chicago also prides itself on its distinctive thin-crust pizza and stuffed pizzas. The Chicago thin crust has a thin, cracker-like, crunchy crust, which somehow remains soft and doughy on the top side. Toppings and a lot of a thin, spiced Italian tomato sauce go under the mozzarella cheese, and the pizza is sliced into squares. If you are incredulous that Chicago's pizza preeminence extends into the realm of the thin crust, head south of Midway to Vito and Nick's, which is widely regarded among Chicago gourmands as the standard bearer for the city.

The stuffed pizza is a monster, enough to make an onlooker faint. Start with the idea of a deep dish, but then find a much deeper dish and stuff a lot more toppings under the cheese. Think deep-dish apple pie, but pizza. Allow 45 minutes to an hour for pizza places to make one of these and allow 3-4 extra notches on your belt for the ensuing weight gain. Arguably the best stuffed pizza in town is at Bella Bacino's in the Loop, which somehow is not greasy, but other excellent vendors include Giordano's, Gino's, and Edwardo's.

A charred Chicago-style hot dog with all the trappings
A charred Chicago-style hot dog with all the trappings

This may come as a surprise to New Yorkers, but the Chicago hot dog is the king of all hot dogs — indeed, it is considered the perfect hot dog. Perhaps due to the city's history of Polish and German immigration, Chicago takes its dogs way more seriously than the rest of the country. A Chicago hot dog is always all-beef (usually Vienna beef), always served on a poppy-seed bun, and topped with what looks like a full salad of mustard, diced tomatoes, a dill pickle spear, sport (chili) peppers, a generous sprinkling of celery salt, diced onion, and a sweet-pickle relish endemic-to-Chicago that is dyed an odd, vibrant bright-green color. It's a full meal, folks.

Ketchup is regarded as an abomination on a proper Chicago-style hot dog. Self-respecting establishments will refuse orders to put the ketchup on the dog, and many have signs indicating that they don't serve it; truly serious hot dog joints don't even allow the condiment on the premises. The reason for Chicago's ketchup aversion is simple — ketchup contains sugar, which overwhelms the taste of the beef and prevents its proper enjoyment. Hence, ketchup's replacement with diced tomatoes. Similarly, Chicagoans eschew fancy mustards that would overwhelm the flavor of the meat in favor of simple yellow mustard. And for the hungry visiting New Yorkers, the same goes for sugary sauerkraut — just no.

At most hot dog places, you will have the option to try a Maxwell Street Polish instead. Born on the eponymous street of the Near West Side, the Polish is an all-beef sausage on a bun, with fewer condiments than the Chicago hot dog: usually just grilled onions, mustard, and a few chili peppers.

In a tragic, bizarre twist of fate, the areas of Chicago most visited by tourists (i.e., the Loop) lack proper Chicago hot dog establishments. If you are downtown and want to experience a Chicago hot dog done right, the nearest safe bet is Portillo's. Although, if you're up for a little hot dog adventure, you can eat one right at the source, at the Vienna Beef Factory deli. Sadly, both baseball parks botch their dogs.

Italian Beef

The Italian Beef sandwich completes the Chicago triumvirate of tasty greasy treats. The main focus of the sandwich is the beef, and serious vendors will serve meat of a surprisingly good quality, which is slow-roasted, and thinly shaved before being loaded generously onto chewy, white, Italian-style bread. Two sets of options will come flying at you, so prepare yourself: sweet peppers or hot, and dipped or not. The "sweet" peppers are sautéed bell peppers, while the hots are a mixed Chicago giardiniera. The dip, of course, is a sort of French dip of the sandwich back into the beef broth. (Warning: dipped Italian Beefs are sloppy!) If you are in the mood, you may be able to get an Italian Beef with cheese melted over the beef, although travelers looking for the "authentic Italian Beef" perhaps should not stray so far from tradition.

