The city of Chicago like most large cities has little need for its current location, but is simply there because it was advantageous throughout its sprawling history. It's roots date back to pre colonial times when the Native Americans referred to the land as "Chicaugou" meaning great or powerful.
The first resident of Chicago was a man called Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, an Haitian ex-slave who moved to Illinois some time between 1784-1788 and built his farm by the shores of lake Michigan, the first to settle in the area and the first african-american to live in Chicago, his place was a very important trading spot in the region until he sold it 1800. The 20 years that he spent and the fact that he is the first to live there is what makes him an important part of Chicago history.
In 1803, Fort Dearborn was founded by lake Michigan, the reason the region of Chicago was chosen was due to its advantageous military position in the mouth of the Chicago river, it was named after Thomas Jefferson's secretary of war, Henry Dearborn. The soldiers lived in the fort along with their families, and a few businesses, such as artesans, interpreters, or traders. The Fort was evacuated during the War of 1812, it was then attacked and burned down by Native Americans, then the area had very little activity until 1816 when the fort was rebuilt, and was used until 1857, when it was demolished.
In 1833, Chicago was incorporated as a town with less than 400 people living there at the time. In 1936, William Butler Ogden arrived in Chicago, where he intended on doing a job for his brother-in-law, draining the area, and dividing the land that was bought. Ogden chose to stay in Chicago after the job was over, eventually he became the first mayor of the city. In the years to come, the city would constantly grow larger, detting telegraph lines connected, establishing the Chicago board of trade, putting down railroad tracks, building a public sewer system, and opening the university of Chicago.
In 1860, Chicago took its first big step in national politics by hosting the Republican National Convention. This is the event in which the Republican Party announces its candidate for the coming presidential election. And as if that wasn't enough, the 1860 candidate was arguably the most influential president that America has ever seen, Abraham Lincoln. In less than a year the country was hit hard with a civil war, but in 1865 it finally came to a close, and Chicago blossomed in the war’s wake. There was rapid economic and physical growth as the city swelled with new work and new workers.
This continued up until the eighth of October 1871 when one of Chicago’s most famous events occurred, the Great Chicago Fire. Without knowing the context, if most of us heard that a city was very nearly burnt to the ground, well we would assume that it would put a damper on its local economy, and perhaps this is what makes Chicago so unique. It could be that people saw Chicago as a parable the sort of ‘American spirit’ the willingness to fight against the odds and find opportunity in everything. Or it could have been that Chicago was a show pony for America’s growth as a nation. Either way, when Chicago fell victim to the fire that destroyed nearly four square miles of city and left 100,000 citizens homeless it came back with a might, and quickly became more powerful than before. The world’s best business men and in particular, architects flocked to the despairing city in search of easy work.