1779. Jean Baptiste Point DuSable built a trading post at the mouth of the river (slightly north east of today’s Michigan Avenue
bridge). The first settler was a dark skinned man from Sainte-Domingue (Haiti) who married an Indian woman.
1803-4. Construction of Fort Dearborn.
1812. Destruction of Fort Dearborn.
1816. Fort Dearborn rebuilt.
1818. Illinois becomes a State. Chicago’s first chartered bank is opened, but closes 10 years later.
1822. Illinois gets a federal land grant for a canal.
1827. Clybourn builds slaughterhouse.
1829. First national election in Chicago.
1830. Indian Removal Act established by U.S.
1831. Cook County established. Ferry service across Chicago River begins.
1833. August 12. Founding of the Town of Chicago, population 350, by act of Illinois legislature. First Chicago Brewery opens. First Chicago printing press begins operations.
1834. First Presbyterian Church established.
1835. Chicago Harmonic Society founded. Chicago Bible Society founded.
1836. Construction begins on Illinois & Michigan Canals.
1837. William Butler Ogden elected as city’s first Mayor. Chicago Board of Health founded.
1837-1843. Financial Panic & Depression.
1840. Chicago Anti-Slavery Society founded. Free public schools established.
Chicago city population 4,470.
1842. Washington Square Park opens.
1844. First Catholic school opens.
1846. St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church founded. St. Mary of the Lake University opens.
1847. Chicago Daily Tribune Newspaper founded.
1848. First City Hall in State Street. First railroad, Galena & Chicago Union Railroad. Illinois & Michigan Canal Completed.
1850. Gas lighting introduced. Chicago city population 29,963. Chicago Medical Society founded. Mercy Hospital founded (called Illinois General Hospital of the Lakes).
1851. First Congregational Church founded. Northwestern University founded. First baseball game in Chicago.
1853. Chicago YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) opens.
1854. Cholera epidemic. Dysentery epidemic. Chicago becomes the world’s largest port for grains. Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad opens.
1855. Illinois State Fair held in Chicago. Chicago Police Department established. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad opens. Chicago Theological Seminary Founded. Lager Beer Riot.
1858. Rail Link established between Chicago and New York. Scarlet fever epidemic begins and causes 1,200 deaths by 1863.
1860. First Post Office building opens. The Chicago Board of Public Works is founded. Chicago city population 112,172.
1861. Civil War begins. Camp Douglas opened for recruits west of Cottage Grove Avenue, between 31rst and 33rd streets. The first companies to assemble were the Chicago Light Artillery, afterwards called Battery A, First Illinois Light Artillery, the Ellsworth’s Zouaves.
1862. Race Riot. Schools are segregated by a city ordinance.
1863. First National Bank of Chicago opens.
1864. Free mail delivery begins. Smallpox epidemic.
1865. Funeral services for Lincoln held in Chicago. Crosby’s Opera House completed. First steel mill opens. The Union Stock Yards open.
1867. Board of Health (closed 1857) re-opens. First Tunnel Under the Lake is constructed.
1868. Lincoln Park Zoo opens. First shipment of refrigerated beef by railcar.
1869. Railroad links Chicago to Pacific. Washington Street Tunnel completed. Water Tower and Pumping station built.
1870. Palmer House opens. Black men are granted the right to vote in Illinois. Loyola University opens. The Chicago White Socks baseball team (Cubs) are founded. Chicago city population 298,977.
1871. October 8-19. Great Chicago Fire. Chicago River reversed.
1872. The first African-American police officer joins the Chicago police force. Montgomery Ward becomes the first mail- order business with 2,400 dollars invested at Clark and Kinzie Streets. The first catalog was a single-sheet price list. By 1904, catalogs weighed 4 pounds each, and 3 million were sent through the mail to customers.
1873. Chicago Public Library opens. Field & Leiter Store opens (Marshall Field’s).
1874. Illinois state law prohibits segregated education.
1875. Chicago Yacht Club founded.
1878. Bell Telephone of Illinois begins service.
1879. The Art Institute of Chicago opens. The Central Music Hall opens.
1880. The Dial magazine begins publication. The Chicago Musical Society founded. Chicago city population 503,185.
1881. Marshall Field & Co. started. Baptist Missionary Training School opens.
1882. Chicago Stock Exchange opens. Chicago City Railway (cable-car) system begins operation.
1885. First skyscraper (Home Insurance Building). Salvation Army opens in Chicago.
1886. May 4. Haymarket Tragedy.
1887. Newberry Library opens.
1889. Chicago doubles in size when suburbs are annexed into the city limits. The city is divided into 35 wards. Hull House opens. Moody Bible Institute opens. Illinois Steel Company opens.
