About Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, defined as either the U.S. Census Bureau’s metropolitan statistical area (9.6 million people) or the combined statistical area (almost 10 million residents), often called Chicagoland. It is one of the 40 largest urban areas in the world.
Located on the shores of freshwater Lake Michigan, Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. It grew rapidly in the mid-19th century; by 1860, Chicago was the youngest U.S. city to exceed a population of 100,000. Even after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed several square miles and left more than 100,000 homeless, Chicago’s population grew to 503,000 by 1880 — and then doubled to more than a million within the decade. The construction boom accelerated population growth throughout the following decades, and by 1900, less than 30 years after the great fire, Chicago was the fifth-largest city in the world. Chicago made noted contributions to urban planning and zoning standards, including new construction styles (including the Chicago School of architecture), the development of the City Beautiful Movement, and the steel-framed skyscraper.
Chicago is an international hub for finance, culture, commerce, industry, education, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. It is the site of the creation of the first standardized futures contracts, issued by the Chicago Board of Trade, which today is part of the largest and most diverse derivatives market in the world, generating 20 percent of all volume in commodities and financial futures alone. The economy of Chicago is diverse, with no single industry employing more than 14 percent of the workforce. It is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie, Allstate, Archer Daniels Midland, Boeing, Caterpillar, Conagra Brands, Exelon, JLL, Kraft Heinz, McDonald’s, Mondelez International, Motorola Solutions, Sears, United Airlines Holdings, US Foods, and Walgreens.
Landmarks in the city include Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Campus, the Willis (Sears) Tower, Grant Park, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago is also home to the Barack Obama Presidential Center being built in Hyde Park on the city’s South Side. Chicago’s culture includes the visual arts, literature, film, theatre, comedy (especially improvisational comedy), food, and music, particularly jazz, blues, soul, hip-hop, gospel, and electronic dance music including house music. Of the area’s many colleges and universities, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago are classified as “highest research” doctoral universities. Chicago has professional sports teams in each of the major professional leagues, including two Major League Baseball teams.