Deep Dish Pizza, Jazz, and Sports: The History of Chicago, IL

Deep Dish Pizza, Jazz, and Sports: The History of Chicago, IL

Reading Time: 4 minutes

With an estimated 2.7 million residents, Chicago has become the third-largest city in America. Whether you prefer to call it The Windy City, The Second City, the City of Big Shoulders, The City That Works, or The White City, Chicago’s plethora of nicknames are a tribute to the metro area’s rich and fascinating history. Before transforming into the modern city we know today, Chicago experienced a number of historical events that helped shape the city into the highly sought-after destination it is now known for. 



When was Chicago Founded?

As one of the largest cities in the American Midwest, Chicago was founded in 1830. The region was incorporated as a town in 1833 and later as a city in 1837. As the popular 1916 poem by Carl Sandburg put it, Chicago grew to become the “Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.” Chicago’s name first appeared in 1688 as “Chigagou,” which is an Algonquian term for “onion field.”


In 1779, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a merchant, and trapper acknowledged for establishing the trading post that developed into Chicago, became the first permanent settler in the region. The Chicago region is located along a water route that links the Mississippi River with the Great Lakes, making the area home for many tribes who used the accessibility to water for travel, healing, and food. It became a traditional homeland to several Native American tribes, including the Illinois, Miami, Potawatomie, Ojibwa, Menominee, and Ho-Chunk.



What was Chicago Before it Became a City?

Prehistory and Early Years

In 1973, two French explorers and missionaries, Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet crossed the Great Portage, between Illinois and the Chicago River during their expedition. The first non-indigenous settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, was a Santo Domingan with mixed European and African ancestry. In 1803, the United States Army built Fort Dearborn, located on the southern bank of the Chicago River. In 1812, however, it was decimated by an Indian raid during the Battle of Fort Dearborn. Four years later, it was rebuilt. Chicago remained a small settlement up until 1837 when it was officially acknowledged as a city. 


chicago history

Chicago as a Trading Center

The Black Hawk War of 1832 marked the end of the Native American resistance in the region. After being incorporated as a city in 1837, the population count reached about 4,000 people. It was the year 1848 when Chicago procured its first railroad and telegraph, helping the city become the transport hub for the U.S. Later two innovations surrounding the Board of Trade’s wheat grading standards and grain elevators revolutionized the way crops were sold at the time. By 1854, the city was recognized as the world’s largest grain port, with a population count of nearly 30,000 people. 



What Are Some Significant Historical Events in Chicago?

The 1886 Haymarket Affair

The Haymarket Affair, also commonly referred to as the Haymarket Riot or the Haymarket Incident, took place on May 4, 1886. At the time, strikes held by industrial workers occurred frequently, as workers fought to eradicate the dangerous working conditions, and low wages they were exposed to. On May 4th a labor protest rally near Haymarket Square took a turn for the worse when riots broke out and a bomb was hauled at the police.  


The violence resulted in at least eight deaths. While there wasn’t any concrete evidence, eight radical labor activists were apprehended and convicted of setting off the bomb. Four of the eight men were hung as a punishment. Instead of moving the agenda forward, the Haymarket Affair wound up being a major setback for America’s labor movement. It made fighting for rights, such as an eight-hour workday, arduous for organized protestors. 


The Great Fire in 1871 and its Rebuild

A fire that broke out in October of 1871 had left over 100,000 residents homeless, and one-third of Chicago destroyed. What sparked the initial fire remains unknown to this day, but drought, wooden buildings, and high winds helped fuel the massive flames. A majority of railroads and factories were untouched by the fire. 


World Columbian Exposition of 1893

In the late 1800s, the city of Chicago blossomed into a national retail center, producing a number of big business tycoons, like George Pullman, Philip Armour, Marshal Field, and Potter Palmer. In 1885, Chicago was introduced to its first skyscraper, which was 10-stories high. Later, architects like Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Louis Sullivan all contributed to the city’s expanding skyline. 


In 1893, Chicago held the World’s Columbian Exposition, attracting well over 20 million visitors. They dubbed it “White City” in honor of the Gilded Age buildings constructed alongside Chicago’s lakefront. The exposition buildings were so aesthetically striking that they inspired the launch of a new movement known as the “City Beautiful” movement. The focus was on incorporating Beaux-Arts design into American city planning.


chicago history


What Is the Status of Chicago Today?

Today, Chicago is still flourishing, with nearly 3 million people calling the city home. As the third-largest U.S. city, Chicago is replete with culture, sports, food, infrastructures, and many attractions suitable for all ages. One of the magical facets of this city is the 8,800 acres of green space and 600 parks speckled through the metro area. The Chicago Park District has earned the title of being the largest municipal park manager in the nation. 


The Windy City is also home to nearly 200 art galleries, 60 museums, and 20 neighborhood-sponsored art centers. It also houses one of the oldest zoos in America – the Lincoln Park Zoo, which still offers free admission into its facilities. Among the city’s attractions is The Museum of Science and Industry – the largest in its category, the Western Hemisphere. With all these sites to see, it’s no surprise that the City of Big Shoulders is a popular place for tourists and families alike. 


