Chicago is often sadly associated with the memories of the prohibition, the gang system and Al Capone. This poor reputation has been widely broadcasted by American movies such as The Incorruptibles (1987), Chicago (2003) or more recently Public Enemies (2009). Actually, Chicago is a very dynamic and modern city with a great cultural wealth, characterized by its architecture, arts and worldwide famous universities and scholars.
Chicago is located in the Midwest plains of the US. The city stands in northeastern Illinois and on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Not only does it lie beside Lake Michigan but two rivers cross it: the Chicago River downtown and the Calumet River in the South Side. Moreover, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal connects the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River.
In the 18th century, the first inhabitants of what is today the Chicagoland area were Native Americans (Potawatomis). In the 1770s, Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable founded the first trading post in the area, which was the first foundations of what would later become the city of Chicago. In 1833, only 200 people lived there. The population increased rapidly, however, reaching 4000 inhabitants seven years later. The development of the city grew quickly as it became a central transportation hub thanks to railroads and boats on the Illinois and Michigan canal. One of the major events of Chicago history is the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed almost the whole city.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Chicago started suffering from a bad image because of the gang system and the generalized corruption. Nowadays, the gangs are still very much present and have evolved with the arrival of new communities. In 1955, Richard J. Daley was elected Chicago mayor and served for eleven years. He had a deep impact on the local and national political arena. His son, Richard M. Daley is currently the Chicago mayor since 1989.
In 2008, the estimated population of Chicago was 2,853,114 people. The density is 12,649/sq mi (4,883.8/km2), which makes Chicago one of the most densely populated cities in the US.
The population of Chicago is composed of White Americans (37%), African Americans (35%), Hispanic and Latinos (28%). Poles and Mexicans are the two major ethnic groups in Chicago. There are others numerous ethnic groups in Chicago such as Irish, German, Swedish, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Russian, and more. Because of its wide diversity, Chicago is an expat friendly city.