The Italian Beef probably was invented by Italian-American immigrants working in the Union Stockyards on the Southwest Side, who could only afford to take home the tough, lowest-quality meat and therefore had a need to slow-roast it, shave it into thin slices, and dip it just to get it in chewable form. But today the sandwich has found a lucrative home downtown, where it clogs the arteries and delights the taste buds of the Chicago workforce during lunch break. Some of the city's favorite downtown vendors include Luke's Italian Beef in the Loop and Mr. Beef in the Near North, while the Portillo's chain is another solid option.

Four fried chickens and a coke...

With the Great Migration came much of what was best about the South: blues, jazz, barbecue — but following a legendary meal at which a young, hungry Harold Pierce saw the last piece of bird flee his grasp into the mouth of the local preacher, Harold made it his mission to add fried chicken to that prestigious list, and to ensure that no South Side Chicagoan ever run out.

Harold's Chicken Shack, a.k.a. the Fried Chicken King, is a South Side institution like no other. The Chicago-style fried chicken is considered by many connaisseurs to be some of the nation's best (certainly in the North), and it is fried in a home-style mix of beef tallow and vegetable oil, then covered with sauce (hot or mild). Crucially, it is always cooked to order — ensuring that essential layer of grease between the skin and the meat. A half chicken meal can come as cheap as $4 and includes coleslaw, white bread, and sauce-drenched fries — make like a local and wrap the fries in the bread.

Initially, the fried chicken chain spread throughout black neighborhoods, which were ignored by other fast food chains, but in later years the franchise has extended its greasy fingers to the West and North Sides, as well as downtown. While chances are you will not find better fried chicken outside of Harold's walls, the quality, pricing, and character vary between individual locations. Your safest bets are on the South Side — if you are served through bullet-proof glass under signs bearing a chef chasing a chicken with a hatchet, rest assured you are getting the best.


Chicago is a drinking town, and you can find bars and pubs in every part of the city. It is believed that Chicago has the second highest bars-per-capita in the U.S. (after San Francisco). Be prepared to be asked for identification to verify your age, even at neighborhood dive bars. Smoking is banned in Chicago bars (and restaurants).

The best place to drink for drinking's sake is Wicker Park and its neighbor Bucktown, which have a world-class stock of quality dive bars. North Center and Roscoe Village are also a great (and underrated) destination for the art of the cheap beer and the beer garden. Beware the bars in Lakeview near Wrigley Field, though, which are packed on weekends, and jam-packed all day whenever the Cubs are playing. Just to the south, Lincoln Park has bars and beer gardens to indulge those who miss college, and some trendy clubs for the neighborhood's notorious high-spending Trixies.

Ill-informed tourists converge upon the nightclubs of Rush and Division St. The city's best DJs spin elsewhere, the best drinks are served elsewhere, and the cheapest beers are served elsewhere; the hottest of-the-moment clubs and in-the-know celebrities are usually elsewhere, too. For the last few years the West Loop's warehouse bars were the place to be, but more recently the River North neighborhood has been making a comeback. Still, the Rush/Division bars do huge business. This area includes the "Viagra Triangle," where Chicago's wealthy older men hang out with women in their early 20s. Streeterville, immediately adjacent, exchanges the dance floors for high-priced hotel bars and piano lounges.

Although good dance music can be found in Wicker Park and the surrounding area, the best places to dance in the city are the expensive see and be seen clubs in River North and the open-to-all (except perhaps bachelorette parties) clubs in gay-friendly Boystown, which are a lot of fun for people of any sexual orientation.

Jazz and Blues

See The Jazz Track for a wealth of information about current and historic jazz clubs in Chicago.

The Lower Mississippi River Valley is known for its music; New Orleans has jazz, and Memphis has blues. Chicago, though located far away from the valley, has both. Former New Orleans and Memphis residents brought jazz and blues to Chicago as they came north for a variety of reasons: the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 brought a lot of itinerant musicians to town, and the city's booming economy kept them coming through the Great Migration. Chicago was the undisputed capital of early jazz between 1917-1928, wih masters like Joe King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds, Earl Hines, and Jelly Roll Morton. Most of Chicago's historic jazz clubs are on the South Side, particularly in Bronzeville, but the North Side has the can't-miss Green Mill in Uptown.

