Chicago ( (listen), locally also ), officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, which is often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States; the fourth largest in North America (after Mexico City, New York City, and Los Angeles) ; and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.
Located on the shores of freshwater Lake Michigan, Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed and grew rapidly in the mid-nineteenth century. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed several square miles and left more than 100,000 homeless, the city made a concerted effort to rebuild. The construction boom accelerated population growth throughout the following decades, and by 1900 Chicago was the fifth largest city in the world. Chicago made noted contributions to urban planning and zoning standards, including new construction styles (including the Chicago School of architecture), the development of the City Beautiful Movement, and the steel-framed skyscraper.
Chicago is an international hub for finance, culture, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation. It is the site of the creation of the first standardized futures contracts at the Chicago Board of Trade, which today is the largest and most diverse derivatives market gobally, generating 20% of all volume in commodities and financial futures. O'Hare International Airport is the one of the busiest airports in the world, and the region also has the largest number of U.S. highways and greatest amount of railroad freight. In 2012, Chicago was listed as an alpha global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and it ranked seventh in the entire world in the 2017 Global Cities Index. Chicago has one of the highest gross domestic products (GDP) in the world, generating over $679.69 billion in 2017. In addition, the city has one of the world's most diversified and balanced economies, not being dependent on any one industry, with no single industry employing more than 14% of the workforce.
Chicago welcomed a record 58 million domestic and international visitors in 2018, making it the second most visited city in the nation, slightly behind New York City's approximate 65 million visitors. The city ranked first place in the 2018 Time Out City Life Index, a global quality of life survey of 15,000 people in 32 cities. Landmarks in the city include Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Campus, the Willis (Sears) Tower, Grant Park (Chicago), the Museum of Science and Industry, and Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago's culture includes the visual arts, literature, film, theater, comedy (especially improvisational comedy), food, and music, particularly jazz, blues, soul, hip-hop, gospel, and electronic dance music including house music. Of the area's many colleges and universities, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago are classified as "highest research" doctoral universities. Chicago has professional sports teams in each of the major professional leagues, including two Major League Baseball teams.