"Second city of the United States, fifth largest on the globe, "Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation," from its earliest days as a frontier settlement, one hundred and fifty years ago, it has somehow managed to capture man's imagination as the epitome of the American idea. No other city has grown so fast or risen so inevitably, with bustling self-importance, to a leading position. Everything about it seems to be on a gigantic scale: its actual size, its factories and mail-order houses, its Stock Yards (which it would be trite to term a world in themselves); its spreading parks, literally dug up out of the lake; its very winds and blizzards, sharper and fiercer than anywhere else. Even the fire that destroyed it in 1871 was, it goes without saying, the worst ever known. And what shall we say of its spirit, boasting and brawling, rude and crude, whose magnificent vigour has carried it triumphantly through that and many another disaster?
"Geographically, its situation in the middle of the country, on a body of water that has the character and majesty of an inland sea, together with its natural domination over the huge and fertile Mississippi Valley, from the first assured its greatness. It is the undisputed capital of the Midwest, which is felt, I judge rightly, to be the most American part of America. In spite of an enormous and ever increasing foreign population, it has contrived to chew up and digest its diversified elements, making them over, in a generation or less, into something as purely indigenous as buckwheat or Indian meal pudding. Its motto is I will! and it has never said die."
Arthur Meeker (1902-1971)
Chicago, With Love (1955)