History of Chicago

History of Chicago
Site of Chicagou on the lake, in Guillaume de L'Isle's map (Paris, 1718)

The history of Chicago, Illinois, has played an important role in the history of the United States. Americans founded the city in 1832. The Chicago area's recorded history begins with the arrival of French explorers, missionaries and fur traders in the late 17th century. The territory was claimed by the United States in the late 18th century, at which time the area was inhabited by the Potawatomi.

Four historical events are commemorated by the four red stars on Chicago's flag: The United States' Fort Dearborn, established at the mouth of the Chicago River in 1803; the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed much of the city; the World Columbian Exposition of 1893, by which Chicago celebrated its recovery from the fire; and the Century of Progress World's Fair of 1933–1934, which celebrated the city's centennial. The flag's two blue stripes symbolize the north and south branches of the Chicago River, which flows through the city's downtown and neighborhoods.


Historic overview


Fort Dearborn, sketched 1831, printed in 1865.

At the beginning of European recorded history, the Chicago area was inhabited by a number of Algonquian peoples, including the Mascouten and Miami. They were connected through trade and seasonal hunting migrations to their neighbors, the Potawatomi to the east, Fox to the north, and the Illinois to the southwest. The name "Chicago" is the French version of the Miami-Illinois word shikaakwa ("Stinky Onion"), named for the plants common along the Chicago River.[1][2][3] It is not related to Chief Chicagou of the Michigamea people.[4] During the mid-18th century, the Chicago area was inhabited primarily by the Potawatomi, who displaced the Miami, Sauk, and Fox tribes. They had previously controlled the area and moved west under pressure from the Potawatomi and European settlers.

Chicago's location at a short portage (Chicago Portage) connecting the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system attracted the attention of many French explorers, notably Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette . In 1696, French Jesuits built the Mission of the Guardian Angel to Christianize the local Wea and Miami people.[5] French and allied use of the Chicago portage was mostly abandoned during the 1720s because of continual Native American raids during the Fox Wars.[6]

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable as depicted in 1884

The first non-native permanent settler in Chicago was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who built a farm at the mouth of the Chicago River in the 1780s.[7][8] He left Chicago in 1800. In 1968, Point du Sable was honored at Pioneer Court as the city's founder and featured as a symbol.

In 1795, following the Northwest Indian War, some Native Americans ceded the area of Chicago to the United States for a military post in the Treaty of Greenville. The US built Fort Dearborn in 1803 on the Chicago River. It was destroyed by British forces during the War of 1812 in the Battle of Fort Dearborn and all the inhabitants were killed or taken prisoner. The fort had been ordered to evacuate. During the evacuation soldiers and civilians were overtaken near what is today Prairie Avenue. After the end of the war, the Potawatomi ceded the land to the United States in the 1816 Treaty of St. Louis. (Today, this treaty is commemorated in Indian Boundary Park.) Fort Dearborn was rebuilt in 1818 and used until 1837. During the Black Hawk War of 1832, General Winfield Scott's troops brought cholera with them from the East Coast, where an epidemic raged. It spread among the refugees crowded at the fort, and the soldiers had to dig a pit to bury the dead.[9]

Thompson's original 1830 58-block plat of Chicago (right is north)

In 1829, the State of Illinois (est. 1818) legislature appointed commissioners to locate a canal and layout the surrounding town. The commissioners employed James Thompson to survey and plat the town of Chicago, which at the time had a population of less than 100. Historians regard the August 4, 1830 filing of the plat as the official recognition of a municipality known as Chicago.[10]

Yankee entrepreneurs saw the potential of Chicago as a transportation hub in the 1830s, and engaged in land speculation to obtain the choicest lots. On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was incorporated with a population of 350[11] On July 12, 1834, the Illinois from Sackets Harbor, New York was the first commercial schooner to enter the harbor, a sign of the Great Lakes trade that would benefit both Chicago and New York state.[9] Chicago was granted a city charter by the State of Illinois on March 4, 1837;[12] it was part of the larger Cook County. By 1840 the boom town had a population of over 4,000.

After 1830, the rich farmlands of northern Illinois attracted Yankee settlers. Yankee real estate operators created a city overnight in the 1830s. To open the surrounding farmlands to trade, the Cook County commissioners built roads south and west; the latter crossed the "dismal Nine-mile Swamp," the Des Plaines River, and went southwest to Walker's Grove, now the Village of Plainfield. The roads enabled hundreds of wagons per day of farm produce to arrive, so the entrepreneurs built grain elevators and docks to load ships bound for points east through the Great Lakes. Produce was shipped through the Erie Canal and down the Hudson River to New York City; the growth of the Midwest farms expanded New York City as a port.

Emergence as a transportation hub

Union Station in 1943

By the 1850s, the construction of railroads made Chicago a major hub; over 30 lines entered the city. The main lines from the East ended in Chicago, and those oriented to the West began in Chicago, so by 1860 the city became the nation's trans-shipment and warehousing center. Factories were created, most famously the harvester factory opened in 1847 by Cyrus Hall McCormick. It was a processing center for natural resource commodities extracted in the West. The Wisconsin forests supported the mill-work and lumber business; the Illinois hinterland provided the wheat. Hundreds of thousands of hogs and cattle were shipped to Chicago for slaughter, preserving in salt, and transport to eastern markets. By 1870 refrigerated cars allowed the shipping of fresh meat to eastern cities.[13] In 1883 the standardized system of North American Time Zones was adopted by the general time convention of railway managers in Chicago.[14] This gave the continent its uniform system for telling time.

In 1848, the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal allowed shipping from the Great Lakes through Chicago to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The first rail line to Chicago, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad was completed the same year. Chicago would go on to become the transportation hub of the United States with its road, rail, water and later air connections. Chicago also became home to national retailers offering catalog shopping such as Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Company, which used the transportation lines to ship all over the nation.

The prairie bog nature of the area provided a fertile ground for disease-carrying insects. In springtime Chicago was so muddy from the high water that horses could scarecely move. Comical signs proclaiming "Fastest route to China" or "No Bottom Here" were placed to warn people of the mud.

Travelers reported Chicago was the filthiest city in America. The city created a massive sewer system. In the first phase, sewage pipes were laid across the city above ground, to use gravity to move the waste. The city was built in a low-lying area subject to flooding. In 1856 the city council decided that the entire city should be elevated four to five feet by using a newly available jacking-up process. In one instance, the 5-story Brigg’s Hotel, weighing 22,000 tons, was lifted while it continued to operate. Observing that such a thing could never have happened in Europe, the British historian Paul Johnson cites this astounding feat as a dramatic example of American determination and ingenuity: based on the conviction that anything material is possible.[15]

Immigration and population in the 19th century

A bird's-eye view of Chicago in 1898. It became the second American city to reach a population of 1.6 million
Chicago - State St at Madison Street, 1897

Although originally settled by Yankees in the 1830s, in the 1840s many Irish Catholics came to the city as a result of the Great Famine. Later in the century, the railroads, stockyards and other heavy industry of the late 19th century attracted a variety of skilled workers from Europe, especially Germans, English, Swedes and Dutch.

In 1840, Chicago was the ninety-second most populous city in the United States. Its population grew so rapidly that twenty years later, it was the ninth most populous city in the country. In the pivotal year of 1848, Chicago saw the completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, its first steam locomotives, the introduction of steam-powered grain elevators, the arrival of the telegraph, and the founding of the Chicago Board of Trade.[16] By 1870 Chicago had grown to become the nation's second largest city, and one of the largest cities in the world. By 1857 Chicago was the largest city in what was then known as the Northwest. In a period of twenty years Chicago grew from 4,000 people to over 90,000.

