15 Cool Chicago Facts

This list doesn’t need much of an introduction. We are tour guides. We pride ourselves on knowing a bunch of obscure Chicago facts. Here are some of our favorites:

#1 The first televised presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was held at CBS studios in Chicago

This presidential debate was the first debate to be televised. Because Kennedy was so composed and calm during the debate, it was said that this debate is what won him the presidency, and what made televised debates a major factor in american politics.

#2 You can see four states from the top of the Willis Tower

If you go to the top of the Willis Tower, you can see Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin!

#3 The original Playboy Mansion was in Chicago

When Hugh Hefner started Playboy, he built the original Playboy Mansion in Chicago! Another fun fact, Playboy itself was started in Chicago.

#4 The first ever skyscraper was built in Chicago

In 1885, the first skyscraper for the Home Insurance Company was constructed in the windy city. New York was NOT the first city to have skyscrapers, contrary to popular belief.

#5 The Willis Tower’s elevators operate at 1,600 feet per minute.

This makes the elevators in the Willis Tower some of the fastest elevators in the world. It used to be the largest building in the Western Hemisphere, so it needed them!

#6 Chicago is home to the very first blood bank, soap opera, color TV station, and controlled atomic blast

Chicago has always been a city of first! It was also home to the first car race, as well as the first ever elevated railway.

#7 Western Avenue in Chicago is the longest (continuous) street in the United States

For those who have been on Western Avenue, you already knew this! Western Avenue is almost 24 miles long, making it larger than any street in the United States, and one of the longest in the world.

#8 The Intro Scene for The Dark Knight was filmed in Chicago

Chicago is the city that inspired Gotham City, and The Dark Knight was filmed partially in Chicago. The license plates even mimicked the Illinois license plates so they would blend in during shooting!

#9 11 Fortune 500 companies are based in Chicago

Chicago has a long history of large corporations being founded in the city. Can you name all 11? Boeing Co., Archer Daniels Midland, United Continental Holdings, Inc, Exelon Corporation, Kraft Heinz, ConAgra Brands, LKQ Corporation, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, Jones Lang La Salle, Motorola Solutions, Old Republic International Corporation.

#10 The first Mcdonald’s was built in Chicago

Mcdonalds founder Ray Kroc started the very first Mcdonalds in the Des Plaines suburb of Chicago. The first restaurant was converted to a museum which can be visited.

#11 During the Chicago fair in 1893, Cracker Jacks were introduced to the world.

At the time, putting peanuts with popcorn was unheard of! The inventor was definitely a genius. The inventor was also an immigrant who came to Chicago from Germany.

#12 Every year, 52 million people visit Chicago

That is just under 6,000 visitors to Chicago EVERY HOUR or more than 140,000 visitors each day. This makes Chicago one of the top tourists destinations in the United States.

#13 In 1927, Al Capone made almost $60 million selling alcohol during prohibition

When prohibition was enacted, Al Capone made millions selling alcohol in the Chicago area. If you like this, make sure to check out our Chicago Crime & Gangster Tour.

#14 The cell phone was invented by a Chicago native

Martin Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone, was from Chicago. He is also considered the ‘father of wireless’ and has 11 patents.

#15 The Chicago river flows backwards

In 1887, engineers decided to reverse the flow of the Chicago river to solve some of the cities drainage problems. The river now flows into Chicago instead of out towards Lake Michigan.

What is your favorite Chicago fun fact? Let us know!


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