In its nearly tow hundred year history, Chicago has acquired many nicknames: the Windy City, the Second City, Chi-Town, the City of the Big Shoulders, and others. Few know that the name Chicago itself came from the foul-smelling vegetation the Miami Indians called Chicagoua, a wild garlic plant that grew in the future city’s beds of clay. But of all of Chicago’s monikers, perhaps the most apt is City of Neighborhoods. The expanse of marshy swampland and muddy shorelines that once covered the area between the Des Plaines River and the South Branch of the Chicago River has been replaced by more than two hundred urban neighborhoods, whose boundaries are forever fluctuating according to the significant events, ethnic influxes, and structural changes. Place names like Bronzeville, Little Italy, Greektown, Ukrainian Village, Chinatown, Andersonville, and the Gold Coast attest to Chicago’ patchwork heritage.
Many of Chicago’s major streets began as trails used by Indians and traders and later by settlers, farmers, and stagecoach lines. Most were spokes of a wagon wheel that emanated from the hub at Fort Dearborn and usually traversed ridges of higher ground surrounding the swamps of Chicagoua. As the population increased and more farms and towns were established, the original trails sprouted branches as shortcuts to reduce travel time. A number of the city’s existing streets and avenues, including Clark Street, Lincoln Ave, and State Street, trace the path of these early trails. Most are diagonal streets, outside the grid pattern that was later imposed on the city and so are easily recognizable.
Chicago’s emergence as a community started around 1833 with scattered small building and several hundred people. Most of the early settlers were immigrants, primarily western Europeans who settled amount their won, bonded by ethnicity, language, religion, and customs. As more immigrants arrived throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they often squeezed out previous groups. The constant churn of ethnic immigration fostered Chicago’s tradition of urban reform. Today Chicago has seventy seven official communities areas, further subdivided mostly unofficially into some 228 named neighborhoods. Local understanding of community borders don’t always agree with the official boundaries, but even out of towners are familiar with some of these neighborhoods, such as the Loop, the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park. Wrigleyville, Hyde Park and the Magnificent Mile. In the early days, Chicago residents often lived, worked shopped, worshipped, and educated their children within the same area. In many cases, church parishes were the social center of the neighborhood, and many Chicagooans still refer to their home neighborhoods by parish.
While Pere Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first known Europeans to paddle the waters of the Chicago river in 1673 , it was French Jesuit priest Pere Pierre Francois Pinet who established the first European settlement, the Mission of the Guardian Angel, built in 1696 to serve and convert the local Miami Indians. The exact site of the missions unknown, but many historians believe it may have been located on the main stem of the Chicago River. Near present downtown Chicago. The mission lasted until 1701, when the Miami began to move east. Pere Pinet then went to work with the Illiniwek in the Cahokia area, where he diet the following year.
Trader Jean Baptiste Point du Salble, Chicago’s first permanent non Indian resident, arrived around 1779. The US Army build fort Dearborn in 1803, and the following year John Kinzie opened a trading post near the fort. The massacre at Fort Dearborn in 1812 al but erased the outpost, but not fo long. Four years later, American s rebuilt the fort, which became the commercial and cultural foundation of the future city. Telegraph services reached the city in 1848, and the Illinois & Michigan Canal was completed later that year. The 1850s saw the formation of the Chicago Historical Society, the Academy of Sciences, the Chicago Relief and Aid Society, Rush Medical College and other civic institutions.