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World / North America / United States of America / Chicago, Illinois, USA

Chicago, Illinois, USA


One of the most famous cities in the World - Chicago - got its name from the Indian word «shikaakwa» which means «Wild Lily». The city resembles the beautiful flower, though its actual view had been forming during last century.

Chicago has its own soul and individuality. In  the city visitors can admire by three eras of world architecture. What is very unusual for such a young country like the U.S. Special "thanks" for that are to the famous fire in 1871. At that time, the fire almost wiped Chicago off the map.   

It's impossible to determine the cause of the fire by this time. There are varuous leads: from a cow that capsized a kerosene lamp to a comet. Anyway, the fire was raging the whole three October days.  Had devastated the southwest, the fire "overstepped" the southern arm of the Chicago River and continued destroing the entire 38-year history of the city.

But after that Chicago was built practically from the zero and that made possible to implement the boldest architectural experiments of that time. As we know, the first skyscrapers in the USA appeared in this city: the price for buying !!!! there was very expensive and the city had no other choice than to grow up.  

Nowadays, 10 out of 50 highest buildings in the World are in Chicago. And from 10 highest buildings in the USA 5 are located in Chicago. Among them is the 442-meter Willis (Sears) Tower, the highest building of Northern America. Truly speaking, this record may be broken soon. The next skyscraper is being built here - the 609-meter Chicago Spire. The construction works were delayed due to the financial crisis, but if they are finally finished, there will be the second highest building in the World in Chicago.

Along with this, you shouldn't suppose that Chicago is just a city of austere skyscrapers with the tiny people-bugs. The main part of it consists of 2-3 storeyed houses including those of a completely classic style with their propylaea, porticos and arcades. There are beaches and parks in Chicago including famous Grant Park and Millennium Park. The city sculptures are also represented in all the genres of  art: from classics to high-tech. 

And except of achievements in the sphere of town building Chicago has another thing to be proud of. Walt Disney, Michel Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ekaterina Yushenko, Ernest Hemmingway, Anastasia and many others are in the number of its famous natives. Famous classic of American literature Theodor Dreiser called Chicago "Florence of Western States" and "Literary capital of America" - now Chicago is considered to be a theatrical capital of the country.

If you walk into the seafront or have a look at the city from a bird's eye view, it seems that Chicago is on a sea shore: till the horizon, anywhere one might look at, there is a water surface. However, it is not a sea, Michigan - which called a "Big Lake" in the language of the Indians - is one of the Great American Lakes. Its length is 500 km, width is about 190 km and total area is 57 750 sq. km. It makes Michigan lake one of 5 biggest lakes in the World.

One more interesting fact about Chicago - there is the only river in the World which flows to the reverse side. It is named River Chicago. Its course was changed by 180 grades in 1900. The reason was an ordinary problem: in the end of XVIII century, when the city grew, the city poured out sewage into Michigan Lake that, in its turn, resulted the lack of pure water. The problem was solved only with cardinal river course changing along with the construction of sewage treatment channel flowing to the Illinois River.

Chicago can be much spoken about but there are no words that will tell about the charm and simultaneously greatness of this city. The city that conquered nature and didn't quarrel with it; city that said a new word (and not only one!) in architecture; the city of records and famous people - that worth a thousand words.

September 2010. Photographer is Mike Reifman.

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