Geography of Chicago

The city of Chicago is located in northern Illinois, United States, at the south western tip of Lake Michigan. It sits on the Saint Lawrence Seaway continental divide at the site of the Chicago Portage, an ancient trade route connecting the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes watersheds.

Geography of Chicago and surrounding counties.
Chicago by Sentinel-2
Satellite image of Chicago, October, 2018


Chicago's present natural geography is a result of the large glaciers of the Ice Age, namely the Wisconsinan Glaciation that carved out the modern basin of Lake Michigan (which formed from the glacier's meltwater). The city of Chicago itself sits on the Chicago Plain, a flat plain that was once the bottom of ancestral Lake Chicago. This plain has very little topographical relief, in fact, topographical relief is so unusual in the plain that what would be unnoticed hills and ridges in other locales have been given names. The highest natural point within the city limits is in the Beverly neighborhood at 41°42′12.5″N 87°40′37″W / 41.703472°N 87.67694°W at 672 ft (205 m).[1] In pioneer days, this hill was called Blue Island, so named because at a distance it looked like an island set in a trackless prairie sea. In fact it, and the nearby Stony Island, were both islands in Lake Chicago, as it receded. On the North side, the diagonals Clark Street and Ridge Boulevard run along ridges that were once sandbars in the Lake.

One special feature of the Chicago area was the now-vanished Mud Lake in the Des Plaines River watershed. During heavy periods of rain or when the Des Plaines overflowed its banks due to downstream ice dams in the early spring, the river would flow through Mud Lake to the South Branch of the Chicago River, forming a favorite portage for early traders and creating the path of the future I&M and Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canals. When the city we know today was initially founded in the 1830s, the land was swampy and most of the early building began on low dunes around the Chicago River's mouth. Indeed, Chicago's low lying geography, which ultimately became crucial to its boom town development (as the site of the Chicago Portage and canal), could not initially attract substantial early settlement because the tall grass prairie around its lake and river systems was underlain by hard packed glacial clay, making much of the area forbidding wetlands.[2] Thus, the paradox of Chicago's development as a city in the 19th century became taking advantage of this geography, but also overcoming its limitations.

North of the city of Chicago, there are steep bluffs and ravines that run along Lake Michigan. In contrast, south of the city of Chicago into Northwest Indiana it is without bluffs, but instead has sand dunes. The greatest example of these can be seen at Indiana Dunes National Park, where some dunes reach up to almost 200 feet. Farther inland, a series of moraines surrounds the Chicago Plain. This surrounding area is hilly and higher than the Chicago Plain. Past the moraines, the land flattens out again, but is interspersed with a few deep river valleys such as the Illinois River, Fox River, Des Plaines River, and Kankakee River. Here you may find rock cliffs and rock ravines, which are absent from the interior Chicago area (the ravines of the north shore and south suburbs are soil ravines without any rock).

City limits of Chicago.

Also, a very large limestone quarry (Thornton Quarry) exists just south of the city of Chicago in the suburb of Thornton. It was once a coral reef when the Midwest was covered by a warm inland sea (hundreds of millions of years before the glaciation of the Chicago area). The rest of the Chicago area does not have bedrock this close to the surface.


The city lies within the humid continental climate zone, and experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and humid with a July average of 75.5 °F (24.2 °C). Winters are cold, snowy and windy with temperatures below freezing. Spring and fall are mild with moderate humidity. According to the National Weather Service, Chicago’s highest official temperature reading of 107 °F (42 °C) was recorded on June 1, 1934. The lowest temperature of −27 °F (−33 °C) was recorded on January 20, 1985. Along with long, hot dry spells in the summer, Chicago can suffer extreme winter cold spells. In the entire month of January 1977, the temperature did not rise above 31 °F (−0.6 °C). The average temperature that month was around 10 °F (−12 °C).