1890. Chicago is the second largest city in the United States in the 1890 census. Chicago city population 1,099,850.
1891. University of Chicago and U of Chicago Press opens. Chicago Symphony Orchestra founded. First season Opera offered. Wrigley Company opens.
1892. The first Elevated Trains start running. The discipline of Sociology is invented at the University of Chicago.
1893. World’s Columbian Exposition.
Governor Altgeld’s Haymarket pardon. World ‘s Parliament of Religions held in Chicago. First Chinese Newspaper published in the city. The Art Institute Building is completed. The first 18-hole golf course in the USA opens at the Chicago Golf Club. “Haymarket Martyrs” monument erected at Waldheim Cemetery. Armour Institute of Technology founded.
The Chicago Medical Recorder ran an issue on water and disease in Chicago in the December 1893 issue. This followed the opening of a 4-mile water intake tunnel. The number of typhoid cases in Chicago had dropped in comparison to cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.
1894. Pullman Strike. Field Museum opens. Chicago Stock Exchange building opens.
1895. Marquette building opens. Sears, Roebuck & Co. moves to Chicago.
1896. Grant Park opens. William Jennings Bryan delivers “Cross of Gold” speech. Basketball was invented in 1891, and Chicago hosts the first state interscholastic (girls) basketball contest.
1897. Loop Elevated (Union Elevated Railway) opens. The Chicago Public Library moved into a prestigious building decorated with mosaics.
1900. Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie is published. The White Sox baseball team is founded. Illinois prohibits employment of children under 14 years of age. The International Socialist Review is founded.
Chicago City population 1,698,575.
1901. U.S. Steel opens. Walgreen’s drugstore opens.
1902. First public auto parking garage. Chicago becomes headquarters of the American Medical Association.
1903. Chicago Hebrew Institute opens. Iroquois Theater fire (602 die).
1904. Garment workers’ strike. Meatpacking strike. Women’s Trade Union League is founded with national headquarters in Chicaco. J.L. Kraft begins selling cheese in Chicago. Orchestra hall opens. Riverview amusement park opens.
1905. 100,000 telephones work throughout the city. African-American newspaper, the Chicago Defender, begins publication. The IWW (International Workers of the World) is founded.
1906. Cable cars shut down. The first Muslim organization is established by Bosnians. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is published, resulting in the federal Pure Food and Drug Act.. The White Sox defeat the Cubs in the World Series. U.S. Steel Gary Works opens.
1907. Chicago Cubs win the World Series. Illinois Department of Factory Inspection founded.
1908. Chicago gets the world’s first suspended roller coaster. The Cubs win the World Series. First statewide high school boys basketball tournament.
1909. Ten-hour-day law for women workers established.
1910. The Suffragist Party is organized. The Chicago branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) opens. Chicago Grand Opera Company is founded. Comiskey Park opens, and the first lighted night baseball game is held there. Garment workers’ strike (1910-1911). Chicago publisher W.D. Boyce founds the Boy Scouts.
Chicago city population is 2,185,283.
1911. The Chicago Vice Commission publishes The Social Evil in Chicago. The first Junior College in the city opens. The American Giants baseball team is founded. Soccer teams are created in high schools.
1912. The Baha’i Temple site is dedicated. The city’s water supply begins to be chlorinated. Poetry: A Magazine of Verse edited by Harriet Monroe begins publication. The Little Theatre is founded.
1913. Women are allowed to vote in Municipal elections. Chicago Armory Show. Arthur Andersen & Co. founded.
1914. The Fourth Presbyterian Church is constructed. The Little Review begins publication. The Chicago Girl Scouts are founded. Edgar Rice Burroughs publishes Tarzan of the Apes.
1915. Telephone service now works between Chicago and San Francisco. The first African American serves as Alderman (on the city council). The Yellow Cab company opens.
1916. Chicago Urban League is founded. Mundelein declares the end of national parishes. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band comes to Chicago. Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems are published.
1917. Bombings of African American homes (continues until 1921). The Julius Rosenwald Foundation is created. The first school diptheria immunizations take place.King Oliver’s Creale Jazz Band plays in Chicago. The White Sox win the World Series.
