• Image: ShutterRunner.com (CC by/nc)

    Chicago: The Global City

    It may be America’s most interesting city, but not for the usual clichés. Rather, Chicago today is part beautiful and part bleak, created for one era and coping with another, an experiment in civic transformation. (Image: ShutterRunner.com CC by/nc)

  • The Fire Arts Center is a nonprofit school for sculpture. (Image courtesy SIFC Chicago)

    Culture in a City of Neighborhoods

    Chicago doesn’t have an arts district. The city’s creativity springs from, and reveals itself in, all of its many communities. Thus each neighborhood is, or aspires to be, an arts district of its own. (Image: courtesy Sixty Inches from Center)

  • (Image: Heather Phillips CC by/nc/sa)

    The Fresh Coast

    Founded on the shores of the Great Lakes, which 18th-century French explorers called the “sweetwater seas,” Chicago recognized early the value of its access to the world’s largest freshwater system. (Image: Heather Phillips CC by/nc/sa)

  • The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) was the tallest building the world until 1998. (Image: Justin Kern CC by/sa/nc)

    Chicago Architecture

    Perhaps more than any other American city, Chicago has used architecture to express its identity and assert itself – and, when need be, reassert itself – on the world stage. (Image: Justin Kern CC by/sa/nc)

  • BP-women-ratner3

    Empowering Women

    There’s no shortage of Chicago women making their mark on the global scene. But the women most likely to determine Chicago’s future as a global power are the ones you’ve never heard of. (Image: © Paul Natkin via Open Books)

  • Harold Washington

    The Heart of Black America

    Harlem may be lauded as the symbolic capital of black America, but Chicago is the heart. (Image: Marc PoKempner ©)

  • President Obama visits a Ford plant in Chicago. Image: Pete Sousa (White House)

    Obama’s Chicago

    Barack Obama’s choice of Chicago as his political and psychic home seems brilliant in retrospect. Yet in many ways, it was an unlikely launching pad for America’s first black president.

  • (Image: haglundc CC by/nc)

    Global Food Security

    While the number of small organic farms is growing, they provide less than one percent of the United States food supply. The larger trend is for American farms to get bigger, and most food is grown on big, highly-specialized farms; these are the farms the feed the world. But large-scale farming is not sustainable as long as it relies on chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers that damage the land and pollute the water.

  • A 2006 rally for immigrant rights was Chicago's largest ever. The march, which drew between 250,000 and 500,000 people was a peaceful and effective demonstration of political power. (Image:  jvoves CC-by-nc-sa)

    The Birthplace of Community Organizing

    Chicago is considered the birthplace of community organizing; this is where Saul Alinsky founded the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council in 1939 and the Industrial Areas Foundation in 1940, and where Barack Obama was trained in that tradition forty years later. (Image: jvoves CC-by-nc-sa)

  • U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shawn Meno stands guard outside a meeting between reconstruction officials and members of a local Kuchi tribe residing in Bawka District in Farah province, Afghanistan, June 12, 2010 (Image: Rylan K. Albright / US Army)

    Local Afghans’ Views on War

    As NATO ponders its Afghanistan legacy and future, so, too, do many of the Afghans who have made Chicago their new home.

  • Dan Sinker shows off @mayoremanuel, his deliciously profane Twitter parody of mayoral candidate Rahm Emmanuel (which the new mayor greeted with good humor... eventually). The feed, now a book, is part of a long resume of quirky new media properties. He now runs Open News, a collaboration of Mozilla and the Knight Foundation on the future of journalism technology. (Image: Daniel X. O'Neil CC-by)

    News Innovation

    Despite the odds, Chicago has become a rallying point for programmer-journalists who are shaping the future of news. (Image: Daniel X. O’Neil CC-by)

  • This house on Normal Street embodies the struggle for housing in Chicago. Oversized in a traditionally Irish neighborhood, in 2010 the property was denied to a black family after they had agreed on a $1.7 million sale price. The Federal government filed a discrimination suit, which is ongoing. When relisted later that year, records indicated the property was in foreclosure. (Image and reporting: Eric Allix Rogers  CC-by-nc-sa)

    Community Responses to Foreclosure Crisis

    The long, drawn-out foreclosure crisis continues to hamper the nation’s economic recovery – and continues to drag down Chicago communities as it spreads to more affluent areas of the city. Chicago organizers are responding. (Image: Eric Allix Rogers CC-by-nc-sa)

  • The elevated trains that have circled the city core since 1895 give downtown Chicago it's name: The Loop. (Image: Ian Freimuth CC by/sa/nc)


    America’s Golden Funnel – a mega-port through which the bounty of a fruited midcontinent flowed east and finished goods west. First by water and later by rail, semitrailer and jetliner. (Image: John W. Iwanski CC by/nc)

  • The Union Stockyards, made infamous by Upton Sinclair, now host LEED certified grocer TESTA Produce, whose commitment to renewable energy spins overhead. (Image: Josh Mogerman CC by/nc/sa)

    Sustainable Chicago

    What do the New York Times, National Geographic, and the environmental news site Grist have in common? They’ve all cited Chicago as one of the world’s greenest cities. Despite its “big shoulders” industrial heritage, Chicago has worked hard to become green, sustainable, and livable. (Image: Josh Mogerman CC by/nc/sa)

  • Chicago Theatre

    Chicago Theater

    Chicago has the largest African-American theater community in the United States, and no less than five Tony Award winning companies. (Image: OutofChicago.com CC by/sa/nc)

  • Lupe Fiasco's brand of complex, self deprecating hip-hop is part of a Chicago tradition of conscious rap. On the other hand, there's Kanye West. (Image: NRKP3 CC by/sa/nc)

    Chicago Music

    The neighborhood influence on Chicago music is so strong that even the major downtown institutions feel its gravitational pull. Since the days when King Oliver, Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines made Bronzeville a jazz mecca, music innovations have come from Chicago neighborhoods. (Image: NRKP3)

  • Argonne National Laboratory (Image: ANL CC by/sa)

    The Intellectual Crossroads

    The brawling, hog-butchering, blue-collar factory town of the 19th century has evolved into a formidable, world-class center for scientific and intellectual creativity. (Image: Argonne National Laboratory)

  • The city skyline from the Near West side. (Image: Justin Kern CC-by-sa-nc)

    The Fight for Affordable Housing

    Chicago’s shortage of affordable housing has only grown during the past decade, both during the housing boom, with rentals converted to condos, and since the crash, with tens of thousands of apartment buildings falling into foreclosure. Organizers are pushing back. (Image: Justin Kern CC by-sa-nc)

  • Tech startups cluster downtown in Chicago's River North neighborhood. (Image: needoptic CC by/sa)

    Startup Chicago

    A growing hive of Chicago tech startups are benefiting from a new ecosystem of mentors, boosters and funders. (Image: needoptic CC by/sa)

  • Michigan Avenue hums during rush hour. (Image: Brian Kowpowski CC by/nc/sa)

    Corporate Innovation

    The commercial capital city of America periodically reinvents itself in new waves of entrepreneurial innovation. And the surf is up again on the country’s freshwater third coast. (Image: Brian Koprowski CC by/nc/sa)

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