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222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza
Chicago, IL, 60654


Chicago's honorary brown street signs, days, and commemorative honors; the who, what, where, when and why.  Honorary Chicago guide book, maps, biographies, history, trivia, tours, and gifts.

Chicago Timeline

Chicago History

  • Native American tribes populate the area: Potawatomie, Ojibwa, Odawa
  • They name it Shikaakwa, an Algonquin word which roughly translates to "stinking onion" due to the marshy wetland conditions and smell of wild onion plants.


  • Native American tribes establish hunting and fishing villages and trade with other tribes down the river.


  • France claims the territory and establishes international fur trade


  • Father Jacques Marquette and French-Canadian fur-trader Louis Joliet explore the rivers and map what is called The Northwest Territory in attempt for France to find the Northwest passage across the continent to the Orient, and to convert the natives to Christianity. Joliet noted that at the Chicago Portage a canal could be constructed to link the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.


  • Chicago is a center for the Fur-trade
  • The Potowatami tribe, allied with France, displaces other tribes in the area


  • Illinois becomes part of the Louisiana Territory, a French colony


  • The Seven Year War with England ends and France relinquishes its claims to North American territories 


  • American Revolutionary War begins


  • The Declaration of Independence


  • American Revolutionary War ends
  • Treaty of Paris 1783, the United States gains control of much of the Northwest Territory from the British


  • Jean Baptiste Ponte DuSable settles the north bank of the Chicago River on the shores of Lake Michigan.  (Date could be as early as 1779)


  • The Greenville Treaty, defined the boundary between Native American tribes and the US.



  • The original Fort Dearborn is built on the south bank of the Chicago River on the shores of Lake Michigan
  • Transfer of land in Louisiana Purchase from (Napoleon) France to (Thomas Jefferson) US. Land from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.


  • John Kinzie, Fur-trader from Quebec, purchases house and land previously built and owned by DuSable.



  • James Madison President 1809-1817


  • The war of 1812 between Britain and the United States (1812-1815). Concurrently Britain was amid the Napoleonic Wars with France.
  • The Fort Dearborn massacre
  • John Kinzie and family were given safe passage to Detroit by the Potawatami tribe and were spared the Fort Dearborn massacre


  • John Kinzie returns to Chicago and occupies the house again 
  • The second Fort Dearborn is built.


  • Illinois becomes the 21st State.


  • US Congress makes land grant to Illinois for the construction of the Illinois Michigan Canal to link the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.  
  • The fur trade dwindles due to overtrapping and reduced animal populations


  • Opening of the Erie Canal which connected the Atlantic Ocean through New York City to the Great Lakes.
  • Mark Beaubien establishes the Sauganash Tavern (bar, restaurant, and hotel), located at Wolf Point. 1825


  • The state of Illinois begins to survey Chicago for a canal to link the rivers to the Great Lakes. 
  • Congress passes the Indian Removal Act.
  • The 1830 survey plat map for the Chicago end of the I&M Canal is drawn up into 58 square blocks with service alleys. 


  • The Town of Chicago is established August 12, 1833
  • Chicago population = 350.
  • Chicago Treaty of 1833 pushes Native American tribes westward 


  • Baubien, founder of the Sauganash Tavern, becomes the lighthouse keeper.


  • Construction of the Illinois Michigan Canal begins, connects the Chicago River at Bridgeport to the Illinois River at LaSalle-Peru.


  • The City of Chicago is incorporated March 4, 1837
  • William B. Ogden elected as Chicago's first mayor on May 2, 1837-1838
  • Martin VanBuren, President 1837-1841
  • Chicago population = 4000.
  • US Financial Crisis deflation and unemployment for 7 years, until 1844.  May 10, 1837 New York bank crisis, led to bank failures.


  • The Potato Famine in Ireland, 1845-1851, spurs Irish emigration.


  • Construction completed of I&M Canal.  It begins commercial and passenger traffic.
  • California gold rush begins
  • Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) established, 1848. trades commodities.


