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The History of Chicago, Illinois

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.



Fort Dearborn

The same glaciers that carved out the Great Lakes many moons ago also cleft the Midwest United States into two drainage basins. One supplies the Great Lakes, and the other feeds the Mississippi River.

In 1673, French explorers discovered a portage between the two water systems that spanned a width of only 2 ½ miles, whereby the Atlantic Ocean, through the Great Lakes and into the Chicago River, could be linked to the Gulf of Mexico, through the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers into the mighty Mississippi.

The Indians called this place Chicago, meaning “onion swamp.”

A Native American tribe, the Illinois, from whence the state got its name, called this place home until the Miami tribe, from what is now Michigan, drove them out in the 1660s. The Pottawattamie tribe, who came here from Canada around 1800, then took the land from the Miamis. Meanwhile, France had claimed the area in 1671 but gave it to England a hundred years later.

In 1803, Fort Dearborn was built on the site by the United States government. The Americans evacuated the fort during the War of 1812, in which the United States fought against the British. The Pottawatomie ambushed the evacuees, killing 86 men, women, and children, in what became known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre. The Pottawatomie burnt the fort to the ground, but the Americans would rebuild it in 1816.

By 1830, Chicago featured a total of six log cabins, which huddled near Fort Dearborn. Surprisingly, only sixty years later, Chicago would become the second largest city in America---growing faster than any city in the history of the world.



The Onion Swamp

Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 with a population of 4,000. It boasted 398 dwellings, five churches, and ten taverns.

The number of residents grew to 30,000 by 1850; 300,000 by 1870; 1,000,000 by 1890; 1,700,000 by 1900; and 3,400,000 by 1930.

Chicago became the 6th largest city in the world in 1900. The population at that time was 12% Irish and 10% German.

Back in 1848, the Illinois & Michigan Canal opened, which realized the dream of linking the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River for commercial shipping. Immediately, staples such as cotton, sugar, and food were transported into the city on barges from the south while lumber, clothes, and machinery were shipped out.

It was shortly after that that a New York newspaperman declared Chicago the "Windy City”---not because it is the 12th windiest city in America---because of all the "hot air" he was hearing from Chicago's city leaders ("windbags" he called them) about the bright future of the place.

By 1850, a massive influx of Europeans, primarily but not only Irish and Germans, meant that ½ of all Chicagoans were immigrants. From 1842-1858 the city built its first waterworks, sewage system, and gaslights and formed its first fire and police departments. In 1850 many Chicago residents lived in wooden shacks. Cholera, dysentery, and tuberculosis were commonplace.



The Great Chicago Fire

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 burned for three days and destroyed a third of the city (20,000 buildings). Three hundred people were killed, and the 100,000 people left homeless faced a freezing winter without shelter or food.

There were no government programs in those days, but not to worry. The concerned citizens of Chicago cared for everybody, even finding a way to provide 55,000 free medical care through private charity.

Chicago would rebuild better than before. The city, made out of wood, was replaced with a city of glass and concrete buildings and brick dwellings. They rebuilt Chicago with alleys made for fire engines, those passages being far easier in which to maneuver than the crowded city streets. Peddlers, who would come to sell fruits and vegetables from outlying farms, and sundry household goods, soon used these alleys.



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World's First Skyscraper

The world's first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1884. At the time, most residents had no running water, and half of all children died by five years of age.

There was much unrest with labor unions from 1877-1886 (and again in 1937).

In 1885, the entire city of Chicago was raised twelve feet out of the mud by using jacks.

In the late 1880s, tunnels were built under downtown Chicago for little electric trains, which carried necessary coal and goods into the downtown area. They then carried the city's rubbish and cinders back out. These trains continued to operate until the 1950s when coal became somewhat obsolete.



Chicago Stock Yards

The Chicago Stockyards produced a stench that would permeate the entire city on days that the wind would blow from the southwest. The “Union Stock Yards” operated from 1865-1971, and Chicago became known as the “hog butcher of the world.”

Chicago's stockyards processed more meat than any place in the world. Its business peaked in the 1920s. At that time, they employed 40,000 people in various capacities.

This zenith of the industry led to the rise of the first international corporations, including the Armour and Swift meat companies. Numerous factories then sprang up around the stockyards that produced many different items from the animal byproducts, such as buttons, gelatin, glue, fertilizer, soap, and leather goods.

