Chicago was incorporated as a town on this date in 1833. It would be incorporated as a city four years later. As historian William Cronon so eloquently explained in his Nature's Metropolis, the Windy City became the locus point for the development of the United States as breadbasket -- and side of beef, and so on -- to the world.
Chicago's first permanent non-Native resident was a man named Jean Baptist Point du Sable. He was a free black man, probably from Haiti, who arrived in the 1770s. Chicago's checkered racial legacy -- burgeoning African American culture spurred by the Great Migration of the World War I era coupled with insidious residential "red-lining" -- makes this origin story all the more fascinating.
See this history provided by the City of Chicago for more information and anecdotes regarding this central location, literally and figuratively, in the development of American political, economic, and cultural life.