is the largest city by population in the state of Illinois
and the American Midwest of the United States. Adjacent
to Lake Michigan, the Chicago metropolitan area (commonly
referred to as Chicagoland) has a population of over
9.7 million people in three U.S. states, Illinois, Wisconsin
and Indiana, and was the third largest 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. It is the third-most populous city in
the United States after New York City and Los Angeles,
with a population of nearly 3 million people.
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.
became notorious worldwide for its violent gangsters
in the 1920s, most notably Al Capone, and for the political
corruption in one of the longest lasting political machines
in the nation. Chicago was once the capital of the railroad
industry and until the 1960s the world's largest meatpacking
facilities were at the Union Stock Yards. O'Hare International
is one of the world's busiest airports and the second
busiest in the nation.
The city has long been
a stronghold of the Democratic Party and has been home
to numerous influential politicians including the current
Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama. Chicago
is called the "Windy City", "Chi-Town",
and the "City of Broad Shoulders".
During the mid-18th
century the area was inhabited by Potawatomis, who had
taken the place of the Miami and Sauk and Fox peoples.
The first permanent settler in Chicago, Haitian Jean
Baptiste Pointe du Sable, arrived in the 1770s, married
a Potawatomi woman, and founded the area’s first
trading post. In 1803 the United States Army built Fort
Dearborn, which was destroyed in the 1812 Fort Dearborn
massacre. The Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi later ceded
the land to the United States in the 1816 Treaty of
St. Louis. On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was
organized with a population of 350. 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 the French rendering of the Miami-Illinois name shikaakwa,
meaning “wild leek.” The sound
shikaakwa in Miami-Illinois literally means 'striped
skunk', and was a reference to wild leek, or the smell
of onions. The name initially applied to the river,
but later came to denote the site of the city.
city began its step toward regional primacy as an important
transportation hub between the eastern and western United
States. Chicago’s first railway, Galena and Chicago
Union Railroad, opened in 1848, 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.