The city used the Chicago River as a sewer for decades. In 1891, waterborne disease ran rampant. Ten thousand people perished of Typhoid Fever in that year alone. City leaders corrected the problem by reversing the Chicago River's flow in 1900. The idea was to keep contaminants out of Lake Michigan, whence the fresh water was drawn, accomplished through the construction of the Sanitation and Ship Canal.



Jane Addams and Hull House

Jane Addams (1860-1935) started Hull House in 1889 to solve the social problems caused by conditions in an industrial city. Hull House is a settlement house---a community center that provides information and other assistance to (primarily) immigrants in a poor part of town.

Addams and her staff would help people find employment, provide daycare and after-school programs for children, and offer other services. Addams's efforts were replicated in 500 American cities, and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.



Chicago L Train & Worlds Fair

In 1892, one of the most famous landmarks of Chicago opened; it was called the “L” train network. Unlike a subway, this system is elevated above the street.

The “L” was the first electric rapid transit system. Where it makes a circle downtown is known as “The Loop,” though that nickname for the heart of Chicago predates the system.

The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 (World's Columbian Exposition) was the most remarkable such event ever produced. The grandeur of it proved that Chicago had fully recovered from the Great Fire of 22 years earlier.

Electricity was demonstrated to the public for the time at this Exposition. Ragtime music was publicly performed for the first time. The Fair also featured the first Ferris Wheel. Hamburgers were introduced to America, along with the other food products that made their debuts, such as Quaker Oats, Cracker Jack, and shredded wheat.



Immigrants and Blacks Pour Into Chicago

At the start of the 20th century, Italian immigrants began to pour into Chicago. By 1920, there were also 350,000 Poles living there (more than any city outside Warsaw), 190,000 people of Scandinavian descent, and 70,000 Hungarians. Chicago also had the 3rd highest Greek population and the 4th largest Croatian contingent of any city in the world.

Countless Americans from rural areas moved to the big city as agriculture became more mechanized. During World War One, the black population doubled as southern blacks escaping bad cotton harvests came north seeking the "promised land" during the Great Migration.

Race riots broke out in 1919 as the newly arrived blacks clashed with immigrant groups. One hundred twenty thousand more blacks came to Chicago during the 1920s, seeking work at the steel mills and railroads. Great black communities were built with beautiful boulevards and fine churches. These communities had their own elected officials, policemen, firemen, lawyers, doctors, and teachers.

Two hundred thirty-four thousand blacks were living in Chicago by 1930, and 492,000 by 1950, with the steady influx from the southern United States. By 1970, 23.5 percent of black Chicagoans owned their own homes.

By that same year, the city also counted some 80,000 Mexicans and 80,000 Puerto Ricans living in the city as well.





1920s Chicago

Prohibition and the resultant Chicago gangland wars dominated the news in the 1920s. One thousand gangs ran the liquor business in Chicago, the most famous gangster being Al Capone.

100,000 Chicago Bungalows were built in the 1920's alone. At one point, nearly a third of the houses in the Chicago area were bungalows. These provide a unique architectural visage to the city.

Enrico Fermi conducted the first nuclear reaction at the University of Chicago in 1942. Chicago was the arsenal of the Free World for both World Wars.



Chicago Riots 1968

After the race riots of the 1960s---strangely enough, soon after the passage of the most sweeping civil rights legislation for blacks in the nation’s history---many whites fled to the suburbs out of concern for the safety of their families.

The other big event of the 1960s was the Democratic National Convention of 1968. Although I was a hippie, I agreed with the actions of Mayor Daley when his police started clubbing rioters protesting the Viet Nam War. It was an illegal protest, and the protestors were amply warned that their asses would be kicked if they left Grant Park, which they did.

True radicals led the protestors. The police were pelted with chunks of concrete, bags of urine (pre-prepared), rocks, and food. The American Flag was desecrated. When it was over, 135,000 people sent letters to Mayor Daley in support of the police action versus what was only 5,000 letters received against them. The public overwhelmingly said they supported law and order against anarchy.





Chicago Today

Today, Chicago is the fourth most important business center in the world. It is # 1 in America for the wholesale distribution of goods.

Chicago features the Board of Trade, the world’s oldest and largest futures and options exchange; the Chicago Stock Exchange, the largest volume securities exchange in America outside New York; the Mercantile Exchange, the world’s largest commodities exchange.

