Government of Chicago

The government of the City of Chicago, Illinois is divided into executive and legislative branches. The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive, elected by general election for a term of four years, with no term limits. The mayor appoints commissioners and other officials who oversee the various departments. In addition to the mayor, Chicago's two other citywide elected officials are the City Clerk and the treasurer.

The City Council is the legislative branch and is made up of 50 aldermen, one elected from each ward in the city.[1] The council takes official action through the passage of ordinances and resolutions and approves the city budget.[2] Government priorities and activities are established in a budget ordinance usually adopted each November.

Chicago City Hall
Chicago City Hall, shortly before construction was completed in 1911.

City departments

  • Office of the Mayor
  • Administrative Hearings
  • Aging
  • Animal Care and Control
  • Aviation
  • Budget & Management
  • Buildings
  • Business Affairs and Consumer Protection[3]
  • Business & Information Services
  • Cable Communications
  • Chicago Board of Education
  • Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Chicago Film Office
  • City Colleges of Chicago
  • Community Development
  • Consumer Services Department
  • Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)[4]
  • Department of Construction and Permits
  • Department of Finance
  • Environment
  • Ethics (Board of Ethics)
  • Finance
  • Fire
  • Fleet Management
  • General Services
  • Graphics & Reproduction
  • Housing Department
  • Human Relations
  • Human Services
  • Inspector General
  • Law
  • Library, Chicago Public
  • License Appeal Commission
  • Mayor's License and Local Liquor Control Commission
  • Mayor's Office of Workforce Development
  • Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities
  • Mayor's Office on Domestic Violence
  • Office of Emergency Management and Communications
  • Personnel
  • Police
  • Police housing
  • Procurement Services
  • Public Building Commission
  • Revenue
  • Special Events
  • Streets & Sanitation
  • Tourism
  • Transportation
  • Water Management
  • Zoning


Chicago is a special charter municipality.[5] The Journal of the Proceedings of the City Council of the City of Chicago is the official publication of the acts of the City Council.[6] The Municipal Code of Chicago is the codification of Chicago's local ordinances of a general and permanent nature.[6][7]

Other governments

Chicago is also part of Cook County. The Government of Cook County is primarily composed of the Board of Commissioners, other elected officials such as the Sheriff, State's Attorney, Treasurer, Board of Review, Clerk, Assessor, Recorder, Circuit Court judges and Circuit Court Clerk, as well as numerous other officers and entities. Other municipal agencies within the Government of City of Chicago includes: The Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Transit Authority and The Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority (ubiquitously referred to as "McPier" in reference to The McCormick Place and Chicago's popular tourist attraction Navy Pier).

The United States Postal Service operates post offices in Chicago. The main Chicago Post Office is located at 433 West Harrison Street in the Near West Side community area.[8][9] The post office is the only 24-hour post office in the United States.[10]

See also


  1. ^ "City Council, Your Ward & Alderman". City of Chicago. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Chicago Government". City of Chicago. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  3. ^ Business Affairs & Consumer Protection
  4. ^ Mission. City of Chicago. Retrieved on 5 Feb 2011.
  5. ^ "Charters, Municipal". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  6. ^ a b Julia Ellis, Chicago City Clerk Legislative Counsel (20 November 2013). The Making of Chicago City Law - How It Works. OpenGov Foundation / YouTube. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  7. ^ Chicago City Council Journal of 27 June 1990 Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, p. 17764
  8. ^ "Major Office Buildings." Chicago City and Neighborhood Guide. Retrieved on April 17, 2009.
  9. ^ "Richard Wright Immortalized on Postage." United States Postal Service. April 8, 2009. Retrieved on April 17, 2009.
  10. ^ "New York City's main post office stops 24-hour service." Associated Press. Friday April 17, 2009. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.

External links

1927 Chicago aldermanic election

The 1927 Chicago aldermanic elections happened on February 22 to elect the 50 aldermen of the Chicago City Council, on the same day as the primary elections for the mayoral election. Candidates ran as nonpartisans, and if no candidate received a majority of votes in a given ward the top two candidates in that ward faced off in a runoff election on April 5, the same day as the general mayoral election.

All told, despite the nonpartisan nature of the elections, Democrats won 31 of the seats while Republicans won 19. 10 wards necessitated runoff elections, of which Democrats won 6 and Republicans 4. 13 aldermen—11 Democrats and two Republicans—were returned without opposition.

Chicago City Council

The Chicago City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Chicago in Illinois. It consists of 50 aldermen elected from 50 wards to serve four-year terms. The council is gaveled into session regularly, usually monthly, to consider ordinances, orders, and resolutions whose subject matter includes code changes, utilities, taxes, and many other issues. The presiding officer of the council is the Mayor of Chicago. The secretary is the City Clerk of Chicago. Both positions are city-wide elected offices. The Chicago City Council Chambers are located in Chicago City Hall, as are the downtown offices of the individual aldermen and staff.

