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CHICAGO I

Website Review   by:MAHIDHARSINGH    
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CHICAGO IS THE THIRD LARGEST CITY IN THE UNITED STATES, AFTER NEW YORK CITY AND LOS ANGELES. IT LIES IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, AT THE MOUTH OF THE CHICAGO RIVER, AND STRETCHES MORE THAN 40 KM (25 MILES) ALONG THE SOUTHWESTERN SHORELINE OF LAKE MICHIGAN. CHICAGO HAS GROWN RAPIDLY SINCE THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY, WHEN IT WAS NO MORE THAN A TRADING POST OF A FEW HOUSES GROUPED ABOUT FORT DEARBORN. AT THAT TIME NEW YORK WAS ALREADY ESTABLISHED AS THE LEADING CITY OF THE UNITED STATES. CHICAGO’S POPULATION IS ABOUT 3,000,000 AND THE CITY HAS BECOME THE CENTRE OF A GREAT INDUSTRIAL REGION WHERE ABOUT 7 MILLION PEOPLE LIVE AND WORK. ABOUT 40 PERCENT OF THE POPULATION ARE BLACK. THERE ARE MANY OTHER ETHNIC MINORITY GROUPS; IT IS SAID THAT CHICAGO HAS THE LARGEST POLISH-SPEAKING POPULATION OUTSIDE WARSAW (IN POLAND). CHICAGO IS NOT THE STATE CAPITAL, WHICH IS SPRINGFIELD, IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. CHICAGO’S GROWTH IS MAINLY DUE TO ITS OUTSTANDING GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION. ON THE LAKESIDE EDGE OF THE RICH PRAIRIE LANDS OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY, IT IS A NATURAL MEETING PLACE FOR LAKE SHIPPING AND CONTINENTAL RAILWAYS. THE ORIGINAL INDIAN VILLAGE OF CHECAGOU (PROBABLY MEANING “WILD ONION” OR “POWERFUL”) WAS THE MEETING PLACE OF MANY INDIAN TRAILS. WHITE SETTLERS BROUGHT FUR-TRADING, AND AS THE FARMS AND CATTLE RANCHES TO THE WEST GREW PROSPEROUS, CHICAGO BECAME THE PORT THROUGH WHICH THEIR PRODUCE POURED EASTWARDS IN RETURN FOR MANUFACTURED GOODS. CHICAGO’S CLIMATE IS HOT AND HUMID IN SUMMER AND COLD AND WINDY IN WINTER, AND THE WEATHER CAN CHANGE DRAMATICALLY IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. NEAR THE LAKE IT IS USUALLY SLIGHTLY COOLER IN SUMMER AND LESS COLD IN WINTER THAN FURTHER INLAND, AND THE STRONG WINDS THAT CAN BLOW FROM THE LAKE HAVE GIVEN CHICAGO THE NICKNAME “THE WINDY CITY”.
IN 1784 A SANTO DOMINGAN BLACK, JEAN BAPTISTE POINTE DU SABLE, ESTABLISHED A TRADING POST WHERE CHICAGO NOW STANDS AND BECAME THE AREA’S FIRST PERMANENT NON-INDIAN RESIDENT. IN 1804 A CANADIAN, JOHN KINZIE, DEVELOPED THE FIRST VILLAGE THERE. IN 1812 FORT DEARBORN, BUILT BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT THE SETTLEMENT, WAS EVACUATED BECAUSE OF AN INDIAN ATTACK. ALL BUT ONE OF THE FLEEING SETTLERS AND SOLDIERS WERE MASSACRED AND THE FORT DESTROYED. IN 1816 A SECOND FORT WAS BEGUN, AND BY 1833 CHICAGO WAS A TOWN OF ABOUT 350 INHABITANTS. IN 1837 IT WAS GIVEN THE STATUS “CITY”. HOWEVER THE SITE OF CHICAGO WAS MARSHY AND OPEN TO FLOODS. THE MUD OF THE STREETS HAMPERED TRAFFIC AND DISEASE POSED A THREAT TO PEOPLE’S HEALTH. IN THE MID-19TH CENTURY A NEW GROUND LEVEL WAS CREATED 3 METRES (10 FEET) ABOVE THE OLD LEVEL BY FILLING IN THE SWAMP LANDS. A FEW YEARS LATER ENGINEERS PRESERVED THE LAKE AS A SUPPLY OF DRINKING WATER FOR THE CITY BY RESERVING THE FLOW OF THE CHICAGO RIVER SO THAT IT CARRIED SEWAGE AWAY FROM THE LAKE AND THE CITY. THE IMPROVED CHICAGO SANITARY AND SHIP CANAL, WITH THE ILLINOIS RIVER, LINKS THE GREAT LAKES AND THE MISSISSIPPI. SHIPS FROM THE ATLANTIC OCEAN REACH CHICAGO BY THE ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY AND THE GREAT LAKES.
Published: July 16, 2006   
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