Chicago surpassed St. Louis and Cincinnati as the major city in the West. It gained political notice as the home of Stephen Douglas, the 1860 presidential nominee of the Northern Democrats. The 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago nominated home-state candidate Abraham Lincoln. The city government and voluntary societies gave generous support to soldiers during the war.[17]

Many of the newcomers were Irish Catholic and German immigrants. Their neighborhood saloons, a center of male social life, were criticized in the mid 1850s by the local Know-Nothing Party, which reflected the stern morality of Protestant groups in the east. The new party was anti-immigration and anti-liquor, and called for the purification of politics by reducing the power of the saloonkeepers. In 1855, the Know Nothings elected Levi Boone mayor, who banned Sunday sales of liquor and beer. His aggressive law enforcement sparked the Lager Beer Riot of April 1855, which erupted outside a courthouse where eight Germans were being tried for liquor ordinance violations. After the American Civil War, saloons became community centers only for local ethnic men, as reformers saw them as places that incited riotous behavior and moral decay.[18]

Between 1870 and 1900 Chicago grew from a city of 299,000 to nearly 1.7 million, the fastest-growing city ever at the time. Chicago's flourishing economy attracted huge numbers of new immigrants from Europe and migrants from the eastern states. Relatively few new arrivals came from Chicago's rural hinterland.

Politics in the late 19th century

During the election of April 23, 1875, the voters of Chicago chose to operate under the Illinois Cities and Villages Act of 1872. Chicago still operates under this act, in lieu of a charter. The Cities and Villages Act has been revised several times since, and may be found in Chapter 65 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Late-19th-century big city newspapers such as the Chicago Daily News - founded in 1875 by Melville Stone - ushered in an era of news reporting that was, unlike earlier periods, in tune with the particulars of community life in specific cities. Vigorous competition between older and newer-style city papers soon broke out, centered on civic activism and sensationalist reporting of urban political issues and the numerous problems associated with rapid urban growth. Competition was especially fierce between the Chicago Times (Democratic), the Chicago Tribune (Republican), and the Daily News (independent), with the latter becoming the city's most popular paper by the 1880s.[19] The city's boasting lobbyists and politicians earned Chicago the nickname "Windy City" in the New York press. The city adopted the nickname as its own.

Polarized attitudes of labor and business in Chicago prompted a strike by workers' lobbying for an eight-hour work day, later named the Haymarket affair. A peaceful demonstration on May 4, 1886, at Haymarket near the west side was interrupted by a bomb thrown at police; seven police officers were killed. Widespread violence broke out. A group of anarchists were tried for inciting the riot and convicted. Several were hanged and others were pardoned. The episode was a watershed moment in the labor movement, and its history was commemorated in the annual May Day celebrations.

Gilded Age

The Chicago Water Tower, one of the few surviving buildings after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
A residential building in Chicago's Lincoln Park in 1885, when the city had dirt roads

In 1871, most of the city burned in the Great Chicago Fire. The damage from the fire was immense; 300 people died, 18,000 buildings were destroyed and nearly 100,000 of the city's 300,000 residents were left homeless. One of the factors contributing to the fire's spread was the abundance of wood; the streets, sidewalks and many buildings were built of wood. The fire led to the incorporation of stringent fire-safety codes that included a strong preference for masonry construction.

Danish immigrant Jens Jensen arrived in 1886 and soon became a highly successful and celebrated landscape designer. Jensen's work was characterized by a democratic approach to landscaping, informed by his interest in social justice and conservation, and his rejection of anti-democratic formalism. Among Jensen's creations were four Chicago city parks, most famously Columbus Park (Chicago). His work also included garden design for some of the region's most influential millionaires. The World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 was constructed on former wetlands at the present location of Jackson Park along Lake Michigan in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. The land was reclaimed according to a design by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The temporary pavilions, which followed a classical theme, were designed by a committee of the city's architects under the direction of Daniel Burnham. It was called the "White City" for the appearance of its buildings.

The Exposition drew 27.5 million visitors, and is considered among the most influential world's fairs in history, affecting art, architecture and design throughout the nation.[20] The classical architectural style contributed to a revival of Beaux Arts architecture that borrowed from historical styles, although Chicago was also developing the original skyscraper and organic forms based in new technologies. The fair featured the first, and until recently, largest Ferris wheel ever built. The soft, swampy ground near the lake proved unstable ground for tall masonry buildings. While this was an early constraint, builders developed the innovative use of steel framing for support and invented the skyscraper in Chicago. The city became a leader in modern architecture and set the model nationwide for achieving vertical city densities.

Developers and citizens began immediate reconstruction on the existing Jeffersonian grid. The building boom that followed saved the city's status as the transportation and trade hub of the Midwest. Massive reconstruction using the newest materials and methods catapulted Chicago into its status as a city on par with New York. It became the birthplace of modern architecture in the United States.[21]

Rise of industry and commerce

The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, the world's first skyscraper.

Chicago, along with New York, became the center of the nation's advertising industry. Albert Lasker, known as the "father of modern advertising" made Chicago his base 1898-1942. As head of the Lord and Thomas agency, Lasker devised a copywriting technique that appealed directly to the psychology of the consumer. Women seldom smoked cigarettes; he told them if they smoked Lucky Strikes they could stay slender. Lasker's use of radio, particularly with his campaigns for Palmolive soap, Pepsodent toothpaste, Kotex products, and Lucky Strike cigarettes, not only revolutionized the advertising industry but significantly changed popular culture.[22]

Chicago's manufacturing and retail sectors, fostered by the expansion of railroads throughout the upper Midwest and East, grew rapidly and came to dominate the Midwest and greatly influence the nation's economy. The Chicago Union Stock Yards dominated the packing trade. Chicago became the world's largest rail hub, and one of its busiest ports by shipping traffic on the Great Lakes. Commodity resources, such as lumber, iron and other ores, were brought to Chicago and Ohio for processing, with products shipped both East and West to support new growth.[23]

Merchants' Hotel on left, looking North from State and Washington Streets, before 1868

Lake Michigan — the primary source of fresh water for the city — became polluted from the rapidly growing industries in and around Chicago; a new way of procuring clean water was needed. In 1885 the civil engineer Lyman Edgar Cooley proposed the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. He envisioned a deep waterway that would dilute and divert the city's sewage by funneling water from Lake Michigan into a canal, which would drain into the Mississippi River via the Illinois River. Beyond presenting a solution for Chicago's sewage problem, Cooley's proposal appealed to the economic need to link the Midwest with America's central waterways to compete with East Coast shipping and railroad industries.

Strong regional support for the project led the Illinois legislature to circumvent the federal government and complete the canal with state funding. The opening in January 1900 met with controversy and a lawsuit against Chicago's appropriation of water from Lake Michigan. By the 1920s the lawsuit was divided between the states of the Mississippi River Valley, who supported the development of deep waterways linking the Great Lakes with the Mississippi, and the Great Lakes states, which feared sinking water levels might harm shipping in the lakes. In 1929 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in support of Chicago's use of the canal to promote commerce, but ordered the city to discontinue its use for sewage disposal.[24]

New construction boomed in the 1920s, with notable landmarks such as the Merchandise Mart and art deco Chicago Board of Trade Building completed in 1930. The Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression and diversion of resources into World War II led to the suspension for years of new construction.

The Century of Progress International Exposition was the name of the World's Fair held on the Near South Side lakefront from 1933 to 1934 to celebrate the city's centennial.[25][26] The theme of the fair was technological innovation over the century since Chicago's founding. More than 40 million people visited the fair, which symbolized for many hope for Chicago and the nation, then in the midst of the Great Depression.[27]

Immigration and migration in the 20th century

State Street circa 1907
International Ballooning Contest, Aero Park, Chicago, July 4th, 1908

From 1890-1914 migrations swelled, attracting especially unskilled workers from Eastern and Southern Europe, including Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Greeks, and Italians, and Jews from throughout eastern Europe, mostly from the Russian Empire. World War I cut off immigration from Europe. New immigration legislation in 1924 restricted populations from eastern and southern Europe, apart from refugees after World War II.

