Chicago Beyond The Loop - Historical Timeline Tour

Last week we discussed the architectural landmarks throughout our fair city as illustrated on our Chicago Neighborhoods Map. In addition, the map features a border of hand-drawn vignettes by artist Phil Thompson of Cape Horn Illustration. The thought is for the map to show the historical and cultural landscapes of Chicago as well as the literal.

Read more about the great milestones that made Chicago what it is. Chicago Landmarks Maps are available for purchase both framed and unframed in our stores and also on line.  

First European Exploration, 1637

In that which would become modern day Chicago, Father James Marquette landed on the banks of Lake Michigan, becoming the first European to winter in this new territory. Marquette is honored for his exploration through monuments, murals and buildings throughout Illinois.

City Incorporation, 1837

In 1837, Chicago received its first city charter, divided into six wards and with William B. Ogden as the founding mayor. In less than ten years, the extensive growth of the city resulted in the drafting of a new charter in order to acknowledge the rapid expansion.

Mass Immigration, 1840s to Early 1900s

Between the 1840s and the early 1900s, Chicago witnessed unparalleled mass migration by numerous Europeans. By 1900, one out of every four Chicago residents was either the child of or a German immigrant themselves. A majority of the remaining population was of Irish, Polish or Swedish descent.

Industrialization, 1860s to 1920s

In the second half of the 19th century Chicago became a manufacturing metropolis. Due to its world-renowned meat- packing facilities, international agricultural machinery trade and the Wrigley Co. chewing gum, Chicago transformed into a dynamic and expanding city.


The Great Fire, 1871

One of the largest U.S. disasters of the 19th century, the Great Chicago Fire burned for nearly three full days, killing over 300 people and destroying three square miles of the newly industrialized city. Started, as the legend goes, by a cow kicking a lantern in a small barn, the fire spread quickly due to a fall drought, particularly windy weather and poorly trained fire department.


First Skyscrapers, 1880s

One of the first cities to develop skyscrapers, Chicago utilized revolutionary technological designs in order to develop office space to hold the expanding white collar work force. In 1973, the Sears tower, now called Willis Tower, was the tallest building in the world, and held the title for nearly 25 years. 


Haymarket Crisis, 1886

Beginning as a peaceful rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour work day, the Haymarket Rally became known as the Haymarket Massacre as a protester threw a dynamite bomb at the police working to disperse the protest. The event became a cornerstone in further labor movements.


Elevated Line, 1892

Opened in 1892, the original Chicago Elevated Railroad ran from downtown Chicago to Jackson Park, a distance of 3.5 miles. This route would eventually become the public transportation system that today transports over 75,000 commuters and visitors daily.


World’s Fair, 1893

Hosted in 1893 by the city of Chicago, the World’s Fair was held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in what would become the United States. The Exposition was an unprecedented social and cultural event exhibiting profound architecture, art, and Chicago goods.


Chicago River Reversal, 1900

In an attempt to save the city from waterborne diseases caused by sewage contamination, Chicago constructed a system of canals to make the Chicago River flow backwards, away from Lake Michigan. The reversal of the river was the largest municipal earth-moving project ever completed and was hailed as a monumental engineering achievement.


Prairie Style, 1900s to 1920s

Largely credited to Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie Style homes began appearing in the Chicagoland area in the early 1900s. These one-story homes with open interiors and oversized windows influenced decades of future architecture. 


Comiskey, 1910

Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox was a symbol of Chicago’s south side, hosting four World Series and three All-Star Games, until 1990 when the new field, later renamed U.S. Cellular Field was completed.


Organized Crime, 1920s to 1930s

Infamous entrepreneurs John Torrio and Al Capone rose to power in the 1920s utilizing violence and organized gangs to dominate illegal markets in urban Chicago. Extending through nearly the entire city, gangs controlled international liquor markets as well as other illegal trade all of which has inspired many films.


First Flight from ORD, 1955

Upon its grand opening in 1955, Chicago’s O’Hare airport became the first of its kind to open a “Skymotive” terminal for corporate aircraft. Three years later, O’Hare opened its first international terminal and became the busiest airport in the area.


Chicago Blues, 1950s

Developed in at the peak of Blues culture, Chicago developed its own form of blues music indigenous to the city. This urban style of blues evolved from the classics of the great depression and developed on the streets of the newly bustling city and predominantly black neighborhoods. Chicago became the home of prominent blues musicians such as Muddy Waters, Otis Rush and Big Walter Horton.


Second City, 1959

Opened in 1959, The Second City is the first ever on-going improvisational theater troupe in the United States. Expanded now to Los Angeles and Toronto, the comedy club is known for training some of comedy’s most influential figures. 


Sears Tower, 1970

The Sears Tower, recently renamed Willis Tower, was the world’s tallest building at its completion in 1973. More than one million people visit the observation deck every year, making it one of Chicago’s most popular tourist destinations.

Hancock, 1969

Located on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, the John Hancock Center is the 7th tallest building in the United States, housing a restaurant with a 360 degree view of the city below.


Millennium Park, 2004

Celebrating the new Millennium, this public park located in the Loop community of Chicago features prominent art exhibits including Cloud Gate, commonly known as “the Bean”, an ice skating rink, beautifully ornate fountains, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion that hosts numerous concerts through the warmer months of the year.