Chicago has the world's busiest airport, the 3rd largest seaport, and 1/3 of the U.S. railways pass through its boundaries.

The Chicago Metropolitan Area is home to 9.6 million souls.

Chicago boasts 26 miles of impeccably maintained lakefront, 31 beaches; 35 museums; 131 forest preserves, and over 500 parks; and is also home to 50 colleges and universities.

Chicago has been so influential in world affairs that there are "Chicago Schools" of not only Architecture but also of Economics, Writers, Painters, City Planners, Sociologists, and Economics.



Famous Chicagoans

Famous Chicagoans who contributed significantly to the city's progress include inventor and captain of industry Cyrus Hall McCormick; meatpacking tycoon Philip Armour; entrepreneur Marshall Field; the inventor and businessman George Pullman; architect Louis Sullivan; and the writer Carl Sandburg.



Maxwell Street & Old Town Chicago

When I was a young man, I had four places I loved to visit in Chicago. I grew up straight across Lake Michigan in Benton Harbor, Michigan. My favorite place was Wrigley Field, as I was an ardent fan of the Chicago Cubs.

The Museum of Science and Industry is one of two places still utilizing a building from the Chicago World's Fair (the other being the Field Museum). The museum's 2,000 exhibits include spacecraft, military aircraft, a Boeing 727 airliner, a captured German submarine, and a coal mine.

Maxwell Street was a huge open-air market where you could buy a Rolex for ten dollars---and the birthplace of Chicago Blues. Black musicians brought the Delta Blues with them in the Great Migration of the 1930s & 1940s. In Chicago, it was amplified and played outdoors---on Maxwell Street.

This market was the forerunner of today’s flea markets. You could buy nearly anything from around the world, some of it illegal, much of it stolen---but the authorities looked the other way.

Old Town was the enclave of the hippie culture. I remember it as a magical place filled with music, beads, incense, pop art posters, black lights, head shops, and hippies galore. It was Chicago's version of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods.



Mystery Solved!

I have driven on Lake Shore Drive many times and have always been puzzled by something I see out in the lake. I have asked numerous people, both Chicagoans and visitors, and no one has ever been able to tell me what it is. Today, I researched it myself and have finally found the answer: Water Cribs, 2 miles off-shore where the fresh drinking water is inducted from Lake Michigan.






James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on December 17, 2019:

Audrey Hunt ~ You are welcome. Thank you so much for coming by to read my article about the history of Chicago. I, too, am a history buff. I can't get enough history. I have lived in Chicago these last ten years but I am not from here, hailing from across the lake in Michigan.

Merry Christmas!


Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on December 13, 2019:

A marvelous and well-documented journey through Chicago's history. I'm a history buff so this brought me back again for a second read. I've never been to Chicago, but it's on my bucket list.

Thanks, again, dear James.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 14, 2019:

Walter A Christie ~ Thank you for visiting and reading my article about the history Chicago. I appreciate your service to our country in Korea. I live in Chicago and I agree it is a great city. By the way, I wrote an article about that war in which you served:

Walter A. Christie on October 13, 2019:

I grew up in the Engiewood area during the late '30's then move to Brainard, then to Evergreen Park. After serving in Korea my wife and I (plus assorted family) we lived in Palos Park then Orland Park before moving to San Francisco. I played a lot of baseball in the parks system especially Marquette Park. My Dad worked for Swift and Co. in the stockyards for over forty years and I worked there while in High School. All this gives me the right to say that Chicago is the Greatest City in America - if not the world.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2019:

jadoulpb et jujulpb ~ Thank you for reading my work.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 29, 2019:

Ronald Tucker ~ Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your kind compliments on my hub. It is quite a town, alright.

Ronald Tucker from Louisville, Kentucky on March 28, 2019:

Excellent "hub" about the magnificent Chicago. In 1969 I stayed at the Holiday Inn on Lakeshore Drive with my cousin Ray. Very fond memories of this exciting city. The city of midwest commerce is my description of the "Windy City." Early pioneers like Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (1750's to Oprah Winfrey media mogul (2000's to present are my most notable, along with former President Obama and First Lady Michelle.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 15, 2019:

Paul Solomon ~ I am afraid I do not have the answer to your question. Thank you very much for reading my article.

