• 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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 ©)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • Transportation

    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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

  • 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 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)

  • 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)

  • 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)

More briefing papers

Get the complete list of Chicago briefing papers and source lists here.


Get informed of site updates via email or SMS alerts by signing up here.