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Things You Might Not Know About The Windy City

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Chicago

Chicago is one of the biggest, most famous cities in the United States. It has a population of nearly 2.7 million people and is home to popular sports teams like the Bulls, Bears, Cubs, and White Sox. Chicago is well-known for things like its famous deep-dish pizza, incredible architecture, and its strong influences in the world of jazz music. However, there is a lot that many people don’t know about The Windy City.

Road Safety

Most cities are known for having crazy, almost stand-still traffic, and Chicago is no exception. Drivers here are known to push their behavior past the line of safety, following other cars too closely, speeding excessively, driving under the influence, and blowing through red lights at intersections. All of this behavior–and the associated accidents that have occurred as a result–have earned Chicago the 40th spot on the list of U.S. cities with the worst drivers. In fact, you’re approximately 25% more likely to get in a car crash in the city of Chicago than you are anywhere else in the state. Not only are the locals a little unpredictable behind the wheel, but the roads can be especially confusing for anyone visiting form out of town, since so many of them only allow one-way traffic. So, if you can help it maybe try to avoid driving while visiting the city. Opt instead to use one of Chicago’s forms of public transportation–most of the trains run 24 hours a day, so it’s pretty convenient to get around.

Chicago: The Musical

You might already be familiar with the city’s namesake musical, a popular story of murder, manipulation, and a rise to stardom, which has been a broadway hit since the mid-70s, but did you know that many of the show’s ‘merry murderesses’ were based on real-life women who had been on trial for murder in the early 20s? That’s right, Roxie Hart was based on a young woman named Beulah Annan who, like her broadway counterpart, had been put on trial after murdering the man she was having an affair with for trying to leave her. Also, like the character she inspired, she pleaded self-defense and falsely claimed to be pregnant with her husband’s child to play on the jury’s emotions and avoid the death penalty. Her strategy worked and she left her husband as soon as she regained her freedom. While the real-life counterpart of Velma Kelly, cabaret singer Belva Gaertner, did not murder her husband for having an affair with her sister, it was reported that she was as jealous of a lover as her character suggested, having murdered her lover for trying to leave her, just as Beulah had done. Much like her character, Belva plead memory loss, claiming she had no idea what happened to her lover, only that she remembered driving with him earlier on the day he died. Arguably the most fascinating character who was inspired by real-life events is Hunyak, one of the other murderesses. The real-life Hunyak, Sabella Nitti, was an Italian immigrant who had moved to Chicago with her husband. Because she spoke very little English, she was not able to successfully defend herself in the murder trial that followed her husband’s disappearance. As a result, she was the first woman in Chicago to be sentenced to death. Thankfully, another defense attorney picked up her case and helped her file an appeal, saving her from the noose–unlike her broadway counterpart, who was hanged for murder, with her final words being “not guilty,” which was, as real-life jurors decided, the truth.

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The City That Rose From The Ashes

If you aren’t a big U.S. history buff, then you might not be familiar with the Great Chicago Fire. In 1871, flames burned through Chicago from October 8th until October 10th, when the city was blessed with rain to help the firefighting efforts. The fire was believed to have started in a barn on the southwest side of Chicago and then spread east and north, completely destroying over three square miles of the city. The fire was said to have claimed over 17,000 structures and killed nearly 300 people, leaving more than 100,000 homeless in its wake. After the fire, building codes were updated in an effort to prevent any future fires from spreading to the same extent. The city received donations from the United Kingdom after the disaster, which were used to help rebuild the city according to these new, stricter building codes, and to help fund the Chicago Public Library.

 

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