Established in 1837 as the Common Council and renamed to the "City Council" in 1876, it assumed its modern form of 50 wards electing one alderman each in 1923.

Chicago City Hall

Chicago City Hall is the official seat of government of the City of Chicago in Illinois, United States. Adjacent to the Richard J. Daley Center and the James R. Thompson Center, the building that includes Chicago City Hall houses the offices of the mayor, city clerk, and city treasurer; some city departments; aldermen of Chicago's various wards; and chambers of the Chicago City Council on the west side of the building. The building's east side (called County Building) is devoted to the various offices of Cook County, including chambers for the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Situated on a city block bounded by Randolph, LaSalle, Washington Boulevard, and Clark Street, the 11-story structure was designed by the architectural firm Holabird & Roche in the classical revival style and built to replace and expand an earlier city hall. Its location has served as the center of city government from 1853 to 1871, and with a break due to the Great Chicago Fire, from 1885 to the present. The current hall was officially dedicated on February 27, 1911.

Chicago Department of Transportation

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT ) is an executive department of the City of Chicago responsible for the safety, environmental sustainability, maintenance, and aesthetics of the surface transportation networks and public ways within the city. This includes the planning, design, construction, and management of streets, sidewalks, bridges, and alleys.

CDOT is headed by the Commissioner of Transportation, an appointee and cabinet member of the Mayor of Chicago. The second in command at CDOT is the First Deputy Commissioner, who serves as a liaison between the Commissioner's office and the various operational sections. Managing Deputy Commissioners may also be placed by the Commissioner for assistance in policy and operational oversight.

CDOT is organized into several Divisions each headed by a Deputy Commissioner, including the Divisions of Administration, Project Development, Engineering, In-House Construction, Electrical Operations, Sign Management, Traffic Safety, and Infrastructure Management.

Chicago Fire Department

The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) provides both fire suppression and emergency medical services to the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States, under the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Chicago. The Chicago Fire Department is the third largest municipal fire department in the United States after the New York City Fire Department and Cal Fire, as measured by sworn personnel. It is also one of the oldest major organized fire departments in the nation.

The Chicago Fire Department is led by the Fire Commissioner, currently Richard C. Ford II. The Fire Commissioner is appointed by the Mayor and assisted by the First Deputy Commissioner, who oversees the department's bureaus. There are four bureaus under the First Deputy Commissioner: Operations, Fire Prevention, Administrative Services & Logistics.

The Chicago Fire Department receives over 500,000 emergency calls annually.

Chicago Housing Authority

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is a municipal corporation that oversees public housing within the city of Chicago. The agency's Board of Commissioners is appointed by the city's mayor, and has a budget independent from that of the city of Chicago. CHA is the largest rental landlord in Chicago, with more than 50,000 households. CHA owns over 21,000 apartments (9,200 units reserved for seniors and over 11,400 units in family and other housing types). It also oversees the administration of 37,000 Section 8 vouchers. The current acting CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority is Eugene Jones, Jr.

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) (est. 2005) is responsible for comprehensive regional planning in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties in northeastern Illinois. The agency developed and now guides implementation of ON TO 2050, [1] a new long-range plan to help the seven counties and 284 communities of northeastern Illinois implement strategies that address transportation, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues. .

Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park District is the oldest and one of the largest park districts in the United States. As of 2016, there are over 600 parks included in the Chicago Park District as well as 27 beaches, several boat harbors, two botanic conservatories, a zoo, and 11 museums. The Chicago Park District also has more than over 230 field houses, 78 public pools, and dozens of sports and recreational facilities, with year-round programming. The district is an independent taxing authority as defined by Illinois State Statute and is considered a separate (or "sister") agency of the City of Chicago. The district's general superintendent and CEO, Michael P. Kelly, was appointed by the mayor of Chicago and confirmed by the board of commissioners in 2011. The district's headquarters are located in the Time-Life Building in the Streeterville neighborhood.

City Clerk of Chicago

The City Clerk of Chicago is in charge of record-keeping for the city of Chicago and its elections. When the Chicago City Council is in session, the City Clerk serves as council secretary. This position is a citywide elected office, one of three city-wide elected officials in the City of Chicago, with the Mayor and the Treasurer being the others.

The City Clerk's office is responsible for maintaining official city government record (such as the Municipal Code of Chicago), distributing approximately 1.3 million vehicle stickers and residential parking permits, and issuing city business licenses.

The current city clerk is Anna Valencia.

Significant City Council transparency efforts have included posting nearly 700,000 pages of searchable City Council records to the City Clerk website, This includes every ordinance passed since 1981, as well as city budgets and mayoral executive orders going back nearly 30 years. In addition, City Council meetings can be watched live or on demand via a City Council video archive on the City Clerk's website,

Commission on Chicago Landmarks

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks, established in 1968 by a Chicago City Ordinance, is composed of nine members appointed by the Mayor and the Chicago City Council. It is responsible for presenting recommendations of individual buildings, sites, objects, or entire districts to be designated as Chicago Landmarks, therefore providing legal protections. The commission is staffed by the Landmarks Division of the Chicago Department of Planning and Development.

