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Historical Description[]

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a black trader likely born in Haiti, established the first permanent non-indigenous settlement at Chicago around 1779. The completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal realized the site’s potential to connect the Great Lakes to the nearby Mississippi River in 1848. But the true sign of Chicago’s future that year was the arrival of the first locomotive. As the nexus for dozens of railways linking the Midwest to the East Coast, the city grew into a meatpacking and industrial powerhouse. Its population exploded over the next few decades.

Not even the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which claimed hundreds of lives and over 17,000 buildings, could slow the city down. It became home to the world’s first skyscraper in 1885 and hosted the spectacular Columbian Exposition in 1893. During the Prohibition era, Chicago earned a seedier sort of glamor through its association with gangsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger. Though its industrial might has declined since World War II, the Windy City remains a premier transportation hub and the giant of the American Midwest.

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