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Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States, after New York City and Los Angeles. With 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in both the U.S. state of Illinois and the American Midwest. Its metropolitan area, sometimes called Chicagoland, is home to 9.5 million people and is the third-largest in the United States. Chicago is the seat of Cook County.
Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed, and experienced rapid growth in the mid-nineteenth century. Today, the city is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation, with O’Hare International Airport being the second-busiest airport in the world; it also has the largest number of U.S. highways, and railroad freight entering its region.
In 2010, Chicago was listed as an alpha+ global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and ranks seventh in the world in the 2012 Global Cities Index. As of 2012, Chicago had the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States, after the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, at a sum of US$571 billion.
In 2012, Chicago hosted 46.37 million international and domestic visitors, an overall visitation record. Chicago’s culture includes contributions to the visual arts, novels, film, theater, especially improvisational comedy, and music, particularly jazz, blues, soul, and the creation of house music. The city has many nicknames, which reflect the impressions and opinions about historical and contemporary Chicago. The best-known include the “Windy City” and “Second City.” Chicago has professional sports teams in each of the major professional leagues.
During its first 100 years, Chicago was one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. When founded in 1833, fewer than 200 people had settled on what was then the American frontier. By the time of its first census, seven years later, the population had reached over 4,000. Within the span of forty years, the city’s population grew from slightly under 30,000 in 1850 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 sixty years of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the population went from about 300,000 to over 3 million, and reached its highest ever-recorded population of 3.6 million for the 1950 census.
As of the 2010 census, there were 2,695,598 people with 1,045,560 households living in Chicago. More than half the population of the state of Illinois lives in the Chicago metropolitan area. Chicago is one of the United States’ most densely populated major cities, and the largest city in the Great Lakes Megalopolis.
Chicago has a Hispanic or Latino population of 28.9%. (Its members may belong to any race; 21.4% Mexican, 3.8% Puerto Rican, 0.7% Guatemalan, 0.6% Ecuadorian, 0.3% Cuban, 0.3% Colombian, 0.2% Honduran, 0.2% Salvadoran, 0.2% Peruvian) The Guatemalan, Colombian and Peruvian communities have skyrocketed in the 2000s, and some estimates give higher percentages.
According to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for 2011, the median income for a household in the city was $43,628, and the median income for a family was $49,442. Male full-time workers had a median income of $44,647 versus $41,168 for females. About 19.7% of families and 23.7% of the population lived below the poverty line.
From the last two decades of the 19th century, Chicago was the destination of waves of immigrants from Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, including (but by no means limited to) Italians, Jews, Poles, Bosnians and Czechs. To these ethnic groups, the basis of the city’s industrial working class, was added an additional influx of African-Americans from the American South — with Chicago’s black population doubling between 1910 and 1920 and doubling again between 1920 and 1930.
Chicago has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States—approximately $532 billion according to 2010 estimates, after only the urban agglomerations of New York City and Los Angeles, in the first and second place, respectively. 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 out of the seven years from 2001 to 2008. The Chicago metropolitan area has the third largest science and engineering work force of any metropolitan area in the nation. In 2009 Chicago placed 9th on the UBS list of the world’s richest cities. Chicago was the base of commercial operations for industrialists John Crerar, John Whitfield Bunn, Richard Teller Crane, Marshall Field, John Farwell, Morris Selz, Julius Rosenwald and many other commercial visionaries who laid the foundation for Midwestern and global industry.
The city’s waterfront location and nightlife has attracted residents and tourists alike. Over a third of the city population is concentrated in the lakefront neighborhoods of Rogers Park in the north to South Shore in the south. The city has many upscale dining establishments as well as many ethnic restaurant districts. These districts include the Mexican American neighborhoods, such as Pilsen along 18th street, and La Villita along 26th Street; the Puerto Rican enclave of Paseo Boricua in the Humboldt Park neighborhood; Greektown, along South Halsted Street, immediately west of downtown; Little Italy, along Taylor Street; Chinatown in Armour Square; Polish Patches in West Town; Little Seoul in Albany Park around Lawrence Avenue; Little Vietnam near Broadway in Uptown; and the Desi area, along Devon Avenue in West Ridge.
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, this style is said to have originated at Pizzeria Uno. The Chicago-style thin crust is also popular in the city.
Chicago was named the “Best Sports City” in the United States by the Sporting News in 1993, 2006, and 2010. The city is home to two Major League Baseball (MLB) teams: the Chicago Cubs of the National League (NL), who play in Wrigley Field on the North Side; and the Chicago White Sox of the American League (AL), who play in U.S. Cellular Field on the South Side. Chicago is the only city that has had more than one MLB franchise every year since the AL began in 1901.
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. There are ten selective enrollment high schools in the Chicago Public Schools. They are designed to meet the needs of Chicago’s most academically advanced students. The schools offer a rigorous curriculum with mainly honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Northside College Preparatory High School is ranked number one in the city of Chicago. Walter Payton College Prep High School is ranked second.
The oldest magnet school in the City of Chicago, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, was opened in 1975 is ranked number three. The magnet school with the largest enrollment is Lane Tech College Prep High School. Lane is one of the oldest schools in Chicago and in 2012 was designated a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Chicago high school rankings are determined by the average test scores on state achievement tests. The district, with an enrollment exceeding 400,000 students (2005 stat.), ranks as the third largest in the US On September 10, 2012, teachers for the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike for the first time since 1987 over pay, resources and other issues.
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, one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation.
Chicago had a murder rate of 18.5 per 100,000 residents in 2012, ranking 16th among cities with 100,000 people or more.” This pales in comparison to smaller cities, including New Orleans, Newark, and Detroit, which saw 53 murders per 100,000 residents in 2012. Though it has a significantly lower murder rate than many smaller American cities, the two largest cities in the United States, New York City and Los Angeles, have even lower rates and lower total homicides.
According reports in 2013, “most of Chicago’s violent crime comes from gangs trying to maintain control of drug-selling territories”, and is specifically related to the activities of the Sinaloa Cartel, which by 2006 had decided to seek to control drug distribution, over against local street gangs. Violent crime rates vary significantly by area, with more economically developed areas having low rates, but other sections high rates of crime.
The great majority of American blacks moving to Chicago in these years were clustered in a so‑called “Black Belt” on the city’s South Side. By 1930, two-thirds of Chicago’s African-American population lived in sections of the city which were 90% black in racial composition. Chicago’s South Side emerged as America’s second largest urban black concentration, following New York’s Harlem.