Record ID: 45

Site Name

Chicago

Type

Inland Ports

Description

city (area: 200 sq miles; 2000 pop. 2,896,016), (cap.) Cook co., NE Ill., on L. Michigan; 41�50'N 40�87'W. The 3d-largest city in the U.S. and the heart of a metropolitan area of over 8 million people, it is the commercial, financial, industrial, and cultural center for a vast region and a midcontinental shipping point. It is a port of entry, a major Great Lakes port, and an important RR and highway hub� In early days the river was valuable because the narrow watershed bet. it and the Des Plaines R. (draining into the Mississippi R. through the Illinois R.) offered an easy portage that led explorers, fur traders, and missionaries to the great central plains. Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet arrived here in 1673, and the spot was well known for a cent. before Jean Baptiste Point Sable (or Point du Sable) set up a trading post at the mouth of the river. John Kinzie, who succeeded him as a trader, is usually called the father of Chicago. The military post, Fort Dearborn , was est. 1803. In the War of 1812, its garrison perished and it was rebuilt in 1816. The construction of the Erie Canal in the next decade speeded the settling of the Midwest and the growth of Chicago. Harbor improvements, lake traffic, and the peopling of the prairie farmlands brought prosperity to the city. The Illinois and Michigan Canal, authorized by Congress in 1827 and completed in 1848, was soon rendered virtually obsolete by the RRs. By 1860, a number of lines connected Chicago with the rest of the nation, and the city was launched on its career as the great midcontinental shipping center.