Chicago’s thriving economy and lively arts and culture scene are all a tribute to the city’s rich history. There’s nothing better than reflecting upon how the city was established, watching how certain events unfolded through the years, and seeing how Chicago has transformed into the beloved city we know today.

Traveling to Chicago: Iconic Tourist Attractions and Under-the-Radar Places to Go

Traveling to Chicago: Iconic Tourist Attractions and Under-the-Radar Places to Go

Reading Time: 4 minutes

On the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago has become one of the must-see cities in the United States. The city is home to iconic locations like Wrigley Field, the Willis Tower, and Millennium Park. Along with numerous famous landmarks, Chicago offers festivals, local markets, and neighborhoods with unique architecture. If you haven’t been to Chicago, the time to visit is now. The locals love living there, and tourists love visiting. Whether you take in the top tourist attractions or check out the hidden gems, there is truly something for everyone in the Windy City.



What are the Top Tourist Attractions in Chicago?

When you visit Chicago, it is easy to get around to the top tourist attractions. While automobile traffic can be an absolute nightmare in town, there are several methods of transportation that you can use to see the sites. Buses, trains, and tourist trolleys will take you to the major sights. 



Visit State-of-the-art Museums in Chicago

Chicago takes great pride in its museums. These museums are on par with some of the best in the world, including the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. These are the must-see museums in Chicagoland. Begin at the southern end of Lakeshore Drive and work your way north to see these icons: 



Seeing the museums in Chicago can take up several days. If you visit Chicago in the warmer months, these tourist attractions are worth your time. 



Stroll Around the Parks 

Millennial Park, in the middle of downtown, is home to several special events and festivals. It is also the home of several memorable art displays. The Cloud Gate – which is affectionately called The Bean – is a piece of art to see, so is the Crown Fountain that features a variety of Chicago residents. 


Another top park to visit is Grant Park, which is home to the beautiful Buckingham Fountain. Grant Park is the park in Chicago that includes several smaller parks, including Millennial Park. You can sit along the banks of Lake Michigan, run in the Chicago Marathon, and visit the museums at the Museum Campus.


Lincoln Park Zoo is another park to see in Chicago. This zoo is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, and it is for free. After you spend the day at Lincoln Park Zoo, you can spend the evening at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. The Friendly Confines are only two miles to the north. A visit to Chicago is incomplete without checking out the ivy at the second-oldest active ballpark in the US. 



tourist attractions in chicago

Check Out Navy Pier

If you are looking for a place to shop, eat, and be entertained, Navy Pier is it. This is a great place to go with children because it is home to the Chicago Children’s Museum. It is also home to the Centennial Wheel. You can even book a dinner and cruise at the pier. 




See the Heights

Chicago is home to some of the tallest buildings in the world. At one point in time, the Willis Tower (which was then called the Sears Tower) was the tallest building in the world. Both the Willis Tower and 360 Chicago (the observation deck atop the Hancock Building) give you a bird’s eye view of Chi-Town. 




What Hidden Spots Should Tourists See?

Chicago has 234 square miles of things to see. While the city is smaller than places like New York City and Los Angeles, these are still a lot of square miles to fill. And, along with the plethora of must-see tourist attractions, there are several hidden gems that are worth seeking out. 



Graceland Cemetery

You might not think of a cemetery as a place to visit, but consider the sheer numbers of people who see Arlington Cemetery each day. Graceland Cemetery in Uptown is filled with statues, elaborate tombs, and a historic stone chapel. Graceland Cemetery has over 2,000 trees on the grounds, making it a certified arboretum. 


Many famous Chicagoans are buried there, including renowned architects Mies van de Rohe and Louis Sullivan, socialite Edith Rockefeller McCormick, Cubs great Ernie Banks, and movie critic Roger Ebert. 



Bridgeport Art Center

On the southside near Guaranteed Rate Field is the Bridgeport Art Center. This is the creative home to local artists and designers who work in several media. The center has an outdoor sculpture garden, and three curated art galleries. There are even plenty of parking spots, which is a unique sight in Chicago, too. 


what to do in chicago


Maxwell Street Market

Chicago is a great place to shop, and one must-visit gem is the Maxwell Street Market, which is open Sundays from 7 AM – 3 PM all year. It’s near the South Loop and Little Italy. Check out the handmade crafts, resale treasures, street food, and live music. It’s a family-friendly market that you shouldn’t miss. 



Old Town School of Folk Music

Up the road from Lou Malnati’s Pizza in the Ravenswood neighborhood is the Old Town School of Folk Music, which was the school that trained students like Steve Goodman and the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn. If you love music, you must check it out. 



Garden of Phoenix

Some remnants of Chicago’s World’s Fair still exist, including the Japanese garden in Jackson Park. It’s south of the Museum of Science and Industry in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The Garden of The Phoenix is on an island within Jackson Park and is home to cherry trees, koi ponds, and authentic Japanese horticulture. Visit in the spring when the cherry trees blossom. 