During and after both world wars, rural Americans arrived from the South—whites from Appalachia and blacks from the cotton country of the Deep South. The near South Side of the city became the first Black residential area, as it had the oldest, less expensive housing. Although restricted by segregation and competing ethnic groups such as the Irish, gradually continued black migration caused this community to expand, as well as the black neighborhoods on the near West Side. These were de facto segregated areas (few blacks were tolerated in ethnic white neighborhoods); the Irish and ethnic groups who had been longer in the city began to move to outer areas and the suburbs. After World War II, the city built public housing for working-class families to upgrade residential quality. The high-rise design of such public housing proved a problem when industrial jobs left the city and poor families became concentrated in the facilities. After 1950, public housing high rises anchored poor black neighborhoods south and west of the Loop.

"Old stock" Americans who relocated to Chicago after 1900 preferred the outlying areas and suburbs, with their commutes eased by train lines, making Oak Park and Evanston enclaves of the upper middle class. In the 1910s, high-rise luxury apartments were constructed along the lakefront north of the Loop, continuing into the 21st century. They attracted wealthy residents but few families with children, as wealthier families moved to suburbs for the schools. There were problems in the public school system; mostly Catholic students attended schools in the large parochial system, which was of middling quality; and there were few private schools in the city.

The northern and western suburbs developed some of the best public schools in the nation, which were strongly supported by their wealthier residents. The suburban trend accelerated after 1945, with the construction of highways and train lines that made commuting easier. Middle-class Chicagoans headed to the outlying areas of the city, and then into the Cook County and Dupage County suburbs. As ethnic Jews and Irish rose in economic class, they left the city and headed north. Well-educated migrants from around the country moved to the far suburbs.

Chicago's Polonia sustained diverse political cultures in the early twentieth century, each with its own newspaper. In 1920 the community had a choice of five daily papers - from the Socialist Dziennik Ludowy [People's daily] (1907–25) to the Polish Roman Catholic Union's Dziennik Zjednoczenia [Union Daily] (1921–39). They all supported workers' struggles for better working conditions and were part of a broader program of cultural and educational activities. The decision to subscribe to a particular paper reaffirmed a particular ideology or institutional network based on ethnicity and class, which lent itself to different alliances and different strategies.[28]

As the First World War cut off immigration, tens of thousands of African Americans came north in the Great Migration out of the rural South. With new populations competing for limited housing and jobs, especially on the South Side, social tensions rose in the city. Postwar years were more difficult. Black veterans looked for more respect for having served their nation, and some whites resented it.

In 1919 the Chicago Race Riot erupted, in what became known as "Red Summer", when other major cities also suffered mass racial violence based in competition for jobs and housing as the country tried to absorb veterans in the postwar years. Much of the violence against blacks in Chicago was led by members of ethnic Irish athletic clubs, who had much political power in the city and defended their "territory" against African Americans. As was typical in these occurrences, more blacks than whites died in the violence.

Concentrating the family resources to achieve home ownership was a common strategy in the ethnic European neighborhoods. It meant sacrificing current consumption, and pulling children out of school as soon as they could earn a wage. By 1900, working-class ethnic immigrants owned homes at higher rates than native-born people. After borrowing from friends and building associations, immigrants kept boarders, grew market gardens, and opened home-based commercial laundries, eroding home-work distinctions, while sending out women and children to work to repay loans. They sought not middle-class upward mobility but the security of home ownership. Many social workers wanted them to pursue upward job mobility (which required more education), but realtors asserted that houses were better than a bank for a poor man. With hindsight, and considering uninsured banks' precariousness, this appears to have been true. Chicago's workers made immense sacrifices for home ownership, contributing to Chicago's sprawling suburban geography and to modern myths about the American dream. The Jewish community, by contrast, rented apartments and maximized education and upward mobility for the next generation.[29]

Beginning in the 1940s, waves of Hispanic immigrants began to arrive. The largest numbers were from Mexico and Puerto Rico, as well as Cuba during Fidel Castro's rise. During the 1980s, Hispanic immigrants were more likely to be from Central and South America.

After 1965 and the change in US immigration laws, numerous Asian immigrants came; the largest proportion were well-educated Indians and Chinese, who generally settled directly in the suburbs. By the 1970s gentrification began in the city, in some cases with people renovating housing in old inner city neighborhoods, and attracting singles and gays.

Progressive reform era

By 1900, Progressive Era political and legal reformers initiated far-ranging changes in the American criminal justice system, with Chicago taking the lead.

The city became notorious worldwide for its rate of murders in the early 20th century, yet the courts failed to convict the killers. More than three-fourths of cases were not closed. Even when the police made arrests in cases where killers' identities were known, jurors typically exonerated or acquitted them. A blend of gender-, race-, and class-based notions of justice trumped the rule of law, producing low homicide conviction rates during a period of soaring violence.[30]

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, rates of domestic murder tripled in Chicago. Domestic homicide was often a manifestation of strains in gender relations induced by urban and industrial change. At the core of such family murders were male attempts to preserve masculine authority. Yet, there were nuances in the motives for the murder of family members, and study of the patterns of domestic homicide among different ethnic groups reveals basic cultural differences. German male immigrants tended to murder over declining status and the failure to achieve economic prosperity. In addition, they were likely to kill all members of the family, and then commit suicide in the ultimate attempt at maintaining control. Italian men killed family members to save a gender-based ideal of respectability that entailed patriarchal control over women and family reputation. African American men, like the Germans, often murdered in response to economic conditions but not over desperation about the future. Like the Italians, the killers tended to be young, but family honor was not usually at stake. Instead, black men murdered to regain control of wives and lovers who resisted their patriarchal "rights".[31]

Progressive reformers in the business community created the Chicago Crime Commission (CCC) in 1919 after an investigation into a robbery at a factory showed the city's criminal justice system was deficient. The CCC initially served as a watchdog of the justice system. After its suggestion that the city's justice system begin collecting criminal records was rejected, the CCC assumed a more active role in fighting crime. The commission's role expanded further after Frank J. Loesch became president in 1928. Loesch recognized the need to eliminate the glamor that Chicago's media typically attributed to criminals. Determined to expose the violence of the crime world, Loesch drafted a list of "public enemies"; among them was Al Capone, whom he made a scapegoat for widespread social problems.[32]

After the passage of Prohibition, the 1920s brought international notoriety to Chicago. Bootleggers and smugglers bringing in liquor from Canada formed powerful gangs. They competed with each other for lucrative profits, and to evade the police, to bring liquor to speakeasies and private clients. The most notorious was Al Capone.

Labor unions

After 1900 Chicago was a heavily unionized city, apart from the factories (which were non-union until the 1930s). The IWW was founded in Chicago in June 1905 at a convention of 200 socialists, anarchists, and radical trade unionists from all over the United States. The Railroad brotherhoods were strong, as were the crafts unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. The AFL unions operated through the Chicago Federation of Labor to minimize jurisdictional conflicts, which caused many strikes as two unions battled to control a work site.

The unionized teamsters in Chicago enjoyed an unusually strong bargaining position when they contended with employers around the city, or supported another union in a specific strike. Their wagons could easily be positioned to disrupt streetcars and block traffic. In addition, their families and neighborhood supporters often surrounded and attacked the wagons of nonunion teamsters who were strikebreaking. When the teamsters used their clout to engage in sympathy strikes, employers decided to coordinate their antiunion efforts, claiming that the teamsters held too much power over commerce in their control of the streets. The teamsters' strike in 1905 represented a clash both over labor issues and the public nature of the streets. To the employers, the streets were arteries for commerce, while to the teamsters, they remained public spaces integral to their neighborhoods.[33]

Modern era

On December 2, 1942, the world's first controlled nuclear reaction was conducted at the University of Chicago as part of the top secret Manhattan Project.

In 1945, US Steel was Chicago's largest single employer, with 18,000 workers at the company's South Works in the.[34] Within a few decades, massive restructuring in the industry led to the losses of thousands of jobs among the working class.

