Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S. with a population of almost 3 million people. The city draws nearly 86 million visitors annually with its many city parks, museums, and other attractions. The city is home to the western hemisphere’s tallest skyscraper, Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower); the world’s largest food festival, The Taste of Chicago; and the country’s oldest public zoo, Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago boasts being the home for several products and inventions, such as roller skates, Cracker Jacks, and the zipper. Chicago is also highly decorated with number one rankings such as best restaurant in America, best skyline in America, and the best theater in America.
Incorporated as a city in 1837, Chicago was a rapidly growing trade center due to the westward expansion in the U.S. Perhaps the most memorable occurrence in Chicago’s history is the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Most of the city’s streets, sidewalks, and buildings, which were made of wood, were consumed in the fire. The cause of the fire was never officially determined, and is considered one of the largest disasters of the 19th century in the U.S. In spite of the fire, the rebuilding of the city paved the way for Chicago’s development both in population and in its economic influence.
Chicago is located on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan. The city has a continental climate, with summer temperatures reaching as high as 96° F or higher, and winters reaching a minimum low of -15° F. The annual average temperature is 49.8° F, and the annual average precipitation is 35.82 inches.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the nation’s 2nd largest public transportation system, serving not only the city of Chicago, but also 40 suburbs, and 83% of the transportation to the six surrounding counties in the Chicago metropolitan area. The CTA provides buses and train systems, and connecting services with Metra and Pace.
Cost of Living in Chicago
The cost of living in Chicago is only slightly more expensive than the U.S. average. Chicago residents pay a bit more for groceries, utilities, housing, and especially transportation. Use the tools below to see how far your current budget will go in Chicago.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the third largest district in the U.S., educating over 400,000 students each year. CPS has 681 schools, including elementary, high schools, contract schools and charter schools. Chicago is also home to several universities. The University of Chicago is a private university that offers 56 undergraduate majors and five divisions and six professional schools for graduate study.
The Illinois Medical District is located on the Near West Side of Chicago and includes the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago, Jesse Brown VA Hospital, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County. In addition to these, there are numerous other medical centers in and around the city. If Chicago is your new home, it’s a great idea to get to know which healthcare facilities are nearest to you.
Chicago Real Estate
Chicago has 868 neighborhoods to choose from. Real estate in the heart of the city is some of the most expensive in the country, but the median home cost for Chicago only slightly higher than the United States average. The cost of rent is very close to the national average at $1,139 per month for a typical two-bedroom apartment.
Chicago has over 108,000 hotel rooms, ranging from bed and breakfasts to luxury high-rises. Virgin Hotels Chicago was named “#1 Hotel in the U.S.” by readers of the Conde Nast Traveler in 2016. Use these links to find accommodations for your next trip to the city.
If you truly want to get a feel for the restaurant scene in Chicago, you need to attend the annual Taste of Chicago food festival. It is your chance to try a dish from one of over 7,300 of the restaurants in the city in one place. And, don’t forget to try the food Chicago is famous for: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, and Chicago-style hot dogs.
Things To Do in Chicago
There is so much to do and to see in Chicago, it’s hard to find time for it all—even for residents. One of the most-recommended must-sees is Navy Pier. It offers attractions of all kinds and for all people, including dining, shopping, museums, and annual events. You can also go to one of Chicago’s many theaters, galleries, music clubs, or comedy clubs. Known as a great sports city, there are many opportunities to catch your favorite Chicago teams play. And when it’s not too cold, stroll the city’s lakefront along Lake Michigan, or visit one of Chicago’s parks. Millennium Park is infused with art through its unique design, public art installments and cultural events. Grant Park, known as “Chicago’s front yard,” boasts 300 acres separating the busy downtown from the lakefront.