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Chicago,1 with a population of about three and a half million, is the second largest city in the United States(New York is the first). It is a centre of industry for the middle part of the country, the most important Great Lakes port,2 the largest city of Illinois and the seat of Cook-County.3
Chicago is also the place where Mayor "King Daley"6 directed the police to brutalize the young people protesting against the US aggression m South-East Asia while the Democratic Party convention was going on there in August 1968.
The city is first in the nation in manufacturing of machinery and electronic parts. Famous are the stockyards and meat-packing plants, i where cattle from the western prairies are shipped and from which meat is distributed all over the couritry.7 Called the "Great Central Market of the USA", Chicago is the railroad and grain centre of the nation. Chicago has a vast commerce by many railroads and by the lake, and exports wheat, meat and manufactured goods.
An unrivalled rail centre, Chicago is called the "Cross-Roads of the Continent". It is served by 19 trunk lines and handles 50,000 freight Cars daily. Also, 40 per cent of the country's motor freight moves in and out of Chicago. More airlines converge on Chicago than any other city of the USA.
Chicago is also an important centre of culture and science. It is the
seat of the University of Chicago and of several other institutions, and
has -important libraries and art collections. Chicago was the site of the
first nuclear chain reaction (1942) and is still a leader in nuclear
Owing to its position, Chicago has been the meeting-place of many political conventions. From six to seven million tourists come to Chicago fevery year, and another million and a half who come to business and political gatherings.
In its rapid growth, Chicago survived the great fire of 1871,9 the gang wars of 1920's and early 1930's, political machinations of its "bosses" and financial speculations of its tycoons. The city was from the start a big melting-pot of different nationalities. For years Chicago had a racial stratification unusual even for American cities. It was German, Polish, Italian, Slavic, Greek, Jewish. Half a million Black Americans live in its South Side, which is one of the most exclusively black areas in the world. About one in four Chicago citizens is black. The Chicago Negroes are almost as numerous as those in New York, a city twice as large. Chicago's Negroes have a long history of participation in basic industry. They are the most proletarian of all nationality-ethnic groups, and today together with other militant workers they wage a particularly bitter and difficult battle for their right to live and work. Called the "City of the Big Shoub ders",10 Chicago has long become the centre of American working-class movement In the 1880's Chicago was already a scene of bitter labour wars, and the big strike of Chicago workers of 1886 led to the establishment of May Day as the holiday of workers of the whole world.
Chicagoans like to claim that their city has the biggest and greatest of just about everything. Chicago is the second largest city, in the United States; it is also the tenth biggest in the world. It is important not to say this in Chicago. The point to bear in mind about Chicago while talking to Chicagoans is that, no matter what its own size, it has the biggest everything in the world. Other places in America have the biggest something, but Chicago has the biggest everything. You may be convinced after all that most Chicago things are bigger than anywhere else; it is unfortunate that they are never the things that one wanted to be big enough. There is, for example, the Merchandise Mart, which claims to be the world's largest commercial building, with seven and a half miles of corridors and its own police force.
In their claims to the biggest and greatest, Chicagoans in a remarkable number of ways are right Although it is no longer the nation's largest meat-packing centre-Omaha, Nebraska, now claims this distinction, Chicago is the nation's busiest air, rail and truck centre, and, since the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway in 1959, the world's greatest inland seaport. Chicago also has the world's largest grain exchange (the Chicago Board of Trade), the world's 'largest hotel (the Conrad Hilton with 2,600 rooms), and the world's largest convention and trade-show facilities. Chicagoans resent any implication that their home is in any sense the "second city" in the US, as New Yorkers have been known to call it. They believe Chicago is really an American city (while" "New York is not America") and point with pride to, among other things, the number of red-blooded American authors-including Theodore Dreiser," Frank Norris,12 Upton Sinclair'3 and Carl Sandburg14-who have called Chicago home.
SKY-SCRAPERS IN THE PRAIRIE
When you arrive in Chicago, you may find it hard to believe that this busy, noisy, modern metropolis with its towering sky-scrapers was until well into the 19th century a muddy onion swamp. But by 1871 this unpromising site had become a city of 300,000, the metropolitan centre of the American Midwest. Then, on October 8 of that year, disaster struck. It all began in the barn of a certain Mrs. O'Leary on West De Koven Street where, as the legend goes, a cow kicked over a kerosene lantern, starting a fire that quickly swept the city. The blaze destroyed more than 17,000 buildings that left third of the city's people homeless. Yet in one sense this tragedy was responsible for Chicago's main contribution to the development of modern architecture. The fire levelled the entire business district, and the city's engineers and architects o. had to rebuild from the ground up. Armed with a series of technological innovations-most notably steel framework and the hydraulic, lift-they set to work and in the last decades of the 19th century the sky-scraper was born..William-Le Barren Jenny, one of the construction engineers, used this new method when he received the commission to build the Chicago office of the Home Insurance Company. It was ten