Paul solomon on March 14, 2019:

I like 2 know why i can not pull up 95 in harvard 2 wentworth 2 91in abbott map from year 1800s

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2018:

scottworthey ~ I appreciate your keen insights. Thank you for reading my article.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2018:

Clayton Hartford ~ Thank you very much for your kind compliments. And yes, it is indeed the water intake crib.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 20, 2018:

Blogger at Best ~ I am glad to hear from you and happy to read your fine comments. Thank you for taking the time to read my article.

scottworthey on November 06, 2013:

Chicago has a rich deep history. Thanks for posting this. Just as important as the past, we should always look forward with the intention of enriching this city and keeping its streets as clean as possible. Keep in mind the sewers as you walk the streets of this beautiful city. They are still beneath you.

Scott Kenworthy

Clayton Hartford from Alger WA on October 23, 2013:

I grew up in the Suburbs of Chicago and loved the hub, great memories. You posted a picture of a structure in the lake, it could be the water intake for the city's water supply.

Blogger at Best from Detroit MI on June 14, 2013:

Gotta love the Windy City! I think Chicago is one of the best cities in America, and consider it to be much nicer than NYC :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 30, 2012:

VocalCoach— What a pleasure it is to hear from you again. You cannot know how much I appreciate you sharing my article on Google+1, Twitter, Pinterest, and especially FaceBook. That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.

I am glad you think so highly of this article. Thank you very much for your blessings and encouragement. God Bless You!

James :D

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on July 19, 2012:

Hi James - I was chatting with someone on FB yesterday who wanted some background on Chicago. So, I'm sharing your hub by posting it on my FB timeline with a direct link back here. And as long as I'm sharing I will post on Twtr, Pinterest, HP followers and google+1.

I've enjoyed reading this again and found some highlites I missed last time I read through this fantastic hub. Peace and blessing to you James.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 14, 2012:

Shyron E Shenko— Thank you for letting me know that you love my Hub! That makes my day. :-)

I appreciate the visitation and you are most welcome. I look forward to reading some of your writings, which I will tend to soon.

Welcome to the HubPages Community!


Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 05, 2012:

James, I love your hub. I lived and worked in Chicago and, if we did not have the cold and snow I would still be living there.

Mostly I miss the food, like Italian Beef. They don't have it here, and the Chinese do not know how to make fried rice.

Thanks for the memories.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 17, 2012:

CriticalMessage— Welcome to HubPages! I am well pleased to meet a man who shares my love for the great city of Chicago. By reading your comments below I must conclude that you are right: you ARE a great tour guide to the city.

I agree with you that San Diego is a magnificent place. And there is no place like New Orleans. I have spent a lot of time in Ft Lauderdale. Very Cool—Las Olas, et al. I have not been to San Francisco.

I also agree with you that only New York can compare with Chi-town.

Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Los Angeles are marvelous cities as well.

Well, thank you for your excellent comments. I appreciate you coming over to read my Hubs. :D


Murphy from Chicagoland, Illinois on May 13, 2012:

I know and love this city so much that I have to believe that I could be one of its greatest tour guides ever.

I always have an awareness of the hotspots as a 'foodie'

I always have an awareness of the hotspots as a 'clubber'

I know all the neighborhood and their specific attractions.

I know of all the festivals that are a joyous riot to participate in.

North Avenue Beach is maybe the best kept secret in the world for those who are into that kind of thing.

The contrast of Skyscapers on top of the perfect sand at Oak St. Beach always makes me smile.

All cities have their diversity. Chicago no different.

Other than how well we all seem to get along even if when we live in our own specifically segregated neighborhoods for the most part.

I can go on and on about the people from Chicago as a whole.

My opinion a bit biased.

Yet none the less, it is an opinion developed after plenty of exposure to all the other major great cities in this country that I have had the chance gain a thourough knowledge of through long term exposure to them.

Yes, I get to know the other cities inside and out as best as I can for a duration that allows me to know them before I present them for comparison to Chicago.

San Diego (La Jolla, the Lamplight District, Coronado, Imperial) is a city that comes close.

New Orleans (The Garden District, the French Quarter, yet no baseball team)

San Fran (The Wharf, Chinatown, Sausalito, Muir Beach)

Ft. Lauderdale ( Another quietly unpublicized gem)

With Chicago included these are my top 5 cities...

Yet the power and the passion found in Chicago, which can only be compete with New York, is something that just gets under your skin and can't get out.

The adrenaline, the humor, the attitudes to welcoming and warming that I have to believe it is like heroin as it has been described to me as being like.



