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30 Fun Facts about Chicago 

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There are so many fun facts about Chicago that make this city a buzzing cultural metropolis that many people are dying to visit. But what exactly is it that makes Chicago so fun? Read on to find out!

Fun Facts About Chicago

Chicago is a mix of natural beauty and modern architecture. The soothing shores of the majestic Lake Michigan and the lush-green scenery of Millennium Park are enough to make you feel curious about the city. The city also has a booming music and comedy scene. What else does Chicago have to offer?

If you want to know more about Chicago than just the general facts, read on!

30 Fun Facts about Chicago

1. Chicago Is Where Modern Architecture Started

If you’ve ever been to Chicago, you may already know that the city has brilliant architecture and many iconic landmarks!

It was after the Chicago fire that the city started booming architecturally. In 1885, the first skyscraper in the world, the Home Insurance Company’s building, was constructed. 

You’ll also find iconic buildings like Willis Tower, the second-tallest building in the entire Western Hemisphere and Harold Washington Library Center, one of the largest libraries in the world. 

So, if you’re an architect or an aspiring one, note these fun facts about Chicago!

2. Chicago Is the 3rd Largest City in the US

New York and Los Angeles are the first and second largest cities in the US in terms of population, respectively. They’re followed by Chicago, which is the third largest city. 

Chicago has more than 2.7 million residents, whereas New York and Los Angeles have 8.4 million and 3.8 million residents respectively. 

The whole area of Chicago is spread across an area of 600 square kilometres.  

3. There are Two Main Water Bodies Near Chicago 

These fun facts about Chicago are for people who love lakes and rivers. 

Chicago is far from being a dry state. It’s located near two major water bodies – the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. 

The Chicago River has a length of 156 miles or 251 kilometres whereas Lake Michigan is 306 miles or 494 kilometres long.

Therefore, in Chicago, there’s a 26-mile or 41-kilometre-long stretch across the lake. There are many beaches, like Oak Street Beach and Foster Beach in Chicago too.

4. Chicago Has the Tallest Building Designed by a Woman in the World

This is one of the fun facts about Chicago that I absolutely love! 

The Windy City has the tallest building in the world, St. Regis, designed by a woman named Jeanne Gang. It has a height of 363 metres or 1,198 feet and 101 floors. 

The second tallest building by a woman, named Aqua, is also in Chicago. The same female architect designed it too, and it has a height of 262 metres or 859 feet and 87 floors.

30 Fun Facts about Chicago

5. Walt Disney Was Born in Chicago

These fun facts about Chicago prove that the city is truly magical! After all, the city is the birthplace of Walt Disney, the man behind Disney and its famous cartoons. 

Walt Disney was born in the Hermosa neighbourhood of Chicago in 1901. Today, his home is also a tourist destination in Chicago. You can check it out if you want to know more about his life and achievements!

6. The First Brownie Was Made in Chicago

Here’s one of the drool-worthy fun facts about Chicago. 

Bertha Palmer, an American businesswoman, was the first person to come up with the idea of brownies for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

It was created in the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. 

7. Chicago Is Home to People from Various Ethnicities 

After reading these fun facts about Chicago, you might already know that it’s the third-largest city with more than 2.7 million people! 

Another beautiful thing about Chicago is its racial diversity. You’ll find people from different races and backgrounds in this city. 

As per statistics from 2020, the city has 35.9% White, 7% Asian, 29.2% Black, 1.3% Native American, and 15.8% from other races.

30 Fun Facts about Chicago

8. The World’s First Ferris Wheel Was Built in Chicago

Since I was a kid, I’ve always adored Ferris wheels! So, this is one of my personal favourite facts about Chicago. 

The first Ferris wheel was built for the Chicago World’s Fair by George Washington Gale Ferris, a civil engineer, in 1893. The fair took place in Jackson Park in Chicago. 

Unfortunately, the Ferris wheel was destroyed, so you won’t find it now. Yet, Chicago has another famous Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. 

9. Chicago Has a Lot of Nicknames

You may hear people referring to Chicago with different types of nicknames, many of which make some great Chicago Instagram captions

Some of the most common nicknames for Chicago include “The Windy City”, “City of Big Shoulders”, “Chi-Town”, and “City in a Garden”. 