1918. Air Mail Service begins between Chicago and New York. The Labor Party is founded in Chicago. Influenza pandemic begins (killing 20,000 in Chicago area by 1919). Dial magazine leaves Chicago for New York City. Over 100 IWW leaders are tried in federal court in Chicago.
1919. Race Riots. The American Communist Party is founded. The Associated Negro Press opens in Chicago. Thomas A. Dorsey arrives in Chicago. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange opens. Steel Strike. The 19th Amendment passes, allowing women to vote in U.S. elections. The Volstead Act is passed, and Prohibition starts.
1920. Michigan Avenue Bridge is completed. The League of Women Voters is founded in Chicago. The first Ahmadi Mosque to be built in the U.S. opens in Chicago. 200 convents exist in the city. Encyclopaedia Britannica moves its headquarters to Chicago.
Chicago City population is 2,701,705.
1921. Chicago’s first radio station (KYW) starts broadcasting. The American Giants win the first Negro National League championship. Pageant of Progress Festival. The Field Museum moves to Grant Park.
1922. The Calumet-Sag Channel is completed. The first sewage treatment pant begins operations. The Gospel Tabernacle is founded. Hebrew Theological College opens. The Chicago Civic Opera is founded. The American Giants win the Negro National League Championship (again). Louis Armstrong moves to Chicago.
1923. The first zoning ordinance goes into effect. Chicago is divided into 50 wards. The steel industry adopts an eight-hour work day.
1924. Union Station opens. Beer wars begin (and last until 1930). Leopold and Loeb murder. The World’s largest railway mail terminal opens. WGN radio and WLS radio begin broadcasting. The Society for Human Rights (a gay rights organization) is founded. Our Lady of Guadalupe Church opens. Soldier Field is constructed. Ace Hardware and American Furniture Mart open in Chicago.
1925. Robert McCormick becomes editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Woman’s World’s Fair takes place. The Women’s Symphony Orchestra is founded. Goodman Theatre and Uptown Theater open. Dean Foods and Dominick’s grocery open.
1926. The Construction of double-decker Wacker Drive is completed. The Elks Memorial Building opens. William Wrigley purchases the Chicago Cubs and renames the ballpark. The Harlem Globetrotters are founded. Boxing is legalized and the Illinois Boxing Commission is organized.
1927. Chicago Municipal Airport (Midway) opens. The Tribune building is completed. The Cook County execution method changes from hanging to electrocution. Mahalia Jackson arrives in Chicago. The Dempsey-Tunney fight (boxing) takes place.
1928. 900,000 telephones operate in the city. Al Capone makes Lexington Hotel his headquarters (until 1932). Paradise movie theater opens.
1929. Valentine’s Day Massacre. U.S. Justice Department targets Capone. Chicago Stadium and Rosenwald Gardens open. The Palmolive (Playboy) building is completed. The Civic Opera building opens. Hutchins becomes president of the University of Chicago. John G. Shedd Aquarium opens. Elementary education becomes mandatory for children under 14. Stock Market Crash and “Spend your money where you can work” campaign.
1930. The Chicago Board of Trade Building opens. Harvey Zorbaugh publishes The Gold Coast and the Slum. Adler Planetarium opens. Advertising Age begins publication. Chicago becomes headquarters for United Airlines.
Chicago City population is 3,376,438.
1931. Merchandise Mart opens. Dick Tracy comic strip begins.
1932. The Democratic National Convention is held in Chicago. The city exhausts emergency relief funds. First pinball machine. The Chicago Civic Opera ends. James Farrell, Studs Lonigan.
1933. Outer Lake Shore Drive is completed. Cermak assassinated. Capone sent to prison. Chicago World's Fair. Century of Progress Exposition. The Museum of Science and Industry opens. First annual Negro Baseball League East- West All-Star Game. The unemployed march to Springfield.
1934. Century of Progress Exhibit. John Dillinger shot. Local park districts merge to form the Chicago Park District. Brookfield Zoo opens.
1935. U.S. Catholic magazine begins publication. The Illinois Writers’ Project begins (continuing until 1943).
1936. Edith Abbott, The Tenements of Chicago, 1908-1935.
1937. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe arrives, resulting in the New Bauhaus movement. The Chicago Housing Authority established to provide housing for poor and low-income city residents. Wrigley Field is renovated with a scoreboard, bleachers, and ivy-covered outfield walls. Joe Louis becomes world heavyweight champion. The Chicago Teachers Union is formed. Pullman recognizes the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (formed in 1925). Women are granted an eight-hour work day. Memorial Day Massacre (Republic Steel).