*smiles* -n- *blushes*

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 26, 2012:

Tams R— I love the look of Port Washington! I wrote about that in my Hub "Lake Michigan Circle Tour." I only drove through but it is an impressive and beautiful city.

I guess Chicago style pizza is deep dish. I love pizza but I prefer thin crust. Is that New York style? I don't know.

Chicago is also very beautiful. I am glad you enjoyed my article. Thank you for the compliments. Welcome to Hub Pages!

Tams R from Missouri on January 23, 2012:

2 years ago on my way to Port Washington, Wisconsin we stopped in Chicago for a view of Lake Michigan. There was so much to take in, but a beautiful view.

We headed over to Geno's and had real Chicago style pizza and wrote our names on the tables. The traffic was, ahem, ridiculous. I want to go back someday, but I believe I will hire a cab.

Very informative and well-written.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 23, 2012:

SimpleGiftsofLove— I did not know Chicago was your hometown! I am glad you enjoyed this Hub then.

I appreciate the voted up, beautiful and interesting; as well as your kind compliments.

I am well pleased to make your acquaintance and I look forward to reading some of your writings.

Thank you fo visiting and commenting. Welcome to the HubPages Community! :-)

SimpleGiftsofLove from Colorado on January 22, 2012:

A great hub, on my hometown! Great pictures, and you visited some great memories, Navy Pier, the River, the stockyards, etc. Love it! Up, beautiful and interesting, glad I found you on HP, I can see I have much to learn from your great writing!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 19, 2011:

vocalcoach— Sorry for not responding sooner. I was sans computer for several days. Thank you for pushing all the buttons on this one; and you are most welcome.

Chicago is well worth a visit. I look forward to reading your Hub about Kauai. I'll look for it.

I sure appreciate your warm words and encouragement. See you soon!

James :D

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on April 14, 2011:

I have always yearned to visit Chicago - and now I feel as though I have! I can't thank you enough for your hub. You have put so much into this "travelogue". I am presently working on a hub about "Kauai". Your outstanding article on Chicago is just the motivation I need to tread onward and complete my hub. Once again, James, you come to my rescue. :) vocalcoach

Oh, yeah - pushed all the buttons on this one and if there were more, I'd push them as well!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 08, 2011:

Anne Nowlin— I love Chicago too! Especially Wrigley Field and My Cubbies.

Thank you very much for the accolades. I appreciate you taking the time to read my article and respond. Maybe you should move back! :)

Anne Nowlin on April 07, 2011:

James, A 26 year ex-Chicago resident and one who LOVES, simply loves Chicago,; you fif such s great job covering a pretty tough subject in as short a space as you did! There's so much history and culture and ethnic diversity that you captured in your Hub; without the reader not understanding. Vote you up, up, up and away!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 20, 2011:

Santi Lio— Thank you very much for taking the time to read my humble Hub, Santi. I appreciate your gracious comments. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. I look forward to reading your work soon.


Santi Lio from erehwon on January 19, 2011:

That was encyclopedic James.

I live in Chicago, and the P.S. System doesn't even offer as comprehensive a review of our city as your hub. Excellent, job. I am wiser for having stumbled across your hubs.

Long-winded, absent fluff. Quality.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on November 20, 2010:

LaurieDawn— Greetings! Welcome to the Hub Pages Community! The Chicago sky line is par excellence.

Thank you for coming by to visit with me, Laurie. I appreciate your comments. And you are most welcome.


LaurieDawn on November 20, 2010:

Greetings James,

I enjoyed reading about Chicago. I grew up close to Chicago, and travelled a lot during my adult years, but every time I came "home", my biggest thrill was seeing The Chicago Sky Line. And I think it always will be.

Thanks for sharing Chicago History with us.



James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 17, 2010:

Jimmy Fuentes— You're welcome, my friend. I enjoyed putting this Hub together. I am glad you like it. Thank you for the visit and the compliments.

Jimmy Fuentes from Rancho Cucamonga on October 16, 2010:

Hey James, another great hub as usual. I lived about 50 miles south of Chicago in Bourbonnais for a year and I didn't know really any of what you had in your hub; thanks for the history, insight and education.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 11, 2010:

mysterylady 89— I did, teacher. You are good at what you do.

mysterylady 89 from Florida on October 11, 2010:

I am so glad you liked the poem!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on October 10, 2010:

mysteryady 89— That poem is awesome. Oh how I wish I could write like that. Thank you for sharing that with us.

mysterylady 89 from Florida on October 10, 2010:

I had to share with you one of my favorite poems. It is by Carl Sandburg.


