9 Interesting Facts About Chicago

Chicago is home to incredible architecture, a rich museum scene, and gobs of Midwestern history. Students who experience the Windy City can see it all. Here are nine interesting facts about this great American city.

  • You could almost run a marathon along Lake Michigan! There is 26 miles of lakefront, including an 18.5-mile path. This area along the lake is also home to 26 beaches.
Chicago Navy Pier
Navy Pier
  • Chicago’s first permanent settler was businessman, Jean Baptiste du Sable, an African-American man who was from what is now Haiti.
  • In 1900, Chicago successfully reversed the flow of the Chicago River so it would empty into the Mississippi River instead of Lake Michigan. This was considered a hugely difficult and innovative engineering project, and it was also recognized as the largest public earth-moving project ever completed. Fun fact! Today, the Chicago River is dyed GREEN every year on St. Patrick’s Day!
Chicago River
  • The term “jazz” originated in Chicago in 1914. Today, there are more than 25 theaters and 225 music venues in the city.
  • The world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Company, was built in 1885 in Chicago. Today, the Willis Tower in Chicago (formally the Sears Tower) is the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It is 110 stories high, and its elevators are among the fastest in the world – 1,600 feet per minute! On a clear day, visitors can see four states from the Skydeck: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Chicago's Magnificient Mile

  • The Harold Washington Library Center, home to approximately 6.5 million books, was the world’s largest municipal library when it opened in 1991.
  • Chicago has the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris. This collection is housed at the Art Institute of Chicago. Speaking of art, Chicago is home to over 700 public art works and more than 125 art galleries.

Students view the Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois

  • Museums galore! There are 56 museums in the Windy City, including the Field Museum where visitors can see a real Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.
  • Who’s hungry? Chicago is home to one of the biggest outdoor food festivals in the world – The Taste of Chicago. This event attracts more than one million visitors each year from all over the world.

There are so many more interesting tidbits we could share about Chicago. Check out the WorldStrides Chicago program to see what students will learn while visiting the Second City. There are also several WorldStrides OnStage programs for student performers to experience, including Chicago Festival of Gold, Chicago Heritage Festival and Rock the Vibe Chicago. Marching bands can even perform at the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade.

Article written by Ellen Sewell

Ellen Sewell
Ellen’s background is in digital marketing, and she has a passion for travel and experiencing new places. When she’s not scrolling behind the screen sourcing content, Ellen enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever.

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