Chicago History

After its near destruction in the 1871 fire, Chicago rebounded to become America's "Second City". Many different groups have made it their home over the years.

The Pullman Strike of 1894 and Labor Day

George Pullman tried to build the perfect company town, but a strike in 1894 destroyed his dream and led to Labor Day.

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  • 1673 - Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet explore the Midwest and Mississippi River. Most of the region becomes part of New France until 1763.
  • c.1779 - John Baptiste DuSable builds a large house near what is now Chicago. The city is officially chartered in 1832.
  • 1847 - Cyrus McCormick begins producing mechanical reapers in Chicago and sells them to Midwestern farmers.
  • 1865 - Union Stockyards open in Chicago and slaughter millions of animals over the ensuing decades.
  • 1871 - The Great Chicago Fire burns down a large part of the downtown, but the city is rapidly rebuilt.
  • 1872 - Montgomery Ward produces its first mail order catalog and develops a business that serves millions of rural and small town consumers.
  • c.1880 - Another great wave of immigration from Europe begins. Irish, Italians, Polish, Czechs, Slavs, and European Jews all diversify the nation's heritage.
  • 1893 - The World's Columbian Exposition showcases Chicago's ascent as a world-class city. Millions visit from around the globe.
  • 1916 - The Great Migration begins with the first large scale emigration of southern blacks to the south side's Black Belt.
  • 1929 - The St. Valentines Day Massacre becomes the most notorious incident of Prohibition Era Chicago. Seven men are machine gunned at the behest of Al Capone.
  • 1955 - Richard Daley is elected Mayor of Chicago. He holds the office until his death in 1976.
  • 1968 - Two distinct riots break out in Chicago during 1968. One wave occurs after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and a second during the Democratic National Convention.
  • 1983 - Harold Washington becomes the first black mayor of Chicago after a close election. His first term was noted for his battles with City Council.
  • 2000s - Mexican immigration to the United States reaches around 750,000 people per year at its peak, before declining after 2007.
  • 2008 - Barack Obama becomes the first African-American to be elected President of the United States.