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Chicago: The most
American city brand
By Robert O’Connor
17 August 2011: ‘Hog-Butcher of the World’, the ‘City of Big Shoulders’, a ‘City on the Make’, ‘The Windy City’ and ‘The City that Works’ are just some of the names that have been given to Chicago. Its best-known name is America's ‘Second-City’. For a long time Chicago was the second largest city in the country and has played an important role in the nation's growth, both culturally and physically.
| History | Assets | Brand partners | Campaigns |
Chicago began as a settlement around Fort Dearborn, which occupied what is now the corner of Michigan and Wacker. It was officially incorporated on 4 March 1837. It became an important transportation juncture connecting the heavily industrialized east with the rapidly expanding west. In the 1850s, native son Stephen Douglas authored the Kansas-Nebraska act, which he famously debated with fellow Illinoisan Abraham Lincoln. Those debates brought Lincoln fame and eventually the White House in 1860.
One third of the city was destroyed by a fire in 1871. In 1886, the Haymarket affair brought labor's desire for an eight-hour work day into the national political conversation. The University of Chicago, founded in 1892, created its own style of architecture. Chicago was also home to the Prairie School of architecture, whose most famous exponents were Louis Sullivan and later Frank Lloyd Wright. It also established the first American school of sociology and its own school of economics, its most famous exponent being longtime professor Milton Friedman. Enrico Fermi did his most famous work at the school including his work on the Manhattan Project that led to the first atomic bomb.
In the 1920s, Al Capone ran his bootlegging empire out of the (now demolished) Lexington Hotel. He was pursued by the head of the Chicago Prohibition Bureau, Elliot Ness and his ‘untouchables.’ It hosted the 1968 Democratic National Convention that was surrounded by chaos both on the floor and in the streets. In 1974, Sears moved its corporate headquarters into the just completed Sears Tower, which was for almost 25 years the tallest building in the world and is still the tallest building in the Americas.
In 2008, Barack Obama celebrated his Presidential election victory in Chicago's Grant Park.
On its official tourism website, Chicago boasts it is home to the following:
• 237 square miles of land
• An estimated 2,695,598 residents
• Dozens of cultural institutions, historical sites and museums
• More than 200 theaters
• Nearly 200 art galleries
• More than 7,300 restaurants
• 77 community areas containing more than 100 neighborhoods
• 26 miles of lakefront
• 15 miles of bathing beaches
• 36 annual parades
• 19 miles of lakefront bicycle paths
• 552 parks
• United States President Barack Obama
Chicago has some of the best known sports franchises in North America. The basketball team The Bulls won the National Basketball Association Championship six times in the 1990s and became (along with its star Michael Jordan) one of the most recognizable basketball teams in the world. The football team The Bears are the 1985 (20th) Superbowl championships and their most recent appearance was in 2006.
The city is one of four cities that have two Major League Baseball teams, the others being New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It is also the only one besides New York to have both teams playing in the same city (The Angels play in Anaheim, near LA and the Athletics play in Oakland). The Chicago White Sox play at US Cellular field on the south side and were World Series champions in 2005. The Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field on the north side. The Cubs are nicknamed "the lovable losers," because they haven't been to the World Series since 1945 and haven't won it since 1908. Supposedly their lack of appearances is because of the "curse of the Billy Goat," which is a part of Chicago lore. The myth was popularized by columnist Mike Royko, but he dismissed it in his final column in 1997. The two teams play each other once a year in an event called "The Crosstown Classic.”
It is also worth noting that:
• Several large companies are based in Chicago or its surrounding suburbs including Boeing, Sears, Motorola, McDonalds, Kraft Foods and United Airlines.
• It has always held large conventions including the Columbian Exposition in 1893. It held a World's Fair again in 1933. It has hosted 24 political nominating conventions including the 1860 Republican Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln and the 1968 Democratic Convention. McCormick Place is the largest convention center in the US and the third largest in the world.
• The city is diverse. It has the largest population of Poles of any city outside of Poland and the second largest population of Serbians anywhere in the world. It has the third largest concentration of South Asians and African Americans in the country.
• Three top-tier research universities are in Chicago: Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Loyola University Chicago is the largest Jesuit University in the world. DePaul University is the largest Roman Catholic university in the country.
• Chicago has an extensive rapid transit system. Managed by the Chicago Transit Authority, the elevated train (‘The L’) is the second oldest rail mass transit system in the Americas and the third busiest. Chicago is also served by a bus system that is managed by the CTA. Another train network, Metra, services the suburbs.
The city's tourism promotions are done through the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau. It's also set up explorechicago.com to encourage people to visit. The tourism bureau's strategic marketing partners include American Express, Onpeak, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. Campaigns for the city are put in O'Hare International Airport (United's hub).
One recent campaign was ‘Ready, Set, Chicago’ launched last year. Its emphasis was on bringing conventions to McCormick Place and Navy Pier, who are partners in the campaign. Its strategic partner is American Airlines, which also has O'Hare as one of its hubs.
At the end of June, the bureau used a tax hike on buses and taxis servicing its two airports to promote the city and open sales offices overseas that the state of Illinois used to run. They've also promised to improve their website in November, Choosechicago.com. Their new $6 million campaign includes a new tagline for the city: ‘Second to None’ - even though that slogan has been used by one of its suburbs, Aurora, since 2005. Some other slogans they plan on using are ‘The City that ranks No. 1 in No. 1 rankings’ and that it lacks only a ‘museum of museums’.
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