Starting in the 1950s, in the postwar desire for new and improved housing, aided by new highways and commuter train lines, many upper- and middle-class citizens left the inner-city of Chicago for the suburbs. Changes in industry after 1950, with restructuring of the stockyards and steel industries, led to massive job losses in the city for working-class people. The city population shrank by nearly 700,000, leaving many impoverished neighborhoods. The City Council devised "Plan 21" to improve neighborhoods and focused on creating "Suburbs within the city" near downtown and the lakefront. It built public housing to try to improve housing standards in the city. As a result many poor were uprooted from newly created enclaves of Black, Latino and poor in neighborhoods such as Near North, Wicker Park, Lakeview, Uptown, Cabrini–Green, West Town and Lincoln Park. The passage of civil rights laws in the 1960s also affected Chicago and other northern cities. In the 1960s and 1970s, many middle income Americans left the city for better housing and schools in the suburbs.

Office building resumed in the 1960s. When completed in 1974, the Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower, at 1451 feet was the world's tallest building. It was designed by the famous Chicago firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which designed many of the city's famous buildings.

Picasso sculpture in Chicago, Illinois - the sculptor refused to be paid the $100,000 fee due him and donated it to the people of Chicago


Mayor Richard J. Daley served 1955-76, dominating the city's machine politics by his control of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee, which selected party nominees, who were usually elected in the Democratic stronghold. Daley took credit for building four major expressways focused on the Loop, and city-owned O'Hare Airport (which became the world's busiest airport, displacing Midway Airport's prior claims). Several neighborhoods near downtown and the lakefront were gentrified and transformed into "suburbs within the city."

He held office during the unrest of the 1960s, some provoked by the police department's discriminatory practices. In the Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wicker Park and Humboldt Park communities, the Young Lords marched and held sit ins to protest the displacement of Latinos and the poor. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968, major riots of despair resulted in the burning down of sections of the black neighborhoods of the South and West sides. Protests against the Vietnam War at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, held in Chicago, resulted in street violence, with televised broadcasts of the Chicago police's beating of unarmed protesters.

In 1979 Jane Byrne, the city's first woman mayor, was elected, winning the Democratic primary due to a city-wide outrage about the ineffective snow removal across the city. In 1983, Harold Washington became the first black mayor of Chicago. Richard M. Daley, son of Richard J. Daley, became mayor in 1989, and has been repeatedly reelected because his progressive program has contributed to the economic and environmental health of the city. He sparked debate by demolishing many of the city's vast public housing projects, which had deteriorated and were holding too may poor and dysfunctional families. Concepts for new affordable and public housing have changed to include many new features to make them more viable: smaller scale, environmental designs for public safety, mixed-rate housing, etc. New projects during Daley's administration have been designed to be environmentally sound, more accessible and better for their occupants.

Recent developments

Since the early 1990s, Chicago has seen a turnaround with many revitalized inner city neighborhoods. The city's diversity has grown with new immigrants, with larger percentages of ethnic groups such as Asians, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. In the 1990s, Chicago gained 113,000 new inhabitants. Since the 1920s, the lakefront has been lined with high-rise apartment buildings for middle classes who work in the city.

As a result, the city is increasing in population density, but also achieving improved air quality. The park district, which is committed to the biodiversity recovery plan, is set to restore damaged natural areas of the city as well as creating new ones. Its program has created numerous "greenroofs", rooftop gardens on most flattop skyscrapers, designed to reduce heat gain, aid in air quality and provide insulation. Millennium Park on the lake demonstrates many of the new concepts.

Chicago earned the title of "City of the Year" in 2008 from GQ for contributions in architecture and literature, its world of politics, and the downtown's starring role in the Batman movie The Dark Knight.[35] The city was rated by Moody's as having the most balanced economy in the United States due to its high level of diversification.[36]

Timeline of major events

On December 7, 1903 the "absolutely fireproof," five-week-old Iroquois Theater was engulfed by fire in Chicago. The fire lasted less than thirty minutes; 602 people died as a result of being burned, asphyxiated, or trampled.[37] The S.S. Eastland was a cruise ship based in Chicago and used for tours. On 24 July 1915—a calm, sunny day—the ship was taking on passengers when it rolled over while tied to a dock in the Chicago River. A total of 844 passengers and crew were killed. An investigation found that the Eastland had become top heavy with rescue gear that had been ordered by Congress in the wake of the Titanic disaster.[38]/

On December 1, 1958, the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire occurred in the Humboldt Park area. The fire killed 92 students and three nuns; in response, fire safety improvements were made to public and private schools across the United States.

A major environmental disaster occurred in July 1995, when a week of record high heat and humidity caused 739 heat-related deaths, mostly among isolated elderly poor and others without air conditioning.[39]

