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Chicago:
Chicago is the largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois, and with over 2.8 million people is the third largest city in the United States. Located on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago is the third-most densely populated major city in the U.S., and anchor to the world's 26th largest metropolitan area with over 9.5 million people across three states.

After a series of wars with the local American Natives, Chicago was founded in 1833, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. The city became a major transportation and telecommunications hub in North America. Today, the city retains its status as a major hub, both for industry and infrastructure, with its O'Hare Airport as the second busiest airport in the world. In modern times, the city has taken on 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.

As of 2007, the city attracts 44.2 million visitors annually. Making use of its abundant resources, Chicago has a heritage for hosting major international, national, regional, and local events that include commerce, culture, entertainment, politics, and sports. In 2008, Chicago was chosen as one of the final four world city candidates to host the 2016 Summer Olympics and is the only American city on the list.

Globally recognized, Chicago has numerous nicknames, which reflect the impressions and opinions about historical and contemporary Chicago. The best known include: "Chi-town"; the "Windy City" with reference to Chicago politicans and residents boasting about their city; "Second City," due to the city generally being the second most prestigious in the nation in terms of transportation, culture, and finance; and the "City of the Big Shoulders", referring to its numerous skyscrapers, which were invented in Chicago, and described as being husky and brawling.

The History of Chicago:

Early Days:
At the beginning of recorded history, the Chicago area was inhabited by a number of Algonquian peoples, including the Mascoutens and Miamis. Trade links and seasonal hunting migrations linked these peoples with their neighbours, the Potawatomis to the east, Fox to the north, and the Illinois to the southwest. The name "Chicago" is the French version of the Miami-Illinois word shikaakwa ("wild leek"/"skunk"), named for the plants common along the Chicago River, and this has nothing to do with Chief Chicagou of the Michigamea people.

Chicago's location at a short, swampy portage between the Chicago River (flowing originally into the Great Lakes) and the Des Plaines River (flowing into the Mississippi), attracted the attention of many French explorers travelling in the area, such as Louis Jolliet and Henri Joutel, who felt that the area had a great potential as a transportation hub. In 1696, French Jesuits built the Mission of the Guardian Angel to Christianize the local Wea and Miami people. French and allied use of the Chicago portage was mostly abandoned during the 1720s because of continual raiding during the Fox Wars.

During the mid 1700s, the Chicago area was inhabited primarily by Potawatomis, who took the place of the Miami and Sauk and Fox who had previously controlled the area.

The first non-native permanent settler in Chicago was Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, a Haitian of African and French descent, who settled on the Chicago River in the 1770s and married a local Potawatomi woman. In 1795, following the Northwest Indian War, the area of Chicago was ceded by the Native Americans in the Treaty of Greenville to the United States for a military post. In 1803, Fort Dearborn was built and remained in use until 1837, after being rebuilt in 1818. In 1812 it had been destroyed in the Fort Dearborn massacre during the War of 1812. The Potawatomi ceded the land to the United States in the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis.

Incorporation:
On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was incorporated with a population of 350. The first boundaries of the new town were Kinzie, Desplaines, Madison, and State Streets, which included an area of about three-eighths of a square mile (1 km²).

Within seven years the town had a population of over 4,000. Chicago was granted a city charter by the State of Illinois on March 4, 1837. The opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848 allowed shipping from the Great Lakes through Chicago to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The first rail line to Chicago, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad was completed the same year. Chicago would go on to become the transportation hub of the United States with its road, rail, water and later air connections. Chicago also became home to national retailers offering catalog shopping using these connections like Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Company.

Growth:
Due to the geography of Chicago, early citizens faced many problems. The prairie bog nature of the area provided a fertile ground for disease-carrying insects. Early on, Chicago's population and commerce growth was stymied by lack of good transportation infrastructure, though this problem was soon remedied. During spring Chicago was so muddy from the high water that horses would be stuck past their legs in the street. One dirt road was so hazardous that it became known as the "Slough of Despond". Comical signs proclaiming "Fastest route to China" or "No Bottom Here" were placed to warn people of the mud.

To address these transportation problems, the board of Cook County commissioners, decided to improve two country roads toward the West and Southwest. The first road went west, crossing the "dismal Nine-mile Swamp," crossed the Des Plaines River, and went southwest to Walker's Grove, now the Village of Plainfield. There is a dispute about the route of the second road to the South.

