26 Interesting Facts on Chicago

Author: Jason Coles

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Updated On:

The beautiful city of Chicago is in the heart of Cook County, Illinois. The Windy City, as many refer to it as is by far the largest and most happening city in the state, offering a plethora of awesome things to do from a tourist perspective, and an abundance of brilliant opportunities from a business and economic standpoint.

Chicago offers much to do and see within the iconic city, and is famous for a multitude of different reasons, with its incredible food scene taking the top of the mantle. If you visit Chicago without trying at least one of the unique Chicago-style meals, did you really visit the Windy City?

Thanks to the city’s brilliant entertainment, high quality of life, accessibility, and opportunities, Chicago has grown in popularity tremendously over the past several years, resulting in the city becoming somewhat of an international icon, with millions of people from around the world flocking to the city each year. However, there is still much more to Chicago than meets the eye, so, here is our list consisting of 26 interesting facts on Chicago that you probably didn’t know about!

If you want to skip straight to the Chicago Economic Facts, click on the link to take you there, or scroll down the page.

Interesting Facts on Chicago

26 Fun Facts on Chicago

1. The famous city lies on approximately 234 square miles of land and is comprised of 77 total community areas.

2. Chicago boasts a metro population of over 8,937,000 people and is the 3rd most populous city in the U.S., with only Los Angeles, and New York City beating it for 1st and 2nd spots.

3. The name, “Chicago” originates from the Algonquin word “Chicagou” or “Shikaakwa”, which can be rather amusingly translated to “onion field” or “wild garlic”.

4. If you are planning a road trip starting in Chicago, you are in luck! The iconic route 66 begins in Chicago, IL, and travels through a total of 8 states, and 3 different time zones! The states include:

  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • New Mexico
  • Arizona
  • California

5. The Chicago River which runs through the beautiful city actually flows backward. However, there is a valid reason for this, at some point during the late 19th century, the river was deliberately reversed in order to empty itself into the Mississippi River rather than Lake Michigan.

6. On the topic of the famous river, and more specifically people tampering with it, on St. Patrick’s Day, the Plumbers Union dyes it a bright Irish green shade!

7. The fictional world of Batman is based in Gotham City, which is where the majority of previous films have taken place. Did you know that Chicago was the fictional city’s inspiration?

8. The United States’ first-ever televised presidential debate took place in Chicago in 1960. The debate’s participants were John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Vice President Richard Nixon.

9. During the 1850s, the whole city was hydraulically lifted up several feet in order to fix a drainage issue.

10. The famous Twinkie treat, creamy in the center and soft on the outside was invented in Chicago in 1930.

11. Another iconic event that took place in the city in 1930 was the first planetarium being opened in the western hemisphere, named Adler Planetarium.

12. Chicago was initially incorporated as a town in 1833, however, it shortly became a city in 1837 and the rest is history!

Economic interesting facts on Chicago

13. The Windy City is home to over 26 miles of lakefront, with a total of 25 beaches – not bad for a city!

14. The shortest known debate in history took place in Chicago during the year 1917. Hosted by Ben Hecht and Maxwell Bodenheim, the debate’s topic was deemed “Resolved: That People Who Attend Literary Debates are Imbeciles.”

15. Chicago has a comprehensive and efficient subway system. However, you must not refer to it like this, you will in fact be taking the “L”, which is an abbreviation for “elevated”. The “L” gained its name because large parts of the system run on elevated tracks.

16. People from Chicago are called and referred to as Chicagoans.

17. Downtown Chicago is considered by many to be one of the best spots in the city for shopping, museums, public art, restaurants, and parks.

18. The Chicago Bears is the city’s American Football team that is currently playing in the National Football Conference (NFC) of the National Football League (NFL). The Chicago Bears are not only the main team in the city, but they are also the most successful team in the city winning 8 NFL championships and one Super Bowl!