See also


  1. ^ McCafferty, Michael (December 21, 2001). "Disc: "Chicago" Etymology". LINGUIST list posting. http://linguistlist.org/issues/12/12-3157.html 
  2. ^ McCafferty, Michael (2003). "A Fresh Look at the Place Name Chicago". Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 95 (2). http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3945/is_200307/ai_n9266765 
  3. ^ Swenson, John F. (1991). "Chicagoua/Chicago: The Origin, Meaning, and Etymology of a Place Name". Illinois Historical Journal 84 (4): 235–248 
  4. ^ Steward, John F. (1903). Lost Maramech and Earliest Chicago. Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company. pp. 23, 26, 54, 68, 152, et al.. http://books.google.com. - In the 17th century, it was a Miami town, a Miami portage, a Miami river (see 1684 map, p. 23)
  5. ^ Garraghan, Gilbert J. (1921). The Catholic Church in Chicago, 1673-1871, p. 13. Loyola University Press.
  6. ^ Charles J. Balesi, The Time of the French in the Heart of North America, 1673-1818. 3rd ed. (2000)
  7. ^ Swenson, John W (1999). "Jean Baptiste Point de Sable—The Founder of Modern Chicago". Early Chicago. Early Chicago, Inc.. http://www.earlychicago.com/essays.php?essay=7. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  8. ^ Pacyga, Dominic A. (2009). Chicago: A Biography. University of Chicago Press. p. 12. ISBN 0226644316. 
  9. ^ a b Lloyd Lewis and Henry Justin Smith, Chicago: The History of Its Reputation, Chicago: 1929; Kessinger Publishing, LLC, reprint 2009, p. 25, accessed 24 Aug 2010
  10. ^ Andreas, Alfred Theodore (1884). "Chicago From 1816 To 1830". History of Chicago. 1. Nabu Press. p. 111. ISBN 1143913965. http://books.google.com/?id=wP0TAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA629&dq=%22Elijah%20Wentworth%22%20wolf%20point&pg=PA629#v=onepage&q=%22Elijah%20Wentworth%22%20wolf%20point. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  11. ^ The first boundaries of the new town were Kinzie, Desplaines, Madison, and State Streets, which included an area of about three-eighths of a square mile (1 km2). See Frank Alfred Randall, John D. Randall, History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago 1999, pp. 57, 88.
  12. ^ "Act of Incorporation for the City of Chicago, 1837". State of Illinois. http://encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/11480.html. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  13. ^ William Cronin, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. (1991)
  14. ^ Annual report of the Commissioner of Railroads made to the Secretary of the Interior for the year ending June 30, 1883, pp. 19–20. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1883.
  15. ^ Paul Johnson, History of the American People, Harper Perennial, U.S.A., 1999, p. 570.
  16. ^ Goebel-Bain, Angela, 2009, "From Humble Beginnings: Lincoln's Illinois 1830-1861," The Living Museum, 71(1&2): 5-25; p. 21
  17. ^ Kurt A. Carlson, "Backing the Boys in the Civil War: Chicago's Home Front Supports the Troops - and Grows in the Process," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring/Summer 2011, Vol. 104 Issue 1/2, pp 140-165
  18. ^ Perry R. Duis, The Saloon: Public Drinking in Chicago and Boston, 1880-1920 (1983)
  19. ^ David Paul Nord, "Read All about It"" Chicago History 2002 31(1): 26-57. Issn: 0272-8540
  20. ^ Chicago History. Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.
  21. ^ Harold M. Mayer, and Richard C. Wade. Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis (1969)
  22. ^ Arthur W. Schultz, "Albert Lasker's Advertising Revolution," Chicago History, Nov 2002, Vol. 31#2 pp 36-53
  23. ^ William Cronon, Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (1991)
  24. ^ Lorien Foote, "Bring the Sea to Us: the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Industrialization of the Midwest, 1885-1929", Journal of Illinois History 1999 2(1): 39-56. Issn: 1522-0532
  25. ^ http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/index_uic_cop.php?CISOROOT=/uic_cop
  26. ^ http://www.cityclicker.net/chicfair/map.html
  27. ^ http://encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/225.html
  28. ^ Jon Bekken, "Negotiating Class and Ethnicity: the Polish-language Press in Chicago", Polish American Studies 2000 57(2): 5-29. Issn: 0032-2806
  29. ^ Elaine Lewinnek, "Better than a Bank for a Poor Man? Home Financing Strategies in Early Chicago." Journal of Urban History 2006 32(2): 274-301. Issn: 0096-1442 Fulltext: Sage; see also Joseph C. Bigott, From Cottage to Bungalow: Houses and the Working Classes in Metropolitan Chicago, 1869-1929 (2001) excerpt and text search
  30. ^ Jeffrey S. Adler, "'It Is His First Offense. We Might as Well Let Him Go': Homicide and Criminal Justice in Chicago, 1875-1920." Journal of Social History 2006 40(1): 5-24. Issn: 0022-4529 Fulltext: History Cooperative and Project Muse
  31. '^ Adler, We've Got a Right to Fight; We're Married': Domestic Homicide in Chicago, 1875-1920, 2003
  32. ^ Bill Barnhart, "Public Enemies: Chicago Origins of Personalized Anticrime Campaigns", Journal of Illinois History 2001 4(4): 258-270. Issn: 1522-0532
  33. ^ David Witwer, "Unionized Teamsters and the Struggle over the Streets of the Early-Twentieth-century City", Social Science History 2000 24(1): 183-222. Issn: 0145-5532 Fulltext: Project Muse
  34. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 22. ISBN 0465041957. 
  35. ^ Konkol, Mark (2008-12-07). "Chicago is GQ's 'City of the Year'". Chicago Sun-Times. Newsbank. http://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:NewsBank:CSTB&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=124EF555CD4078A8&svc_dat=InfoWeb:aggregated5&req_dat=0D0CB579A3BDA420. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  36. ^ Moody's: Chicago's Economy Most Balanced in US (1/23/2003)PDF. Accessed from World Business Chicago.
  37. ^ Anthony P. Hatch, "Inferno at the Iroquois." Chicago History 2003 32(2): 4-31. Issn: 0272-8540
  38. ^ George Hilton, Eastland: Legacy of the Titanic (1997)
  39. ^ Christopher R. Browning; Wallace, Danielle; Feinberg, Seth L.; and Cagney, Kathleen A.; Klinenberg, Eric (Reply). "Neighborhood Social Processes, Physical Conditions, and Disaster-related Mortality: the Case of the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave", American Sociological Review 2006 71(4): 661-678. Issn: 0003-1224

References and further reading

  • Chicago Timeline. Chicago Public Library at www.chipublib.org/004chicago/chihist.html.


the best source to study all aspects of Chicago is James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, and Janice L. Reiff, eds.. The Encyclopedia of Chicago, University of Chicago Press, (2005) ISBN 0-226-31015-9; (online version)


  • Longstreet, Stephen. Chicago: An Intimate Portrait of People, Pleasures, and Power, 1860-1919. (1973). 547 pp. popular
  • Miller, Donald L. City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and the Making of America (1997), popular epic; excerpt and text search
  • Pierce, Bessie Louise. A History of Chicago, Volume I: The Beginning of a City 1673-1848 (1937; reprint 2007); Volume II: From Town to City 1848-1871 (reprint 2007); Volume III: The Rise of a Modern City, 1871-1893 (reprint 2007)
  • Spinney, Robert G. City of Big Shoulders: A History of Chicago (2000), popular epic; excerpt and text search

Geography, region, housing

  • Barrett, Paul. The Automobile and Urban Transit: The Formation of Public Policy in Chicago, 1900-1930. (1983). 295 pp.
  • Betancur, John J. "The Settlement Experience of Latinos in Chicago: Segregation, Speculation, and the Ecology Model." Social Forces 1996 74(4): 1299-1324. Issn: 0037-7732 Fulltext: Jstor
  • Bigott, Joseph C. From Cottage to Bungalow: Houses and the Working Classes in Metropolitan Chicago, 1869-1929 (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Bronsky, Eric, Neal Samors and Jennifer Samors. Downtown Chicago in Transition (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Cronon, William. Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. (1991). 530 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Garb, Margaret. City of American Dreams: A History of Home Ownership and Housing Reform in Chicago, 1871-1919. (2005). 261 pp.
  • Keating, Ann Durkin. Building Chicago: Suburban Developers and the Creation of a Divided Metropolis. (1988). 230 pp.
  • Keating, Ann Durkin. "Chicagoland: More than the Sum of its Parts." Journal of Urban History 2004 30(2): 213-230. Issn: 0096-1442 Fulltext: Ebsco
  • Mayer, Harold M., and Richard C. Wade. Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis (1969) 510pp
  • Pacyga, Dominic A. and Skerrett, Ellen. Chicago: City of Neighborhoods. Histories and Tours. (1986). 582 pp.
  • Randall, Gregory C. America's Original G.I. Town: Park Forest, Illinois. 2000. 236 pp.
  • Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi. American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto, (2002), 360pp, on Robert Taylor Homes, a high rise public housing project with a negative reputation excerpt and text search
  • WPA. Illinois: A Descriptive and Historical Guide (1939)

Pre 1871

  • Fehrenbacher, Don E. Chicago Giant: A Biography of "Long John" Wentworth. (1957). 278 pp. online edition
  • Karamanski, Theodore J. Rally 'Round the Flag: Chicago and the Civil War. (1993). 292 pp.
  • Pierce, Bessie Louise. A History of Chicago, Volume I: The Beginning of a City 1673-1848 (1937; reprint 2007); Volume II: From Town to City 1848-1871 (reprint 2007)
  • Quaife, Milo Milton. Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673-1835. (1913, reprint (2001). 480 pp.


