Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States, after New York City and Los Angeles. With 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in both the U.S. state of Illinois and the American Midwest. Its metropolitan area, sometimes called Chicagoland, is home to 9.5 million people and is the third-largest in the United States.
Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837, near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed, and experienced rapid growth in the middle nineteenth century. Today, the city is an international hub for finance, commerce, industry, telecommunications, and transportation, with O'Hare International Airport being the second-busiest airport in the world in terms of traffic movements. It has the fourth-largest gross domestic product among metropolitan areas in the world, ranking behind Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles, and ahead of London and Paris. Chicago is listed as an alpha+ global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, and ranks seventh in the world in the 2012 Global Cities Index.
In 2012, Chicago hosted 46.2 million international and domestic visitors. Chicago's culture includes contributions to the visual arts, novels, film, theater, especially improvisational comedy, and music, particularly blues and soul. The city has many nicknames, which reflect the impressions and opinions about historical and contemporary Chicago. The best-known include "Windy City" and "Second City." Chicago has professional sports teams in each of the major professional leagues.
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