Chicago, Illinois is the largest city in the state of Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. The Chicago metropolitan area has a population of over 9.4 million in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, making it also the third largest metropolitan area in the US. Chicago is located along the shore of Lake Michigan. The city’s monikers include “Chicago land”, the “Windy City”, “Chi-Town”, “Chi-City”, the “Second City” and the “City of the Big Shoulders”.
Chicago is a major center of transportation, industry, culture, medicine and higher education.
A major transportation hub, Chicago is the third largest inter-modal port in the world after Hong Kong and Singapore. Chicago is one of the largest hubs of passenger rail service in the nation with Amtrak providing connections to New York, Seattle, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington DC. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates an extensive network of buses and a rapid transit system know locally as the “L” (for elevated), which includes services to Midway and O’Hare airports. Chicago stands out among large cities for offering 150 miles of on-street bike lanes, 10,000 bike racks and a state-of-the-art central bicycle commuter station in Millennium Park.
Chicago has ten interstate highways running through the city and suburbs which include I-90 (also known in some segments as The Kennedy Expressway, Chicago Skyway, The Dan Ryan Expressway and The O’Hare Extension), I-57 (Bishop Ford Freeway), I-94 (Kennedy Expressway), I-55 (Stevenson Expressway), I-290 (Eisenhower Expressway), I-294 (Tri-State Tollway), I-80 (Kingery Expressway), I-355 (North-South Tollway), I-190 (The O’Hare Extension) and I-88 (East-West Tollway and Reagan Memorial).
Midway International and O’Hare International Airport service the Chicago area. In 2005, O’Hare was reported as the world’s busiest airport by aircraft movements and second busiest by total passenger traffic. Gary/ Chicago International Airport, located in Gary, Indiana, serves and the third Chicago area airport. Chicago/Rockford International Airport is a regional base for United Parcel Service flights, some passenger flight and occasionally as a relief to O’Hare. Chicago is also the world headquarters for United Airlines, the world’s second-largest airline.
The city has been rated as having the most balanced economy in the US, due to a high level of diversification. Some of the largest employers include over 66 Fortune 500 companies such as The Boeing Company, Sara Lee, Walgreens, Motorola, Caterpillar, Sears, State Farm Insurance, Allstate, Deere, McDonald’s, Aon, Office Max, USG and the Tribune Company. The city hosts four major financial and future exchanges including the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Board of Options Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Headquartered in the Chicago area are several medical products and services companies such as Baxter International, Abbott Laboratories and the Healthcare Financial Services division of General Electric.
Chi-Town offers a variety of culture stemming from its deep history to present-day modern arts. The Museum Campus is a 10-acre lakefront park sitting on the southern section of Grant Park and surrounds three of the city’s main museums: the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Shedd Aquarium. Grant Park also hosts the Art Institute of Chicago, a partner of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The only building surviving the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 is the Museum of Science and Industry. Chicago’s museums also include the Oriental Institute, part of the University of Chicago, the Freedom Museum, Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum of African-American History, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, the Peggy Notebeart Nature Museum and The Renaissance Society.
The city has and abundant entertainment and performing arts scene. Chicago’s renowned theater companies include the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Goodman Theatre Company and the Victory Gardens Theater. Other theatres such as the Strawdog Theatre Company, The House Theatre of Chicago, TimeLine Theatre Company and Remy Bumppo Theatre Company offer an array of plays and musicals.
Broadway musicals are held at venues including LaSalle Bank Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Ford Oriental Theatre and the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Broadway in Chicago was created in July 2000 and brings touring productions to the Chicago area. A few of the productions brought by “Broadway in Chicago” are: Blue Man Group, Wicked, Rent, Stomp, The Color Purple, Hairspray, Chicago, Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia!, the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Cats, The Producers and Jesus Christ Superstar. Chicago is also home to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Opera Theater, the Chicago Chamber Musicians and more.
Known for its skyscrapers, Chicago boasts the world’s tallest skyline. Notably historic high-rise buildings grace the Chicago skyline such as the Chicago Board of Trade Building and the Merchandise Mart, once the first on the list of the largest buildings in the world and still listed sixth. The tallest building in the United States, the Sears Tower is located in Chicago. The Aon Center and the John Hancock Center are also notable skyscrapers that give Chicago a distinct city skyline. Future building skyscrapers include Waterview Tower, Chicago Spire and Trump International Hotel and Tower. The 60602 zip code was named by Forbes as the hottest zip code in the country with many upscale buildings such as The Heritage at Millennium Park, The Legacy and Momo.
Chicago has a number of architectural gems in its historical church buildings. The Chicago Temple/First United Methodist Church boasts a 22-story skyscraper surmounted by a steeple 568 feet above street level, making it the tallest church in the world. Three basilicas: Our Lady of Sorrows, Queen of All Saints and St. Hyacinth proudly stand in Chicago’s city limits. St. Josaphat’s, St. Adalbert’s, Mary of the Angels, Church of the Epiphany, St. Gabriel Church, Metropolitan Community Church, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, St. Clement Church, St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Church and St. Simeon Mirotovici are other pristine and cherished church buildings in Chicago. Chicago was named the best sports city in the Unites States by The Sporting News in 2006.
The city is one of three U.S. cities to host two Major League Baseball teams; the Chicago Cubs (known to fans as “The Cubbies”) play in Wrigley Field and the Chicago White Sox play in the US Cellular Field. The Chicago Bears, Chicago’s NFL team, play at Soldier Field and the Chicago Rush, the city’s Arena Football League team, play at the Allstate Arena. One of the world’s most recognized basketball teams, the Chicago Bulls play at the United Center. The Bulls won six NBA titles in the 1990’s during the reign of Michael Jordan. The United Center also hosts the Chicago Sky, a WNBA team. Chicago has two hockey teams: the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Wolves. The city is also home to the Chicago Fire, a MLS soccer team playing in Toyota Park.
Chicago gives tourists a trip to remember and in 2005 thirty-three million visitors from across the world came to visit The Windy City. Luxury shopping along the Magnificent Mile as well Navy Pier, a 3,000-foot pier is home to restaurants, shops, museums, exhibition halls, auditoriums and a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel.
Navy Pier offers shopping for apparel, Chicago souvenirs, gifts and collectibles, toys and games and more at stores like All the Time, DC’s Mad Hatter, Earthly Elements, Funky Chameleon, Gold & Silver Art FX, Navy Pier Store, A Silver Lining, The Sports Store, Strictly Sterling, Sun Coolers, Varsity Stop Outfitters, Windy City Leathers, Y-Knot, Air One, Making History, Oh Yes Chicago!, Alamo Flags, Ferris Wheel Photos, Grand Avenue Gourmet, Life’s A Holiday, Jahjah Village, Oiled Up, TransPIERency, Fashion Bazaar, Irish Imports, The Oriental Arts Center, Passage to India, The Russian Place, Sitara, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Magic Masters, Bike Chicago, Faces in Focus Caricatures, Temporary Tattoos and more.
Chicago has shopping malls scattered throughout the city. Stores such as Ann Taylor Loft, The Body Shop, The Bose Store, Eddie Bauer, Emporium Luggage, Femme de Carriere, Glenn Poor Chicago, Gold Leaf Tobacco, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Olily, Lucky Brand, Sephora, and Swatch are sprinkled all through downtown as well as the suburbs.
Chicago is famous for its signature deep dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, the Maxwell Street Polish and the Chicago hot dog, which is made of Vienna beef and loaded with mustard, onion, tomato, pickle relish, celery salt, sport peppers and a dill pickle spear; putting ketchup on a Chicago