  • The Studebaker Brothers of South Bend, Indiana began producing wagons for transportation



  • The Lincoln-Douglas debates states rights with regard to slavery


  • Abraham Lincoln in nominated in Chicago for President of the United States. May 18, 1860
  • Abraham Lincoln wins the Presidential election. November 6, 1860
  • Southern states began seceding from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America


  • Abraham Lincoln is inaugurated as President. March 4, 1861
  • American Civil War begins


  • Construction begins on the Transcontinental Railroad 1863


  • American Civil War ends
  • President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated, April 14, 1865


  • The Pullman Company is established.
  • The Eight-hour workday movement stages protests in Chicago on May 1, 1867 which are quickly put down.


  • Transcontinental Railroad opens 1869
  • Ulysses S. Grant, President 1869-1877
  • Riverside, the first planned suburb in the United States, was drafted by Frederick Law Olmstead, landscape architect, with meandering streets (no grid) and no alleys. 1869 


  • Standard Oil Company founded by John D. Rockefeller. 1870


  • The I&M Canal pays off its debts and also begins using steam powered boats instead of mules
  • The Palmer House Hotel opens
  • Chicago population = 300,000+
  • The Great Chicago Fire; October 8-10. Mayor Roswell B. Mason. 100,000 homes destroyed, >300 dead.
  • Lt General Philip H. Sheridan assigned command of state and federal troops to restore order after the Great Chicago Fire. October 10, 1871. 
  • Joseph Medill, mayor 1871-1873


  • Lord & Thomas advertising agency is founded in Chicago, 1873. It became FCB in 1942.


  • Chicago Yacht Club established 1875
  • First steel mill in Chicago 1875


  • National Railroad Strike. July 1877.


  • Founding of architecture firm Holabird & Simons, now known as Holabird & Root


  • Pullman Town opens; a planned community for Pullman Company employees.
  • The Pritzker Family settles in Chicago, from Kiev. 1881.


  • Peter J. McGuire, United Brotherhood of Carpenters proposes Labor Day holiday, September 5th (about equal distance between 4th of July and Thanksgiving holidays - adopted by the Knights of Labor in 1884. 
  • Carter Henry Harrison III, mayor 1879-1887


  • The General Time Convention declares the Standard Time system which establishes 4 time zones across the continental United States. October 11
  • "The day of two noons" Standard Time is implemented by the railroad system across the country. November 18


  • The Studebaker Carriage Company Building, factory and showroom was built
  • Cholera, Typhus, and Disentary outbreak due to polluted water, heavy rainwater spilling sewage into lake. 


  • A growing number of labor strikes and planned protests demanding an 8-hour work day. May 1-3
  • Haymarket Riot. May 4, 1886 


  • Four men were hanged for their involvement in the Haymarket Riots, November 11, 1887.


  • Hull-House, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, Settlement House Movement. September 18 , 1889.
  • Sister Frances Xavier Cabrini arrives in New York to begin her missionary work for immigrants.
  • John A. Roche, mayor 1887-1889
  • DeWitt Clinton Cregier, mayor 1889-1891
  • The Auditorium Theater opens and becomes the tallest building in Chicago. 1889
  • Creation of the Sanitary District of Chicago, May 29, 1889; now called the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.



  • The Chicago Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution was established. March 20, 1891. 


  • Sanitary District of Chicago begins digging 3 canals which will reverse the flow of the Chicago River and protect the city's water supply.
  • The first elevated train "L" line was completed and connected the Jackson Park, Columbian Exposition site,  to downtown
  • The first University of Chicago classes are held in Hyde Park


  • The World's Fair "The Columbian Exhibition" takes place in Chicago
  • Hempstead Washburne, mayor 1891-1893
  • Carter Henry Harrison III, mayor 1893. Murdered October 28, the night before the end of the World Fair.
  • George Bell Swift, mayor 1893
  • John Patrick Hopkins, mayor 1893-1895
  • Grover Cleveland, President 1893-1897 (second term)
  • Two more "L" train lines are completed


  • Pullman Strike, May 11, 1894; 4000 workers leave Pullman manufacturing plant;  June 1894 nationwide boycott of Pullman Cars by American Railway Union (ARU); July 1894 federal injunction and soldiers ended strike; ARU president, Eugene Victor Debs, imprisoned for violating injunction.
  • President Grover Cleveland makes Labor Day a National Holiday, the first Monday in September
  • The "White City" remaining buildings of the Columbian Exhibition catch fire and burn down February and July 1894


  • Pullman Town to be sold by order of the federal government.
  • Studebaker Building converted into artist studios and becomes the Fine Arts Building



  • Completion of the Sanitary and Ship Canal, which empties into the Des Plaines River and replaces the I&M Canal. 
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is published in Chicago
  • Chicago population in 1900 was >75% immigrants (34%) or first generation, mostly from Europe.