The blues were in Chicago long before the car chase and the mission from God, but The Blues Brothers sealed Chicago as the home of the blues in the popular consciousness. Fortunately, the city has the chops to back that up. Maxwell Street [41] (Near West Side) was the heart and soul of Chicago blues, but the wrecking ball, driven by the University of Illinois at Chicago, has taken a brutal toll. Residents have been fighting to save what remains. For blues history, it doesn't get much better than Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation (Near South), and Bronzeville, the former "Black Metropolis," is a key stop as well. Performance venues run the gamut from tiny, cheap blues bars all over the city to big, expensive places like Buddy Guy's Legends (Loop) and the original House of Blues (Near North).

But don't let yourself get too wrapped up in the past, because Chicago blues is anything but. No other city in the world can compete with Chicago's long list of blues-soaked neighborhood dives and lounges. The North Side's blues clubs favor tradition in their music, and are usually the most accessible to visitors, but offer a slightly watered down experience from the funkier, more authentic blues bars on the South and Far West Sides, where most of Chicago's blues musicians live and hang. If one club could claim to be the home of the real Chicago blues, Lee's Unleaded Blues in Chatham-South Shore would probably win the title. But there are scores of worthy blues joints all around the city (many of which are a lot easier to visit via public transport). A visit to one of these off-the-beaten-path blues dives is considerably more adventurous than a visit to the touristy House of Blues, but the experiences born of such adventures have been known to reward visitors with a life-long passion for the blues.

Although playing second fiddle to the blues in the city's collective consciousness, jazz thrives in Chicago, too, thanks in no small part to members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and their residencies at clubs like The Velvet Lounge and The Jazz Showcase (both of which see regular national acts) (Near South), The New Apartment Lounge (Chatham-South Shore) and The Hideout (Bucktown), with more expensive national touring acts downtown at The Chicago Theater (Loop). If you are staying downtown, the Velvet Lounge will be your best bet, as it is an easy cab ride, and its high-profile performances will rarely disappoint.

Fans should time their visits to coincide with Blues Fest in June, and Jazz Fest over Labor Day Weekend. Both take place in Grant Park (Loop).


Wicker Park and Bucktown are the main place to go for indie rock shows: the Double Door and the Empty Bottle are the best-known venues, but there are plenty of smaller ones as well. In Lakeview, the Metro is a beloved concert hole, with Schubas, The Vic Theatre, and the Abbey Pub nearby (the latter on the Far Northwest Side). Other mid-sized rock, hip-hop and R&B shows take place at the Riviera and the awesome Aragon Ballroom in Uptown. The Near South has become an underrated destination for great shows as well.

The legendary Chicago Theater
The legendary Chicago Theater

The Park West in Lincoln Park has light jazz, light rock, and other shows you'd sit down for; so does Navy Pier (Near North), particularly in the summer. The venerable Chicago Theater in the Loop is better-known for its sign than for anything else, but it has rock, jazz, gospel, and spoken-word performances by authors like David Sedaris. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is the main bulwark in the city for classical and classy jazz, with occasional curve-balls like Björk. You'll find musicians from the CSO doing outreach all over the city, along with their counterparts at the Lyric Opera. Both are in the Loop.

A few big concerts are held at the UIC Pavilion, the Congress Theater, and the United Center on the Near West Side every year, and some huge concerts have taken place at Soldier Field (Near South). The Petrillo Bandshell in Grant Park and the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, both in the Loop, tend to host big, eclectic shows and festivals in the summer, which are sometimes free.

Otherwise, most big shows are out in the suburbs, primarily at the Allstate Arena and the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont, the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Star Plaza in Indiana, and the Alpine Valley Music Theater over the Wisconsin border. You'll also have to head out to the suburbs for Ravinia, which features upscale classical, jazz, and blues outdoors throughout the summer. See Chicagoland for details on suburban venues.


Chicago hosts many major conventions each year and has plenty of places to stay. The majority are either at O'Hare Airport or downtown in the Loop and the Near North (near the Magnificent Mile). If you want to explore the city, aim for downtown — a hotel near O'Hare is good for visiting one thing and one thing only, and that's O'Hare. However, if you have a specific interest in mind, there are hotels throughout the city, and getting away from downtown will give you more of a sense of other neighborhoods. You'll appreciate that if you're in town for more than a couple of days. Make sure that where you're staying is within your comfort level before committing to stay there, though. More far flung transient hotels will be suitable for those seeking to relive Jack Kerouac's seedy adventures around the country, but may alarm and disgust the average traveler.

Budget-priced places are usually pretty far from the Loop, so when you're booking, remember that Chicago is vast. Travelers on a budget should consider accommodations away from the city center which can be easily reached via any of the several CTA train lines. There is a hostel in the Loop and two others near the universities in Lincoln Park and Rogers Park, all of which are interesting neighborhoods in their own right, and close to the L for access to the rest of the city. For deals on mid-range hotels, there are good options far out from the center by Midway and in North Lincoln.



The first Internet cafe in the United States was opened in Chicago, but they never really caught on here. There are still a few, though; check individual district articles. If you have a computer with you, free wireless Internet access is now standard-issue at coffee shops throughout the city — only the big chains like Starbucks charge for it. Most hotels above the transient level offer free wi-fi, too.

The good news is that all branches of the Chicago Public Library system offer free internet access, via public terminals and free, password-free, public wireless. If you do not have a Chicago library card, but you have a photo ID that shows you do not live in Chicago, you can get a temporary permit from the library information desk. (If you are from Chicago and don't have a library card, though, all you can get is a stern look and a brief lecture on how Chicagoans need to support the library system.) The most centrally located branch is the giant Harold Washington Library in the Loop, but there are branch libraries in every part of the city — again, see individual district articles.


312 was the area code for all of Chicago for a long time; it's still the code of choice for the Loop, and most of the Near North and Near South. 773 surrounds the center, covering everything else within city limits.

Suburban areas close to the city use 847 (north/northwest), 708 (south), 815 (southwest), and 630 (west).

Violent crime rates by neighborhood
Violent crime rates by neighborhood

As in almost the entire United States, dial 911 to get emergency help. Dial 311 for all non-emergency situations in Chicago.

Despite a big decline in the crime rate from the 1970's and '80's, Chicago is still a big city with big city problems. There are run-down areas within a few blocks of some well-traveled places such as near the United Center and US Cellular Field. The majority of the city's violent crimes occur within a relatively small number of neighborhoods well off the beaten path in the South and West Sides, but given the chance nature of crime, you should exercise the usual precautions wherever you go. And just because a neighborhood has a bad reputation, you might still have a perfectly good time there, as long as it falls within your comfort level.

Take caution in the Loop at night — after working hours, the Loop gets quiet and dark in a hurry west of State Street, but you'll be fine near hotels, and close to Michigan Avenue and the lake. When disembarking a crowded CTA train, especially in the downtown-area subways, be wary of purse snatchers.

Beggars are common downtown. They are very unlikely to pose any kind of problem, though. Some sell a local newspaper called Streetwise to make a living.

In general, common sense will keep you safe in Chicago: avoid unfamiliar side streets at night, stay out of alleys at night, know where you're going when you set out, stick to crowded areas, and keep a $20 bill on hand for cab fare as a bail-out option.

Dress appropriately for the weather. Chicago's winter is famously windy and cold, so cover exposed skin and wear layers in the winter, but heat exhaustion is an equal risk in the summer months, especially July and August. Stay off the road during a snowstorm. Chicago's streets and sanitation department generally does a good job clearing the major roads in the center of the city, but the neighborhoods can take longer, and the construction-littered expressways are anyone's guess.

  • The Chicago Tribune (The Trib), [42]. The Tribune is Chicago's oldest daily, recently converted into a tabloid format for newsstand purchases. New ownership has shed much of the Trib's former prestige with a debt-leveraged purchase and forced bankruptcy, widespread staff layoffs, and an ill-advised redesign.  edit
  • The Chicago Sun-Times, [43]. The Sun-Times is Chicago's other "major" newspaper. It has a long-standing reputation for aggressive (some might say "sensationalist") investigative journalism. It has also been teetering on the verge of oblivion for some time, but at least it has Roger Ebert.  edit
  • The Redeye, [44]. Redeye is a free weekdays-only newspaper produced by the Tribune. Although its covers appear to report from some parallel universe where topics like sandwiches and being tired at work are the top stories of the day, it does have basic news coverage inside along with entertainment gossip.  edit
  • The Chicago Defender, [45]. The Defender is Chicago's biggest African-American daily, and it played a major role in the city's African-American history. Its distribution network today is comparatively small, though.  edit
  • Hola Hoy, [46]. Hola Hoy produces a free Spanish-language newspaper with wide distribution.  edit
  • The Chicago Reader, [47]. The Reader is a free weekly newspaper distributed throughout the city each Wednesday. It includes extensive listings of arts, music, and events. Nobody knows more about Chicago than the Reader, but it's definitely oriented toward locals.  edit
  • Crain's Chicago Business, [48]. Crain's is a long-standing weekly newspaper covering the Chicago area business community, with a dash of politics and lifestyle — definitely worth a look if you're in town on business.  edit
  • New City, [49]. New City is a free weekly alternative arts and entertainment magazine, distributed every Wednesday. Event listings and local content are skimpy, but it is free.  edit
  • Time Out Chicago, [50]. Time Out produces a weekly magazine available at most newsstands and bookstores. Its listings for events, bars, and restaurants are by far the most comprehensive and easiest to use for visitors to the city.  edit
The spectacular Bahá'í Temple
The spectacular Bahá'í Temple

There are places of worship all over the city; the front desk of your hotel will almost certainly be able to direct you to one nearby. If not, though, the following are centrally located in either the Loop or the Near North, unless otherwise noted.

For churches of specific Orthodoxies, check in neighborhoods that feature communities with ties to that region. There's a majestic Orthodox church in Ukrainian Village, for example. Evangelical Christian ministries are mostly on the South Side, with some historic churches in Bronzeville. For the Baha'i faith, visit the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, easily accessible by the CTA Purple Line.

  • Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel, 540 W Melrose St (Belmont Red Line), +1 773 248-9200, [51]. Modern Orthodox Judaism. In a remarkably beautiful building by the lake. Shacharit Su 8:30AM, M,Th 6:45AM, Tu,W,F 7AM; Mincha Su-Th 7:45PM.  edit
  • Armitage Baptist Church, 2451 N Kedzie Blvd. (Logan Square Blue Line), +1 773 384-4673, [52]. Sunday worship 9:30, 11AM, and 6PM.  edit
  • BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, 4N739 IL Route 59, Bartlett, +1 630 213 2277 (fax: +1 630 213-2088), [53]. Everyday worship 11:30 AM Aarti. Free.  edit
  • Chicago's Central Synagogue, 15 W Delaware Place (Chicago Red Line), +1 312 787-0450, [54]. Conservative Judaism. Shabbat services Sa 9:15AM.  edit
  • Chicago Loop Synagogue, 16 S Clark St (Madison/Wabash Brown/Purple/Green/Orange/Pink Line), +1 312 346-7370, [55]. Traditional Judaism. Shachris Sa 9AM, Su 9:30AM; Mincha Sa 3:45PM, Su 4:15PM, M-F 1:05PM; Maariv 4:45PM.  edit
  • Chicago Sinai Congregation, 15 W Delaware Pl (Chicago Red Line), +1 312 867-7000, [56]. Liberal Reform Judaism. Torah study Sa 10:30AM; Shabbat Eve service F 6:15PM, Sunday service 11AM.  edit
  • Downtown Islamic Center, 231 S State St (Jackson Red Line), +1 312 939-9095, [57]. Open M-F 10:30AM-5:30PM. Friday prayers: Khutba 1:05PM / Aqama 1:30PM (1st Friday Jamaa), Khutba 2:05PM / Aqama 2:30PM (2nd Friday Jamaa).  edit
  • Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, 10915 Lemont Rd, Lemont, IL, +1 630 972-0300, [58]. M-F 10AM-8PM. 25 miles southwest of Chicago. Call temple to schedule priest services.  edit
  • Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N State St (Chicago Red Line), [59]. Open for private prayer or reflection from 5:30AM-7PM. Flagship of the Catholic Archdiocese in Chicago. Sunday Masses at 7:00, 8:15, 9:30 (incl. sign language), 11:00 AM, and 12:30, 5:15 PM. See website for Saturday, weekdays, and Holy Days schedules, as well as other sacraments.  edit
  • Saint James Cathedral, 65 E Huron St (Chicago Red Line), +1 312 787-7360, [60]. Episcopalian services. Office hours M-F 9AM-4PM. Eucharist Su 8AM,10:30AM, W 5:30PM, Th,F 12:10PM  edit

