How Was Chicago Founded?

How Was Chicago Founded?

The long and storied history of Chicago is filled with tales of barons, artists, philanthropists, and innovators who have shaped everything from the bedrock to the skyline of the city. Explore the city and all its wonders beginning with one of Shoreline Sightseeing’s Chicago architectural boat cruises and ending with your own adventures.

Early History

John Hancock Building area

Originally the site of Fort Dearborn, the land that would become Chicago was ceded to the United States through a series of treaties made with Native American tribes in the 18th and 19th centuries. The City itself was organized with a scant population of only 200 people in 1833, but that number would quickly grow as the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad moved in, making the city an important transportation hub for travelers from around the country.

Throughout the 19th century, Chicago expanded rapidly, becoming one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the nation as immigrants and laborers were drawn to the promise of plentiful work. The influx of new blood and the rise of retail, manufacturing, and finance enterprises made Chicago one of the most dominant influences on the modern American economy.

Because of the rapid growth of the city and the influx of new residents demanding better sanitation, engineers performed some incredible feats, including physically raising the city and reversing the flow of the Chicago river, which moved sewage out of the lakes and cemented Chicago’s reputation as a city of innovators.


Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, Chicago continues to flourish and remains a center for change, not only in the worlds of industry, finance, and engineering, but as a city of social reformers, as well. The first American City to organize a gay rights organization, the progressive people of Chicago have worked hard for equal rights for nearly a century, hosting such notables as Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Raby. Chicago also had one of the first African American mayors in the country, Harold Washington.

Come See Chicago from the Water on a Shoreline Sightseeing Architectural Tour Today

Schedule a Chicago Architecture Tour now and learn all about the history of Chicago from one of our knowledgeable tour guides. Explore this modern metropolis as you glory in tales of yesteryear and experience the Windy City up close.