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Gem Giant
Gem Giant

Dunaway Productions

URL: www.unm.edu/~rt66/chicmain.html
Modified: July 19, 2001

University of New Mexico

The easternmost point on Route 66, Chicago has always been the Eastís link to the wild West.

Founded in the early 1800s, the town served as a connection between the established eastern cities and the western frontier. It was instantly a hub of innovation, from skyscrapers to suburbia. Settled on the shore of Lake Michigan and surrounded by prairie land, Chicago welcomed adventurers and entrepreneurs, families seeking a home and nomads on their way to explore the unexplored.

In the fire of 1871, Chicago burned to the ground. Still, this place attracted many and its collected citizenry soon built it back. By 1900, the population had boomed to over two million, as immigrants flooded this town of opportunity and jobs.

However, soon the job market was plagued by long hours, poor pay, and bad conditions. Something had to be done. The people formed trade unions, among them the American Federation of Labor.

In the 1920s, gangsters came on scene. The Prohibition offered a steady income for many, such as John Dillinger and Al Capone, who sold bootleg alcohol and ruled with an iron fists. These iron fists were not the last.

Later, Mayor Richard Daley would oversee the city from the 1950s to his death in 1976. His approach was sometimes brutal, as with his handling of student anti-war demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic convention.

Today the city exists in a distinctly different way. Still resting on the lake, amidst the plains, this regal cityís skyline stands out against all else. It thrives as a metropolis, though remains smaller than either New York or L.A. Chicago also stands out in the fact that it is one of the least expensive of the big cities and still offers fantastic restaurants and cultural events. Aside from the range of museums, sporting events, and other activities, Chicago offers an intersection of some of the best music in the U.S. Including jazz, blues, rock, and hip-hop, the cityís clubs remain an important venue for most every musician in most every genre.

However, while Chicago excels in culture, it began and grew because of business. This is easily seen today on "The Loop," a strip where many major U.S. companies have planted their headquarters.

So, both in the worlds of art and music and also in the world of business, Chicago remains a link between the East and the West.

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