Foreign consulates

Here's a quick list of all foreign consulates in Chicago:

  • Argentina, 205 N Michigan Ave, #4209.  edit
  • Australia, 123 N Wacker Dr, +1 312 419-1480.  edit
  • Austria, 400 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 222-1516.  edit
  • Bahamas, 8600 W Bryn Mawr Ave, +1 312 693-1500.  edit
  • Bolivia, 1111 Superior St, #309, +1 708 343-1234. (Melrose Park)  edit
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina, 151 E Chicago Ave, +1 951-1245.  edit
  • Brazil, 401 N Michigan Ave, #1850, +1 312 464-0244.  edit
  • Bulgaria, 737 N Michigan Ave, #2105, +1 312 867-1904.  edit
  • Canada, 180 N Stetson Ave, #2400, +1 312 616-1860.  edit
  • Chile, 875 N Michigan Ave, #3352, +1 312 654-8780.  edit
  • China, 100 E Erie St, #500, +1 312 803-0095.  edit
  • Colombia, 500 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 923-1196.  edit
  • Costa Rica, 203 N Wabash Ave, +1 312 263-2772.  edit
  • Croatia, 737 N Michigan Ave, #1030, +1 312 482-9902.  edit
  • Czech Republic, 205 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 861-1037.  edit
  • Denmark, 211 E Ontario St, #1800, +1 312 787-8780.  edit
  • Dominican Republic, 3228 W North Ave, +1 312 236-2447.  edit
  • Ecuador, 30 S Michigan Ave, +1 312 338-1002.  edit
  • Egypt, 500 N Michigan Ave, #1900, +1 312 828-9162.  edit
  • El Salvador, 104 S Michigan Ave, +1 312 332-1393.  edit
  • Estonia, 410 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 595-2527.  edit
  • Finland, 362 E Burlington St, #2, +1 708 442-0635. (Riverside)  edit
  • France, 737 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 787-5359.  edit
  • Germany, 676 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 202-0480.  edit
  • Greece, 650 N Saint Clair St, +1 312 335-3915.  edit
  • Guatemala, 205 N Michigan Ave #2350, + 1 312 332 1587.  edit
  • Haiti, 220 S State St, #2110, +1 312 922-4004.  edit
  • Honduras, 4506 W Fullerton Ave, +1 773 342-8281.  edit
  • Hungary, 500 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 670-4079.  edit
  • India, 455 N Cityfront Plaza Dr, +1 312 595-0405.  edit
  • Indonesia, 211 W Wacker Dr, +1 312 920-1880.  edit
  • Ireland, 400 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 337-1868.  edit
  • Israel, 111 E Wacker Dr, #1308, +1 312 297-4800.  edit
  • Italy, 500 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 467-1550.  edit
  • Jamaica, 4655 S Martin Luther King Dr, +1 773 373-8988.  edit
  • Japan, 737 N Michigan Ave, #1100, +1 312 280-0430.  edit
  • Jordan, 12559 S Holiday Dr, +1 708 272-6666. (Alsip)  edit
  • Korea, 455 N Cityfront Plaza Dr, #2700, +1 312 822-0443.  edit
  • Latvia, 3239 Arnold Ln, +1 847 498-6880. (Northbrook)  edit
  • Lithuania, 211 E Ontario St, #1500, +1 312 397-0382.  edit
  • Luxembourg, 1417 Braeborn Ct, +1 847 520-5995. (Wheeling)  edit
  • Malaysia, 875 N Michigan Ave, #4101, +1 312 280-9632.  edit
  • Mexico, 20 N Wacker Dr, #750, +1 312 738-2531.  edit
  • Montenegro, 201 E Ohio St, +1 312 670-6707.  edit
  • Nepal, 100 W Monroe St, #500, +1 312 263-1250.  edit
  • Netherlands, 303 E Wacker Dr, +1 312 856-0110.  edit
  • New Zealand, 8600 W Bryn Mawr Ave, +1 773 714-9461.  edit
  • Norway, 900 Lively Blvd, +1 847 364-7374. (Elk Grove)  edit
  • Pakistan, 333 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 781-1831.  edit
  • Panama, 9048 S Commercial Ave, +1 773 933-0395.  edit
  • Philippines, 30 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 332-6458.  edit
  • Peru, 180 N Michigan Ave, #1800, +1 312 782-1599.  edit
  • Poland, 820 N Orleans St, #335, +1 312 337-8166.  edit
  • Portugal, 1955 N New England Ave, +1 773 889-7405.  edit
  • Romania, 737 N Michigan Ave, +1 312 573-1315.  edit
  • Serbia, 201 E Ohio St, +1 312 670-6707.  edit
  • Singapore, 10 South Dearborn St, #4800, +1 312 853-7555.  edit
  • South Africa, 200 S Michigan Ave, #600, +1 312 939-7929.  edit
  • Spain, 180 N Michigan Ave, #1500, +1 312 782-4588.  edit
  • Sweden, 150 N Michigan Ave, #1250, +1 312 781-6262.  edit
  • Switzerland, 737 N Michigan Ave, #2301, +1 312 915-0061.  edit
  • Thailand, 700 N Rush St, +1 312 644-3129.  edit
  • Turkey, 360 N Michigan Ave, #1405, +1 312 621-3340.  edit
