The city has long followed the familiar metropolitan pattern
of expanding outward in "rings" of settlement,
from the city core to the rural outskirts.
Chicago. Downtown neighborhoods such as the Loop
and the Magnificent Mile; nearby parts of town such as
the Near North, Near South, Near West.
2. The Neighborhoods.
Edgewater, Uptown, Lakeview, Ravenswood, Lincoln Park,
Albany Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, Bucktown, West
Town, The Pilsen, Little Village, Bronzeville, Hyde Park,
Englewood, Gresham, etc.
3. Border Communities.
Places just inside or just outside Chicago, on its fringes,
such as Evanston, Rogers Park, Sauganash, Skokie, Edison
Park, Austin, Oak Park, Garfield Ridge, Cicero, Oak Lawn,
Blue Island, Calumet City, Hegewisch, etc. Airports Midway
and O'Hare. Industrial parks in Chicago and Indiana.
4. The Suburbs.
North Shore suburbs such as Wilmette, Winnetka, Highland
Park; Northwest suburbs such as Des Plaines, Arlington
Heights, Palatine; Western Suburbs such as River Forest,
Berwyn, Brookfield, Hinsdale; South Suburbs such as Oak
Forest and Harvey.
5. Far Suburbs.
Suburbs a bit farther out such as Lake Bluff, Libertyville
and Bolingbrook; commercial hubs such as Schaumburg and
Naperville; forest preserves such as Timber Ridge; towns
in Northwestern Indiana including Hammond, Munster, and
Highland; industrial parks such as North Chicago and East
6. Gateway Cities.
Cities just at the edge of the Chicagoland spread
such as Gary, Joliet, Aurora, Elgin, Crystal Lake, McHenry
Ring. The mixed-use areas just beyond Chicagoland
comprising agriculture, villages, some industry, and many
recreational opportunities such as those found at the
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Starved Rock State Park,
Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, and Illinois Beach State Park.
8. Far Cities.
Major settlements along the thoroughfares into and out
of the greater Chicagoland region, including Michigan
City, Kankakee, Peru, Rockford, Elkhorn, and Kenosha.
Places. There are many exciting regions adjacent
to or within easy traveling distance of greater Chicagoland,
including Door County, Milwaukee, Madison, and the Dells
in Wisconsin; Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield
and the Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri;
Lafayette and South Bend, Indiana; and Kalamazoo and Grand
Rapids in Michigan as well as Michigan's western shoreline.
Glaciers shaped the terrain of the Chicago area during
the most recent Ice Age, leaving it largely flat and comparatively
featureless. The site of the present-day metropolis on
the shores of Lake Michigan stands in what was once the
much larger Lake Chicago, which retreated roughly 4,000
years ago to take the Lake's present form. Native Americans
inhabited the site several hundred years prior to European
contact; major human development of the area did not begin
until the mid-19th Century.
Under French control from the 1600s, the Illinois region
fell to the British in 1763 and to the Union after the
Revolutionary War (codified by the Treaty of Paris in
1783). Originally part of the state of Virginia, the territory
of Illinois became part of the Northwest Territory in
1784, part of the Indiana Territory until 1809, and was
its own territory until Illinois statehood in 1818. The
state population at that time was tabulated at 34,620.
The Chicago region "was placed successively under
the counties of Crawford, Clark, Pike, Fulton, Putnam
attached to Peoria, and in 1831, Cook County" (www.chipublib.org).
The settlement incorporated as a town in 1833, initially
bounded by State, Madison, Kinzie and Desplaines streets.
It expanded its borders twice before incorporating as
a city in 1837. By the late 1800s, its territory stretched
north to North Ave., and to Fullerton Ave. farther east;
west from the Lake to Western Ave., and to Crawford Ave.
farther south; and south to 39th St. The city annexed
again as much land and more in 1889, adding Jefferson,
Lakeview, Lake, and Hyde Park Townships and parts of Calumet
and Worth. It added Rogers Park and several other areas
adjoining the city in 1900. After acquiring additional
lands in the 20th Century, especially the area in and
near O'Hare International Airport, the city reached its
current land area of 228 square miles.
The U.S. Census Bureau today identifies the Statistical
Metropolitan Area of Chicago-Gary-Kenosha as encompassing
the counties of McHenry, Lake, DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, Cook,
Kendall, Will, Grundee and Kankakee in Illinois; Lake
and Porter in Indiana; and Kenosha in Wisconsin. This
region had a population of 9,157,540 at the time of the
2000 census; the population within the City of Chicago
limits was 2,896,016.
The area typically known as "Chicagoland" incorporates
Cook, Lake, Kane, DuPage, Will and McHenry counties, and
sometimes Northwestern Indiana; it includes the city itself,
suburbs such as Lake Forest, Wilmette, Evanston, Arlington
Heights, Glen Ellyn, Oak Park, River Forest, Hinsdale,
and Oak Lawn, fringe cities such as Waukegan, Elgin, Geneva,
and Aurora in Illinois, and Hammond, IN.
The city of Chicago itself roughly divides into sections
such as the North/Far North, including communities such
as Rogers Park, Uptown, Edgewater and Lakeview; the North/Near
North, including Lincoln Park, the Near North, and the
Gold Coast; the Central Downtown Area, encompassing the
Magnificent Mile, the River North, and the Loop; the South/Near
South, including the South Loop, Bridgeport, and the UIC/Bronzeville
areas; the Southside, including Hyde Park and South Chicago;
the West/Northwest including Irving Park, Jefferson Park,
Belmont Central, and Austin, and the Southwest/Far Southwest
including Englewood, Morgan Park, and Kennedy Park.
Communities Map - Neighborhoods
and Suburbs Map - Interactive