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Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States. With over 2.7 million residents it is the most populous city in the state of Illinois and the Midwestern United States, and the county seat of Cook County. The Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, has nearly 10 million people and is the third-largest in the U.S
The city is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, technology, telecommunications, and transportation: O’Hare International Airport is the second busiest airport in the world when measured by aircraft traffic; the region also has the largest number of U.S. highways and rail road freight. In 2012, Chicago was listed as an alpha global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and ranked seventh in the world in the 2014 Global Cities Index.Chicago has the third largest gross metropolitan product in the United States—about $630.3 billion according to 2014-2016 estimates.The city has one of the world’s largest and most diversified economies with no single industry employing more than 14% of the workforce. Chicago is home to several prominent universities and cultural institutions.
The city’s waterfront location and nightlife has attracted residents and tourists alike. Over a third of the city population is concentrated in the lakefront neighborhoods from Rogers Park in the north to South Shore in the south.The city has many upscale dining establishments as well as many ethnic restaurant districts. These districts include the Mexican American neighborhoods, such as Pilsen along 18th street, and La Villita along 26th Street; the Puerto Rican enclave of Paseo Boricua in the Humboldt Park neighborhood; Greektown, along South Halsted Street, immediately west of downtown; Little Italy, along Taylor Street; Chinatown in Armour Square; Polish Patches in West Town; Little Seoul in Albany Park around Lawrence Avenue; Little Vietnam near Broadway in Uptown; and the Desi area, along Devon Avenue in West Ridge.
Renowned Chicago theater companies include the Goodman Theatre in the Loop; the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Victory Gardens Theater in Lincoln Park; and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier. Broadway In Chicago offers Broadway-style entertainment at five theaters: the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre, Bank of America Theatre, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University, and Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. Polish language productions for Chicago’s large Polish speaking population can be seen at the historic Gateway Theatre in Jefferson Park. Since 1968, the Joseph Jefferson Awards are given annually to acknowledge excellence in theater in the Chicago area. Chicago’s theater community spawned modern improvisational theater, and includes the prominent groups The Second City and I.O.
Chicago lays claim to a large number of regional specialties that reflect the city’s ethnic and working-class roots. Included among these are its nationally renowned deep-dish pizza; this style is said to have originated at Pizzeria Uno. The Chicago-style thin crust is also popular in the city.
The Chicago-style hot dog, typically an all-beef hot dog, is loaded with an array of toppings that often includes pickle relish, yellow mustard, pickled sport peppers, tomato wedges, dill pickle spear and topped off with celery salt on a poppy seed bun. Enthusiasts of the Chicago-style dog frown upon the use of ketchup as a garnish, but may prefer to add giardiniera.
There are several distinctly Chicago sandwiches, among them the Italian beef sandwich, which is thinly sliced beef simmered in au jus and served on an Italian roll with sweet peppers or spicy giardiniera. A popular modification is the Combo—an Italian beef sandwich with the addition of an Italian sausage. Another is the Maxwell Street Polish, a grilled or deep-fried kielbasa — on a hot dog roll, topped with grilled onions, yellow mustard, and hot sport peppers.