Chicago was incorporated in 1833. In the late 1800s, it was the fastest-growing city in the world, expanding from 30,000 people in 1850 to more than 1,000,000 in 1890.

In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed a third of the city. Several years of massive rebuilding followed.

Chicago was the site of the world's first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, built in 1885.

In 1893, the city hosted the World's Columbian Exposition, perhaps the most influential world's fair in history.

Chicago is filled with magnificent buildings designed by Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. The proliferation of steel-frame buildings in the late 1800s gave birth to the style known as Chicago School; Chicago School buildings often feature large plate-glass windows, three-part vertical block composition, and Chicago windows.