Council Wars

The Council Wars were a racially polarized political conflict in the city of Chicago from 1983-1986, centered on the Chicago City Council. The term came from a satirical comedy sketch of the same name written and performed by comedian and journalist Aaron Freeman in 1983, using the good vs. evil plot line of the film Star Wars as a device.

Fireboats of Chicago

As an important port city, Chicago has operated dedicated fireboats since 1877.In 1986, the Chicago Tribune offered a history of Chicago's larger fireboats, when the Chicago Fire Department moved the Victor L. Schlaeger from active to standby status.

According to that account, by 1908 the City was operating nine fireboats. However that was when many of the buildings that lined the waterfront were still made of wood, and by 1986 most of the factories and warehouses by the waterfront were built of concrete.

Josiah Seymour Currey, in a history of Chicago published in 1912, listed five fireboats operating in the early 1900s.By 1986 the city had introduced smaller, less powerful fireboats, that required smaller crews, and did not require specially trained and certified mariners to operate them.When she was commissioned in 2010, the Christopher Wheatley was Chicago's first full-size fireboat in sixty years.

Flag of Chicago

The flag of Chicago consists of two blue horizontal stripes or bars on a field of white, each stripe one-sixth the height of the full flag, and placed slightly less than one-sixth of the way from the top and bottom. Between the two blue stripes are four red, six-pointed stars arranged in a horizontal row.

The City of Chicago flag, designed by Wallace Rice, was adopted in 1917 after Rice won the design competition. The three sections of the white field and the two stripes represent geographical features of the city, the stars symbolize historical events, and the points of the stars represent important virtues or concepts. The historic events represented by the stars are the construction of Fort Dearborn, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933–34.

In a review by the North American Vexillological Association of 150 American city flags, the Chicago city flag was ranked second best with a rating of 9.03 out of 10, behind only the flag of Washington, D.C.

Graffiti Blasters

Graffiti Blasters is a program to eliminate graffiti, street art and gang-related vandalism in Chicago, Illinois. The program is structured as a privately owned business based in the city government. It uses soluble abrasives (baking soda combined with high pressure water) and paints matching the city's official color scheme to erase all varieties of graffiti.

Hired Truck Program

The Hired Truck Program was a scandal-plagued program in the city of Chicago that involved hiring private trucks to do city work. It was overhauled in 2004 (and phased out beginning in 2005) after an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that some participating companies were being paid for doing little or no work, had mob connections, (Nick "The Stick" LoCoco) or were tied to city employees. Truck owners also paid bribes in order to get into the program.The Hired Truck Program officially came to an end Monday, September 18, 2006. At the end of the work day on Friday, September 15, 2006, the final eight Hired Trucks were laid off permanently.

Mayor of Chicago

The Mayor of Chicago is the chief executive of Chicago, Illinois, the third-largest city in the United States. The mayor is responsible for the administration and management of various city departments, submits proposals and recommendations to the Chicago City Council, is active in the enforcement of the city's ordinances, submits the city's annual budget and appoints city officers, department commissioners or directors, and members of city boards and commissions.

During sessions of the city council, the mayor serves as the presiding officer. He/she submits proposals and recommendations to the city council of their own accord and on behalf of city departments. The mayor is not allowed to vote on issues except in certain instances, most notably where the vote taken on a matter before the body results in a tie.

The office of mayor was created when Chicago became a city in 1837.

Operation Virtual Shield

Operation Virtual Shield is a program implemented by Chicago, IL mayor Richard M. Daley, which created the most extensive video surveillance network in the United States by linking more than 3000 surveillance cameras to a centralized monitoring system, which captures and processes camera feeds in real time. It is able to detect suspicious or dangerous activity and identify its location, and now incorporates facial recognition. Virtual Shield is also used to record activity at a potential crime scene before police arrive at a call. The cost of the program was $217 million, much of which came from Homeland Security grants.Daley stated that Chicago will have a surveillance camera on every street corner by the year 2016.

Political history of Chicago

Politics in Chicago through most of the 20th century was dominated by the Democratic Party. Organized crime and corruption were persistent concerns in the city.

Tunnel and Reservoir Plan

The Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (abbreviated TARP and more commonly known as the Deep Tunnel Project or the Chicago Deep Tunnel) is a large civil engineering project that aims to reduce flooding in the metropolitan Chicago area, and to reduce the harmful effects of flushing raw sewage into Lake Michigan by diverting storm water and sewage into temporary holding reservoirs. The megaproject is one of the largest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in terms of scope, cost and timeframe. Commissioned in the mid-1970s, the project is managed by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Completion of the system is not anticipated until 2029, but substantial portions of the system have already opened and are currently operational. Across 30 years of construction, over $3 billion has been spent on the project.

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