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.

The City of Lights: Everything You Need to Know About New York City

The City of Lights: Everything You Need to Know About New York City

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Bright lights, Time’s Square, The Statue of Liberty – all staples of one of the most renowned cities in the world: New York


New York City is not only filled with a rich and influential history, but it’s also one of the largest cities in the state. What’s more, the Big Apple has been recognized for housing the highest population across all cities in the United States. While the Empire State wasn’t always defined by its massive skyscrapers, its historical impact spans the gamut when it comes to the arts, culture, finance, and media. 



When Was New York City Built and Who Founded It?

Early Beginnings of New York

First explored by the Europeans, a Florentine in the service of France named Giovanni da Verrazzano is credited with discovering New York Harbor in 1524. Despite this massive find, another 100 years passed before the first settlers made their way to the area. In 1609, Henry Hudson, an Englishman who was employed by the Dutch, reached the bay by sailboat, cruising across the river that now bears his name.


Welcome to New Amsterdam

It was the year 1624 when the new Dutch West India Company sent the first group of settlers to what we now recognize as Lower Manhattan. Colonists worked alongside one another later that Spring to build a small town, subsequently naming it New Amsterdam. Peter Stuyvesant and Peter Minuit became the first two individuals to govern the territory, helping establish what later became a lively trading post. 



How Did New York City Get Its Name? 

The 1664 British Establishment

Germans, Walloons, Spaniards, Scandinavians, and Portuguese immigrants were among the earliest settlers to call the territory home. In 1634, approximately 1,500 inhabitants were residing in the area, along with 18 different languages spoken among the melting pot of individuals. 


In an effort to protect Dutch settlers from the British, Governor Peter Stuyvesant decided to build a wall across the expanse of the island (now present-day Wall Street) in 1653. The endeavor wound up being futile, however, as Dutch settlers, who were unable to put up a fight, surrendered to the British on September 8, 1664. Shortly after, King Charles II honored his brother, the Duke of York, by renaming New Amsterdam to New York

new york city history

For a brief period in 1673, the Dutch reclaimed the territory, calling it “New Orange” for the Prince of Orange. Only a year later, however, the British regained control, passing a treaty to finalize the shift in ownership. Later on, in the 18th century, the town blossomed into a city, harboring over 25,000 residents. 

With the British in control, the city became split between pro-independence “Patriots” and loyalists to the crown. On June 27, 1775, half of those individuals went to cheer on George Washington as he went on to command the Continental Army in Boston, while the other half of the population were down by the harbor welcoming back the English governor who was returning from London. 


New York remained under British control until the Siege of Yorktown in 1781, which effectively put an end to the Revolutionary War. England finally recognized American independence two years later. After Washington’s triumphant return to New York, he became the country’s first president. While Philadelphia officially became the nation’s capital in 1790, New York remained the title of America’s commercial center. 



What Are Some Significant Events That Shaped New York?

The Opening of the Statue of Liberty

In 1886, Lady Liberty, one of today’s most iconic and recognized emblems of New York City opened on Ellis Island. The Statue of Liberty was a celebratory gift from France to commemorate the Union’s victorious win in the American Civil War. The monument is replete with symbolism – with her broken chains, torch, and tablet of law representation of hope and freedom. 


Ellis Island: A Historical Immigration Site

For over 60 years – from 1892 till its closure in 1954, Ellis Island was an infamous gateway for all immigrants relocating to the U.S.’s east coast. Located between New Jersey and New York – at the mouth of the Hudson River – millions of immigrants passed through Ellis Island. It’s estimated that nearly 40% of current American citizens are able to trace at least one ancestor back to their arrival at Ellis Island. 

statue of liberty in NYC

The New York World Fair: 1930 to 1940

In the early days, world fairs focused extensively on technology, industrialization, and scientific progression. This changed, however, when New York City hosted the World’s Fair from 1939 to 1940. The theme, which centered around society and culture, was the “Dawn of a New Day.” It wasn’t just Americans who participated, countries around the globe took part in the festivities, attracting nearly 44 million people to the event. 


Headquarters of the United Nations

Founded in 1945, the United Nations (UN), named by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was established to help maintain peace and international security, foster relationships among nations, promote human rights, and serve as a way for nations to harmonize their actions. Originally formed after the conclusion of World War II, the UN began with 51 member states and has since grown to include over 193. The security council for the UN met in London up until 1952 when New York City became its official headquarters. New York City is home to four of the UN’s main components (except for the International Court of Justice located in Hague), including the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, Security Council, and Secretariat.


The September 11th Attacks

America and residents of New York City will never forget the tragic events that took place on September 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon that day, which took the lives of 3,000 people and injured over 6,000 more. To this day, first responders are still dealing with the health effects of responses to the attacks. The painful and heart-wrenching events of that day led the U.S. to launch a War on Terror. A 9/11 Memorial has been erected in NYC as a way to commemorate and honor all those who lost their lives that day. It is also a symbol of New York’s resilience and unity in times of crisis. 