There are often discussions about the interpretation of the nickname “The Windy City”. Some believe that the city was named such due to the cold winds coming from Lake Michigan. 

Yet, another theory is that the people of Chicago were considered boastful, proud, and “full of air”. 

10. Chicago Has the Second Largest Transportation System in the US

The Chicago Transit Authority or CTA is the primary transportation organisation for Chicago. 

It takes care of the second-largest transportation system in the US as it covers Chicago and the remaining 40 suburbs. There are also around 129 bus routes and the system gets 1.6 million rides in just a single day!

11. Chicago Has a River Flowing in Reverse

This is one of the most unique fun facts about Chicago. 

Have you ever heard about a river that flows in reverse? If not, you need to know about the Chicago River!

On January 1 1900, the flow of the Chicago River was reversed. This way, the river drains into the Mississippi River instead of Lake Michigan. 

The whole point of reversing was to reduce the pollution in Lake Michigan by sending the polluted water to the Mississippi River and reducing the fear of diseases. 

12. The First Open-Heart Surgery in the US Was Done in Chicago

Apart from architecture, Chicago has achievements in the medical industry too. 

In 1893, Daniel Hale Williams, an American surgeon conducted the first open-heart surgery on James Cornish, a patient with a knife wound on his chest. 

The story is extremely impressive as Williams conducted the surgery without using any antibiotics, X-rays, surgical prep, or modern-day tools. He solely relied on his skills and succeeded. 

30 Fun Facts about Chicago

13. There Are a Lot of Neighbourhoods in Chicago

If you’re bad at navigating roads and neighbourhoods, you might get lost in Chicago!

The city has 77 designated community areas. In fact, these areas also have many neighbourhoods within. It’s said that there might be more than 200 neighbourhoods.

Each community area and neighbourhood has its own beautiful past and culture. Therefore, Chicago is also known as “The City of Neighbourhoods”.  

14. Chicago is a Foodie’s Paradise!

These fun facts about Chicago prove that the city is a paradise for food lovers! 

You can find practically any cuisine in Chicago as there are more than 7,300 restaurants. If you ever want to try a Michelin-star restaurant, the city has 23 of them

Some of the must-visit Michelin-star restaurants to try out in Chicago include Oriole, Alinea, Claudia, and Galit. All of them have a unique cuisine and style of their own. 

15. Don’t Miss “Chicago’s Front Yard”

If you’re planning to visit Chicago soon, remember these travel-related fun facts about Chicago. 

You need to visit Millennium Park, also known as “Chicago’s Front Yard”. The park is spread across 319 acres in the luxurious Loop community area of Chicago. 

There are many things to see in this park like the world-famous Cloud Gate statue or “The Bean”, skating rinks, lush-green gardens, and beautiful fountains making this one of the most popular things to do in Chicago.

16. Chicago Is Great for Biking

Bike enthusiasts will love these fun facts about Chicago!

There are several bike lanes in the city that easily make about 300 miles or 482 kilometres. It also has around 800 Divvy bike share stations. You can get a Divvy bike and explore the entire city.  

If you’re looking for scenic biking trails in Chicago, go for North Shore Channel Trail, Des Plaines River Trail, and Lakefront Trail!

17. The First Blood Bank in the World Was Made in Chicago

This is yet another one of the medical-related fun facts about Chicago. 

The first blood bank was set up at the Cook County Hospital by Dr Fantus in March 1937.

18. Chicago Is Home to Many Celebrities

Apart from Walt Disney, many celebrities either live or took birth in Chicago. 

One of the most famous public figures that currently lives in Chicago is Oprah Winfrey. 

Hollywood celebrities like Kanye West, Ben Savage, John Cusack, Jenny McCarthy, and Kristin Cavallari also hail from Chicago. Some of them also have their homes in the Windy City. 

The former president of the USA, Barack Obama, also has a home near the University of Chicago, in the Kenwood neighbourhood. 

So, you might stumble across a celebrity if you’re roaming about the streets of Chicago!

