The history of Chicago, really makes this interesting city come to life. I love this city there are so many fun and interesting things to do, day or night the fun is endless.
You may be wondering just where all this came from and how did this thriving metropolis become such an epicenter of so much business and pleasure.
The name: Well let’s first take a look at the name, Chicago this was an Indian word used by the Miami and Illinois people that actually means “striped skunk.” It’s also the name they used when referring to a type of onion called a leek. In other words, early on before the city was built the land didn’t smell very good. You’d never know now, it’s one of the cleanest big cities I’ve ever seen.
Also the nickname the Windy city wasn’t derived from the weather, although it can become very windy at times. No, the name came because Chicago’s politicians were known for being full of hot air, or wind; thus the nickname the Windy City.
Early History of Chicago:
Native Americans inhabited the land in1673 when a Jesuit Missionary Father Jacques Marquette, and an explorer and mapmaker from Canada stated that they “discovered” it.
Then in 1779, Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable, a Haitian man built the first permanent settlement right by the current Michigan Avenue bridge on the north bank of the Chicago River. Although some believe this wasn’t until the mid-1780s.
1802 Chicago started out as Fort Dearborn for US Federal troops; the fort was named for President Jefferson’s Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn.
1833 The town was officiated as the town of Chicago. 1837 There were about 4000 people living in Chicago when it became a city, with William B Odgen as the first mayor. He also established the first railroad, the Chicago North & North Western Railway. Additionally, he helped with the first transcontinental railway.
1848 The Chicago Board of Trade opened with 82 local businesses, one founder John Chapin of New England, was a meatpacker who later became Mayor of Chicago. And the first telegraph connection between New York and Chicago was established.
1851 Chicago’s first university, Northwestern University was founded. This is a very prominent university even today.
1855 Enter the first Chicago police department, while Mayor Dr. Levi Boone was in office. More Interesting facts about Chicago, the Lager Beer Riot took place between the Germans, Irish, crowds and the Police and Militia.
1860 King Edward VIII, still Prince of Whales, graced Chicago with his presence becoming the first Royal Visitor.
1861 Interesting facts about the history of Chicago and its police force. Exit the Chicago police force, all of whom were fired by Mayor John Wentworth as his term in office came to a close. While the city scrambled to come up with replacements the City was without a police force for about 12 hours.
1867 The Water Tower Place construction started, designed by W.W. Boyington.
More interesting tidbits on the history of Chicago: The Water Tower building is the only building that survived the Chicago fire and is still standing.
1871 The Great Chicago Fire, wiped out 18,000, buildings, killed about 300 people, and annihilated 3.5 square miles.
Here are some little known facts about the history of Chicago and what all the fire affected: The sparks from this fire were carried via wind to Michigan and Wisconsin causing enormous forest fires, and burning more than a million acres.
Also the effects of the fire were almost completely erased within about a year after the fire thanks to the generosity of nations around the world who sent support and supplies to rebuild Chicago. Can you believe it? All that damage has gone in about a year! That’s incredible!
1879 The Chicago Art Institute was founded; some call it the Chicago Art Museum.
1885 The first skyscraper was built, the 10 story Home Insurance Company Building made of an Iron frame.
1886 The not so happy history of Chicago includes labor conflicts resulted in a strike, where Chicago Police fired into the striking crowd, killing 4 and wounding many others.
A few days later Knights of Labor held a peaceful rally in Haymarket Square to protest the shooting. But someone decided to throw a bomb at the 60 policemen, killing one instantly and 6 more died from their injuries later. This is where May Day comes from, and what eventually lead to Memorial Day at the end of May.
1889 The Chicago Auditorium opened and President Harrison was in the audience. The Hull House opened, to help the poor of Chicago.
1891 The first interracial hospital was established, Chicago’s Provident Hospital. This is the same hospital where the black founder Daniel Hale Williams, performed the first open-heart surgery.
1893 The first policewoman, Marie Owens was hired.
The Field Museum was started, by Marshall Field
Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair) was hosted in what is now Jackson Park. 2.5 million people came and it’s considered the worlds most influential fair.
Check out these interesting facts about the history of Chicago and how the World Fair still impacts us today:
I bet you’ll find a few of these things even in your own kitchen cabinet.
• Aunt Jemima’s Syrup
• Cracker Jacks
• Cream of Wheat
• Diet soda
• Juicy Fruit Gum
• Pabst Beer
• Shredded Wheat
• The idea of a carnival was birthed
• Hamburgers landed in the US to stay
• The first unique stamp set
• First picture postcards from the postal service
• First Minting of coins for collection, the quarter, half-dollar, and dollar
• Ferris Wheel, created by George Ferris for the Fair
Mayor Carter Harrison was assassinated, on the last day of the fair
1894 The Chicago Art Institute Lions were designed, by Edward L. Kenrys The first modern amusement park was born, called Paul Boyton’s Water Chute, opened on July 4th
1900’s through 2000’s history of Chicago:
1900 The Chicago River water flow was reversed to help with the city sewer system and disease in the city.
1901 Walt Disney was born to a cottage now preserved in his honor at 22156 N Tripp Ave.
1916 Chicago Navy Pier Opened
1922 Louis Armstrong helped usher in the Jazz Age with his band the “King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band” that played in Chicago. The 1920’s are when the mobster activity really skyrocketed, with gangsters like Al Capone, and the Prohibition that started in Evanston Illinois.
1924 Completion of the Wrigley building
1925 Tribune Tower was completed, this special building’s entrance has stone from other well known landmarks such as West Minister Abbey, Cologne Cathedral, the Alamo the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid and the Arc de Triomphe.
1927 Mid Way Airport was built, originally called Chicago Municipal Airport. Until 1959 this airport was the busiest in the world.
The largest fountain in the world began construction, the Buckingham fountain.
1929 Gangster activity was at an all-time high with the St. Valentines day massacre, over Prohibition and rival mob gangs fight for territory.
1930 Adler Planetarium opened
1931 Al Capone sentenced to 11 years in jail for tax evasion.
1933 Mayor Anton Cermak was killed by gunfire while riding with President-elect Roosevelt.
Museum of Science and Industry was started.
The first All Star Game was played.
1941 Enter the release of the first controlled atomic nuclear reaction.
1946 Air-conditioning was added to buildings beginning with the Wrigley Building.
1949 Chicago O’Hare Airport was established, originally called the Orchard Place, later named O’Hare in honor of Lieutenant Commander Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, who shot down 5 Japanese bombers and injuring a 6th. He passed away in 1943.
1953 Hugh Hefner produced the first “Playboy” from Chicago
The first black Cubs player signed a contract
1959 Second City, the comedy club, and training school opened
1968 Bloody Democratic Party Convention, a confrontation between Police and demonstrators protesting US military involvement in Southeast Asia, these are definitely part of the sad history of Chicago.
1969 John Hancock Building was built
1971 Woodfield mall was built in the Chicago Suburbs.
1971 Sears Tower opened (Willis Tower) all 110 stories of it.
1978 John Wayne Gacy was arrested for murdering 33 victims
1979 Chicago’s first woman mayor Jane M. Byrne, came into office.
1980 The Taste of Chicago was established.
1983 Chicago’s first Black Mayor Harold Washington came into office.
1992 The Great Chicago Flood, where the Chicago River flowed out of a crack in the river and flooded the city with 124 million gallons.
1997 Sue the Field Museum’s T-Rex was purchased
2006 Marshall Field’s store which was a prominent store in Chicago was changed to Macy’s, much to the chagrin of Many Chicagoans.
This is a brief history of Chicago. It really does have quite a fascinating history!