HOG Butcher for the World,

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;

Stormy, husky, brawling,

City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I

have seen your painted women under the gas lamps

luring the farm boys.

And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it

is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to

kill again.

And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the

faces of women and children I have seen the marks

of wanton hunger.

And having answered so I turn once more to those who

sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer

and say to them:

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing

so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.

Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on

job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the

little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning

as a savage pitted against the wilderness,





Building, breaking, rebuilding,

Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with

white teeth,

Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young

man laughs,

Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has

never lost a battle,

Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.

and under his ribs the heart of the people,


Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of

Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog

Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with

Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on August 11, 2010:

stars439— It is that, brother. I'm glad you liked the pics. Thank you for coming to see me and leaving your gracious words.

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on August 06, 2010:

Quite a magnificenr city. Great hub. Beautiful photography. God Bless You.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 21, 2010:

ceholmes— I certainly agree with you! I love Chicago. Thank you very much for your comments. I appreciate the visit.

ceholmes from Chicago on May 20, 2010:

From Chicago, one thing they could never take away from us is our scenic city! We may have problems, but NYC or any other large US town can't beat Chicago's downtown beauty :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 16, 2010:

Kay Creates— It is a great town! Thank you for coming by to visit. I appreciate your comments. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

Kay Creates from Ohio on May 15, 2010:

I really enjoyed learning more about the history of Chicago. I spent a few days there last year and had a great time. I hope to visit again.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 29, 2010:

vox vocis— Ahhh!!! I see. Let me know when you find it. :)

Jasmine on April 29, 2010:

Chicago river and Chicago lakefront are nice photos. But, which shot am I looking for - I'll know when I see it :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 29, 2010:

vox vocis— Thank you for that! Chicago is a great city. Which shot are you looking for? I appreciate the "following." I am going to "follow" you as well. Thank you for coming and commenting.

Jasmine on April 28, 2010:

Rated up and bookmarked! I've never visited Chicago but I sure would love to one day. My interest for Chicago started while watching the ''Prison break'' TV serial. They showed the most beautiful parts of this city, and later I looked for all the photos of Chicago I could find on the net. Your history layout is great, very informative and the pictures are very nice. I am still looking for the one I might paint on canvas, though. There is one in your hub I especially like but I need a clearer shot! This hub has just won a new follower for you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

Springboard— Oh man! You've got to go, brother. Chicago is awesome! Thanks for visiting.

Springboard from Wisconsin on April 21, 2010:

Practically right down the street from me and yet I have never been to the heart of Chicago. Driven through it, but never have been in it. I'm going to have to change that very, very soon.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 23, 2010:

pastella13--- Compared to the great cities of the world, Chicago is just a baby. A big baby. Thank you so much for the accolades. I appreciate you.

pastella13 on March 23, 2010:

Hi James

This is a fantastic hub. I never realised Chicago was such a "new" city. You really write superb hubs about such a wide range of subjects, and you research things so thoroughly. It's always a pleasure to read them.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 15, 2010:

Heavensgates--- Your hometown!? Great! I love Chicago, too. It was a pleasure to research and write this piece. I'm glad you appreciated it and thanks for the compliment.

Heavensgates on February 13, 2010:

Wow James, that's my hometown, that's where I was born, I love Chicago! I appreciate this hub a lot. Great work!!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 13, 2010:

Jersey Jess--- Thank you! I so appreciate you taking the time to come by and read my Hub. Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed it.

Jersey Jess from USA on February 13, 2010:

Wonderful hub, I love it! A very close friend of mine lives in Chicago, very good read!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 11, 2010:

Harvey Stelman--- Thank you, my friend. This is your town, right? I'm coming over to see what you've been writing very soon. It's great to hear from you. I hope things are OK for you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 11, 2010:

shiketa--- I love it, too. I am glad you came to visit. I'll be over to see what you've been writing soon.