Chicago’s yearly precipitation averages about 34 inches (860 millimeters). Summer is typically the rainiest season, with short-lived rainfall and thunderstorms more common than prolonged rainy periods.[3] Winter precipitation tends to be more snow than rain. Chicago's snowiest winter on record was that of 1978–79, with 89.7 inches (227.8 cm) of snow in total. The winter of 2007-08, with more than 61 inches (155 cm) of snow, was the snowiest in nearly three decades, and the winter of 2008/2009 produced just over 50 inches (127 cm). This marked the first time in three decades that back-to-back winters produced 50 inches or more of snow. Average winter snowfall is normally, depending on the reporting location, 43.1 inches (109.5 cm). The highest one-day snowfall total in Chicago history was 18.6 inches (47.2 cm) on January 2, 1999.[4] Chicago’s highest one-day rainfall total was 6.63 inches (168.4 mm) on September 13, 2008.[5] The previous record of 6.49 inches (164.8 mm) had been set on August 14, 1987. The record for yearly rainfall is 50.86 inches (1,292 mm) set in 2008; 1983 was the wettest year before with 49.35 inches (1,253 mm).[5]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the City of Chicago has a total area of 606.1 km² (234.0 mi²). 588.3 km² (227.1 mi²) of it is land and 17.8 square kilometres (6.9 sq mi) of it is water. The total area is 2.94% water. The city has been built on relatively flat land, the average height of land is 579 feet (176 m) above sea level. The centroid (geographical center) of the city is at 41°50′26″N 87°40′46″W / 41.840675°N 87.679365°W,[15] southeast of 28th and Leavitt Streets in an industrial area near the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. (Before annexations in the 1950s, notably for O'Hare International Airport, references placed the geographical center near 37th and Honore Streets.) Chicago, along with New York City and Los Angeles, California are the three most populous cities of the U.S., yet Chicago is only half the other two cities' individual land areas. Chicago's nickname, "The Windy City," actually acquired from a political op-ed piece, fits the city well as its location on Lake Michigan moderates the climate and often provides a breeze.

The Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) consists of Cook county and five surrounding Illinois counties as well as the Chicago–Gary–Kenosha Combined Statistical Area (CSA) which is made up of nine counties, two of them in northwestern Indiana and one in southeastern Wisconsin.

Chicago 2010
The Chicago skyline.


After building the first ever skyscraper (Home Insurance Building), Chicago has been at the forefront of skyscraper building ever since. Today Chicago can boast to having 4 of the 10 tallest buildings in the United States and 9 of the 100 in the world.

By modern standards, Chicago has little reason to build up: being located in the Midwest, it has plenty of room to sprawl outwards on almost Euclideanesque flat ground. There is the Chicago River, which may bring some argument as to geographic restriction, but the impact of which was strongly lessened by the strict adherence to the Chicago grid across the river.

Today, Chicago is going through a massive skyscraper building boom, with projects like 55 East Erie (the tallest residential building in the U.S. outside New York City) and Trump International Hotel (completed in August 2008, it is the second tallest in Chicago and the tallest building built in the U.S. for nearly three decades) breaking ground frequently. This can be attributed to the precedent that Chicago has always had a history of frantic skyscraper building, mostly beginning after the Great Chicago Fire when the price of land in the city increased dramatically. This caused architects to start building upward. Since this time developers simply follow the pattern set before them.

See also


  1. ^ a b Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. ^ Official records for Chicago were kept at various locations in downtown from January 1871 to 31 December 1925, University of Chicago from 1 January 1926 to 30 June 1942, Midway Airport from 1 July 1942 to 16 January 1980, and at O'Hare Airport since 17 January 1980.[11][12]


