Chicago (city), Illinois, United States. Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States and one of the country's leading industrial, commercial, financial, and transport centres. It extends some 47 km (29 mi) along the south-western shore of Lake Michigan, occupying flatland traversed by two short rivers: the Chicago River and the Calumet River. Both rivers have been linked by canals with the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, establishing Chicago as the connecting point in the waterway route between the Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes-St Lawrence Seaway. The city's rapid growth was due in large part to its location, with ready access to markets and raw materials; it has the world's busiest airport, Chicago-O'Hare International Airport. The population of Chicago in 1992 was estimated to be 2,768,483 (3,005,072 in 1980). The immigrant heritage of Chicago's population remains very strong, and there is hardly an ethnic group in America not represented there. In 1990, German ancestry was claimed by more people in Chicago (270,334) and in the metropolitan area (1,429,336), than any other, and this was followed by Polish (261,899) and Irish (237,113) ancestry in the city. Among the major minority groups, blacks account for almost one in five in the metropolitan region as a whole, while Hispanics represent approximately one in nine residents. Black presence in the suburban zone has hardly altered in the recent past, whereas Hispanic proportions outside the central city are growing.
II INDUSTRY AND LEISURE
Aided by an excellent distribution network, Chicago is America's most important rail and haulage centre and is a significant port handling both domestic and international trade. Great Lakes freighters and river barges deliver bulk commodities such as iron ore, limestone, coal, chemicals, oil, and grain. Some of this freight is destined for processing plants in the heavily industrialized Calumet River area. Foreign vessels arrive via the St Lawrence Seaway, bringing such products as cars, steel, fish, and alcoholic beverages and carrying away machinery, farm equipment, hides, and timber, as well as a variety of food products.
The Chicago metropolitan area has the highest number of manufacturing employees in the United States. Chicago's largest employer is the electrical goods industry, followed by the steel, machinery, fabricated metals, foods, printing and publishing, chemicals, and transport equipment industries. It is one of the nation's leading producers of steel, metal goods, confectionery, surgical appliances, rail equipment, soap, paint, cosmetics, cans, industrial machinery, printed materials, and sporting goods. Chicago houses the headquarters of numerous corporations and is a major wholesale market for grain, machine tools, food produce, fish, and flowers. The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are among the world's largest commodity markets. The city is a leading convention centre, with extensive hotel facilities, including McCormick Place-on-the-Lake, a multi-purpose exhibition complex on Lake Michigan. Chicago is divided into three sections—the North (largely residential), West (mainly industrial), and South (diversely residential) Sides. The centre, known locally as the Loop, shares shops and entertainment facilities increasingly with the city's multiplying suburbs.
Chicago has one of the world's most beautiful lakefronts. With the exception of a few miles of industry on its southern extremity, virtually the entire lakefront is devoted to recreational uses, with beaches, museums, harbours, and parks, which include Grant Park opposite the city centre, Lincoln Park to the north, and Jackson Park to the south.
The world's first skyscraper was constructed in Chicago, in 1885, spawning the innovative Chicago School of architecture. Among the renowned architects whose buildings have shaped the city's skyline are Louis Sullivan, William Le Baron Jenney, Daniel H. Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The central part of the city has several of the world's tallest buildings, including the Sears Tower, which at 110 storeys high is the tallest in the United States. Construction of tall office buildings continues.
Chicago is home to the Cubs baseball team at Wrigley Field; the White Sox baseball team at Cominskey Park; the Bears American football team; the Blackhawks ice hockey team; and Bulls basketball teams.
Chicago is a major centre of higher education, with numerous colleges and universities. The prestigious University of Chicago (1890) was the site in 1942 of the world's first controlled nuclear chain reaction. Other schools of higher learning include Northwestern University (1851), the Illinois Institute of Technology (1940); Loyola University of Chicago (1870), De Paul University (1898), and the Chicago State University (1867).
Chicago contains several distingu...