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Chicago is a city full of bustling life and is an elegant but friendly location that combines long stretches of parkland magic with the sparkling blue waters of Lake Michigan. The Windy City is known the world over for unique dining experiences, historic gardens and a tantalizing nightlife that rests atop a history of devastating fires, gangsters, political unrest and one of the world's largest fairs. Chicago is a French bastardization of the Native American word shikaakwa meaning "wild onion" or "wild garlic." Chicago is also known by the nicknames the "City of Big Shoulders", "Second City" and Chi-Town" to its residents.
Chicago is the largest city in the Midwest of the U.S., and brings a veneer of sophistication to the Great Plains of the Americas. The first known settler was a trader known as Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who opened a trading post in the 1770s. After the Northwest Indian War in 1795, land was turned over by the Indians for an American military outpost. The city itself was founded in 1833, between the Mississippi watershed and the Great Lakes. Following the Treaty of Chicago, the band of Native Americans living in the region, the Potawatomi tribe, were forcibly removed from the land. White settlers rapidly changed the open terrain into a major hub of transportation and telecommunications.
Chicago is still a major hub in travel and flights to Chicago through O'Hare Airport are plentiful and reasonably priced. All the major airlines offer cheap flights to Chicago as part of promotional themes and vacation packages. Since O'Hare Airport is a major transition hub in the airline industry wheel, there are always flights to Chicago departing and arriving at any given time.
The historical events that took place in Chicago have filled several shelves of books. The Great Fire of 1871, that burned for two days leaving hundreds dead and a third of the city in ashes; the clash between Labour and management that led to the Haymarket affair in 1886, the World Columbian Exposition Fair that not only drew landmark crowds but drew one of the world's most notorious serial killers into its midst, and the exploits of Mafia gangsters such as Al Capone have all contributed to the Chicago of today. Couple that with the political stage and the people and organizations who have crossed it; Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Daley, The Democratic National Party and the current President of the United States, Barack Obama and it becomes clear that Chicago is an important part of the heartbeat of America.
Chicago is divided into five districts. Downtown which is home to the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the famous Loop, and is the city's commercial and financial centre. The North Side of Chicago is densely populated with high-rise apartments and Lincoln Park that stretches along the waterfront. The other sections are known respectively as the East, West and South sides of Chicago. The University of Chicago is located on the South Side as is the Ford Motor Company assembly plant. The West Side is the home of Oprah Winfrey and her Harpo Studios along with the Garfield Park Conservatory.
Chicago is also famous for its ethnic neighbourhoods and diverse nightlife. The city is home to a large Polish, Puerto Rican, Italian and Greek populations that have formed pocket neighbourhoods of ethnicity that are an amazing treat to explore and the place to sample cultural cuisine.
For years, Chicago has reigned as one of the horticultural centres of the world and boasts lagoons, wildlife gardens and bird sanctuaries, beach and water front activities, hiking trails and conservatories.
In Chicago, there is no better way to end the day than in one of the city's hot spots. It is the birthplace of the Second City Improv comedy group and prides itself on the myriad piano bars, lounges, jazz bistros and live entertainment spots anyone could hope to experience.
Chicago is a city made for exploration and excitement and is an experience no traveller will quickly forget. The premier summer event is the Taste of Chicago where Master Chefs such as Mario Batali and Giada de Laurentis provide cooking instructions while bands play and sample fare from over 50 food stalls are available. Or experience the fun of volunteer Chicago greeters who provide free walking tours of their neighbourhoods.
Whatever the interests of visitors the city of Chicago provides a great visitor experience. Its citizens are ready to show off the city they love to visitors disembarking from their flights to Chicago.