1938. Addams, Lathrop and Trumbull Park housing projects. Catholic Worker newspaper starts publishing. Blackhawks win Stanley Cup. The Fair Labor Standards Act is passed in U.S. Congress, ensuring a 40-hour work week.
1939. Women are allowed to serve on state juries. Hyde Park Art Center Opens.
1940. Over 1,000,000 telephones operate in the city. The first African American police captain in the U.S. is appointed in Chicago. The American Negro Exposition takes place at Coliseum. Richard Wright’s Native Son is published. Montgomery Ward employees are unionized.
City population is 3,396,808.
1941. Stone-Camryn School of Ballet and South Side Community Art Center open.
1942. The Chicago Committee of Racial Equality is founded. At the University of Chicago, Fermi, and others working with him produce the first self- sustaining nuclear chain reaction.
1943. The first subway opens. The Mayor forms a Committee on Race Relations. WBEZ begins broadcasting.
1944. The American West Indian Association, the Midwest Buddhist Temple and the Buddhist Temple of Chicago are founded. Karl Shapiro publishes V-Letter and Other Poems (Pulitzer Prize). The G.I. Bill allows returning war veterans financial aid for education.
1945. Chicago Transit Authority is created. Ebony Magazine begins publication. St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton publish Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City, and Gwendolyn Brooks publishes A Street in Bronzeville. Roosevelt University opens. The Chicago Bar Association admits African Americans.
1946. The Chicago Employment Agency begins recruiting in Puerto Rico.
1947. Developer Arthur Rubloff uses the term “Magnificent Mile”. The first parking meters are used.
1948. The U.S. Supreme Court declares restrictive covenants unenforceable. The Chicago Sun-Times newspaper is formed from a merger. WGN-TV begins broadcasting. The first 57th Street Art Fair is held.
1949. Sara Lee Corporation opens. Nelson Algren publishes The Man with the Golden Arm.
1950. Buses replace street cars. The Chicago League of Women Voters isformed. Gwendolyn Brooks’s Annie Allen wins the Pulitzer prize (first African American to win Pulitzer). The first Old Town Art Fair is held. Chess Records is founded.
City population is 3,620,962.
1951. The Edens Expressway opens.
1952. Steelworkers strike. The American Giants disband and the Negro American League ends.
1953. The first one-way streets appear. Playboy magazine created.
1954. 260,000 attend a tribute to Marian Anderson at Soldier Field. Chicago Magazine begins publication. The Lyric Opera opens (as Lyric Theatre). Johnson Products Co. opens.
1955. The first section of the Eisenhower Expressway opens (completion in 1960). WTTW-TV begins. The Chicago Opera Ballet is created. The “Ann Landers” advice column begins. The first McDonald’s opens in Des Plaines, Illinois.
1956. Old Orchard Shopping Mall opens. Christianity Today Magazine is created.
1957. The Prudential Building is completed. First mosque opens.
1958. Tri-State, East-West, and Northwest Tollways open. Calumet Skyway opens. Our Lady of Angles school fire.
1959. St. Lawrence Seaway completed. City Department of Air Pollution Control created. Second City theater company founded. Steelworkers strike.
1960. Kennedy Expressway opens. Malcolm X founds Mr. Muhammad Speaks newspaper. The Archdiocese of Chicago prohibits racial exclusion in schools. The McCormick Place Convention Center opens.
1961. Illinois is the first state to legalize private consensual homosexual relations. The DuSable Museum of African American History opens.
1962. Dan Ryan Expressway opens. Carl Sandburg named Illinois poet laureate.
1963. Carl Sandburg Village is built. O’Hare Airport opens. Loyola basketball team wins NCAA championship.
1964. Johnson introduces “Great Society” in Chicago.
1965. The Daley Center opens. The Chicago Freedom Movement begins (to 1967). Martin Luther King appears in Chicago. The University of Illinois opens the Near West Side Campus. The Chicago Jazz Ensemble is created.
1966. The Stevenson Expressway is completed. The Chicago Architectur Foundation is created. Marquette Park violence occurs against Civil Rights marchers. Humboldt Park Riots. The Bulls basketball team is created. The first annual Division Street Puerto Rican parade is held.
1967. The Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is launched. Tornadoes sweep across downtown Chicago. The Picasso sculpture is unveiled at Daley Plaza. The Wall of Respect mural is designed.
