The Windy City. The Second City. The Hog Butcher of The World. Chicago has many names, but the casual tourist need know only this: It is unbearably hot for four months out of the year and insanely cold the other eight.
Chicago was founded in the early 19th century, when hundreds of Native Americans were forced out of their homes due to the Treaty of Chicago, signed in 1833. It was formally incorporated in 1837. Following a gigantic population boom, Chicago quickly became a teeming city that was essential in transportation and manufacturing. Early on, the burgeoning city hit a snag: there was nowhere to put all of the sewage. That's right, there were now so many people in the city that there was lack of space for all their shit. Doing the most logical thing, and not done destroying the natural beauty of the place, the city decided to force the Chicago river to flow out of Lake Michigan, rather than into it. The idea to stop pumping poop water into the fresh water supply was widely praised, and probably cut down on deaths from disease.
The city experienced it's first catastrophe in 1871, when a drunken Irish woman's cow may or may not have kicked over a lantern that may or may not have caused what we now call The Great Chicago Fire. What definitely did happen caused more than one third of the city to burn down. Proof again that alcohol and cows do not mix.
Seeing an opportunity, or perhaps having a bit of a stiffy for half-burned down cities, organized crime quickly moved in, starting in the early 20th century. This set up a precedent for another Chicago institution: corruption. According to Hollywood, this is the only notable fact of Chicago. Somewhere along this time some asshole from St. Louis called Chicago "The Windy City" for the first time, a name that unfortunately stuck. Oh yeah, and we built the first steel-frame skyscraper. So we have that, I guess.
Chicago is informally divided into the North Side and the South Side, using a very poorly defined line that is... somewhere. If you should ever find yourself in Chicago and are unsure of which side you are on, simply walk into the nearest bar. If you find yourself surrounded by pretentious hipsters and frat boys wearing Cubs gear; you're on the North Side. If you see overweight Polish men with thick accents wearing Sox gear; you're on the South Side.
The city is also home to the Sears (Willis) Tower, which used to be the world's tallest building, (This is a fact that anyone over 40 will never, ever, shut the fuck up about. Honestly people, it was years ago. Let's move on.) the Chicago Theater, which is that sign you've seen in every movie that takes place in Chicago, and Navy Pier, which is no longer used for naval purposes and was somewhat of a questionable place for one to begin with. For you New Yorkers, think Coney Island.
It is always ball-burningly hot or ball-freezingly cold in Chicago. For the ladies, it's always either under-boob sweating hot or ovary-freezing cold in Chicago. There's some sort of bullshit "Lake Effect" or something that causes it. Either way, dress appropriately.
It's been said before that you can buy anything in Chicago, ranging from real estate to hookers to meth. If you need tickets to the Bears/Packers game I got a guy. He's my cousin Mike's friend from the South Side. If you want to buy a Commercial Driver's License illegally simply talk to our former governor George Ryan. Or if you'd like to buy a Senate seat you can call up former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Perhaps you'd like an airfield torn down overnight? Give former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley a buzz.
In Chicago it's never a question of if the most recent politician will be arrested and tried for various underhanded illegal deals; it's only a question of it will happen while he or she is still in office. While the rest of the country is shocked at these debacles, it's only standard operating practice here in the Second City.
This is indubitably an effect of the Al Capone era, in which he became the de facto mayor after running on a platform of booze, prostitution and murder. Admit it, you'd vote for the guy too.
Chicago is home to several sports franchises, some of which used to experience some success, and some of which have been a pathetic losing team for a century. (We're looking at you, CUBS.) We have the Bears in football, the Blackhawks in hockey, the Bulls in basketball, and both the Cubs and White Sox in baseball. Thus it is possible that no matter what city you are from and what sport you watch, you will end up playing against one of our teams. We also have a soccer team that nobody knows or cares about, because fuck soccer.
Chicago has a bit of an obsession with food, specifically with making it differently for little to no reason. For example, Chicago style pizza is made in a deep pan with a buttery crust, then has the cheese and toppings added and the SAUCE ON TOP. Chicago hot dogs are garnished with relish, lettuce, celery salt, hot peppers, mustard, sliced tomato and occasionally kraut. Ketchup is considered a mortal sin. You just don't do it. After all, you've already got half a tomato on there. Do you really need more?
Most of the rest of the rest of the world are familiar with only a few Chicagoans: Al Capone (Who was from Brooklyn), Michael Jordan (Who was also from Brooklyn), Abe Lincoln (Who was from Kentucky), and current President Barack Obama (Who is from Hawaii.) Some actual Chicagoans include Tina Fey, Jim and John Belushi, Marshall Field, Kanye West, Ray Bradbury, Enrico Fermi, Stephen Colbert, and Peter Francis Geraci. If you have no idea who that last guy is, google him. You're welcome.
While we are proud to count the bands Rise Against, The Smashing Pumpkins and Screeching Weasel as our exports, we are very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very sorry about Disturbed and Fall Out Boy. Very sorry. Please don't hold it against us.
Numerous films have taken place in Chicago, but it wasn't until 1980 that an accurate cultural depiction of our fair city was put on film. The masterpiece of film to which we are referring to is none other than the movie The Blues Brothers. It was one of two films (Along with Ferris Bueller's Day Off) that was legally assigned as mandatory viewing for any Chicagoan by Mayor Richard Daley in 2002. The penalty for refusing to watch these films is death. There are a lot of things that can get you killed in Chicago.
Speaking of films, they made Transformers 3 and The Dark Knight in Chicago as well. Some people think that's cool.
Yes, we also have that stupid "Bean" in Millenium Park. If you want to broadcast to the entire world that you're a tourist, go take a picture in front of it with your phone. We'll wait.
There's also a notable brewery in Chicago, named Goose Island. They have been manufacturing tasty brews such as 312 and Honker's Ale since 1988. If you ever visit our city or the state of Illinois in general, we highly recommend that you try a pint. Grab a polish sausage while you're at it. Just don't put ketchup on it.