  1. ^ "Chicago Facts" (PDF). Northeastern Illinois University. p. 46. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  2. ^ Donald L. Miller, City of the Century, p. 67 (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1996)
  3. ^ Chicago Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Rankings (11/25/2005). National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office - Chicago, IL.
  4. ^ "January Weather Trivia". National Weather Service. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
  5. ^ a b [1]. National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office - Chicago, IL.
  6. ^ "Station Name: IL CHICAGO MIDWAY AP". National Climatic Data Center. Retrieved 2013-03-12.
  7. ^ a b "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". NWS Romeoville, IL. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  8. ^ "Top 20 Weather Events of the Century for Chicago and Northeast Illinois 1900–1999". NWS Romeoville, IL. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  9. ^ "NOWData – NOAA Online Weather Data". Chicago Weather Forecast Office. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  10. ^ "CHICAGO MIDWAY AP 3 SW, ILLINOIS". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  11. ^ History of the Chicago and Rockford weather observation sites
  12. ^ ThreadEx
  13. ^ "Station Name: IL CHICAGO OHARE INTL AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-03-18.
  14. ^ "Chicago/O'Hare, IL Climate Normals 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  15. ^ "Geographic Midpoint Calculator". Retrieved 25 October 2013.
Bubbly Creek

Bubbly Creek is the nickname given to the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River. It runs entirely within the city of Chicago, Illinois, U.S. It marks the boundary between the Bridgeport and McKinley Park community areas of the city. The creek derives its name from the gases bubbling out of the riverbed from the decomposition of blood and entrails dumped into the river in the early 20th century by the local meatpacking businesses surrounding the Union Stock Yards directly south of the creek's endpoint at Pershing Road. It was brought to notoriety by Upton Sinclair in his exposé on the American meat packing industry titled The Jungle.Bubbly Creek originates near 38th Street, at the Racine Avenue Pump Station of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. It flows in a generally northward direction for approximately 6,600 feet (2,000 m), and joins with the South Branch of the Chicago River.

Calumet River

The Calumet River () is a system of heavily industrialized rivers and canals in the region between the neighborhood of South Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, and the city of Gary, Indiana. Historically, the Little Calumet River and the Grand Calumet River were one, the former flowing west from Indiana into Illinois, then turning back east to its mouth at Lake Michigan at Marquette Park in Gary.

Chicago Harbor

Generally, the Chicago Harbor comprises the public rivers, canals, and lakes within the territorial limits of the City of Chicago and all connecting slips, basins, piers, breakwaters, and permanent structures therein for a distance of three miles from the shore between the extended north and south lines of the city. The greater Chicago Harbor includes portions of the Chicago River, the Calumet River, the Ogden Canal, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Lake Calumet, and Lake Michigan.In a more narrow sense, the Chicago Harbor is that artificial harbor on Lake Michigan located at the mouth of the Chicago River bounded by outer breakwaters to the north and east, Northerly Island to the south, and the Chicago shoreline to the west. The main entrance to this harbor is marked by the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse. The Jardine Water Purification Plant, Navy Pier, the Chicago Harbor Lock, Coast Guard Station Chicago, the municipal harbors - Dusable Harbor and Monroe Harbor, and the yacht clubs - Chicago Yacht Club and Columbia Yacht Club are all located here.The Port of Chicago is located within the greater Chicago Harbor in and around Calumet Harbor, the Calumet River, and Lake Calumet.

The Chicago Park District operates a municipal harbor system within the greater Chicago Harbor in Lake Michigan for recreational boaters. With accommodations for 6000 boats, it is the largest system of its kind in the nation. The system comprises (from north to south) Montrose Harbor, Belmont Harbor, Diversey Harbor, Dusable Harbor, Monroe Harbor, Burnham Harbor, 31st Street Harbor, 59th Street Harbor, and Jackson Park Inner and Outer Harbors.

Chicago Loop

The Loop, one of Chicago's 77 designated community areas, is the central business district in the downtown area of the city. It is home to Chicago's commercial core, City Hall, and the seat of Cook County. Bounded on the north and west by the Chicago River, on the east by Lake Michigan, and on the south by Roosevelt Road (although the commercial core has expanded into adjacent community areas), it is the second largest commercial business district in the United States after Midtown Manhattan and contains the headquarters of many locally and globally important businesses as well as many of Chicago's most famous attractions.

In what is now the Loop, on the south bank of the Chicago River near today's Michigan Avenue Bridge, the United States Army erected Fort Dearborn in 1803, the first settlement in the area sponsored by the United States. In the late nineteenth century cable car turnarounds and a prominent elevated railway encircled the area, giving the Loop its name. Around the same time some of the world's earliest skyscrapers were constructed in the area. In 1908, Chicago addresses were made uniform by naming the intersection of State Street and Madison Street in the Loop as the origin of the Chicago street grid.

