Chicago, situated at the southern end of Lake Michigan near the Indiana border, was founded in 1837. The name itself translates as a colonial French term for a forest where plentiful amounts of garlic grow. The city has the most highways and railroad connections in the United States, making it a powerhouse center for transportation and finance. However, the historic Great Fire of 1871 threatened to destroy what had become a quintessential American city where many cultures meet. But, that fire also spurred a massive re-growth, leading to the building of numerous famous skyscrapers that form the city's impressive skyline.
While a major historical city in the American cultural fabric, Chicago was not as much of a powerhouse until massive industrial growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It became a financial capital of the Midwestern United States, and the city became home to numerous industries. But, the city also had its difficult times during the 1920s and 1930s when organized crime, driven by the depression and prohibition, flourished under the infamous rule of mobster Al Capone.Despite its trying times, the city is now home to some of the most significant sights and landmarks in the nation. The Sears Tower, now known as the Willis Tower, dominates the skyline with a majestic white spire forming the pinnacle of the black glass and steel skyscraper that was formerly the tallest building in the world. Downtown is focused on the Loop, the city's metro transit hub and largest financial district. Other famous structures include Wrigley Field in the Wrigleyville district, home of Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs. Wrigley Field is one of the oldest standing baseball stadiums still in use, and is known for its outfield wall covered in ivy.The city has also had an impressive influence on American music, arts and architecture. Jazz music flourished there during the 20th century, and many well-known American writers still call the city home. Downtown, you can visit the Chicago Art Institute, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the city's Architectural Foundation, all right next to the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline.