encyclopedia of chicago
The Encyclopedia of Chicago


Contrary to popular belief, the Fire of 1871 burned less than one quarter of the area of the city.

The nation’s first automobile race was held in Chicago in 1895.

America’s first movie studio, Polyscope, was founded in Chicago in 1897.

Chicago offered Northerly Island as a site for the new United Nations after World War II.

The airport baggage abbreviation for O’Hare International Airport, “ORD,” derives from the location’s earlier name, Orchard Place.

The world’s first juvenile court opened in Chicago in 1899.

The city of Joliet used to be named Juliet, and Romeoville—named at the same time—was called Romeo.

Chicago’s first major civil disturbance—on April 21, 1855—was the Lager Beer Riot, a protest against the Sunday closing of taverns and saloons.