Chicago Portage

The Chicago Portage is a water gap, and in the past a sometime wind-gap portage, connecting the watersheds (BrE: drainage basins) and the navigable waterways of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. It cuts through the Valparaiso and Tinley Moraines, crossing the Saint Lawrence River Divide that separates the Great Lakes and Gulf of St. Lawrence watersheds from the Gulf of Mexico watershed, making it one of the most strategic points in the interior of the North American continent. The saddle point of the gap is within the city of Chicago, and the Chicago Portage is a reason Chicago exists and has developed to become the important city that it is, ranking 7th in the world in the 2014 Global Cities Index. The official flag of the city of Chicago includes four red stars symbolizing city history, separating two blue stripes symbolizing the waters that meet at the city.

Chicago River

The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of 156 miles (251 km) that runs through the city of Chicago, including its center (the Chicago Loop). Though not especially long, the river is notable because it is one of the reasons for Chicago's geographic importance: the related Chicago Portage is a link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

The River is also noteworthy for its natural and human-engineered history. In 1887, the Illinois General Assembly decided to reverse the flow of the Chicago River through civil engineering by taking water from Lake Michigan and discharging it into the Mississippi River watershed, partly in response to concerns created by an extreme weather event in 1885 that threatened the city's water supply. In 1889, the Illinois General Assembly created the Chicago Sanitary District (now The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) to replace the Illinois and Michigan Canal with the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a much larger waterway, because the former had become inadequate to serve the city's increasing sewage and commercial navigation needs. Completed by 1900, the project reversed the flow of the Main Stem and South Branch of the Chicago River by using a series of canal locks and increasing the flow from Lake Michigan into the river, causing the river to empty into the new Canal instead. In 1999, the system was named a 'Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium' by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).The river is represented on the Municipal Flag of Chicago by two horizontal blue stripes. Its three branches serve as the inspiration for the Municipal Device, a three-branched, Y-shaped symbol that is found on many buildings and other structures throughout Chicago.

Climate of Chicago

The climate of Chicago is classified as hot-summer humid continental (Köppen: Dfa), with all four seasons distinctly represented: wet, cool springs; Warm, often humid, summers with the temperatures being hotter inland temperatures rarely go above 95°F (35°C) due to Chicago being off Lake Michigan; pleasantly mild autumns; and cold winters with the temperatures being the coldest in the inland in the suburbs with the temperatures rarely going below -15°F (-26°C). Annual precipitation in Chicago is moderate and relatively evenly distributed, the driest months being January and February and the wettest May and June. Chicago's weather is influenced during all four seasons by the nearby presence of Lake Michigan.

Community areas in Chicago

The community areas in Chicago, as defined by the Social Science Research Committee at the University of Chicago beginning in the 1920s, are 77 geographical divisions of Chicago. They are now used by the City of Chicago for statistical and planning purposes. These areas are well-defined and static. Census data are tied to the community areas, and they serve as the basis for a variety of urban planning initiatives on both the local and regional levels.

The Social Science Research Committee at University of Chicago originally defined seventy-five community areas during the late 1920s. At the time, these community areas corresponded roughly to neighborhoods or inter-related neighborhoods within the city. In the 1950s, with the city's annexations for O'Hare International Airport, a seventy-sixth community area was added. Other than the creation of the seventy-seventh community area in 1980 (by separating Edgewater from Uptown), boundaries have never been revised to reflect change but instead have been kept stable to allow comparisons of these areas over time.

Community areas are distinct from the more numerous neighborhoods in Chicago. Community areas often encompass groups of neighborhoods. Although many community areas contain more than one neighborhood, they may also share the same name, or parts of the name, of some of their individual neighborhoods. Political wards of the Chicago City Council are also a distinct geographic concept and may be important in reading history or in modern contexts, however they are redistricted over time and their boundaries change.