  • Studebaker introduces its first motor powered car, it has an electric motor


  • Carter Henry Harrison IV, mayor 1897-1905
  • Ford Motor Company incorporated in 1903
  • Wright Brothers successful flights of a heavier-than-air powered aircraft. December 17, 1903


  • Upton Sinclair published "The Jungle."
  • Edward F. Dunne, mayor 1905-1907


  • The "Local Option" allowing districts to restrict or prohibit alcohol by Illinois state law
  • Fred A Busse, mayor 1907-1911


  • Renumbering houses and rationalizing streets.  The Chicago street grid is implemented.
  • The Ford Model-T car introduced, October 1908


  • Burnham Plan of 1909 redesigns the City and includes multi-level streets 


  • Standard Oil Company monopoly broken up by US anti-trust laws
  • The 4 independent "L" train lines to and around the loop were unified under the Chicago Elevated Railways Collateral Trust (CER). 1911 


  • The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association is established. (originally the North Central Business District Association)


  • Statue in honor of Goethe "Mastermind of the German People" dedicated in Lincoln Park
  • Woodrow Wilson, President 1913-1921


  • World War I, August 1914 - 1918
  • Wrigley Field built. 1914


  • William Hale Thompson, mayor 1915-1923
  • The Eastland Disaster - steamboat capsizes on Chicago River, killing 844. July 24, 1915.


  • Mother Cabrini dies at Columbus Hospital, Chicago. December 22, 1917
  • City of Chicago adopts the 6-point stars and stripes design April 4, 1917
  • Unites States joins the allies and enters World War I, April 1917


  • Congress passes The Standard Time Act which divides the country into 4 time zones. March 19
  • World War I ends November 1918
  • Influenza Pandemic 1918-1919
  • Total solar eclipse passes across the United States


  • Race Riots across US "Red Summer," some of the worst were in Chicago.  July 27, 1919. Three days, 38 dead.
  • Prohibition ratified across the United States January 1919, went into effect January 1920, repealed in December 1933
  • The Chicago Butter and Egg Board estabished 1919; later known as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME)
  • Approval for the planning of Soldier Field was granted and architects Holabird & Roche selected


  • Prohibition enforcement begins January 16, 1920
  • The Drake Hotel opens


  • Soldier Field football stadium constructed (originally named Municipal Grant Park Stadium). Official opening day, October 9, 1924.
  • The 4 separate "L" train companies consolidate under the Chicago Rapid Transit Company (CRT), and become divisions within the company: South Side, North Side, Metropolitan, Lake Street and Loop.


  • Route 66 established. November 11, 1926
  • Chicago Blackhawks hockey team founded. 1926
  • The east-west portion of upper and lower Wacker Drive is completed, and named after Charles Wacker, Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission. October 1926


  • Charles Lindberg and "The Spirit of St. Louis," is the first trans-atlantic flight.  New York to Paris, May 20-21, 1927.
  • The Stevens Hotel (now the Chicago Hilton and Towers) opens. 1927
  • Buckingham Fountain is dedicated, August 26, 1927


  • St. Valentines Day Massacre, February 14, 1929. 7 dead.
  • Stock Market Crash. October 29, 1929
  • Great Depression 1929-1939
  • William Hale Thompson, mayor 1927-1931


  • Jane Addams wins the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Anton Joseph Cermak, mayor 1931-1933
  • Comic strip character Dick Tracy created by artist Chester Gould, based on the gangster era. October 4, 1931
  • Al Capone sentenced to prison, October 17, 1931


  • Babe Ruth hits the famed "called shot" home run at Wrigley Field. 1932.