Chicago is the perfect place for tourists. The Midwestern city is filled with friendly people and plenty of unforgettable places to see and things to do. If you are visiting Chicago for the first time, this is a perfect guide for you. One of the last adjectives anyone would use to describe Chicago is boring. From professional sports leagues, momentous skyscrapers, notable shopping centers, award-winning restaurants, and unexpected parks filled with landmark works of art, Chicago has it all.

The Chicago Housing Market Outlook in 2020

The Chicago Housing Market Outlook in 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Chicago is always one of the best places to invest. This trend remains in 2020. Chicago has a diverse economy that makes it one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It’s also the most popular tourist location in the US for both leisure visitors and business travelers. If you’re thinking of buying a home in Chicago, here are the things you should know.



Chicago Housing Market Outlook 2020

If you’re considering getting in on the Chicago housing market, whether for an investment or to purchase your forever home, you’re making an excellent choice, and the outlook appears excellent. Just a year prior, in 2019, the housing market in Chicago was fairly weak. In terms of growth, the line was flat and showed no real increase. The picture for 2020 is quite the opposite.


Chicago is now a warm market for real estate, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. When it comes to supply and demand, there are more real estate buyers than there are sellers. This portends good things for all sectors of real estate, buyers, and sellers included. 


When demand is higher than available supply, home prices naturally increase, which initially benefits sellers. However, in January, Zillow reported that 14.5% of Chicago’s listings had a price cut at the beginning of 2020, which could make increased pricing now more along the line of true value. These houses also have greater appreciation when purchased earlier on. After rising slightly since last year, the current trend for median days on the market has flattened out. You can expect homes placed on the Chicago market to only last for 86 days before they sell.



Chicago Housing Market Predictions for the Rest of 2020

Purchasing a home in Chicago is an excellent investment, whether you’re buying and renting out or purchasing your permanent home. Housing prices are expected to flatten out on a national level, only increasing by 0.8%. This will allow buyers the option of moving and purchasing houses that are within their affordability level. Overall, we can expect to see mid-sized markets benefitting the most from these flattened prices.


Though the 0.8% increase is expected, the last quarter saw a higher appreciation rate for Chicago to the tune of 1.29%. This bump would correlate to an annual upward adjustment forecast of 5% to 6%. So while prices nationwide might be lower, Chicago still appears to be appreciating at a faster rate, though not so fast that buyers cannot benefit.


Chicago is still a strong renter’s market and will continue to trend positive for rental properties. More than 50% of Chicago’s residents rent, making the option to purchase real estate for use as a rental property a strong move. Despite recent population loss, Chicago still ranks as the most populated city in the Midwest with three million people in Chicago proper, and another ten million in the surrounding metro area.


When considering home prices and purchase timing, forecasts are assuming a 3.2% rise by the end of the next twelve months. If you want to purchase a home, it now appears to be the best time.


credit in chicago


What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a Home in Chicago?

As a general rule, the higher your credit score, the better chances you have to purchase the home of your dreams. The lower your score, the harder time you’ll have to convince a home mortgage lender of your qualifications to obtain the loan. Generally, the minimum credit score you need to purchase a house is around 620. Though you can find some lenders who are willing to work with lower credit down as far as 580.



Loan Options by Credit Score for Buying a House

The options you have for obtaining a home loan depend almost solely on your credit score. Here are the typical options you can expect for varying credit score ranges.


300-499: At this score, you have few to no options for obtaining a home loan. If you can obtain a loan, the interest rate will almost certainly be prohibitively high, resulting in an interest payment totaling more than 20% of your total home cost.


500-579: Here, there are several poor credit score mortgage programs you can obtain loans through. Options are slim, however, so you won’t get your choice of interest rates or payment options.


580-619: At this point, you can take advantage of a few low down payment programs. Interest rates will still be higher than you might have a budget for, so consider the interest rate before you sign on the dotted line for your mortgage.


620-699: There are several government-backed programs, as well as some conventional options available at this score range.


700-739: This is when you can start to take advantage of good credit score mortgage programs. At this point, you’ll be able to obtain better interest rates that will benefit your budget in the long run.


740 and above: Here, you’ll have your pick of lending options and will obtain the best interest rates the industry has to offer.




Common Mortgage Types in Chicago, IL

There are several types of mortgage options to consider when purchasing a home.


Conventional Mortgage: This is a mortgage offered through a private home loan lender, or Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac


credit score chicagoFHA Loans: This is a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration. These loans allow down payments of only 3.5% for credit scores beginning at 580. Borrowers likely will be required to pay mortgage insurance to protect the lender against default.


VA Loans: Available to veterans, these loans offer no down payments and are federally guaranteed.


USDA Loans: These loans require no down payment and are available for low to moderate-income homebuyers. With a USDA loan, you can finance 100% of your home’s purchase price.


Illinois Housing Development Authority: If you already reside in Illinois, the IHDA loan program will help assist with up to 4% of your home’s purchase price, up to $6,000, and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with reasonable interest.



Chicago: A Great Place to Invest

Stated by a credit repair Chicago specialist, if you are interested in buying a home in Chicago, start by preparing your credit score. Shoot for a score as high as possible, then determine which options you have when applying for your mortgage. With its diverse economy and affordable homes, Chicago is an excellent place to live and invest.