Demographics of Chicago

During its first century as a city, Chicago grew at a rate that ranked among the fastest growing in the world. Within the span of forty years, the city's population grew from slightly under 30,000 to over 1 million by 1890. By the close of the 19th century, Chicago was the fifth largest city in the world. Within fifty years of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the population had tripled to over 3 million.

Illinois Medical District

The Illinois Medical District (IMD) is a special-use zoning district two miles west of the loop in Chicago, Illinois. The IMD consists of 560 acres of medical research facilities, labs, a biotechnology business incubator, a raw development area, four major hospitals, two medical universities, and more than 40 health care related facilities. The IMD has more than 29,000 employees, 50,000 daily visitors and generates $3.4 billion in economic opportunity. The IMD is the largest urban medical district in the United States, and has the most diverse patient population in the country.

Four major hospitals anchor the IMD, including the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center; Rush University Medical Center; The John H. Stroger, Jr., Hospital of Cook County; and The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System.Governed by seven appointed commissioners, the district is focused on expanding innovation in healthcare, medical science, information technology, biotechnology, medical devices, clean technology and supportive assisted living. In 2013, the IMD conducted a strategic plan in which four key priorities were identified so that the IMD could remain a leader in patient care and medical research while utilizing its diversity and assets to further drive economic growth. These four areas are what the IMD uses to filter new projects and plans: Infrastructure & Development, Community Health, Translational Research and Clinical Data.

Member institutions include:

Chicago Children's Advocacy Center

Chicago Lighthouse

Easter Seals of Metropolitan Chicago



Hektoen Institute

Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary

Illinois State Police Forensic Science Center

IMD Guest House Foundation

Jesse Brown VA Medical Center

John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County (Cook County Hospital)

Rush University Medical Center

Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center

University of Illinois Medical Center

Lake Calumet

Lake Calumet is the largest body of water within the city of Chicago. Formerly a shallow, postglacial lake draining into Lake Michigan, it has been changed beyond recognition by industrial redevelopment and decay. Parts of the lake have been dredged, and other parts reshaped by landfill. Together with the rest of the city of Chicago, the remnant of the lake now drains into the Des Plaines River and the Mississippi River basin.

Calumet is a Norman word used since the 17th century by French colonists in Canada for the ceremonial pipes they saw used by First Nations peoples.

List of beaches in Chicago

The beaches in Chicago are an extensive network of waterfront recreational areas operated by the Chicago Park District. The Chicago metropolitan waterfront includes parts of the Lake Michigan shores as well as parts of the banks of the Chicago, Des Plaines, Calumet, Fox, and DuPage Rivers and their tributaries. The waterfront also includes the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Sanitary and Ship Canal. Historically, the waterfront has been used for commerce, industry, and leisure. Leisure, such as fishing, swimming, hunting, walking and boating, was much more prevalent throughout the river sections of the waterfront system early in the 19th century before industrial uses altered the landscape. By midcentury, much leisure shifted to Lake Michigan as a result of industrial influence. The first City of Chicago Public Beach opened in Lincoln Park in 1895. Today, the entire 28 miles (45 km) Chicago lakefront shoreline is man-made, and primarily used as parkland. There are twenty-four beaches in Chicago along the shores of freshwater Lake Michigan.Typically, Chicago beaches take the name of the east-west street that runs perpendicular to the lake at each beach's location.

Lurie Garden

Lurie Garden is a 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) garden located at the southern end of Millennium Park in the Loop area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. Designed by GGN (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol), Piet Oudolf, and Robert Israel, it opened on July 16, 2004. The garden is a combination of perennials, bulbs, grasses, shrubs and trees. It is the featured nature component of the world's largest green roof. The garden cost $13.2 million and has a $10 million endowment for maintenance and upkeep. It was named after Ann Lurie, who donated the $10 million endowment. For visitors, the garden features guided walks, lectures, interactive demonstrations, family festivals and picnics.The Garden is composed of two "plates" protected on two sides by large hedges. The dark plate depicts Chicago's history by presenting shade-loving plant material. The dark plate has a combination of trees that will provide a shade canopy for these plants when they fill in. The light plate, which includes no trees, represents the city's future with sun-loving perennials that thrive in the heat and the sun.

