Chicago at a Glance
Ranking in the Top 20 on Forbes magazine’s lists for Safest and Most Wired Cities, Chicago provides residents and visitors with a variety of renowned museums, performance and visual arts, shopping districts and professional sports teams. One thing that sets Chicago apart from most cities is its central location in the United States and its prime position on the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan. Residents take advantage of all the recreational fun the city has to offer with its diverse parks scattered throughout the city and surrounding areas. Plus, you can learn all about your new home by visiting any of Chicago’s major historical attractions, and for those who want to get involved, Chicago is home to many organizations that thrive on giving back to the local community. As the third largest U.S. city, Chicago provides a plethora of unique opportunities that are yours for the taking.

HISTORY
With a name originating from the local Native Americans, who called the area Chicagoua due to the presence of wild onion or skunkweed at the mouth of the Chicago River, the town of Chicago was established in 1833 with a population of fewer than 200 residents. Three years later, construction began on a 96-mile canal that would connect the Chicago River with the Illinois River. The project lured in many newcomers, and by 1837, Chicago’s population had reached around 4,000 inhabitants so on March 4, Illinois Legislation incorporated Chicago as a city. The Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal eventually opened in 1848, but its intent to expand trade soon was replaced by Chicago’s railroad boom.

POLITICS
In a state heavily divided by political parties, Chicago remains a stronghold of success for the Democratic Party. With its large population, Chicago’s political push greatly has influenced the state’s consistent democratic vote in the last six presidential elections. While the southern counties of Illinois are devoted Republican, the state’s northern section continuously backs democratic views, and its vast numbers outweigh the scarcely populated south. The reasoning behind the political spilt mainly involves the characteristics of each location. Chicagoans view downstate communities as unrefined rural citizens that remain stuck in their conservative ways whereas southern residents believe that the city is a place of untrustworthy individuals that replace traditional values with liberal thinking and only concerned with urban matters.

The city of Chicago is known for its machine politics, which has allowed the Democratic Party to maintain control of the city by the repeated election of its officials. With the mayor as the leader, the machine gains supporters with the use of incentives to become the dominant organization. Chicago’s Democratic Machine holds such a strong presence in the big city that residents haven’t elected a Republican mayor since 1927. In past years, corruption has been a reoccurring problem in Illinois at both a state and local level with four out of the last nine governors being convicted and sent to prison. The Chicago Inspector General’s Office and other investigative agencies are working to protect taxpayers from these governmental misconducts.

RELIGION
Chicago is recognized as a world-class religious center because of the massive volume and variety of religious institutions in the area. In 1893, Chicago invented and hosted the World’s Parliament of Religions, an event allowing representatives of world religions to educate the public on their beliefs. Following the Parliament, many religious groups permanently settled in Chicago, which started the establishment of its diverse religious center.

The majority of Chicagoans follow Christian beliefs and therefore associate with Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox churches. The Catholic population outnumbers all other spiritual organizations in the area, but Chicago is home to many other faiths, such as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam.

Residents can choose from an endless array of worship structures in the region, so to pare down your selections, decide on key desirable characteristics, such as driving distance, days and times of services, the spiritual community and additional services. Talking to your current religious institution or locals in your new area can help reduce your search.

LIVING IN A CONTINENTIAL CLIMATE
Positioned just south of halfway between the North Pole and the equator, Chicago exhibits a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons, sometimes all in one day say the locals. While both spring and fall consist of usually mild weather, summer and winter conditions vary greatly and can exhibit temperatures at the extremes. New residents need to be aware of what each season brings to the Chicagoland area.

Spring and Fall
Tornados are a concern during the spring and at times the fall due to fair temperatures and winds coming off Lake Michigan. The National Weather Service reports that the majority of Chicagoland tornados have been rated at an intensity of F2 on the Fujita Scale, meaning winds between 113–157 mph. Only once has an extremely violent F5 tornado hit the area. Back in 1990, the F5 tornado tore a 16-mile path through the outlying southwestern suburbs of Oswego, Plainfield and Joliet, killing 29, injuring 350 and causing $165 million in damage.

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