  • Chicago host the World's Fair, The Century of Progress, summers 1933 and 1934
  • Italian aviator, Italo Balbo and a squadron of seaplanes arrive at the World Fair in Chicago.  July 15, 1933
  • Great Depression/US Economy in 1933: Half of US banks failed, unemployment 30%, stocks were at 20% of value.
  • Prohibition is repealed December 5, 1933
  • Frank J. Corr, mayor 1933
  • Edward J. Kelly, mayor 1933
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt, President 1933-1945


  • Wrigley Field bleachers and scoreboard constructed. 1937.
  • The Republic Steel Strike. 1937.


  • Construction of the State Street subway began, 1938. Federal funding for this public works project was granted in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.


  • Europe enters World War II. September 1, 1939
  • University of Chicago discontinues its Football program. 1939.


  • The United States enters WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941


  • Enrico Fermi produces the first self-sustained nuclear reaction in his lab under Stagg Field on the University of Chicago campus, December 2, 1942.
  • Foote Cone and Belding (FCB) advertising agency established, succeeding the former Lord & Thompson agency.


  • Chicago-style deep dish pizza is introduced at Pizzeria Uno
  • Muddy Waters, famed blues musician, moves to Chicago from Mississippi
  • The State Street subway tunnel is completed. October, 1943


  • Paul Harvey began broadcasting in Chicago. 1944


  • Roosevelt University is founded (original name Thomas Jefferson)
  • Ebony Magazine is established by John H. Johnson, the beginning of the Johnson Publishing empire.
  • World War II ends.  Europe, May 7, 1945.  Japan, September 2, 1945
  • Orchard Field (later renamed O'Hare Airport) opens 1945
  • Conrad Hilton buys the Stevens Hotel and the Palmer House Hotel



  • Mother Frances Cabrini canonized in Rome, July 6, 1946.  Mass held at Soldier Field, Chicago. First naturalized American citizen to become a Catholic Saint. Patron saint of immigrants and hospital administrators.
  • Cold War begins with Soviet Union


  • The Magnificent Mile is coined and used to describe North Michigan Avenue
  • Kukla, Fran, and Ollie television show (1947-1979) by Chicagoan, Burr Tilstrom, debuts on WBKB-Chicago.
  • The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is created and replaces the Chicago Rapid Transit Company (CRT). 1947


  • Chicago's airport renamed after Edward "Butch" O'Hare, a WWII pilot and Medal of Honor recipient from Chicago.


  • Korean War begins


  • The Edens Expressway opens
  • The Dearborn Street subway tunnel opens. 1951


  • Korean War ends
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, President 1953-1961


  • Richard J. Daley, mayor 1955-1976
  • First Ann Landers column by Eppie Lederer
  • O'Hare International Airport officially opens to commercial flights


  • Port of Chicago constructed


  • The Second City, sketch improv comedy, opens


  • John F. Kennedy, President 1961-1963


  • United States begins running combat missions in Vietnam, January 1962
  • Cuban Missile Crisis


  • Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., August 28, 1963.


  • Inaugural Chicago International Film Festival. 1964


  • Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) announce the Chicago as the northern city for the civil rights campaign.


  • Martin Luther King and his family move into an apartment in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood to support the Chicago Freedom Movement civil rights campaign.


  • The original McCormick Place Convention Center (built 1960) burns to the ground, January 26, 1967.


  • Anti-Vietnam War protests on college campuses across the US.
  • Senator Robert Kennedy enters race for Democratic Party nomination. March 16, 1968.  He is killed in Los Angeles, June 5, 1968
  • The Gold Standard repealed for US currency. March 18, 1968
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. killed in Memphis. April 4, 1968
  • Civil Rights Act signed into law April 11, 1968
  • Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Anti-war protesters vs police clash. August 22-30, 1968
  • Apollo 7 launched by NASA to be first televised television broadcast from orbit
  • Yale University announces it will begin to admit women. November 14, 1968
  • The first ever Special Olympics Games was held at Soldier Field.


  • The John Hancock building opens
  • Ernie Banks 500th home run. May 12, 1970, at Wrigley Field


  • The Chicago Bears Football Team plays its first home game at Soldier Field and defeats the Pittsburgh Steelers. September 19, 1971.
  • The new McCormick Place Convention Center is completed (1967 fire destroyed the original building)


  • Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) introduces futures trading. 1972.