  • Allswang, John. A House For All Peoples: Ethnic Politics In Chicago, 1890-1936. (1973). 213 pp.
  • Barnard, Harry. "Eagle Forgotten": The Life of John Peter Altgeld (1938)
  • Beito, David T. Taxpayers in Revolt: Tax Resistance during the Great Depression. (1989). 216 pp.
  • Biles, Roger. Richard J. Daley: Politics, Race, and the Governing of Chicago. (1995). 292 pp.
  • Biles, Roger. Big City Boss in Depression and War: Mayor Edward J. Kelly of Chicago. (1984). 219 pp.
  • Bukowski, Douglas. Big Bill Thompson, Chicago, and the Politics of Image. (1998). 273 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Cohen, Adam, and Elizabeth Taylor. American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation. (2001). 614pp ISBN 0-316-83489-0 excerpt and text search
  • Flanagan, Maureen A. Charter Reform in Chicago. (1987). 207 pp.
  • Fuchs, Ester R. Mayors and Money: Fiscal Policy in New York and Chicago. (1992). 361 pp.
  • Green, Paul M. and Holli, Melvin G., eds. The Mayors: The Chicago Political Tradition (1995) online edition
  • Green, Paul M. and Holli, Melvin G., eds. Restoration 1989: Chicago Elects a New Daley. (1991). 212 pp.
  • Gosnell, Harold F. Machine Politics: Chicago Model (1937), classic statistical study online edition
  • Guterbock, Thomas M. Machine Politics in Transition: Party and Community in Chicago. (1980). 324 pp.
  • Hartley, Robert E. Big Jim Thompson of Illinois (1979), governor 1980s
  • Hogan, David John. Class and Reform: School and Society in Chicago, 1880-1930. (1985). 328 pp.
  • Kantowicz, Edward R. Polish-American Politics in Chicago, 1888-1940. (1975). 260 pp.
  • Kleppner, Paul. Chicago Divided: The Making of a Black Mayor. (1985). 313 pp.
  • Littlewood, Thomas B. Horner of Illinois (1969), governor 1933-40
  • Merriam, Charles Edward. Chicago: A More Intimate View of Urban Politics (1929) online edition
  • Miller, Kristie. Ruth Hanna Mccormick: A Life in Politics, 1880-1944 (1992)
  • Morton, Richard Allen. Justice and Humanity: Edward F. Dunne, Illinois Progressive (1997), 174pp Democrfatic mayor 1905-7 and governor 1913-17.
  • Peterson, Paul E. The Politics of School Reform, 1870-1940. (1985). 241 pp.
  • Pinderhughes, Dianne M. Race and Ethnicity in Chicago Politics: A Reexamination of Pluralist Theory. (1987). 318 pp.
  • Rivlin, Gary. Fire on the Prairie: Chicago's Harold Washington and the Politics of Race. (1992). 426 pp.
  • Schmidt, John R. "The Mayor Who Cleaned Up Chicago": A Political Biography of William E. Dever. (1989). 239 pp.
  • Schneirov, Richard. Labor and Urban Politics: Class Conflict and the Origins of Modern Liberalism in Chicago, 1864-97. (1998). 390 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Simpson, Dick. Rogues, Rebels, and Rubber Stamps: The Politics of the Chicago City Council from 1863 to the Present (2001) 356pp online edition
  • Smith, Joan K. Ella Flagg Young: Portrait of a Leader. (1979). 272 pp.
  • Tarr, Joel Arthur. A Study in Boss Politics: William Lorimer of Chicago. (1971). 376 pp. online edition
  • Wendt, Lloyd, Herman Kogan, and Bette Jore. Big Bill of Chicago. (2005) ISBN 0-8101-2319-3, popular vio of mayor in 1920s

Crime, law and disaster

  • Adler, Jeffrey S. First in Violence, Deepest in Dirt: Homicide in Chicago, 1875-1920. (2006). 357 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Adler, Jeffrey S. "'We've Got a Right to Fight; We're Married': Domestic Homicide in Chicago, 1875-1920." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2003 34(1): 27-48. Issn: 0022-1953 Fulltext: Project Muse
  • Avrich, Paul. The Haymarket Tragedy (1984) excerpt and text search
  • Bales, Richard F. The Great Chicago Fire and the Myth of Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. (2002). 338 pp.
  • Hilton, George W. Eastland: Legacy of the Titanic. (1995). 364 pp. The cruise ship capsized at its pier on a calm day in 1915, killing over 800 passengers. It was topheavy because of new federal laws (passed in response to the Titanic) requiring lifboats.
  • Brandt, Nat. Chicago Death Trap: The Iroquois Theatre Fire of 1903. (2003). 180 pp.
  • Bruno, Robert. Reforming the Chicago Teamsters: The Story of Local 705. (2003). 203 pp.
  • Cahan, Richard. A Court that Shaped America: Chicago's Federal District Court from Abe Lincoln to Abbie Hoffman. (2002). 273 pp.
  • Chicago Commission on Race Relations. The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot (1922) - 672 pages; full text online
  • Cohen, Andrew Wender. The Racketeer's Progress: Chicago and the Struggle for the Modern American Economy, 1900-1940. (2004). 333 pp.
  • Getis, Victoria. The Juvenile Court and the Progressives. (2000). 216 pp.
  • Farber, David. Chicago '68. (1988). 304 pp.
  • Heinz, John P. and Laumann, Edward O. Chicago Lawyers: The Social Structure of the Bar. (1983). 496 pp.
  • Higdon, Hal. Leopold and Loeb: The Crime of the Century. (1975). 380 pp.
  • Hoffman, Dennis E. Scarface Al and the Crime Crusaders: Chicago's Private War against Capone. (1993). 192 pp.
  • Lindberg, Richard Carl. To Serve and Collect: Chicago Politics and Police Corruption from the Lager Beer Riot to the Summerdale Scandal: 1855-1960. 1991. ISBN 0-275-93415-2 online edition
  • Merriner, James L. Grafters and Goo Goos: Corruption and Reform in Chicago, 1833-(2003). (2004). 302 pp. online edition
  • Miller, Ross. The Great Chicago Fire (2000); 1st ed was American Apocalypse: The Great Chicago Fire and the Myth of Chicago 287 pp.
  • Mumford, Kevin J. Interzones: Black/White Sex Districts in Chicago and New York in the Early Twentieth Century. (1997). 238 pp.
  • Sawislak, Karen. Smoldering City: Chicagoans and the Great Fire, 1871-1874. (1995). 408 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Tuttle, William M., Jr. Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919. (1970). 305 pp.
  • Wendt, Lloyd, and Herman Kogan. Lords of the Levee. (1967), popular stories from early 20th century.
  • Willrich, Michael. City of Courts: Socializing Justice in Progressive Era Chicago. (2003). 332 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Wolcott, David B. Cops and Kids: Policing Juvenile Delinquency in Urban America, 1890-1940. (2005). 264 pp.


  • Bae, Youngsoo. Labor in Retreat: Class and Community among Men's Clothing Workers of Chicago, 1871-1929. (2001). 295 pp.
  • Barrett, James. Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago's Packinghouse Workers, 1894—1922 (1987), excerpt and text search
  • Cohen, Lizabeth. Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939. (1990). 526 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Cummings, John. "The Chicago Teamsters' Strike: A study in industrial democracy." Journal of Political Economy (1905) 13: 536-73. in jstor
  • Fine, Lisa M. The Souls of the Skyscraper: Female Clerical Workers in Chicago, 1870-1930. (1990). 249 pp.
  • Green, James. Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America. (2006). 383 pp.
  • Halpern, Rick. Down on the Killing Floor: Black and White Workers in Chicago's Packinghouses, 1904-1954. (1997). 309 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Meyerowitz, Joanne J. Women Adrift: Independent Wage Earners in Chicago, 1880-1930. (1988). 224 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Newell, Barbara Wayne. Chicago and the Labor Movement: Metropolitan Unionism in the 1930s (1961)
  • Papke, David Ray. The Pullman Case: The Clash of Labor and Capital in Industrial America. (1999). 118 pp. legal aspects
  • Schneirov, Richard; Stromquist, Shelton; and Salvatore, Nick, eds. The Pullman Strike and the Crisis of the 1890s: Essays on Labor and Politics. (1999). 258 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Schneirov, Richard and Suhrbur, Thomas J. Union Brotherhood, Union Town: A History of the Carpenters' Union of Chicago, 1863-1987. (1988). 211 pp.