1968. Rioting occurs at the Democratic National Convention. West Side riots after Martin Luther King’s assassination. The Black Panther Party is founded. Gwendolyn Brooks is named state poet laureate.
1969. The John Hancock Center opens. Police kill Black Panther Party Leaders.
1970. First annual Gay Pride Parade. The Union Stock Yard closes.
Chicago city population is 3,369,357.
1971. Women are elected to the city council for the first time. Operation PUSH begins. Citizens for a Better Environment is created. Chicago State University opens. Soldier Field becomes the home of the Chicago Bears. Illinois minimum wage law passed.
1972. Shakman decrees. Chicago Reporter monthly newspaper founded. Chicago Botanic Garden opens.
1973. The Black Panther Party dissolves. Chicago Opera Theatre opens. Regal Theater closes. Sears Tower opens.
1974. Fermilab is built. The Sears Tower is completed. Women join the Chicago Police force. The Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago opens. The Smart Museum opens. Chagall’s The Four Seasons mosaic is unveiled. The Donahue show moves to Chicago. The Board of Trade and Mercantile Trade being trading in gold futures. The National Coalition of Labor Union Women is formed.
1975. Taxes are used to subsidize mass public transportation for the first time. The Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (“Deep Tunnel”) begins. The Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Chicago is formed. The Steppenwolf Theatre opens.
1976. Water Tower Place opens.
1977. Hubbard Street Dance Company is created. The Chicago Marathon is first held. The Board of Trade begins trading in U.S. bond futures.
1978. The John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation is created. Crain’s Chicago Business newspaper begins publication.
1979. State Street Mall opens. Chicago elects the first woman mayor. The Chicago School District declares bankruptcy. Pope John Paul II visits, speaking in Grant Park.
1980. Women join the Chicago firefighters. Billy Graham Center opens at Wheaton College. The Wisconsin Steel plant closes. The first population decrease recorded in the 1980 census: city population is 3,005,072.
1981. Reinsdorf and Einhorn buy the White Sox.
1982. Chicago is the first major U.S. city to ban handgun sales. The Chicago Children’s museum opens.
1983. 333 Wacker Drive Building opens. Metra (suburban commuter trains) and the Pace suburban bus network are created. “Council Wars”, city council divisions, until 1987. First African American mayor. The American Islamic College is founded.
1984. The first Chicago Annual blues festival. The City Department of Cultural Affairs is created.
1985. The Annual GospelFest is first held. The Oprah Winfrey Show debuts. Printing unions strike affects the Tribune.
1986. Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago opens. “Poetry Slam” occurs at Green Mill. The Bears win the Super Bowl.
1987. The Museum of Broadcast Communications, The Mexican Fine Arts Center and the Terra Museum open. Chicago’s public schools are declared “the worst in America” by the U.S. secretary of education.
1988. Human Rights Ordinance issued. ACTUP Chicago goes into action. The School Reform Act is passed. Lights are added to Wrigley Field.
1989. Navy Pier is renovated.
1990. The Archdiocese of Chicago closes 35 parishes and missions. The Original Comiskey Park is demolished. Los Angeles surpasses Chicago in population and wholesaling. Chicago city population is 2,783,726.
1991. The Chicago Public Library moved into the Harold Washington Library Center on South State Street. Bulls begin three-year NBA championship run. The first game is held at the new Comiskey Park.
1992. April 13. Freight Tunnel Flood. Assault weapons are banned in the city. Sears leaves the Loop, moving its headquarters to Hoffman Estates.
1993. Fort Sheridan decommissioned. Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations. Michael Jordan retires.
1994. The United Center opens. The first openly gay elected official takes office.
1995. Heat Wave (739 die). The first municipal recycling system begins. Navy Pier opens a 148-foot Ferris Wheel. The Mayor assumes authority over schools. Michael Jordan returns to the Bulls. Chicago Stadium is demolished.
1996. The city stops burning its garbage (last city incinerator closed). The Chicago Housing Authority is taken over by a federal agency. The National Vietnam Art Museum opens. Ballet Theater of Chicago is created. The Bulls begin a second three-year NBA championship run.
1997. Over 100 Chicago schools are placed on academic probation.
1998. First Chicago NBD merges with Bank One. Randolph Street Gallery closes. Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson leave the Bulls.
1999. The City News Bureau is shut down. The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum opens.
2000. Montgomery Ward goes out of business.
Chicago city population 2,896,016.