Chicago History
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If you visit Chicago, and I am not here to guide you.
I enjoy nothing more than taking visitors around Chicago, and nothing frustrates me more than knowing that a friend is coming to town when I won't be here myself to offer one of my personal tours.  I have created a website that includes some of what I might offer to visiting friends and family, if I were here to show you around.
 
My perspective will be the perspective of history.  People are attracted to Chicago by its architecture and dazzled by its lakeside location, but history pulls it all together.  History is my love, and Chicago history is my passion.
 
To me, history is not only the past.  I am equally interested in the history that is being made all around us, the history of today that is shaped by yesterday's events and today's people to create a future we can only dream of.
 
When I walk around the Hispanic neighborhoods of the North Side of Chicago, why is it that ice cream is being sold from pushcarts decorated with pictures of monarch butterflies?  It is because of the connection that began long ago and continues today between Mexico and Chicago.  Michoacn is the state in Mexico where the monarch butterflies spend their winters.  Many immigrants to Chicago also come from Michoacn.  There is a wonderful symmetry between the migration of these butterflies between Chicago and Mexico and the history of an immigrant community that has enriched our city.  What explains the connection is history -- the story of the past, and the history being made today.

Credit Francisco Gutierrez. Valle del Bravo Mexico
Monarch butterfly, important symbol of history being made today in Chicago.

 
On the left-hand side of each page, you will see links to topics that might be of use to you as a visitor to Chicago.  Be prepared to explore Chicago's neighborhoods. While Michigan Avenue and the lakefront are stunning, you never will understand this city without seeing its neighborhoods.  The views are my own, and the site does not cover every topic that a visitor will care about.
 
Captions with "GTJ Photo" indicate photos by author.
 
In the top left corner of every page is a photo of the Inland Steel Building, which epitomizes much of history of Chicago that I grew up with.  This is one of the purest examples of the Chicago school of architecture:  the lines are clean, the supporting structure is visible, windows are maximized and the use of building materials (in this case, stainless steel claddings) is innovative.  It also recalls an era of industrial and labor history when Chicago was one of the industrial engines of the world and many people migrated here -- especially from the South, from Eastern Europe and from Mexico -- to work for Chicago's manufacturers.
 
Gary T. Johnson

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