Harvey Stelman from Illinois on February 11, 2010:


Great job as usual.

shiketa from St. Louis, MO on February 11, 2010:

I love Chicago and I am so glad to follow your Hub!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 10, 2010:

quicksand--- Why, I am extremely flattered to read your remarks. I had no idea my work was that interesting to anybody. Thank you so much for making my day! And you are most welcome. Cheers to you! :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 10, 2010:

dara--- My parents both came from the south when they were about the same age as your dad. My father was from Tennessee and my mother from Missouri. I have been to Upper Michigan once, briefly. The lower peninsula I have covered pretty good from one end to the end.

quicksand on February 10, 2010:

Hi James, you know nearly 30% of my bookmarks point to your hubs. That's why you don't see too many remarks from me. At least not until I have read them all thoroughly. You really do a great job with every single article of yours. Thanks a million! Cheers!

dara on February 09, 2010:

I do not know Chicago at all even though I grew up across the Great Lake of Mi. Michigan is a huge state and I only know a small part of it...basically the Southwestern corner. My father arrived in Mi.around 8 years old from the South and still lives in my hometown. There is Upper Michigan where deer, turkey and lots of insects live and I have never been there. What about you?

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 09, 2010:

Arthur--- Is this Arthur from Tejas? It's great to hear from you my friend. I hope all is well for you. Thanks for writing in.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 09, 2010:

askjanbrass--- I am well pleased that you found the article to be informative and enjoyed the history. I grew up 50 miles across the lake from Chicago in Michigan and so have always loved the city.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 09, 2010:

adrienne2--- Thank you! If you live in Chicago and you liked it it must be OK. I appreciate you letting me know.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 09, 2010:

Duchess OBlunt--- You are quite welcome, dear. Anytime.

Arthur on February 09, 2010:

What great article on Chitown,brother james! I actually love the city and don't know if all your hubbers know that you and I both grew up 120 miles around Lake Michigan.

askjanbrass from St. Louis, MO on February 09, 2010:

Every time I mention the fact that I've never been to Chicago, my friends and family are always stunned. Now, it's on the top of my list of places to visit next. Reading this post was very informative, I quite enjoyed reading about Chicago's history. Where does your interest in Chicago come from?

Fierce Manson from Atlanta on February 09, 2010:

Great hub James! I have lived in Chicago pretty much my whole life. The pics were incredible as well.

Duchess OBlunt on February 09, 2010:

Thanks for the tips James.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 09, 2010:

febriedethan--- Thank you! Al Capone was a real character. I could write a whole Hub just about him and his exploits. You are welcome, dear. I appreciate this visit from you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 09, 2010:

festersporling1--- Me, too. I have been to a lot of Cubs games and out to Wrigleyville numerous occasions myself. Great fun. Thank you for visiting my Hub and leaving your comments. Welcome to HubPages!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 09, 2010:

VeganWorldTrekker--- Thank you for this wonderful addition to our conversation. I am not a strict vegan but I do prefer a vegetarian diet. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community! :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 09, 2010:

abcd1111--- I saw that you lived in the Chicago area. Welcome to HubPages.

Thank you for adding that valuable information about the war hero Edward O'Hare. And I should have written about "Second City." That is an important part of the Chicago story that should have been included. A lot of famous folks have come out of there.

febriedethan from Indonesia on February 08, 2010:

Wow..really excellent hub, I know many things about Chicago now, thank's to you, before this I only know the Al Capone and the Harpo studio haha, thank you for sharing James.

Daniel Christian from Los Angeles, CA on February 08, 2010:

Love Chicago. Had some wine in the park where they bean is. Went to a Cubbie game at Wrigley field and then went out in Wrigleyville afterward. Great city.

VeganWorldTrekker from Massachusetts, USA on February 08, 2010:

Chicago also has several wonderful vegan restaurants!

Chicago Diner is AMAZING!

abcd1111 from Glen Ellyn, IL (Chicago suburb) on February 08, 2010:

I'll forgive you for being a Cubbie instead of a Sox fan because you wrote such a nice article about one of the greatest cities in the world. Part of Old Town includes the improv club "Second City." Duly named because that is a nickname for Chicago.

I used to be a flight attendant based out of O'Hare International Airport and I NEVER tired of seeing the skyline as we approached from the lake. BTW, the designated letters for O'Hare are ORD, which stood for a military airport, Orchard Field, back before it became O'Hare. The name O'Hare honors Lieutenant Edward O'Hare, a military hero who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1942.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 08, 2010:

Nicks--- Thank you. Thank you very much. I appreciate these accolades especially coming from such an accomplished author as yourself.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 08, 2010:

GojiJuiceGoodness--- Welcome to the Hub Pages Community! Thank you for reading my article. You are right! He is from Virginia. After he moved to Chicago he became famous and contributed mightily to the development of Chicago as a world class city. Thanks for adding that important information.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 08, 2010:

gracenotes--- What a pleasure to hear from you. I'm glad you liked the pictures and found the article interesting. I like bright colors! Chicago is a great big town that is loads of fun. I hope you get to visit again. Thank you for coming and commenting.