Business and economics

  • Ascoli, Peter Max. Julius Rosenwald: The Man Who Built Sears, Roebuck and Advanced the Cause of Black Education in the American South (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Emmet, Boris, and John E. Jeuck. Catalogues and Counters: A History of Sears, Roebuck & Company (1965), the standard corporate history
  • Ferris, William G. The Grain Traders: The Story of the Chicago Board of Trade. (1988). 221 pp.
  • Franch, John. Robber Baron: The Life of Charles Tyson Yerkes. (2006). 374 pp.
  • McDonald, Forrest. Insull: The Rise and Fall of a Billionaire Utility Tycoon (2004)
  • Rast, Joel. Remaking Chicago: The Political Origins of Urban Industrial Change. (1999). 220 pp. redevelopment of area near downtown
  • Smith, Raymond D., and William P. Darrow. "Strategic Management and Entrepreneurial Opportunity: The Rise of Sears, Inc.," Journal of Business & Entrepreneurship (1999) 11#1
  • Young, David M. The Iron Horse and the Windy City: How Railroads Shaped Chicago. (2005). 270 pp. popular
  • Young, David M. Chicago Aviation: An Illustrated History. (2003). 254 pp. popular
  • Young, David M. Chicago Transit: An Illustrated History. (1998). 213 pp. popular


  • Cain, Louis P. Sanitation Strategy for a Lakefront Metropolis: The Case of Chicago. (1978). 141 pp.
  • Capano, Daniel E. "Chicago's War with Water." American Heritage of Invention & Technology 2003 18(4): 50-58. Issn: 8756-7296 full text online
  • O'Connell, James C. Chicago's Quest for Pure Water. (1976).
  • Pellow, David Naguib. Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago. (2002). 234 pp.
  • Platt, Harold L. Shock Cities: The Environmental Transformation and Reform of Manchester and Chicago. (2005). 628 pp.
  • Platt, Harold L. The Electric City: Energy and the Growth of the Chicago Area, 1880-1930. (1991). 318 pp. excerpt and text search

High culture, architecture, science

  • Bolotin, Norman and Laing, Christine. The World's Columbian Exposition: The Chicago World's Fair of 1893. (1992). 166 pp.
  • Bonner, Thomas Neville. Medicine in Chicago, 1850-1950: A Chapter in the Social and Scientific Development of a City. ( 1957, 2d ed. 1991). 335 pp.
  • Bruegmann, Robert. The Architects and the City: Holabird & Roche of Chicago, 1880-1918. (1997). 544 pp.
  • Cappetti, Carla. Writing Chicago: Modernism, Ethnography, and the Novel. (1993). 274 pp.
  • Christiansen, Richard. A Theater of Our Own: A History and a Memoir of 1,001 Nights in Chicago. (2004). 317 pp.
  • Clarke, Jane H.; Saliga, Pauline A.; and Zukowsky, John. The Sky's the Limit: A Century of Chicago Skyscrapers. (1990). 304 pp.
  • Condit, Carl W. Chicago, 1910-29: Building, Planning, and Urban Technology. (1973). 354 pp.
  • Condit, Carl W. Chicago, 1930-70: Building, Planning, and Urban Technology. (1974). 351 pp.
  • Garvey, Timothy J. Public Sculptor: Lorado Taft and the Beautification of Chicago. (1988). 222 pp.
  • Gray, Mary Lackritz. A Guide to Chicago's Murals. (2001). 488 pp.
  • Greenhouse, Wendy and Weininger, Susan. Chicago Painting 1895-1945: The Bridges Collection. (2004). 251 pp.
  • Hallwas, John E. ed., Illinois Literature: The Nineteenth Century (1986)
  • Harris, Neil. Chicago Apartments: A Century of Lakefront Luxury. (2004). 352 pp.
  • Hines, Thomas S. Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner. (1974). 445 pp.
  • Longstreth, Richard, ed. The Charnley House: Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Making of Chicago's Gold Coast. (2004). 249 pp.
  • Lowe, David Garrard. Lost Chicago (2000), architectural landmarks that were torn down. excerpt and text search
  • McCarthy, Kathleen D. Noblesse Oblige: Charity and Cultural Philanthropy in Chicago, 1849-1929. (1982). 230 pp.
  • Moudry, Roberta, ed. The American Skyscraper: Cultural Histories. (2005). 281 pp.
  • Saum, Lewis O. Eugene Field and His Age. (2001). 324 pp.
  • Schaffer, Kristen. Daniel H. Burnham: Visionary Architect and Planner. (2003). 223 pp.
  • Siry, Joseph M. The Chicago Auditorium Building: Adler and Sullivan's Architecture and the City. (2002). 550 pp.
  • Siry, Joseph. Carson Pirie Scott: Louis Sullivan and the Chicago Department Store. (1989). 290 pp.
  • Waldheim, Charles and Ray, Katerina Rüedi, eds. Chicago Architecture: Histories, Revisions, Alternatives. (2005). 488 pp.
  • Wright, Gwendolyn. Moralism and the Model Home: Domestic Architecture and Cultural Conflict in Chicago, 1873-1913. (1980). 382 pp.
  • Zukowsky, John, ed. Chicago Architecture and Design, 1923-1993: Reconfiguration of an American Metropolis. (1993). 479 pp.

Black Chicago

  • Best, Wallace D. Passionately Human, No Less Divine: Religion and Culture in Black Chicago, 1915-1952. (2005). 251 pp.
  • Black, Timuel D., Jr. Bridges of Memory: Chicago's First Wave of Black Migration. (2003). 600 pp.
  • Blakely, Robert J. Earl B. Dickerson: A Voice for Freedom and Equality. (2006). 270 pp.
  • Chicago Commission on Race Relations. The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot (1922) - 672 pages; full text online
  • Drake, St. Clair, and Horace R. Cayton. Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (4th ed. 1945), classic sociological study
  • Grimshaw, William J. Bitter Fruit: Black Politics and the Chicago Machine, 1931-1991. (1992). 248 pp.
  • Grossman, James R. Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration. (1989). 384 pp.
  • Hirsch, Arnold R. Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-60. (1983). 362 pp.
  • Knupfer, Anne Meis. The Chicago Black Renaissance and Women's Activism. (2006). 244 pp.
  • Lemann, Nicholas. The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America. (1991). 401 pp.
  • Philpott, Thomas Lee. The Slum and the Ghetto: Immigrants, Blacks, and Reformers in Chicago, 1880-1930. (1978). 437 pp.
  • Pinderhughes, Dianne M. Race and Ethnicity in Chicago Politics: A Reexamination of Pluralist Theory. (1987). 318 pp.
  • Reed, Christopher Robert. Black Chicago's First Century. Vol. 1: 1833-1900. (2005). 582 pp.
  • Reed, Christopher Robert. The Chicago NAACP and the Rise of Black Professional Leadership, 1910-1966. (1997). 257 pp. online edition
  • Rivlin, Gary. Fire on the Prairie: Chicago's Harold Washington and the Politics of Race. (1992). 426 pp.
  • Spear, Allan. Black Chicago: The Making of a Negro Ghetto, 1890—1920 (1967),
  • Strickland, Arvarh E. History of the Chicago Urban League. (1966, 2nd ed. (2001). 286 pp.
  • Tuttle, William M., Jr. Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919. (1970). 305 pp.
  • Venkatesh, Sudhir Alladi. American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto, (2002), 360pp, on Robert Taylor Homes, a high rise public housing project with a negative reputation excerpt and text search
  • Wellman, James K., Jr. The Gold Coast Church and the Ghetto: Christ and Culture in Mainline Protestantism. (1999). 241 pp.