  • Ukraine, 10 E Huron St, +1 312 642-3129.  edit
  • United Kingdom, 400 N Michigan Ave, #1300, +1 312 970-3800.  edit
  • Uruguay, 875 N Michigan Ave, #1422, +1 312 642-3430.  edit
  • Venezuela, 20 N Wacker Dr, #750, +1 312 236-9655.  edit
  • There are forest preserves in the far north, northwest, and southwest sides, and into the nearby Chicagoland suburbs. They are excellent for biking, jogging, and picnics.
  • Evanston is over the northern border of Chicago, approximately 45 minutes from downtown on the CTA, or half an hour via car (during light traffic). It has shops, restaurants, bars and Northwestern University, as well as some historic homes and lovely lakefront. Just beyond that is Wilmette, with the fascinating Baha'i Temple.
  • Ravinia is the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Metra's UP-North line stops at the park gates, and the return train waits for late-ending concerts. The arts and crafts style architecture coupled with a dazzling array of acts make this a classic summer destination for Chicagoans and tourists. Bring food, a blanket, wine, and a citronella candle; buy anything you forgot on-site.
  • Brookfield is home to the Chicagoland area's other world-class zoo, the Brookfield Zoo.
  • Historic Galena, three hours west-northwest of Chicago via I-90 and US-20, is great for hiking, sightseeing, and antiquing.
  • Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee (40 miles north on I-94), has the biggest and wildest roller coasters in Illinois.
  • Peoria, in some ways a miniature Chicago, is a little over three hours away.
  • The Quad Cities — about 2.5–3 hours away via I-55 to I-80 or I-90 to I-74 — bridge the Mississippi River forming a unique metropolitan area on the border of Iowa and Illinois.
  • The Indiana Dunes are a moderate drive away, and are also accessible via the South Shore commuter rail. If you've enjoyed the beaches in Chicago, you owe the Indiana Dunes a stop — that's where all the sand came from.
  • Gary is just over the border on the Skyway, with a skyline that rivals Chicago's for strength of effect — industrial monstrosity, in this case — with casinos, urban ruins, and a few entries by Prairie School architects Frank Lloyd Wright and George Maher.
  • Also just over the Skyway (before you reach Gary) is East Chicago's bizarre 19th century planned community, Marktown, which looks like a small English village totally incongruous with the gigantic steel mills and the world's largest oil refinery which surround it.
  • Further along the lake from the Indiana Dunes are Michigan's dunes and summer resorts in Harbor Country. Keep your eyes open: Mayor Daley, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, and other notables summer here.
  • Detroit has many of Chicago's most hated sports rivals, and although fallen on hard times, it also has a musical and architectural heritage to compare with the Windy City.
  • Lake Geneva, across the Wisconsin border, is the other big summer getaway. Nearby are the Kettle Moraine state parks, with good mountain biking.
  • Milwaukee and its venerable breweries are less than two hours from Chicago on I-94, via Amtrak, and by intercity bus services.
  • Spring Green is an easy weekend trip from Chicago, about three and a half hours from town on I-90. It's the home of two unique architectural wonders: Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent estate Taliesin, and Alex Jordan's mysterious museum The House on the Rock.
  • The Wisconsin Dells are another (wet) summer fun destination, just three hours north of the city by car (I-90/94), also accessible by Amtrak train.
  • Cedarburg is a popular festival town with a charming downtown featured on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located 20 miles north of downtown Milwaukee. Take 1-94 to Milwaukee and continue north on I-43.
Routes through Chicago
END  N noframe S  BolingbrookBloomington
END  N noframe S  MantenoKankakee
RockfordRosemont  W noframe E  HammondGary
WaukeganSkokie  W noframe E  HammondLansing
SchaumburgOak Park  W noframe E  END
Bloomington-NormalJoliet  S noframe N  END
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Simple English

