Chicago - City of Broad Shoulders

This course is about Chicago, We will cover the history of the city and region, the politics, corruption, arts, plans, neighborhoods, humor, achievements and the future of the City.


Chicago - Stormy, Husky, Brawling, City of the Big Shoulders

This course will be about Chicago. We will cover the history of the city and region, the politics, the corruption, the arts, the plans, and the achievements of the City. We will discuss current events. And we will relate the development of Chicago with other cities.

Make no little plans

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

Daniel Burnham - co wrote the Burnham Plan for Chicago 1909


     HOG Butcher for the World,
     Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
     Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
     Stormy, husky, brawling,
     City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
     have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
     luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
     is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to

     kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
     faces of women and children I have seen the marks
     of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
     sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
     and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
     so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
     job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
     little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
     as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
          Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
     white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
     man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
     never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
     and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
     Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
     Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
     Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Carl Sandburg

Frank Sinatra - Chicago - YouTube

 Chicago, Chicago--that toddlin' town

Chicago is the 6th most influential city in the world according to a recent study. Chicago followed New York, London, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong. The ranking shows the influence a city has beyond its own borders.                 
Click to read more:                  


"The Windy City" is one of the most well-known nicknames for Chicago. While there might be various reasons for the nickname, the windy weather that is so common in Chicago is the first thing that comes to mind. Step out onto streets of Chicago any time of the year and you will experience the wind firsthand.
"Second City" is another one of the most recognized nicknames for Chicago. One thing this nickname refers to is how much of the city was rebuilt after a significant section of the city was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in the late 1800s. Today, Chicago also has a popular comedy troupe by the name of Second City.
"Chi-Town" or "Chitown" is one of the most affectionate nicknames for Chicago. This nickname takes the beginning of name of Chicago and adds the companionable ending of town to form a well-used nickname.
"Chicagoland" is one of the nicknames for Chicago that refers not only to Chicago but its metropolitan area as well. When speaking about the city of Chicago along with its surrounding suburbs, this is a suitable nickname to use.
"City of Big Shoulders" from the Carl Sandburg poem about Chicago.
"The Big Onion" is one of the lesser known nicknames for Chicago. This nickname is similar to the nickname of "The Big Apple" for New York.
"My Kind of Town" is one of the nicknames for Chicago that was popularized by Frank Sinatra. You probably can't read the nickname without singing it in your head or maybe even out loud due to the widely recognized lyrics.
"That Toddling Town" is another one of the nicknames for Chicago that Frank Sinatra helped make popular through his music.
"Heart of America" is one of the nicknames for Chicago that refers to Chicago's location in the middle of the United States as well as being a transportation hub for the country.

Table of Contents

Early History



Writers and Pundits










Interesting Articles

Bragging Rights

Things to Do

Geography and Glaciers

Chicago's geography resulted from the action of large glaciers during the Ice Age which created Lake Michigan.  The Chicago region is a flat plain that was the bottom of the ancestral Lake Chicago.

The Glacier over Lake Michigan was approximately one mile high. It formed a very large river valley along the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers when it melted.  At one point the Glacier blocked the Mississippi River and the Chicago / Desplaines/ Illinois Rivers drained the melting waters of the Glacier, resulting in a very wide river valley. 

The highest point within the city limits is in the Beverly neighborhood. This ridge was called Blue Island because it looked like an island set in the prairie.  

When Chicago was founded the land was a swamp. It took a major effort to raise the grade of buildable areas and create storm and sanitary sewers to drain the region.

City limits of Chicago

A very large limestone quarry has been excavated south of the city in Thornton.  The Thornton quarry was a coral reef when the area was covered by a sea many millions of years ago. 

  1. Geography of Chicago - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Chicago's present natural geography is a result of the large glaciers of the Ice Age, namely the Wisconsinan Glaciation that carved out the modern basin of Lake ...
  2. Glacial Lakes - Department of Geography - Michigan State University
    Initially, excess water from Glacial Lake Maumee flowed southwest to the Wabash River, and Glacial Lake Chicago drained west and south by way of the ...
  3. Glaciers - An Overview of Glaciers - Geography -
    A comprehensive overview of glaciers. Includes the types of glaciers, how glacierscarve the land, and the importance of glaciers. From Colin Stief of Geography ...

  4. The Elementary School Teacher and the Course of Study - Volume 3 - Page 573 - Google Books Result
    Hills, valleys, and plains — due to glaciers. Contributions of glaciers to the localgeography of Chicago. (Study of work of glaciers at Cary, Glencoe, and Stony ...

  5. Bulletin of the Geographic Society of Chicago - Issue 1 - Page 19 - Google Books Result
    Geographic Society of Chicago - 1920 - Geography
    Geographic Society of Chicago. been called interglacial. During the glacial epochs the climate was severe, and the ice-sheets were enlarged; during the ...
  6. Geography of Palos Hills, Illinois
    Geography of Palos Hills, Illinois ... That extensive area of water was called glacialLake Chicago. It is right here in the Palos area where the moraines broke and ...
  7. BBC - GCSE Bitesize - Glacial landscapes and processes › Home › Geography
    A secondary school revision resource for GCSE Geography on the topic of glaciallandscapes and processes, glacial deposition and erosion.
  8. What role did glaciers play in shaping the physical geography of ... › Categories › Society & Culture
    Chicago's present natural geography is a result... 436 days ago. What is the role ofGlacier Park International Airport? Glacier Park International Airport is loacted ...
  9. Chicago Geology - Faculty Home
    In the Chicago region, glacial melt was dammed first by the Lake Border Moraine. ...Another major change in the geography of Chicago occurred with the in ...