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Chicago Geography
 
 
 

Chicago is located in northeastern Illinois at the southwestern tip of Lake Michigan. It sits on the continental divide at the site of the Chicago Portage, connecting the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes watersheds. The city lies beside Lake Michigan, and two rivers – the Chicago River in downtown and the Calumet River in the industrial far South Side – flow entirely or partially through Chicago. The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal connects the Chicago River with the Des Plaines River, which runs to the west of the city. Chicago's history and economy are closely tied to its proximity to Lake Michigan. While the Chicago River historically handled much of the region's waterborne cargo, today's huge lake freighters use the city's Lake Calumet Harbor on the South Side. The lake also provides another positive effect, moderating Chicago's climate; making waterfront neighbourhoods slightly warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

When Chicago was founded in the 1830s, most of the early building began around the mouth of the Chicago River, as can be seen on a map of the city's original 58 blocks. The overall grade of the city's central, built-up areas, is relatively consistent with the natural flatness of its overall natural geography, generally exhibiting only slight differentiation otherwise. The average land elevation is 579 feet (176 m) above sea level. The lowest points are along the lake shore at 577 feet (176 m), while the highest point at 735 feet (224 m) is a landfill located in the Hegewisch community area on the city's far south side.

Lake Shore Drive runs adjacent to a large portion of Chicago's lakefront. Parks along the lakeshore include Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park and Jackson Park; 29 public beaches are found all along the shore. Near downtown, landfills extend into the Lake, providing space for the Jardine Water Purification Plant, Navy Pier, Northerly Island and the Museum Campus, Soldier Field, and large portions of the McCormick Place Convention Center. Most of the city's high-rise commercial and residential buildings can be found within a few blocks of the lake.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Chicago has a total area of 606.1 km² (234.0 mi²). 588.3 km² (227.1 mi²) of it is land and 17.8 km² (6.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.94% water. The city has been built on relatively flat land, the average height of land is 579 feet (176 meters) above sea level. Chicago, along with New York City and California, are the three most populous cities of the US, yet Chicago is only half the other two cities' individual land areas.

The Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) consists of Cook county and five surrounding Illinois counties as well as the Chicago-Gary-Kenosha Consolidated Statistical Area (CSA) which is made up of nine counties, two of them in northwestern Indiana and one in southeastern Wisconsin.

"Chicagoland" is an informal name for the Chicago metro area, used primarily by copywriters, advertising agencies and traffic reporters. There is no precise definition for the term Chicagoland, but it generally means "around Chicago" or relatively local. The Chicago Tribune, which coined the term, includes the city of Chicago, the rest of Cook County, eight nearby Illinois counties; Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Will and Kankakee, and three counties in Indiana; Lake, Porter, and LaPorte. The Illinois Department of Tourism defines Chicagoland as Cook County without the city of Chicago, and only Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will counties. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce defines it as all of Cook, and DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

 

 
 

 



 


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