30 Fun Facts about Chicago

19. The First Deep-Dish Pizza Was Made in Chicago

It’s hard to not mention the food-related fun facts about Chicago as it’s practically a foodie’s city. 

In many pizzerias, you might notice the word “Chicago” before the term “deep-dish pizza”. The reason is that the first deep-dish pizza was actually invented and cooked in Chicago itself! 

In 1940, Pizzeria Uno’s founder and owner, Ike Sewell created the first ever deep-dish pizza. 

Unlike normal pizza, deep-dish pizza is often served in a pan, has a thick crust, and is full of cheese, pizza sauces, and toppings.

20. The Chicago River is Dyed Green on St. Patrick’s Day

Since 1962, the locals of Chicago dye the river green on St. Patrick’s Day. 

It is believed that Chicago’s local plumbers’ union poured a little bit of green dye into the Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day. After that day, it simply became a tradition!

21. Chicago Is Famous for Comedy

Right after New York, it is Chicago that gave rise to many comedy kings like Steve Carrell and Mike Meyers. 

The city also has several comedy clubs like The Second City (the most popular), Annoyance Theatre, The Lincoln Lodge, and many more. 

You won’t be having a bad time if you visit these comedy clubs in Chicago!

22. Chicago Has A LOT Of Burger Kings

Chicago stands third in having the most outlets of Burger King in the entire US. The city has over 52 Burger Kings at various locations.  

23. Chicago Has One of the Busiest Airports in the World

In 2022, Chicago O’Hare Airport was considered the fourth busiest airport in the world! The airport received more than 68,340,619 passengers.

24. Chicago Has a Rich Music History

If you’re in Chicago, you can sing away your blues

The city is well-known for its contribution towards the jazz and blues industry.  During the Great Migration in the 20th Century, many African-Americans shifted to Chicago. This gave rise to the music scene of the city. 

25. There Are Big Sports Teams in Chicago

Sports lovers, these fun facts about Chicago are for you!

There are eight main sports teams in Chicago – the Chicago Bulls, White Sox, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Sky, Chicago Fire Soccer, and many more. 

The most popular sport in Chicago is baseball. The city’s two main baseball teams are Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox.

In the US, 23 states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Illinois is also one of the states that have legalized marijuana. 

Therefore, you can purchase recreational marijuana in Chicago as long as you’re 21 years old.

27. There Are More Than 70 Museums in Chicago

If you’re a history lover, Chicago is the place to be. 

The city is home to more than 70 museums that deal with science, history, art, and culture. 

The Art Institute of Chicago is best for those who want to explore old and new paintings, whereas the Field Museum is a natural history museum for those interested in palaeontology. 

Other museums include the Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Centre. 

28. Chicago Has a Lot of Green Space

We often complain about how most cities don’t have enough green cover. So, reading these facts about Chicago made me quite happy!

Chicago has several parks like the famous Millennium Park, Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Jackson Park, and many more. These parks have extensive lawns and trees that simply enhance Chicago’s beauty!

29. The Great Chicago Fire 

This isn’t one of the fun facts about Chicago, but it is an important one- the city once faced a severe city fire. 

On October 8, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago and continued to burn the city for two days straight. The fire claimed 200 lives and destructed more than 17,000 buildings!

The cause behind the fire was a man named Louis M. Cohn who accidentally knocked over a lantern in Patrick and Catherine O’Leary’s barn. 

The Chicago Fire was like a renaissance for the city as it led to the “Great Rebuilding”. 

30. Chicago Means Onion Field

Okay, this is one of the most hilarious fun facts about Chicago! You’d expect that the name of a big city in the US has a deeper meaning. 

Yet, the name “Chicago” is taken from Algonquin words “Chicagou” and “Shikaakwa”, meaning “wild garlic” and “Stinky Onion” respectively.

There are many other theories behind the origin of Chicago’s name too. 

Further Reading – Fun Facts About Chicago

After reading this article on fun facts about Chicago, I hope you got to dive deeper into the city’s history, culture, architecture, and even geography

After all, Chicago is much more than just the skyscrapers and business hubs! 

If you want to know more about such US cities, you can read similar posts on my blog as mentioned below. 

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