19. Lincoln Park is the largest park in the city, spanning 1,200 acres.

20. The World’s Columbian Exposition took place in Chicago in 1893 and was the world’s first-ever funfair.

21. Two of the most famous museums in the city are the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago which can be located in Downtown Chicago.

Interesting Facts of Chicago and the City’s Economy

There is plenty to consider when looking at the business and economic facts of Chicago as the city has many positive business and economic attributes.

Over the past several decades Chicago’s popularity has been constantly increasing, with more and more people deciding to call the Windy City their new home, and place of business.

With great infrastructure, an impressive education system, and higher salaries than the majority of other cities, Chicago certainly possesses an impressive and expansive economic environment.

Here is our List of Facts on Chicago’s Economy:

  • Chicago’s metro area GDP is over $764 billion, which is more than the majority of most other U.S. states!
  • Chicago has a flat income tax rate of 4.95% (which is comparatively low).
  • The median household income in Chicago is around $65,781.
  • The 4 key industries in Chicago are Manufacturing, Transportation, Information Technology, and Health Services and Technology.
  • The average house price in Chicago is approximately $305,000. However, this number is seasonally adjusted.
  • Chicago’s sales tax rate is 9.25%.
  • Chicago’s corporate income tax rate is 9.5% (One tax is 7% and the other is 2.5%).
  • Chicago has the best education system out of any other city in Illinois.
  • The Chicago Math and Science Initiative are programs that have been designed district-wide in order to ensure students meet minimum achievement standards in the basic subjects.
  • Chicago has a higher minimum wage than the rest of the state! The minimum wage in Chicago for 2023 is $15.40 for small large business employees and $14.50 for small business employees.

All of these economic facts about Chicago provide many valid reasons why thousands of people decide to move to the city to either start a new business or franchise or for work opportunities, and it is difficult to argue with any of them!

Facts About the Great Chicago Fire

The disastrous Great Chicago Fire will forever go down in history as one of the most devastating events to occur in any city, anywhere in the world! With an estimated 300 people killed, thousands left homeless, and 3.3 square miles of the city turned to ashes, there is a lot to consider and look at when diving into the facts about the Great Chicago Fire.

22. Many believe still to this day that it was Catherine O’Leary who started this catastrophic event by milking her cow one night and accidentally knocking over a lantern, which subsequently set the farm and city ablaze. However, O’Leary denied that she had any role in the origin of the fire, and she could easily have been right. As a Chicago historian pointed out, “you don’t milk cows in the evening”.

23. Many people are under the assumption that the entire city burnt down, this could not be further from the truth, with many believing the only building to still be intact was the Water Tower, again, wrong. The best way of putting it was articulated by Samuelson, who said “The fire did do a great deal of damage, spreading from the O’Leary barn at 558 W. De Koven St. on the Near West Side to Downtown and other areas”.

24. The fire saw the end to the majority of the city’s wooden buildings, for obvious reasons, the city’s architects and other building planners took to different, less-flammable materials when building in the future.

25. The fire itself lasted a total of 2 days, starting on October 8, 1871, and finishing on October 10, 1871.

26. The sheer intensity of the fire and immense heat managed to throw buildings and rail cars into the air!

Thanks for taking a look at our 26+ Chicago facts, and the Great Chicago Fire! If you have some facts and fun information regarding Chicago’s past and present that we have not covered, make sure to comment below and we will add them to the page.

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Jason Coles

Jason Coles is the Founder of Foreign USA and its Chief Content Writer and Editor. Recognized as a prolific business plan writer by many prominent immigration attorneys in the U.S. who refer his services to their clients regularly, Jason has written over 1,365 business plans across the past 17+ years for start-up companies and franchises looking to expand their footprint in the United States. Jason is considered a seasoned expert in his field. He creates detailed business plans for his clients that include five-year financial projections, market and industry analysis reports, demographic studies, organizational charts, job descriptions, employee hiring plans, and more.