Early Chicago was also plagued by sewer and water problems. Many people described it as the filthiest city in America. To solve this problem, Chicago embarked on the creation of a massive sewer system. In the first phase sewage pipes were laid across the city above ground with gravity moving the waste. The city was built in a low-lying area subject to flooding. In 1856 the city council decided that the entire city should be elevated four to five feet using a newly available jacking-up process. In one instance, the 5-story Brigg’s Hotel weighing 22,000 tons was lifted while it continued to operate. Observing that such a thing could never have happened in Europe, British Historian Paul Johnson cites this astounding feat as a dramatic example of American determination and ingenuity based on the conviction that anything material is possible.

In 1840, Chicago was the ninety-second most populous city in the United States. Its population grew so rapidly that twenty years later, it was the ninth most populous city in the country. Thirty years after that it had grown to become the nation's second largest city, and one of the largest cities in the world. By 1857 Chicago was the largest city in what was then known as the Northwest. In a period of twenty years Chicago grew from 4,000 people to over 90,000.

The 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago nominated home-state candidate Abraham Lincoln.

During the election of April 23, 1875, the voters of Chicago choose to operate under the Illinois Cities and Villages Act of 1872. Chicago still operates under this act, in lieu of a charter. The Cities and Villages Act has been revised several times since, and may be found in Chapter 65 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Great Chicago Fire:
In 1871, most of the city burned in the Great Chicago Fire. The damage from the fire was immense; 300 people died, 18,000 buildings were destroyed and nearly 100,000 of the city's 300,000 residents were left homeless. One of the factors contributing to the fire's spread was the abundance of wood; the streets, sidewalks and many buildings were built of wood. The fire led to the incorporation of stringent fire-safety codes that included a strong preference for masonry construction.

The soft, swampy ground near the lake proved unstable ground for tall masonry buildings. While this was an early constraint, it led directly to the development of using steel frames and the invention in Chicago of the skyscraper, a building improvement that made Chicago a leader in architecture and set the model for achieving vertical city densities nationwide.

Politics and infighting stalled these plans, and developers and citizens began immediate reconstruction on the existing Jeffersonian grid. The building boom that followed saved the city's status as the transportation and trade hub of the Midwest. Massive reconstruction using the newest materials and methods catapulted Chicago into its status as a city on par with New York and established the city as the birthplace of modern architecture in the United States.

Other notable fires occurred in Chicago. 602 persons died in the Iroquois Theater fire in 1903. The LaSalle Hotel fire in 1946 claimed the lives of 61 guests. In 1958 a Roman Catholic elementary school, Our Lady of the Angels, burned 18 minutes before the end of the school day, killing 92 children and three teaching nuns.

Haymarket Riot:
The deeply polarized attitudes of labor and business classes in Chicago prompted a strike by workers lobbying for an eight-hour work day. A peaceful demonstration on May 4, 1886, at Haymarket near the west side was interrupted by a bomb thrown at police; seven police officers died. A group of anarchists were tried for inciting the riot and convicted; several were hanged and others were pardoned. The episode was a watershed moment in the labor movement and its yearly celebration would later morph into May Day.

Rapid Growth:
Between 1870 and 1900 Chicago grew from a city of 299,000 to nearly 1.7 million, the fastest-growing city ever at the time. Chicago's flourishing economy brought huge numbers of new residents from rural communities and immigrants from Europe. The growth in Chicago's manufacturing and retail sectors came to dominate the Midwest and greatly influence the nation's economy. The Chicago Union Stock Yards dominated the packing trade. Chicago became the world's largest rail hub, and one of its busiest ports.

Chicago accepted waves of immigration from eastern Europe from the end of the Civil War through the end of the First World War, as well as thousands of African Americans coming north in the Great Migration, starting in 1910. With new populations competing for limited housing and jobs, especially on the South Side, social tensions rose in the city. Postwar years were more difficult. Black veterans looked for more respect for having served their nation, and some whites resented it. In 1919 was the Chicago Race Riot, in a summer when other major cities also suffered mass racial violence. Much of the violence was led by members of Irish athletic clubs, who had much political power in the city and defended their "territory" against African Americans. As was typical in these occurrences, more blacks than whites died in the violence.