Nicks on February 08, 2010:

James - a really excellent article (Hub would be doing it an injustice). I was particularly struck by the demographics of Chicago and the enormous immigrant populations that settled over the years. It is a quite remarkable facet of the US that, I think, us Europeans do not always appreciate. Fascinating and required reading.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 08, 2010:

Harvey Stelman--- During my research I did come across information about the Jewish neighborhoods and such. Also, the Greeks and Chinese were written about quite a bit. The numbers were not huge and/or the concentration in particular neighborhoods didn't seem to last long, so in the end I didn't use that material. The Jewish influence in Chicago has certainly been big and positive. And you are right: they were particularly prominent on Maxwell Street. Thanks for adding this fine information. It's great to hear from you, my friend from Chicago.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 08, 2010:

Abe Normal--- Well put! Thank you for that. I very much enjoyed your list. Sounds right to me.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 08, 2010:

ethel smith--- Thank you so much for your wonderful compliments. They make a man feel good about his work. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 08, 2010:

Tony--- I have always wanted to live in Chicago. Maybe I will someday. Thanks for coming by.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 08, 2010:

Truth From Truth--- You are welcome. Thank you for visiting and commenting. I would like to write about Detroit, or maybe Michigan. I hope your days go well.

GojiJuiceGoodness from Roanoke, Virginia on February 08, 2010:

CYRUS HALL MCCORMICK?! A famous Chicagoian?! He's from Virginia (just north of where I live). I have never visited his farm, but have seen it as well as the signs posted along the interstate... Why does Chicago claim him as theirs?

gracenotes from North Texas on February 07, 2010:


As usual, you have great pictures. My, what an interesting history you have written about here. I was only in Chicago once, and got to walk around downtown. I walked all the way to the AMA (American Medical Association) building, 515 N. State Street. It was in mid-May, and I probably looked foolish wearing my nice professional outfit in a bright color. Almost all of the business women I saw were wearing black, gray, and beige.

Well, it's too bad that I was there for a professional conference and didn't have time to do fun stuff.

Sometime I need to return and see more.

Harvey Stelman from Illinois on February 07, 2010:


I moved to the Chicago area in 1973 and will never leave. Coming from the Bronx, N.Y. I found Chicago to be a smaller, friendlier and more people oriented city.

"The City that works" has had a wonderful past, you have taught me a couple of things. I love that even Chicagoans don't know why they call it the "windy city."

I wonder why you didn't include the Jewish population, and how much it is responsile for. You mentioned, Maxwell Street. Most businesses there were owned by Jews.

The article remains a hit with me anyway.

Abe Normal on February 07, 2010:

Chicago is really, currently well-known for its "Magnificent Mile", the Loop (also an FM radio station), The Cubs, Bears, Black Hawks, the Mayor Richard Daleys, State Street, Michigan Avenue, Marshal Fields, Sears Tower, Hancock Building, Oak Street Beach, Field Museum, Museum of Science & Industry, The Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Taste of Chicago, Navy Pier, Water Tower Place, Kennedy, Eisenhower and Dan Ryan Expressways, and a ban on WalMart construction.

-Abe Normal,

Ars longa, vita brevis

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on February 07, 2010:

What a wonderful Hub James. So many diverse images accompanied with great words as always.

Tony on February 07, 2010:

Great place to live.

Truth From Truth from Michigan on February 07, 2010:

Thanks James, I love Chicago myself. I have not been there in a while, I appreciate the walk through time. I will have to go again soon. I agree that a hub on Detroit would be very sad. Enjoy your weekend.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 06, 2010:

drpastorcarlotta--- What a pleasure to see you again! Thanks for your gracious words. I appreciate you! God Bless You!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 06, 2010:

GPAGE! Yes, aren't those shots by Wayne Miller great!? Thanks for taking the time to come and read my article. I very much appreciate your compliments. I am a bit under the weather but other than that everything is A-OK. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 06, 2010:

prettydarkhorse--- Thank you for coming back, Maita. I always enjoy seeing your face. I hope your weekend is glorious! :D

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