City of Chicago
Montage of Chicago
Nickname(s): Windy City, "Da Chi"
Motto: Urbs in Horto
Coordinates: 41°52′55″N 87°37′40″W / 41.88194°N 87.62778°W / 41.88194; -87.62778
Country United States
State Illinois
Counties Cook, DuPage
Settled 1770's
Incorporated March 4, 1837
 - Type Mayor-Council
 - Mayor Richard Daley (D)
 - City 234.1 sq mi (606.2 km2)
 - Land 227.1 sq mi (588.3 km2)
 - Water 6.9 sq mi (17.9 km2)
 - Urban 2,122.8 sq mi (5,498.1 km2)
 - Metro 10,873.8 sq mi (28,163 km2)
Elevation 586 ft (179 m)
 - City 2,873,321
 Density 12,470/sq mi (4,816/km2)
 Urban 8,711,000
 Metro 9,505,747
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)

Chicago is the largest city in Illinois, USA. 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 is sometimes called the "Windy City".

Richard M. Daley is the mayor. His father was also mayor of Chicago for many years.



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 Willis Tower, many museums, and many loyal sports fans.

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


File:Museum of Science and Industry
The Museuem of Science and Industry is a National Historic Landmark

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. The White Sox play at the U.S. Cellular Field and the Cubs play at Wrigley Field. The White Sox won the World Series in 2005.

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.


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 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, one of the busiest airports in the world, is a major center for air travel. 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.

Famous people from Chicago

Some famous people who lived in or are from Chicago.

Other websites

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