Political History of Chicago:
The Politics of Chicago have been dominated by controversy, corruption, turn-of-the-19th century businessmen, Irish Catholics, and Richard J. Daley and the Daley family. Democrats have usually dominated city politics, and they produced presidential nominees in Stephen Douglas (1860), Adlai Stevenson (1952 and 1956), and Barack Obama, who was nominated and elected in 2008.

19th Century:
In 1855, Chicago Mayor Levi Boone threw Chicago politics into the national spotlight with some interesting proposals that would lead to the Lager Beer Riot.

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 also had a powerful radical tradition with large and highly organized socialist, anarchist and labor organizations.

The politics of Chicago came into play after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. For political reasons, a rumor was spread that a cow knocked over a lantern, thereby causing the fire. The election that year turned the fire into a "political football", with controversy erupting over who was culpable for the fire's rapid and insufficiently controlled spread. The winning party used allegations of mismanagement to spread fear, causing some voters to vote more than once. This may have popularized the famous saying "vote early and often."

20th Century:
The political environment in Chicago in the 1910s and 1920s let organized crime flourish to the point that many Chicago policemen earned more money from pay-offs than from the city. This same culture led directly to the Chicago Black Sox scandal of game fixing by the Chicago White Sox in 1919.

The modern era of politics is still dominated by machine politics in many ways, and the Chicago Democratic Machine became a style honed and perfected by Richard J. Daley after his election in 1955. Further evidence of this is the fact that his son, Richard M. Daley, is the current mayor.

Richard J. Daley's mastery of machine politics preserved the Chicago Democratic Machine long after the demise of similar machines in other large American cities. During much of that time, the city administration found opposition mainly from a liberal "independent" faction of the Democratic Party.This included African Americans and Latinos.In the Lakeview/Uptown 46th Ward.The first Latino to announce an aldermanic bid against a Daley loyalist was Jose(Cha-Cha)Jimenez,the Young Lords founder.The independents finally won control of city government in 1983 with the election of Harold Washington. Since Washington's death, Chicago has returned to the leadership of the Democratic organization led by Richard M. Daley, although it may differ from the previous ward-based organization, as it relies on other groups, such as the Hispanic Democratic Organization.

A point of interest is the party leanings of the city. For much of the last century, Chicago has been considered one of the largest Democratic strongholds in the United States. For example, the citizens of Chicago have not elected a Republican mayor since 1927, when William Thompson was voted into office. Today, only one city council member is Republican.

The police corruption that came to the light from the Summerdale Scandal of 1960, where police officers kept stolen property or sold it and kept the cash, was another black eye on the local political scene of Chicago.

The Daley faction, with financial help from Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., helped elect John F. Kennedy to the office of President of the United States in the 1960 presidential election. The electoral votes from the state of Illinois, with nearly half its population located in Chicago-dominated Cook County, were a deciding factor in the win for Kennedy over Richard Nixon.

Chicago politics have also hosted some very publicized campaigns and conventions. The Democratic Party decided on Harry S. Truman as the vice-presidential candidate at the 1944 Democratic National Convention. The 1968 Democratic National Convention was the scene of mass political rallies and discontent, leading to the famous trial of the Chicago Seven.

Home-town columnist Mike Royko wrote satirically that Chicago's motto (Urbs in Horto or "City in a Garden") should instead be Ubi Ist Mio, or "Where's Mine?"

21st century:
In 2008 Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on charges of trying to sell the vacant United States Senate seat of President Barack Obama. He was impeached and removed from office by the state legislature in Jan. 2009. Blagojevich will also face a criminal trial in federal court.

Infrastructure and Regional Development:
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.

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. 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.

Geography:
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 waterfront 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.[23] 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 next to Burnham Park on the 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.

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 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. 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.

Climate:
The city lies within the humid continental climate zone, and experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and humid with average high temperatures of 80-84°F (27-29°C) and lows of 61-65 °F (16-19°C). Winters are cold, snowy and windy with temperatures below freezing. Spring and fall are mild with low humidity.

According to the National Weather Service, Chicago's highest official temperature reading of 107 °F (42 °C) was recorded on June 1, 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 can suffer extreme winter cold spells. In the entire month of January 1977, the temperature did not rise above 31 °F (-1 °C). The average temperature that month was around 10 °F (-12 °C).

Architecture:
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 to the city from New England, for construction of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition.

