The first white men known to have visited the region were Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette in 1673. The first permanent white settler was John Kinzie, who is sometimes called the Father of Chicago. He took over a trading post in 1796 that had been established in 1791 by Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable, a black fur trapper. Fort Dearborn, a blockhouse and stockade, was built in 1804 but was evacuated in 1812, at which time more than half of its garrison was massacred by Potawatomi and Ottawa Indians loyal to the British.
The name Chicago is thought to come from an Algonquian word meaning “onion” or “skunk.”
Laid out in 1830, Chicago was incorporated as a village in 1833 and as a city in 1837. In the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, an area of the city about 4 mi long and nearly a mile wide—more than two thousand acres—was totally destroyed. However, much of the city, including the railroads and stockyards, survived intact, and from the ashes of the old wooden structures there arose more modern constructions in steel and stone.
Today, Chicago is a major Great Lakes port and the commercial, financial, industrial, and cultural center of the Midwest. The manufacturing industries dominate the wholesale and retail trade, and trade in agricultural commodities is important to the economy. The Chicago Board of Trade is the largest agricultural futures market in the world.
Among Chicago's many attractions are the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Jane Addams–Hull House Museum, Navy Pier, and numerous architectural landmarks such as the Sears Tower and Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House.
Selected famous natives and residents: