Second city in the United States, and port of entry. Is situated on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, and is the terminus of twenty-three trunk-line railroad systems. Embraces all important lines. Chicago's first subway was completed and opened in 1943. The city has also a large system of belt lines. Should the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence-to-the-ocean-Canal be built, the city would be practically an inland seaport.
It is the center of western and Great Lakes commerce, and has a water front of 101 miles. The lake shore is protected by breakwaters, forming a splendid harbor at the mouth of the Chicago River. To handle its water-borne commerce, the city has added to its dock and rail facilities (extending 52 miles on the water front) by constructing a
municipal pier (Navy Pier) at a cost of $5,000,000. At the mouth of the Calumet River, in South Chicago, is another harbor. The Erie Canal, terminating at Buffalo, and the Welland Canal, connecting Lakes Erie and Ontario, provide commercial communication with Atlantic ports. The Chicago River traverses the city, and by its peculiar course divides it into three sections, known as the North, South, and West Sides.
Chicago's large parks include Lincoln, Humboldt, Garfield, Douglas, Washington, Jackson, Columbus, Grant and Marquette, all connected by boulevards traversing the most beautiful sections of the city.
Chicago is noted for the number, size, and height of its public and business buildings. Among them are the Auditorium, containing a theater seating 7,000 persons; the Civic Opera Building, with two theaters; Board of Trade Building; Chicago Stock Exchange; the Field Building; the Palmolive Building; Merchandise Mart; Wrigley Building; Tribune Tower; Daily News Building; Willoughby Tower; Medinah Temple Building; New York Life Building; Title and Trust Building; Chicago Public Library, costing $2,000,000 and containing 1,700,000 volumes; John Crerar Library; the Northwestern Railroad Station; the Union Station; and the New Post Office.
Other features of the city include the new Navy Pier, the Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry; the Planetarium; Soldier Field; the Aquarium; Chicago Historical Society; and the Art Institute. On the north shore just outside the city, is Fort Sheridan, and at Great Lakes is the new naval training station with an unrivaled modern equipment. The University of Chicago, founded in 1892, is one of the foremost institutions of learning in the country. Other large schools are the Rush Medical College (now part of the Univ. of Chicago), Univ. of Illinois Medical College, Chicago College of Pharmacy, the Armour Institute of Technology, Lewis Institute, and Northwestern University.
Chicago is the greatest livestock and grain market in the world, as well as the greatest railroad center. Its lumber interests are enormous. It has the world's largest packing and slaughtering plants. Union Stock Yards cover 400 acres and receive more than 10,000,000 head of cattle yearly. Canned meats are sent to all parts of the world.
The water supply of the city is obtained by means of nine tunnels, running from seven cribs four miles into the Lake. The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal protects Chicago's water supply from Lake Michigan against pollution by the city's sewerage by providing an outlet to the Mississippi River.
Chicago's wholesale trade and bank resources run into the billions. There were more than 20,000 factories in the Chicago industrial zone in 1930. Its chief industries, ranked according to magnitude and value, are slaughtering and packing, printing and publishing, steel works products, electrical machinery, foundry and machine shop products, clothing, bread and bakery products, confectionery, gas and coke, furniture, paints and varnishes, radios, railway cars, canned goods, chemicals, etc.
The city covers an area of 212.8 square miles. The site of Chicago was first visited by Joliet and Marquette in 1673. The United States Government established there the frontier post of Fort Dearborn in 1804. The village of Chicago was incorporated in 1833, and became a city March 4, 1837. On October 8 and 9, 1871, occurred the great fire which reduced much of the city to ashes. In 1893, the World's Columbian Exposition and in 1933 and 1934, the Century of Progress Exposition, were held in Chicago.