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Chicago Facts

Largest city in the U.S. state of Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States.

  • Chicago is located in the state of Illinois and is the county seat of Cook County.
  • Chicago's metropolitan area is sometimes called Chicagoland.
  • Other nicknames include The Windy City, the City of Big Shoulders, the Second City, and The City That Works.
  • Chicago was incorporated as a town in 1833, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed.
  • Among metropolitan areas, the Chicago area has the 4th largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world.
  • Chicago is home to eleven Fortune 500 companies, while the rest of the metropolitan area hosts an additional 21 Fortune 500 companies.
  • The first Ferris wheel made its debut in Chicago at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Today, Navy Pier is home to a 15-story Ferris wheel, modeled after the original one.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the largest and most extensive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in the world.
  • McCormick Place, Chicago’s premier convention center, offers the largest amount of exhibition space in North America (2.2 million square feet).
  • Chicago was one of the first and largest municipalities to require public art as part of the renovation or construction of municipal buildings, with the passage of the Percentage-for-Arts Ordinance in 1978.
  • The Chicago Cultural Center is the first free municipal cultural center in the U.S. and home to the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome.
  • The Chicago Park District has the nation’s largest municipal harbor system.
  • Chicago produced the first Roller skates in 1884
  • Chicago produced the first Elevated railway in 1892
  • Chicago produced the first Cracker Jacks in 1893
  • Chicago produced the first Zipper in 1896
  • Chicago produced the first Steel-framed skyscraper in 1885
  • Chicago produced the first Window envelope in 1902
  • The first televised U.S. presidential candidates' debate was broadcast from Chicago’s CBS Studios on September 26, 1960, between John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard Milhous Nixon.
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