Social, religious, and ethnic

  • Anderson, Philip J. and Blanck, Dag, eds. Swedish-American Life in Chicago: Cultural and Urban Aspects of an Immigrant People, 1850-1930. (1992). 394 pp.
  • Avella, Steven M. This Confident Church: Catholic Leadership and Life in Chicago, 1940-1965. (1992). 410 pp.
  • Barrett, James. Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago's Packinghouse Workers, 1894—1922 (1987), excerpt and text search
  • Beijbom, Ulf. Swedes in Chicago: A Demographic and Social Study of the 1846-1880 Immigration. (1971). 381 pp
  • Betancur, John J. "The Settlement Experience of Latinos in Chicago: Segregation, Speculation, and the Ecology Model." Social Forces 1996 74(4): 1299-1324. Issn: 0037-7732 Fulltext: Jstor
  • Bowly Jr., Devereux The Poorhouse: Subsidized Housing in Chicago, 1895-1976 (1978) Bowly Jr.&dcontributors=Devereux+Bowly+Jr. online edition
  • Candeloro, Dominic. Italians in Chicago. (1999). 128 pp.
  • Cutler, Irving. The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb. (1996). 316 pp.
  • Dahm, Charles and Ghelardi, Robert. Power and Authority in the Catholic Church: Cardinal Cody in Chicago. (1982). 334 pp.
  • DeGenova, Nicholas. Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and "Illegality" in Mexican Chicago. (2005). 329 pp.
  • Duis, Perry R. Challenging Chicago: Coping with Everyday Life, 1837-1920. (1998). 430 pp. online review
  • Duis, Perry R. The Saloon: Public Drinking in Chicago and Boston, 1880-1920 (1983).
  • Erdmans, Mary Patrice. Opposite Poles: Immigrants and Ethnics in Polish Chicago, 1976-1990. (1998). 267 pp.
  • Fuerst, J. S. and Hunt, D. Bradford, eds. When Public Housing Was Paradise: Building Community in Chicago. (2003) 228 pp.
  • Green, Paul M., and Melvin G. Holli. Chicago, World War II (2003) excerpt and text search
  • Greene, Victor. For God and Country: The Rise of Polish and Lithuanian Ethnic Consciousness in America, 1860-1910. (1975). 202 pp.
  • Guglielmo, Thomas A. White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945. (2003). 296 pp. online edition
  • Harden, Jacalyn D. Double Cross: Japanese Americans in Black and White Chicago. (2003). 232 pp.
  • Holli, Melvin G. and Jones, Peter d'A., eds. Ethnic Chicago: A Multicultural Portrait. (4th ed. 1995). 648 pp. essays by scholars on each major ethnic group
  • Hoy, Suellen. Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters in Chicago's Past. (2006). 242 pp.
  • Jaher, Frederic Cople. The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. (1982). 777 pp.
  • Kantowicz, Edward R. Corporation Sole: Cardinal Mundelein and Chicago Catholicism. (1983). 295 pp.
  • Keil, Hartmut, ed. German Workers' Culture in the United States, 1850 to 1920. (1988). 330 pp.
  • Keil, Hartmut and Jentz, John B., eds. German Workers in Industrial Chicago, 1850-1910: A Comparative Perspective. (1983). 252 pp.
  • Lovoll, Odd S. A Century of Urban Life: The Norwegians in Chicago before 1930. (1988). 367 pp.
  • McCaffrey, Lawrence J.; Skerrett, Ellen; Funchion, Michael F.; and Fanning, Charles. The Irish in Chicago. (1987). 171 pp.
  • Nelli, Humbert S. The Italians in Chicago: A Study in Ethnic Mobility, 1880-1930. (1970). 300 pp.
  • Pacyga, Dominic A. Polish Immigrants and Industrial Chicago: Workers on the South Side, 1880-1920. (1991). 322 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Padilla, Felix M. Puerto Rican Chicago. (1987). 277 pp.
  • Parot, Joseph John. Polish Catholics in Chicago, 1850-1920: A Religious History. (1982) 298 pp.
  • Philpott, Thomas Lee. The Slum and the Ghetto: Immigrants, Blacks, and Reformers in Chicago, 1880-1930. (1978). 437 pp.
  • Posadas, Barbara M. "Crossed Boundaries in Interracial Chicago: Filipino American Families since 1925," in Unequal Sisters: A Multi-Cultural Reader in U.S. Women's History, ed. Vicki L. Ruiz and Ellen Carol DuBois (1994), 319+.
  • Rangaswamy, Padma. Namasté America: Indian Immigrants in an American Metropolis. 2000. 366 pp.
  • Robertson, Darrel M. The Chicago Revival, 1876: Society and Revivalism in a Nineteenth-Century City. (1989). 225 pp.
  • Sanders, James W. The Education of an Urban Minority: Catholics in Chicago, 1833-1965. (1977). 278 pp.
  • Shanabruch, Charles. Chicago's Catholics: The Evolution of an American Identity. (1981). 296 pp.
  • Shaw, Stephen J. The Catholic Parish as a Way-Station of Ethnicity and Americanization: Chicago's Germans and Italians, 1903-1939.(1991). 206 pp.
  • Swierenga, Robert P. Dutch Chicago: A History of the Hollanders in the Windy City. (2002). 825 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Tischauser, Leslie V. The Burden of Ethnicity: The German Question in Chicago, 1914-1941. (1990). 282 pp.
  • Tuttle, William M., Jr. Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919. (1970). 305 pp.
  • Wade, Louise Carroll. Chicago's Pride: The Stockyards, Packingtown, and Environs in the Nineteenth Century. (1987). 423 pp.
  • Walch, Timothy. The Diverse Origins of American Catholic Education: Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Nation. (1988). 235 pp.
  • Wellman, James K., Jr. The Gold Coast Church and the Ghetto: Christ and Culture in Mainline Protestantism. (1999). 241 pp.

Sports, entertainment, music, newspapers

  • Heap, Chad. Slumming: Sexual and Racial Encounters in American Nightlife, 1885-1940. (2009). 432 pp.
  • Kenney, William Howland. Chicago Jazz: A Cultural History, 1904-1930. (1993). 233 pp.
  • Kinsley, Philip. The Chicago Tribune: Its First Hundred Years (1943) online edition
  • Sengstock, Charles A., Jr. That Toddlin' Town: Chicago's White Dance Bands and Orchestras, 1900-1950. (2004). 244 pp.
  • Smith, Richard Norton. The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, 1880-1955. (1997). 597 pp.
  • Spirou, Costas and Bennett, Larry. It's Hardly Sportin': Stadiums, Neighborhoods, and the New Chicago. (2003). 212 pp.
  • Vaillant, Derek. Sounds of Reform: Progressivism & Music in Chicago, 1873-1935. (2003). 401 pp.
  • Ziemba, Joe. When Football Was Football: The Chicago Cardinals and the Birth of the NFL. (1999). 408 pp.

Reputation, images, visions, planning

  • Fairfield, John D. The Mysteries of the Great City: The Politics of Urban Design, 1877-1937. (1993). 320 pp.
  • Flanagan, Maureen A. Seeing with Their Hearts: Chicago Women and the Vision of the Good City, 1871-1933. (2002). 319 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Hines, Thomas S. Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner. (1974). 445 pp.
  • Miller, Ross. American Apocalypse: The Great Fire and the Myth of Chicago. 1990. 287 pp.
  • Ciccone, F. Richard Royko: A Life in Print (2001) online edition
  • Smith, Carl S. Chicago and the American Literary Imagination, 1880-1920. (1984). 232 pp.
  • Spears, Timothy B. Chicago Dreaming: Midwesterners and the City, 1871-1919. (2005). 322 pp.
  • Williams, Kenny J. A Storyteller and a City: Sherwood Anderson's Chicago. (1988). 314 pp.
  • Williams, Kenny J. and Duffy, Bernard, eds. Chicago's Public Wits: A Chapter in the American Comic Spirit. (1983). 289 pp.
  • Williams, Kenny J. Prairie Voices: A Literary History of Chicago from the Frontier to 1893. (1980). 529 pp.

Primary sources

  • Byrne, Jane. My Chicago. (1992), mayor in 1980s
  • Despres, Leon M. and Heise, Kenan. Challenging the Daley Machine: A Chicago Alderman's Memoir. (2005). 168 pp.
  • Fanning, Charles, ed. Mr. Dooley and the Chicago Irish: An Anthology. (1976).
  • Keil, Hartmut and Jentz, John B., eds. German Workers in Chicago: A Documentary History of Working-Class Culture from 1850 to World War I. (1988). 427 pp.
  • Pierce, Bessue Louise, ed. As Others See Chicago: Impressions of Visitors, 1673-1933. (1937, reprinted 2004). 548 pp
  • Royko, Mike. For the Love of Mike: More of the Best of Mike Royko. (2001). 270 pp.
  • Sandburg, Carl. Chicago Poems (1916) online edition
  • Thomas, William, and Florian Znaniecki. The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. 2 vol 1920, ISBN 0252010922 (1984 printing). ; famous classic online edition

External links

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