U.S. Department of State
International Visitor Leadership Program
Reflections on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
The third-largest city in the United States, Chicago is home to a diverse population of approximately 2.7 million people in the city and 9.5 million people in the larger “Chicagoland” region.
Chicago’s first roots were laid in the late 1770s when the Haitian trader Jean Baptiste Point du Sable opened a trading post. In 1837 Chicago was incorporated as a city. Through its access to strategic waterways, as well as its key position as a major railroad hub, Chicago became a market for Midwestern farmers selling agricultural products to East Coast buyers. The City is also known for the inventions of technologies and new practices such as futures and commodity exchanges, grain elevators, industrialized meat-packing operations and refrigerated rail cars.
Chicago is known as the Windy City. This nickname is partially due to its frigid temperatures in winter with the accompanying snow and rain, and yes, wind. The remainder of the year is quite temperate with balmy summers perfect for a boat trip or tour of the city, and cool but comfortable weather in both fall and spring.
Today, Chicago is a leader in many key industries including: architecture, business and financial services, manufacturing, information technology, health services, education systems, tourism, communication and transportation. With more than 400 major corporate headquarters and 37 Fortune 500 companies, the Chicago region boasts a $709 billion gross regional product (GRP). Chicago is also home to world-renowned universities and law schools, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, and the University of Illinois Chicago.
Chicago’s O’Hare international airport is a gateway to the world and has 2,900 daily flights with service to more than 200 cities worldwide. The city also serves as a hub for all six Class-One North American railroads, as well as six major Interstate highways. Chicago’s skyline contains some of the world’s tallest and most architecturally significant buildings including the 100-story John Hancock Center; the second-tallest building in the US, the 110-story Willis Tower (formerly named the Sears Tower); and the Aqua Tower, the tallest skyscraper designed by a woman.
Outside of the downtown “Loop” area in communities like Little Italy, Greektown, Ukrainian Village, Pilsen, Chinatown, Uptown and Devon, visitors can taste cuisines from around the world. Chicago is home to at least 30 ethnic groups whose population is greater than 25,000, including the largest Polish population of any city outside of Poland. Other attractions include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Science and Industry, as well as the Lyric Opera, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Broadway musicals. Visitors to Chicago can sample the city’s signature dishes, including deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. Chicago is home to eight professional sports teams.
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