The Windy City’s Rich History

One of the most famous cities in the United States is definitely, Chicago.  This popular city boasts a phenomenal food scene, vibrant museums and distinctive architecture, just to name a few of the highlights.  For groups, CHI town offers extensive airlift, the largest convention center in North America (McCormick Centre) and legendary sporting stadiums that will surely leave lasting impressions.

How did Chicago turn into the economic and tourism powerhouse it is today? For that, we take a look back in time to 1830 when the city was first founded.  The water resources of the region attracted settlers and they quickly established Chicago as a water transit hub, and major grain distributor sending wheat to other parts of the country.  By 1854, Chicago was home to 30,000 residents and was well known for manufacturing a variety of goods.

The great fire that forever changed Chicago ignited in October, 1871, and there are numerous theories to this day about how the fire started.  One version suggests a resident, Ms. O’Leary was milking her cow in the family barn and the cow kicked over a lantern nearby causing the fire to start and wipe out a third of the city.  Others believe it was simply high winds, dry conditions and a spark from a chimney top.  Whatever the case, the city was incredibly resilient and quickly rebuilt.

The economic opportunities the city presented attracted many individuals including gangsters that controlled liquor bootlegging during prohibition and gambling houses, creating powerful organized crime groups. The notorious Al Capone took Chicago by storm and became America’s most prolific crime boss in the 1920’s.  The nickname “Scarface” was given to Al Capone after an unfortunate incident at a Coney Island Bar, where he was struck in the face, ultimately leaving scars.  The Mob scene in Chicago carried on even after the death of Capone in 1947.  Today groups can participate in Gangster Tours that showcase the hangout’s and tales of the untouchable man.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic Society 

Referred to sometimes, as the “Windy City”, Chicago came by that nickname, given by outside journalists, in the early 1900’s  and in reality, it is not related to the wind that blows off beautiful lake Michigan, it refers to the years of loud, proud and aggressive politicians that controlled the city.  Chicago will always be known as a first class big city with a friendly vibe, an architectural wonder and a place that provides a lot of interesting history.

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Photo courtesy of The Irish Times

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