An Introduction to the Chicago Area.
A guidebook perspective.
Native Americans have inhabited the glacier-carved western
shores of Lake Michigan for hundreds of years. French explorers
Marquette and Joliet first brought this region to the attention
of European peoples in the 17th Century, in part because
they were searching for a portage site to create a trade
waterway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable, of Haiti, was the first individual
with Western ancestry to settle here at the end of the 18th
Century. American settlers followed shortly thereafter,
although many of the first group was slaughtered fleeing
Native American hostiles (in a conflict relating to the
War of 1812) during the so-called Fort Dearborn Massacre.
More settlers followed, and because of rapidly growing
railroad lines as well as speculation about the completion
of the trade canal first envisioned by Marquette and Joliet,
Chicago population increased a hundredfold from the time
it was founded over the course of the 1800s. A devastating
fire, popularized with the myth (now debunked) that it was
started by a cow knocking over a lantern, destroyed much
of the central part of the city in 1871. Within decades,
Chicago had rebuilt and became a marvel known the world
over. In 1893 it hosted the World's Columbian Exposition,
an elegant World's Fair that in many senses represented
the city's finest hour to date.
Organized crime, stirring legends that glorified ruthless
gangsters such as Al Capone, pervaded the 1920s, and social
tensions riddled the city subsequent to the Depression.
Chicago held international sway in the 20th Century mainly
in the context of architecture and commerce. In the national
consciousness, it became associated with memorable sports
teams, bad weather, and tasty deep-dish pizza. Today it
hosts the largest convention center in the world and is
a popular tourist destination. Appealing museums, shops,
and historic buildings give it a winning draw for summer
visitors. Locals enjoy the fashionable Lake Michigan beaches
during the warm months, and seasonal traditions, like Christmastime
festivities, during the much colder remainder of the year.
Favorite nicknames for Chicago are "the Windy City",
the "City of Big Shoulders", and the "Second
viewed from the Sears Tower
Holy Name Cathedral, Near North
A local's perspective.
One epithet of Chicago known better to locals than
to visitors is "City of Neighborhoods". For the
guest, seeing Chicago can become a marathon of packaged
sites, concentrated by guidebooks and city promotions into
a handful of dense areas within what is informally known
as "Tourist Chicago". As with many cities, the
life of locals varies greatly from the brief local experience
of out-of-towners, but in Chicago's case this is particularly
true because the "sights" are isolated in show
places and the many fascinating features of the hundreds
of other neighborhoods and suburbs frequently go unseen.
Even many locals know only two areas of Chicago well: where
they live and where they work, and perhaps some additional
terrain for entertainment and recreation. What both the
local and the traveler might be missing is that nearly every
pocket of the enormous land area that Greater Chicagoland
covers has something worth seeing in it, in many cases worth
a special trip. Everywhere there are points of interest,
restaurants, shops, places of worship, monuments, museums,
venues, parklands, and recreational facilities to be found.
Why not explore them? WildOnions.org will show you how.
Sometimes, however, we don't have as much time as we would
like to chart new terrain; sometimes day-to-day life takes
up every spare moment we have. With that in mind, WildOnions.org
also features everything you'll want to know about how to
make the most out of the area you're living in, working
in, or visiting, or which you will be soon. Life's essentials,
from supermarkets to services, from restaurants to movie
theaters: it's all waiting for you. And it's here on WildOnions.
What you'll find on WildOnions.org.
Whether you've lived in the Chicago area all of your life or are
considering visiting for the first time, it's always useful to
have resources. There are many ways to learn about the city, and
what could be more convenient than an all-in-one Internet information
source? Of course no single place can offer you access to every
address, experience, or opinion that relates to Chicago - but
at WildOnions.org, we're working to give as much of the best that's
available, as efficiently organized as practicable.
WildOnions is an online guidebook, a business directory, and
a source of valuable commentary, all in one location. The places
we feature are hand-selected by our editors, and our copy is not
written or endorsed by advertisers. Our clearly-indicated advertising
links are drawn from a pool of quality sponsors who want to let
you know they're there for you to discover and enjoy. At the WildOnions
Chicagoland Tapestry, you'll find an exciting graphic interface
for our site, which is chock-full of every kind of useful Chicagoland
information. To learn more about WildOnions.org, visit our WildOnions