Chicago Illinois is on the southwestern shores of Lake Michigan. The Chicago Portage connects the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Watersheds. The city’s history and economy are closely tied to its proximity to Lake Michigan. While the Chicago River historically handled much of the region’s waterborne cargo, today’s lake carriers use Lake Calumet Harbor on the South Side. When founded in 1837, most of the early buildings were around the mouth of the Chicago River and the original 58 blocks.
The Loop is the City’s Central Business District but Chicago is also a City of Neighborhoods
The Chicago waterfront comprises twenty-four public beaches across 26 miles (42 km); most of the city’s high-rise commercial and residential buildings are close to the waterfront.
The Great Chicago Fire led to the largest building boom in American history. In 1885, the first steel framed high-rise building signaled the start of the skyscraper era. The city became an important transportation hub between the eastern and western United States; the Illinois and Michigan Canal allowed Great Lakes sailing ships and steamboats to reach the Mississippi River.
The Story of Mobility in America
Maritime Museums in Historic Towns
Chicago’s history and development stem from its axis at the foot of the Great Lakes. This strategic location gave the city access to the St Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean as well as the rivers that lead to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Chicago is one of the busiest ports in the world.
The Story of Chicago’s Waterways and their Impact on America’s Economy
The Chicago Maritime Museum collects items that commemorate Chicago’s maritime history. More than 6,000 items have accumulated, including watercraft, models, articles, books, displays, art, images and artifacts. The collection makes historic materials accessible to scholars or anyone seeking to understand Chicago’s unique historical connections.
Native American Watercraft Lifesaving Rescue Craft and Schooners
Connect for Travel to Chicago