Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1830; Incorporated: 1837
Location: Northeast Illinois, Lake Michigan coast, United States, North America
Motto: "I will" in Latin
Flag: Two blue stripes representing Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, and four six-pointed red stars representing events in Chicago history, all on a white field.
Flower: Violet (state flower)
Time Zone: 6 AM Central Standard Time (CST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White 56.9%; Black 39.1%
Elevation: 181 m (595 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 41°88'N, 87°65'W
Coastline: 40 km (25 mi)
Climate: Continental climate; cold winters, with heavy snowfall from cold fronts off Lake Michigan, and hot summers
Annual Mean Temperature: 9.5°C (49.2°F); January-4.3°C (24.3°F); July 23.7°C (74.7°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 102 cm (40 in)
Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 86 cm (34 in).
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 312, 630, 708, 773, 847
Postal Codes: 60601-64

2. Getting There

Chicago, the seat of Cook County, is located in northeastern Illinois, on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan and at the junction of the lake and the Chicago River.


Chicago is accessible by several interstate highways. The city is approached from the northwest by I-94, which merges with the John F. Kennedy Expressway and the Dan Ryan Express-way, traversing the city north-south before turning into the Calumet Expressway heading south out of (or into) the city. To the west, I-294 rings much of the Greater Chicago area, turning into the Tri-State Tollway further south and intersecting I-290, which runs east-west, becoming the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway into the heart of the city. I-55 leads to Chicago from the southwest, turning into the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway.

Bus and Railroad Service

Chicago is an Amtrak hub, servicing travelers from the renovated Union Station. The Greyhound station, on West Harrison Street, is slightly to the southwest of downtown.


More than 66 million passengers a year arrive at and depart from O'Hare International Airport, on more than 880,000 flights annually. Located 27 kilometers (17 miles) outside downtown Chicago, O'Hare is said to be the busiest airport in the world. As a hub for both American and United Airlines, it offers nonstop service to most major destinations in the United States, and many foreign cities as well. Also servicing the Windy City is Midway Airport.

Chicago Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 2,732,000
Area: 591 sq km (228 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 56.9% white, 39.1% black, 3.7% Asian/Pacific Islander
Nicknames: The Windy City, The Second City, The City of Broad Shoulders

Metropolitan Area

Population: 6,945,000
Area: 13,118 sq km (5,065 sq mi)
World population rank1: 29
Percentage of national population2: 2.5%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.3%
Ethnic composition: 76% white; 19.5% black; and 4.3% Asian/Pacific Islander


  1. The Chicago metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the total US population living in the Chicago metropolitan area.


Its central location and Great Lakes coastline have always made Chicago an important shipping center, especially since the 1959 opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Some 750 motor freight carriers ship over 45 million metric tons (50 million tons) of ground freight to and from the city every year; another 36 million metric tons (40 million tons) are handled by rail. More than one million metric tons (1.1 million tons) per year are shipped through Chicago's airports.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) runs the city's bus and rail service, offering access to both Chicago and its suburbs. The CTA operates over 1,000 rapid transit, or El, cars over five rail lines whose routes are designated by different colors. The CTA also operates numerous bus routes, with most buses running at intervals of every five to 20 minutes daily and many running at night.


Several walking tours of downtown Chicago landmarks are available, including a taped, self-guided tour put together by the Chicago Office of Tourism. The Friends of the Chicago River offers walking tours along the river and boat cruises along the shoreline as well. Sightseeing tours of the downtown area are also offered on both regular and double-decker buses and open-air trolleys. In addition, a variety of tours and cruises on Lake Michigan are available.

7. Government

Chicago's municipal government operates under a 1971 charter, providing for a mayor-council form of government. The city's mayor and the 50 alderman who make up the council are all elected for four-year terms.

19. Tourism

Chicago is a popular tourist destination for both domestic and overseas visitors. In 1995 approximately two-and-a-half million foreign travelers visited the city, ranking it ninth nationally in this category. In August 1999, the city expected to attract $192.7 million in convention business.

22. For Further Study


Chicago City Net. [Online] Available (accessed October 11, 1999).

Chicago City Page. [Online] Available (accessed October 11, 1999).

Chicago Home Page. [Online] Available (accessed October 11, 1999).

City Insights Chicago. [Online] Available (accessed October 11, 1999).

Government Offices

Chicago City Hall
121 N. La Salle St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-0000

Chicago Office of Tourism
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-2359

Mayor's Office
121 N. La Salle St. Rm. 507
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-3300

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau
2301 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 567-8500


Chicago Magazine
500 N. Dearborn Ave. Suite 1200
Chicago, IL 60610

Chicago Sun-Times
401 N. Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

Chicago Tribune
435 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611

Crain's Chicago Business
740 N. Rush St.
Chicago, IL 60611


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