Before the Empire State was a playground of skyscrapers and buildings, the city was home to a number of famous historical events. New York City’s rich history is responsible for creating the city of lights and action as we know it today.

A Historical Look at the Great City of Houston Texas

A Historical Look at the Great City of Houston Texas

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Houston metro area is not only one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, but it also houses the most ethnically diverse population in the U.S. With its family-friendly attractions, lively arts scene, vibrant culture, and thriving job market, it’s no wonder many people are flocking to Bayou City. Houston is also known for its work in the space exploration sector. Before the city became what it is today, it experienced a number of fascinating historical milestones that contributed to establishing the Houston, Texas we all know and love. 



When Was Houston Founded?

Battle of Jacinto in 1836

Harrisburg became the first settlement in Houston in 1826. Ten years later, in April of 1836, it was destroyed by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, a Mexican general who sought to overthrow General Sam Houston and the Texas army – who fought for independence from Mexico. The infamous battle took place along the bank of the San Jacinto River, which would later become the site for the city of Houston as we know it today. 


The Aftermath of the Battle of Jacinto

A week later, Santa Anna was captured at the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas was finally freed. In August of 1836, two brothers and land speculators from New York, Augustus C., and John K. Allen, purchased the battle-worn town of Harrisburg. Soon after, they started an advertising campaign that showcased Harrisburg as the future “great interior commercial emporium” of Texas. 


A mere two months later, John Allen appealed to the First Congress of the Republic of Texas, persuading them to move to his town – which was named after the first President of Texas, Sam Houston. While his efforts were applaud-worthy, his plea was denounced in 1839, only two years after the government relocated to the area. 



Who Is Sam Houston?

Born in 1793 in Virginia, Sam Houston was a congressman, lawyer, and senator in Tennessee. He elected to move to Texas in 1832 to join the escalating conflict between the Mexican government and the U.S. settlers in the region. After becoming commander of the local army, Houston successfully led his men in the defeat of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna during the battle at San Jacinto, effectively securing independence for Texans. 

Sam Houston history

In 1836, and again in 1841, Sam Houston was elected to non-consecutive presidential terms. After Texas became a state in 1845, he served as a senator. Despite his pro-slavery stand, he firmly believed in the preservation of the Union. In 1859, he was elected governor. He fought to diffuse sectional tensions (and advance his career) through the institution of a protectorate over Mexico. His efforts were unsuccessful, as was his bid to secure the presidential nomination for the Constitutional Union’s party. 


In January of 1861, despite Houston’s resistance, a state secession convention met and voted in support of Texas leaving the union. After the secession of Texas, he was removed from office for good and later retired. 



What Are Some Historical Facts About Houston, Texas?

Houston Was Once the Capital of Texas

For a short period – from 1837 to 1839, Houston became the official capital of Texas. After Sam Houston’s first presidency, however, the capital was moved to Austin by Mirabeau B. Lamar.


The Chamber of Commerce in 1840

On April 4, 1840, seven businessmen from Houston came together to form the Chamber of Commerce. Houston established itself as a center of trade; most notably exporting cotton at the nearby port of Galveston. After Galveston’s port facilities were destroyed by hurricane floodwaters in 1900, Houston became the state’s leading port. 


In 1840, the first dock was built on The Buffalo Bayou, which is now part of the Houston ship channel. By the early 1980s, the port (the third largest in tonnage moved in the U.S. at the time), handled over 80 million tons of coastal, foreign, and canal shipping on an annual basis. When oil was uncovered in the region in 1901, the city saw sizable industrial development – ultimately stimulating prosperity and expanding the city’s economic base, which was limited to lumber and cotton in the 19th century. Construction to build The Houston Ship Channel wrapped up in 1914, triggering the establishment of numerous refineries alongside the port in the ’20s and ’30s. 


Home of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center

In 1961, Houston established the Manned Spacecraft Center, which was renamed to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973 in honor of the late President. The center has been leading space flight operations for NASA for four decades and is credited for developing, designing, and operating human space flight. 


houston texas


Why Live in Houston?

Great cuisine, thriving city, gorgeous weather – what more can you ask for? Houston, Texas has over 2 million residents, making it the fourth-largest city in the U.S. What’s more, over 145 different languages are spoken in Houston’s incredibly cultural and diverse metro area. 


The city’s economy has continued to flourish thanks to the diversification of businesses that have laid down roots in the urban landscape. While Houston will always remain a hub for oil and energy, there has been tremendous job growth in a number of sectors, like biotechnology, healthcare, aerospace, and information technology. 


Houston’s high-quality healthcare can’t be discounted either. Texas Medical Center is internationally-renowned and encompasses the largest medical center in the world – with two medical schools, 13 hospitals, and four nursing programs.



Nothing Beats the Bayou City

With its ethnically diverse population, rich culture, and abundance of economic opportunities, Houston is a highly sought-after place to lay down roots. Not only does the metro area come with some fascinating history, but it provides residents with outdoor activities, great educational systems, and a flourishing economy.