In 1885, the first steel-framed high-rise building rose in Chicago, ushering in the skyscraper era.[28] Today, Chicago's skyline is among the world's tallest and most dense. Downtown's historic buildings include the Chicago Board of Trade Building in the Loop, with others along the lakefront and the Chicago River. Once first on the list of largest buildings in the world and still listed twentieth, the Merchandise Mart stands near the junction of the north and south river branches. Presently, the four tallest in the city are Willis Tower (this building has its own zip code), Trump International Hotel and Tower, the Aon Center (previously the Standard Oil Building), and the John Hancock Center. The city's architecture includes high-rise office and residential towers, mid-rise buildings, low-rise structures and single-family homes, including bungalows. Industrialized areas, such as the Indiana border, south of Midway Airport, and the banks of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal are clustered. Future skyline plans entail the supertall Waterview Tower, and the Chicago Spire.

The 60602 zip code was named by Forbes as the hottest zip code in the country with upscale buildings, such as The Heritage at Millennium Park (130 N. Garland) leading the way for other buildings such as Waterview Tower, The Legacy and Momo. Other new skyscraper construction may be found directly south (South Loop) and north (River North) of the Loop.

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 in the so-called "bungalow belt" 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 is Oak Park, home to the late architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Neighborhoods:
Chicago is partitioned into four main sections: Downtown (which contains the Loop), the North Side, the South Side, and the West Side. In the late 1920s, sociologists at the University of Chicago subdivided the city into 77 distinct community areas. The boundaries of these areas are more clearly defined than those of the over 210 neighborhoods throughout the city, allowing for better year-by-year comparisons.

Downtown is the center of Chicago's cultural, commercial and financial institutions, and home to Grant Park and many of the city's skyscrapers. Many of the city's financial institutions are located within a section of downtown called "The Loop", which is an eight block by five block square of city streets that are encircled by elevated rail lines.

The North Side is the most densely populated residential section of the city and many highrises 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 waterfront 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 the largest population of Poles of any city in the world outside of Warsaw, Chicago celebrates every Labor Day weekend at the Taste of Polonia Festival in the Jefferson Park area.

The South Side is home to one of the city's largest parades, the annual African American Bud Billiken Day parade, and the University of Chicago. Parkland stretches along the waterfront of the South Side. Two of the city's largest parks are also located here: Jackson Park, bordering the waterfront, hosted the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and is the site of the Museum of Science and Industry. Slightly farther west is Washington Park, which is currently being considered as the primary site of the Olympic Stadium for the 2016 Summer Olympics, if Chicago wins the bid. The two parks are connected by a strip of parkland called Midway Plaisance. Also, the U.S. automaker, Ford Motor Company, has an assembly plant located on the South Side.

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 festival, and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. The Near West Side holds the television production company of Harpo Studios.

Culture and Contemporary Life:
The city's waterfront 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. Two North Side neighborhoods in particular, Lakeview and the Andersonville area of the Edgewater neighborhood, are home to many LGBT businesses and organizations. The area surrounding the North Side intersections of Halsted, Belmont, and Clark is a gay district known as "Boystown". 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, "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:
Chicago’s theater community spawned modern improvisational theater. 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, 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. The city has also been spawning a critically acclaimed underground metal scene with various bands gaining national attention in the metal and hard rock world. Annual festivals feature various acts such as Lollapalooza, the Intonation Music Festival and Pitchfork Music Festival.

Tourism:
Chicago attracted a combined 44.2 million people in 2006 from around the nation and abroad. 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 rail 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 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.

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, 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.

Parks:
When Chicago 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 (30 km²) of municipal parkland as well as 33 sand beaches, nine museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons and 10 bird and wildlife gardens. Lincoln Park, the largest of the city parks, covers 1200 acres and has over 20 million visitors each year, making it second only to Central Park in New York City in number of visitors. Nine lakefront harbors located within a number of parks along the lakefront render the Chicago Park District the nation's largest municipal harbor system. In addition to ongoing beautification and renewal projects for existing parks, a number of new parks have been added in recent years such as Ping Tom Memorial Park, DuSable Park and most notably Millennium Park. 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 and Brookfield Zoo.

