Chicago is located in northeastern Illinois
at the southwestern tip of Lake Michigan. It sits on the 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 far south Lake Calumet Harbor. The Lake also moderates Chicago's climate, making it warmer in the winter and cooler in the 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. 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 feet (176 m) above sea level. The lowest points are along the lake shore at 577 feet (176 m), while the highest point at 735 feet (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 found all along the shore. Near downtown, landfills extend into the Lake, providing space for the Jardine Water Purification Plant, Navy Pier, Northerly Island and 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.
Chicago Harbor LighthouseChicagoland 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 "around Chicago" or relatively local. 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. The Illinois Department of Tourism defines Chicagoland as Cook County without the city of Chicago, and only Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will counties. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce defines it as all of Cook, and DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.
Chicago 20th Century
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. The 1920s also saw a major expansion in industry. The availability of jobs attracted African Americans from the South. 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. In 1933, Mayor Anton Cermak was assassinated while in Miami with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In the late summer of 1942, during World War II, Chicago held a practice black-out. According to one witness, "the sirens sounded, the lights went out while airplanes flew overhead to spot violators". After about 30 minutes the beacon on top of the Palmolive Building came back on and the lights were quickly restored.
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.
The Sears Tower, at 108 stories, stands as Chicago's tallest building since its completion in 1974 and is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.Mayor Richard J. Daley was elected in 1955, in the era of machine politics. Starting in the 1960s, many residents left the city for the suburbs, taking out the heart of many neighborhoods, leaving impoverished and disadvantaged citizens behind. Structural changes in industry caused heavy losses of jobs for lower skilled workers. The city hosted the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention, which featured physical confrontations both inside and outside the convention hall, including full-scale police riots in city streets. Major construction projects, including the Sears Tower (which in 1974 became the world’s tallest building), McCormick Place, and O'Hare Airport, were undertaken during Richard J. Daley's tenure. When he died, Michael Anthony Bilandic was mayor for three years. His 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. 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 the late 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, the city has undergone a revitalization in which some lower class neighborhoods have been transformed as new middle class residents have settled in the city.
Chicago is the largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the Midwestern United States, as well as the third-most populous city in the United States with more than 2.8 million residents. Adjacent to Lake Michigan, the Chicago metropolitan area (commonly referred to as Chicagoland) has a population of more than 9.5 million people in three U.S. states, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, and was the third largest U.S. metropolitan area in 2000.One of the largest cities in North America, Chicago is among the world's twenty-five largest urban areas by population, and rated an alpha world city by the World Cities Study Group at Loughborough University.
Chicago incorporated as a city in 1837 after being founded in 1833 near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. The city soon became a major transportation hub in North America and the transportation, financial and industrial center of the Midwest. Today the city's attractions bring 44.2 million visitors annually. O'Hare International is the second busiest airport in the world. The city has a notable and famous political culture, is a stronghold of the Democratic Party, and has been home to numerous influential politicians, including the first African-American president-elect of the United States, Barack Obama.
Chicago is called the "Windy City", "Chi-Town", "Second City," and the "City of Big Shoulders".