North Shore Channel

The North Shore Channel is a drainage canal built between 1907 and 1910 to flush the sewage-filled North Branch of the Chicago River down the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The sewage carrying duty has been largely taken over by the Chicago Deep Tunnel, but there are still occasional discharges due to heavy rains.

Pioneer Court

Pioneer Court is a plaza located near the junction of the Chicago River and Upper Michigan Avenue in Chicago's Magnificent Mile. It is believed to be the site of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable's original residence and trading post. In 1965, the plaza was built on the former site of his homestead as part of the construction of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America building. The Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Homesite was designated as a National Historic Landmark on May 11, 1976. John Kinzie, a prominent early settler, bought and expanded Point du Sable's post in 1800. The Plaza is bounded on the north by the Tribune Tower, on the east by 401 N. Michigan Avenue, on the south by the Chicago River, and on the west by Michigan Avenue, adjacent to the Michigan Avenue Bridge. In 2017, a newly designed Apple Inc. store was opened on the south side of the court, which created new levels linking down to the river.

From 2011–2012 the plaza was the display site for the Seward Johnson statue Forever Marilyn. The statue was later moved to Palm Springs, California. The plaza was used as a location in the film Divergent in 2013. A new statue was installed on November 1, 2016 in Pioneer Court. Also created by Seward Johnson, the statue, titled Return Visit, is 25 feet tall and depicts Abraham Lincoln standing next to a modern common man dressed in beige corduroy pants, sneakers and a cream color cable-knit sweater. The modern man is holding a copy of the Gettysburg Address.

South Side, Chicago

The South Side is an area of the city of Chicago. It is the largest of the three Sides of the city that radiate from downtown—the others being the North Side and the West Side (while there is no East Side, because Lake Michigan runs along the city's eastern border, there is an East Side community area on the South Side, in the far southeastern section of the city). The South Side is sometimes referred to as South Chicago, although that name can also refer to a specific community area on the South Side.

Much of the South Side came from the city's annexation of townships such as Hyde Park. The city's "sides" have historically been divided by the Chicago River and its branches. The South Side of Chicago was originally defined as all of the city south of the main branch of the Chicago River, but it now excludes the Loop. The South Side has a varied ethnic composition. It has great disparity in income and other demographic measures. Although it has a reputation for high levels of crime, the reality is much more varied. The South Side ranges from affluent to middle class to poor, just like other sections of large cities.

South Side neighborhoods such as Armour Square, Back of the Yards, Bridgeport, and Pullman host more blue collar and middle-class residents, while Hyde Park, the Jackson Park Highlands District, Kenwood, Beverly, Mount Greenwood, and west Morgan Park feature affluent and upper-middle class residents.The South Side boasts a broad array of cultural and social offerings, such as professional sports teams, landmark buildings, museums, educational institutions, medical institutions, beaches, and major parts of Chicago's parks system. The South Side is served by numerous bus and 'L' trains via the Chicago Transit Authority and several Metra rail commuter lines. It has several interstate and national highways.

Southeast Side, Chicago

The Southeast side of Chicago officially begins East of State Street going southwards. It extends south and east to the city limits, generally keeping between Lake Michigan and Lake Calumet. Politically, the Southeast side is contiguous with the 10th Ward.

There are many neighborhoods within the boundaries of the Southeast side, including Windsor Park, Calumet, Hyde Park, Bronzeville, Chatham South Chicago, the East Side, Irondale, South Deering and Hegewisch.

Tower Town

Tower Town or Towertown was a district of Chicago around the Chicago Water Tower which was known for its bohemian artists and nightlife in the 1920s. Bars and nightclubs included Chez Pierre, the Dil Pickle Club, Kelly's Stables, the Little Club, the Paradise Club and the Tent.

