Chicago, nicknamed the “Windy City”, is the largest city in the Mid-West and third largest in the nation. It borders Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, to the east and is the seat of Cook County.
Travellers unite in Chicago, with O’Hare Airport, the world’s busiest airport. Chicago is also home to 20 Fortune 500 companies as well as being he largest hub in the railroad industry. Culturally, Chicago has made major contributions to novels, films, theatre and music – in particular jazz, blues, and house. The city is also renowned for its unique architecture. In fact, architecture tours along the Chicago River are one of the most popular activities for tourists and locals alike.
For people moving to the city, each of Chicago’s neighborhoods offers a unique feel. Skyscrapers and office buildings dot the landscape of the Downtown Chicago (the central business area). Most of the rentals in these areas are high-rise Chicago apartments. Moving further away from downtown, however, the housing inventory flattens out. In many cases, entire Chicago houses for rent are available (and relatively affordable). Public transportation is well developed, allowing easy access for those who are commuting.
Chi-town is one of the most diverse in the nation, with over 2.7 million residents and nearly 10 million in the metropolitan area. Known for its diversity, there are nearly equal percentages of Black/African-American, non-Hispanic White, and Hispanic populations. A day in Chicago may is like a tour of the world, as it is common to feel immersed in many different cultures as one makes their way around town. There are still large populations of ancestral Irish, Polish, German, and Italian settlers, just to name a few. Chicago‘s Median household income was $47,408 in 2012 although about 20% of Chicagoans live below the poverty line, concentrated disproportionately in the South Side.
There is no singular description to describe the atmosphere of Chicago. In fact, every major community area in Chicago has its own unique flavor. There are four major regions of Chicago, which are further split into 77 distinct community areas.
Central Chicago (including the Loop and the Near North Side) is a major commercial area, characterized by skyscrapers, shopping, parks, and museums. Notable landmarks include Millennium Park, Grant Park, the Chicago Art Museum, and the Magnificent Mile (filled with upscale stores, restaurants, hotels, and commercial buildings).
North Side Chicago (including Lake View and Lincoln Park) is the most densely populated residential area of the city. The area features public parkland (Lincoln Park) and beaches along Lake Michigan. Notably, the area is the home of Wrigley field, the famous home of the Chicago Cubs.
The West Side (Austin, Lawndale, Garfield Park, West Town, and others) is home to the three largest parks in Chicago – Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, and Douglas Park. It contains various ethnic communities, and is the home to the United Center, the Chicago Bulls, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The South Side (Armour Square, Douglas, Oakland, and others) is the largest area in the city by size. The South Side has the largest number of houses for rent (as opposed to apartments) and is bordered to the east by large swaths of public parks and beaches. The area is home to Jackson Park, Washington Park, and the University of Chicago.
The name “Chicago” is derived from the Miami-Illinois Native American word ‘shikaakwa’, meaning wild leak or wild onion. Chicago began as a port town of just 200 people in 1833 and quickly grew to become the City of Chicago in 1837. Early on, the Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. With the advent of railroads, the city became a transportation and freight hub for the nation. The railroads and heavy industry attracted skilled workers from Europe, and the city grew dramatically throughout the 19th century.
Two notable events impacted Chicago early on. In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire burned and destroyed most of the city. The fire led to a set of strict fire safety codes and the decline of wooden buildings. In 1893, Chicago hosted the Chicago World’s Fair, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World. It attracted over 27 million visitors and showed the world that Chicago had rose from the ashes of the fire. The influence of the fair could be felt worldwide, impacting design, art and architecture throughout the country.
Throughout the 20th century, movement into the city continued to increase and peaked at 3.6 million in the 1950’s. Availability of jobs during and after World War I expanded industry and especially attracted African-Americans from the Southern United States. This brought about a cultural shift known as the Chicago Black Renaissance and contributed to mounting racial tensions.
Chicago has a ton to offer in terms of culture and sightseeing. The city is famous for its unique architecture, which dots the Chicago River. In addition, the waterfront along Lake Michigan is replete with parks and public areas. These famous parks include Millennium Park (which has the famous Cloud Gate, better known as “The Bean” sculpture), Grant Park, Lincoln Park, and Jackson Park. The Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) offers visitors a breathtaking view of the city, and the Chicago Art Museum is one of the most visited in the world.