  • The Sears Tower is completed making it the tallest building in the world


  • United States completes withdrawal from Vietnam. April 30, 1975
  • Water Tower Place skyscraper completed in Chicago. 1975


  • Michael A. Bilandic, mayor 1976-1979


  • Historic Landmark designation for The Fine Arts Building  July 7, 1978


  • Big snowstorm
  • Jane Byrne, mayor 1979-1983


  • Pullman Company closes permanently


  • Harold Washington, mayor 1983-1987


  • Chicago ordinance standardizing honorary street designations


  • Chicago Hilton and Towers Hotel reopens after $185 Million renovation completed. October 1, 1985.


  • Chicago Bears win Superbowl XX in 1986


  • Mayor Harold Washington dies in office 1987
  • David Duvall Orr, mayor 1987
  • Eugene Sawyer, mayor 1987-1989
  • Chicago Teachers Strike for 4 weeks


  • Wrigley Field's first night game. August 8, 1988.


  • Richard M. Daley, mayor 1989-2011


  • 1990s CME and CBOT begin to use computers for high speed trading.


  • 1991 Gulf War, Iraq
  • Chicago Bulls Basketball wins the first of 3 consecutive championships 1991-1993


  • The Great Chicago Flood. New pilings for the Kinzie Street bridge caused the Chicago River to flood into basements all through the Loop. April 13, 1992
  • The Robert Redford directed film starring Brad Pitt, "A River Runs Through It" is released. Roger Ebert gave it 3 1/2 stars, out of 4 (thumbs up).
  • Chicago Bulls Basketball wins the second of 3 consecutive championships 1991-1993


  • The three-peat. Chicago Bulls Basketball wins the third of 3 consecutive championships 1991-1993


  • Chicago Bulls Basketball wins the first of 3 more consecutive championships 1996-1998


  • Chicago Bulls Basketball wins the second of 3 more consecutive championships 1996-1998


  • The repeat of the three-peat. The Chicago Bulls Basketball wins the first of 3 more consecutive championships 1996-1998. 



  • September 11th, 2001 World Trade Center attack
  • War in Afghanistan


  • Completion of the modernized Soldier Field stadium


  • Millennium Park opens, July 16, 2004
  • Chicago Merchantile Exchange (CME) and Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) partially combine to fend off competition


  • Chicago White Sox win the World Series. 2005


  • Barack Obama, President 2009-2017


  • Chicago Blackhawks hockey team wins the Stanley Cup. 2010.


  • Rahm Emanuel, mayor 2011


  • Chicago Blackhawks hockey team wins the Stanley Cup for the 3rd time in 5 years.


  • Cubs win the World Series after 108 year losing streak


  • Donald Trump, President 2017-
  • Total solar eclipse passes across the United States


  • North and South Korea walked together in the Winter Olympic Games 2018 in Peyongchang, South Korea

Sources: Chicago Public Library, Encyclopedia of Chicago
WBEZ (ret. May 28, 2017)
History of Illinois (ret. May 28, 2017)
Haymarket and May Day, Encyclopedia of Chicago (ret. May 28, 2017)
Labor Day, Brittanica (ret. May 28, 2017)
Stock Market Crash, (ret. May 28, 2017)
Prohibition, Encyclopedia of Chicago (ret. May 28, 2017)
Lager Beer Riot, Encyclopedia of Chicago (ret. May 28, 2017)
Frances Xavier Cabrini. Wikipedia (Ret. May 28, 2017)
Chicago Mayors, Chicago Public Library (Ret, May 28, 2017)
Red Summer, Brittanica (Ret. May 28, 2017)
Map of the Northwest Territory, Encyclopedia of Chicago (Ret. June 5, 2017)
Illinois Michigan Canal, Encyclopedia of Chicago (Ret. June 5, 2017)
The General Time Convention, The Midwest Railway Historical Society November 18, 1971
 Three-peat Champions, Sports Illustrated. August 1, 2016
PeyongChang2018, Olympic Committee (ret. February 25, 2018)