Chicago 2020Chicago started as a Native American settlement in the 1700s. After the Northwest Indian War, the area that is now Chicago was turned over to the military and they built Fort Dearborn in 1803 on the Chicago River.
In 1833, after getting stomped by the British in 1812 and then the later forcing the relocation of the Indians to the west, the city was incorporated with 200 residents.
The city grew astoundingly from that point. The great fire of 1871 destroyed the wooden portions of the city's businesses and housing. It was rebuilt from steel and stone, as most of the industry had survived, the city continued its growth.
The city was home to the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the most influential worlds fair ever held, hosting 27 million visitors. This put Chicago firmly on the world stage but serious health issues with its growth came to a head around this time.
To combat the frequent cholera outbreaks associated with dumping your sewage into the lake where you pump your water from, they reversed the flow of the Chicago River to drain out to the Mississippi. It was both a huge undertaking and a triumph of engineering, and almost eliminated these types of diseases.
World War One helped industry expand and created lots of jobs. There was a huge influx of southern blacks who were part of the 44,000 to 233,000 person population boom during the 20s and 30s. There were and still are race tensions from that influx.
The depression hit the city hard, and as the Republicans were in power and didn't have a solution, it had destroyed their base in the city that continues to this day as a Democratic stronghold bar none.
The second World War brought back prosperity, and the transportation hub, industry, business, all combined to make Chicago America's second city after New York. Things continued to go well until the 60s when discrimination worked to impoverish the black communities. This effect is still noticeable and seen on the south side today.
After the 80s, the city began to work on its core of being a true centralized focus city and at the heart of it are downtown and the loop, which are just gems. Other areas have suffered from this focus.
The ArrivalI took the Amtrak from St. Paul, in a very comfortable roomette. The scenery coming into Chicago was limited as it's in a ground level corridor that's heavily built up.
I exited at Union Station, walked to the L, and took the subway to North River and my hotel. Even with only a carry on, it was a bit challenging navigating the stations and egresses.
The ArchitectureChicago is an astounding place for architecture, and many of the world's best were given free reign to design the skyscapers that came to dominate the skyline, quite a long time before New York got into the act.
Greek Revival and Gothic buildings abound in the Loop area, which was the original and traditional downtown. As the city expanded away from the Loop, the architecture began to transition to Italian Rennisance and then into modern styles.
A River CityWhile the lakefront truly dominates the eastern shore, Chicago is a river city with 20 bridges downtown, providing amazing views of the buildings along it.
Still used for commerce and leisure, it is a very active river with many water-level businesses.
ParksChicago has amazing parks, so large and fairly numerous around the city. These are the center of the world when weekends allow everyone to enjoy them without the burden of the office. Melting pot of all cultures combine and experience them together.
ShoppingChicago is also a shopping mecca. Michigan Avenue north of the river is called the Magnificent Mile due to all the high end shopping that have completely inundated the street fronts.
SkylinesThe city has a very stunning and abrupt skyline due to the hard stops at the lake and Grant Park edges. This makes for amazing pictures.
Great FoodI don't care what anyone says, Chicago is the king of the hotdog, and the home of deep dish pizza pies. But its cosmopolitan mix has such great food almost at every turn. You will fail on your diet visiting here.
The 'L'The elevated train system culminates in the Loop, where every line meets and crosses. It's an ever present feature throughout downtown, and being from the 1890s, has some interesting architecture of its own.
SummaryChicago, the friendliest big city in the world. Culture, education, entertainment, dining, partying - this city has it all, and in a much more manageable size than NYC. I was a kid living near the city and always have fond memories of it. I build more every time I visit.
Easily accessible from anywhere, by car, train, or plane. It's a world city that feels like your hometown.