Cuisine:
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 also popular; featuring a thinner than normal crust. There are very few pizzerias that specialize in true Chicago-style deep dish, the most prominent being Gino's East, Giordano's 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. 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, and the Maxwell Street Polish, which is a 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 the optional sport peppers. 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 fried cheese. McDonald's even adds its own downtown flavor, with their Rock-n-Roll McDonald's.

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.

Sports:
Chicago was named the Best Sports City in the United States by The Sporting News in 1993 and 2006. The city is home to two Major League Baseball teams: the Chicago Cubs of the National League play on the city's North Side, in Wrigley Field, while the Chicago White Sox of the American League 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 Major League Baseball franchise every year since the American League began in 1900. The Chicago Bears, one of the two remaining charter members of the NFL, have won thirteen NFL Championships. The other remaining charter franchise also started out in Chicago, the Chicago Cardinals, now the Arizona Cardinals . The Bears play their home games at Soldier Field on Chicago's lakefront.

The Chicago Bulls of the NBA are one of the most recognized basketball teams in the world. With Michael Jordan leading them, the Bulls took six NBA championships in eight seasons during the 1990s (only failing to do so in the two years of Jordan's absence). The Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL, who began play in 1926 have won three Stanley Cups. The Blackhawks also hosted the 2008-2009 Winter Classic. Both the Bulls and Blackhawks play at the United Center on the Near West Side.

The Chicago Fire soccer club are members of Major League Soccer. The Fire have won one league and four US Open Cups since their inaugural season in 1998. In 2006, the club moved to its current home, Toyota Park, in suburban Bridgeview after playing its first eight seasons downtown at Soldier Field and at Cardinal Stadium in Naperville. The club is now the third professional soccer team to call Chicago home, the first two being the Chicago Sting of the NASL (and later the indoor team of the MISL); and the Chicago Power of the NPSL-AISA. The Chicago Red Stars of Women's Professional Soccer also play in Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Chicago Rush, of the Arena Football League, The Chicago Bandits of the NPF and the Chicago Wolves, of the AHL, also play in Chicago; they both play at the Allstate Arena. The Chicago Sky of the WNBA, began play in 2006. The Sky's home arena is the UIC Pavilion. The Chicago Slaughter of the CIFL began in 2006 and play at the Sears Centre. The Chicago Storm began play in 2004 in the MISL until 2007 when they moved to the XSL. The Chicago Storm also play at the Sears Centre.

The Chicago Machine, a Major League Lacrosse team, has been playing since 2006. Their home field is Toyota Park, but they are playing their 2009 season opener and closer at Soldier Field.

The Chicago Marathon has been held every October since 1977. This event is one of five World Marathon Majors.

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. Chicago also hosted the 1959 Pan American Games, and Gay Games VII in 2006. Chicago was selected to host the 1904 Olympics, but they were transferred to St. Louis to coincide with the World's Fair. On June 4, 2008 The International Olympic Committee selected Chicago as one of four candidate cities for the 2016 games.

Chicago is also the starting point for the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac, a 330-mile (530 km) offshore sailboat race held each July that is the longest annual freshwater sailboat race in the world. 2008 marks the 100th running of the "Mac."

At the collegiate level, Chicago and its suburb, Evanston, have two national athletic conferences, the Big East Conference with DePaul University, and the Big Ten Conference with Northwestern University in Evanston.

Media:
The Chicago metropolitan area is the third-largest media market in North America, after New York City and Los Angeles. 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 Chicago Reader, the Daily Southtown, the Chicago Defender, the Chicago Sports Weekly, the Daily Herald, StreetWise, The Chicago Free Press and the Windy City Times.

The city of Chicago is home to a large number of advertising agencies, in both traditional and new media forms of marketing and promotion, ranking third behind New York City and Los Angeles.

Chicago is a filming-friendly location. Since the 1980s, many motion pictures have been filmed in the city, most notably the massive blockbuster success, The Dark Knight and its predecessor, Batman Begins.

Economy:
Chicago has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the nation — approximately $506 billion according to 2007 estimates. The city has also been rated as having the most balanced economy in the United States, due to its high level of diversification. Chicago was named the fourth most important business center in the world in the MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index. 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. In 2008, Chicago placed 16th on the UBS list of the world's richest cities.

Chicago is a major world financial center, with the second largest central business district in the U.S.[citation needed] 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 US 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.

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, 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.