Wolf Lake (Indiana–Illinois)

Wolf Lake is an 804-acre (325.4 ha) lake that straddles the Indiana and Illinois state line near Lake Michigan. It is smaller than it was prior to settlement by people of European descent because of infilling for development around the edges. Despite years of environmental damage caused by heavy industries, transportation infrastructure, urban runoff and filling of wetlands, it is one of the most important biological sites in the Chicago region.

Wolf Lake is located between Hammond, Indiana and the Hegewisch community area of Chicago, Illinois. It was once connected by an open channel to Lake Michigan on the Indiana side of the lake, but this channel was cut off for development on its northern side. Indianapolis Boulevard (U.S. 41) and various railroad and industrial facilities are located in former wetlands on the northeastern side of the lake where it once connected to Lake Michigan. There are currently proposals to reopen a channel between Wolf Lake and Lake Michigan. The Illinois portion of the lake consists of five, interconnected impoundments separated by dikes. The dikes were constructed in the late 1950s so that separate portions of the lake could be drained for the purpose of dredging for fill to use in the construction of the Chicago Skyway. The western impoundments are now part of the William W. Powers State Recreation Area and are drained by Indian Creek to the Calumet River. The Wolf Lake water level determines the drainage to Lake Michigan because the connecting Calumet River flows southward during elevated levels and northward during lowered levels. The Indiana portion of the lake consists of three, interconnected impoundments that are also separated by dikes. The longest dike, running roughly parallel to State Line Road and traversing the entire length of the lake, contains railroad tracks belonging to the Indiana Harbor Belt.The Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 90) runs through the middle of the lake just inside the Indiana state line. The lake is also transected by a number of railroad causeways, some of them no longer in use. Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad has an active spur line that runs through the Illinois side of the lake in the Hegewisch community area. Calumet Avenue (U.S. 41) is on its eastern side, with a strip of parkland in between. There are currently several large industrial properties adjacent to the lake and on filled wetlands adjoining the lake, including Cargill and Unilever on the north side. Other property near the edge of the lake is being used for housing. A significant portion of the property around the lake is now parkland or nature preserve, including the Eggers Woods parcel of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Other neighboring lakes include Lake George, Lake Calumet, Powderhorn Lake and Lake Michigan. There was also another lake that laid to the west between Wolf Lake and the river. It was called Hyde Lake and was filled in by Republic Steel. A swampy area near 130th Street and the railroad tracks is the only remnant of that lake.

Climate data for Chicago (Midway Airport), 1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1928–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 67
Mean maximum °F (°C) 52.3
Average high °F (°C) 31.5
Daily mean °F (°C) 24.8
Average low °F (°C) 18.2
Mean minimum °F (°C) −3.3
Record low °F (°C) −25
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.06
Average snowfall inches (cm) 11.5
trace 0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.7 8.8 11.2 11.1 11.4 10.3 9.9 9.0 8.2 10.2 11.2 11.1 123.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.1 5.5 3.8 0.7 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 1.8 6.7 26.7
Source: NOAA,[6][7][8][9] WRCC[10]
Climate data for Chicago (O'Hare Int'l Airport), 1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1871 – present[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 67
Mean maximum °F (°C) 51.4
Average high °F (°C) 31.0
Daily mean °F (°C) 23.8
Average low °F (°C) 16.5
Mean minimum °F (°C) −5.6
Record low °F (°C) −27
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.73
Average snowfall inches (cm) 10.8
trace 0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.5 8.8 11.1 12.0 11.6 10.2 9.8 9.8 8.3 10.2 10.8 11.0 124.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.2 5.9 4.2 0.9 0 0 0 0 0 0.2 1.7 6.9 28.0
Average relative humidity (%) 72.2 71.6 69.7 64.9 64.1 65.6 68.5 70.7 71.1 68.6 72.5 75.5 69.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 135.8 136.2 187.0 215.3 281.9 311.4 318.4 283.0 226.6 193.2 113.3 106.3 2,508.4
Percent possible sunshine 46 46 51 54 62 68 69 66 60 56 38 37 56
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[7][13][14]
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