Chicago could be called the keystone city of our country. Looking at its location, it seems it was destined to be born. Located near the Great Lakes, it connects the Midwest to the early thirteen colonies. With the northern end of the Mississippi River running along the western border of Illinois, it connects the south, and the early settlement of New Orleans, to the Midwest. The Chicago River runs from the Mississippi River on the Illinois southern border to Lake Michigan. Ships traveling the Mississippi could pass through Chicago by way of the River to the Great Lakes and their shipping routes to the Northeast and early Canadian cities such as Quebec and Montreal. The connection from the Great Lakes to Canada by the St. Lawrence River leads out to the St. Lawrence Gulf, a popular shipping port between Canada and France and England. The European migrants of the 19th century that created the Irish sections and Italian sections of Chicago crossed the Atlantic, took the St. Lawrence to the Lakes, and could walk right into Chicago. This land was critical to connecting the expanding West and Northeast with the south. Chicago lay at the transit between ships coming from the Caribbean and ships coming from New York, or Europe. The Chicago river which runs through it outlines the major neighborhoods and businesses of Chicago, as this city in the Midwest was born from a port harbor town. The diversity of Chicago started with its founding, as it was a biracial African and French explorer, Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable who originally made contact with the Indian tribes. From there, business interests and the government realized the potential of this location, leading to Indian removal acts in the early s 1830s. By 1833, a town called Chicago was first chartered with the federal government.
Chicago flourished from 1870 to 1930, right up until the Great Depression hit the world economy. In this sixth year period, it’s population grew ten times its size, 300,000 in 1870 to 3 million in 1930. In 1910, African Americans in the south saw Chicago as a place to escape racism they were experiencing at home. This led to the African American population of Chicago to quadruple by 1930. Racism was still a problem in Chicago, but they saw less segregated public facilities and transportation and were further away from the very active Klu Klux Klan. Though the town wasn’t segregated, black southerners facing animosity from the white population, settled on the West side of Chicago. Due to later migrations and tense race riots throughout the 20th century, which peaked in the 1960s, the largest African American population in one area has become the Southside of Chicago.
A plethora of different ethnicities and nationalities migrated to Chicago, primarily between 1880 and 1900, before Theodore Roosevelt limited immigration. A great number of Europeans, English and German, Italian and Irish, Jewish and Turkish, Greeks, Czechs, and Romanians came to Chicago for work or adversity in their home country. The history they brought with them into the United States now constitutes all the myths, charateristics, and culture of America.
Lightfoot, Mayor Lori E. “Chicago History.” City of Chicago, www.chicago.gov/city /en/about/history.html.
Bates, Karen Grigsby, and Jason Fuller. “Red Summer In Chicago: 100 Years After The Race Riots.” NPR, NPR, 27 July 2019, www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2019/07/27/744130358/red-summer-in-chicago-100-years-after-the-race-riots.
Bizzarri, Amy Bizzarri Amy, and Amy. “World in a City: Chicago’s Culturally Diverse Neighborhoods.” Choose Chicago, 3 Sept. 2019, www.choosechicago.com/blog/arts-culture-entertainment/world-in-a-city-chicagos-culturally-diverse-neighborhoods/.