Chicago is a major world convention destination. The city's main convention center is McCormick Place. With its four interconnected buildings, it is the third largest convention center in the world. Chicago also ranks third in the U.S. (behind Las Vegas and Orlando) in number of conventions hosted annually. In addition, Chicago is home to eleven Fortune 500 companies, while the metropolitan area hosts an additional 21 Fortune 500 companies. The state of Illinois is home to 66 Fortune 1000 companies. 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.

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, 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.

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 people per square mile (4,923.0/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 per square mile (1,959.8/km2). Of the 1,061,928 households, 28.9% have 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. 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.

As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 37.6% of Chicago's population; of which 30.9% were non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans made up 35.0% of Chicago's population; of which 34.7% were non-Hispanic blacks. American Indians made up 0.2% of Chicago's population; of which 0.1% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 4.9% of Chicago's population while Pacific Islander Americans made up only 0.1% of the city's population; of which less than 0.1% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from some other race made up 20.6% of Chicago's population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 1.6% of Chicago's population; of which 0.9% were non-Hispanic. In addition, Hispanics and Latinos made up 28.1% of Chicago's population.

The main ethnic groups in Chicago are African American, Irish, German, Italian, Mexican, English, Bulgarian, Greek, Chinese, Slovak, Lithuanian, Polish, Bosnian, Czech, Filipino, Serbian, Russian, Ukrainian, Indian, and Puerto Rican. Poles in Chicago constitute the largest Polish population outside of the Polish capital of Warsaw.

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, Zoroastrianism[citation needed], Sikhism, Bahá'í, and others.

Law and Government:
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. 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 tends to be "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. Although Chicago includes less than 25% of the state's population, eight of Illinois' nineteen U.S. Representatives have part of the city 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. 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.

Education:
There are 666 public schools, 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. 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: Brother Rice High School, Loyola Academy, St. Ignatius College Prep, 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, 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 prestigious 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. It has been heralded as the best arts high school in the country. Children commute from as far away as South Bend, Indiana, every day to attend classes.

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. Other notable schools include: Chicago State University; East-West University; North Park University; Northeastern Illinois University; Robert Morris University; Roosevelt 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. 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.

The Chicago proper also has a large concentration of graduate schools, seminaries and theological schools. The city is home to the Adler School of Professional Psychology, the Catholic Theological Union, the Chicago Theological Seminary, the John Marshall Law School, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the McCormick Theological Seminary, the Meadville Lombard Theological School, the North Park Theological Seminary, the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Moody Bible Institute, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, the Spertus Institute and the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago.

Transportation:

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. Additionally, it is the only city in North America in which six Class I railroads meet. 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). About one-third of the country's freight trains pass through the city, making it a major national bottleneck. 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. This is also expected to have a positive impact on passenger rail and road congestion, as well as create new greenspace.

Chicago is the largest hub 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, Saint 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. Traffic reports tend to use the names rather than interstate numbers.

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. The CTA operates an extensive network of buses and a rapid transit elevated and subway system known as the 'L' (for "elevated"), with lines designated by colors. These rapid transit lines also serve both Midway Airport and O'Hare Airport. 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 two American cities) 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 operates commuter rail service in Chicago and its suburbs. The Metra Electric Line shares the railway with the South Shore Line's NICTD Northern Indiana Commuter Rail Service, providing 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. Bicycles are permitted on all CTA and Metra trains during non-rush hours and on all buses 24 hours.

Chicago offers a wide array of bicycle transportation facilities, such as miles of on-street bike lanes, 10,000 bike racks, and a state-of-the-art central bicycle commuter station in Millennium Park. The city has a 100-mile (160 km) on-street bicycle lane network that is maintained by the Chicago Department of Transportation Bike Program and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation. In addition, trails dedicated to bikes only are built throughout the city.

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). 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 Rockford International Airport, formerly Greater Rockford Airport, serves as a regional base for United Parcel Service cargo flights, some passenger flights, and occasionally as a reliever to O'Hare, usually in times of bad weather. 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 airport serves as a major 'focus city' for Southwest Airlines, the world's largest low-cost airline.

Telecommunications:
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.

Health Systems:
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 operates the University of Chicago Medical Center, which was ranked the fourteenth best hospital in the country by U.S. News & World Report. 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.

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

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 Blue Shield are all based in Chicago.


Chicago Skyline as seen from Lake Michigan.

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