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The Chicago metropolitan area, or Chicagoland, is the metropolitan area associated with the city of Chicagomarker in the United Statesmarker and its suburbs. It is the area that is closely linked to the city through social, economic, and cultural ties. There are several definitions of the area, the two most common being the area under the jurisdiction of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (a metropolitan planning organization), and the area defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet-Gary, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).


Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is responsible for transportation infrastructure, land use, and long term economic development planning for the areas under its jurisdiction. The area has a MSA population of over 9.5 million. It consists of the seven core counties in the metropolitan area, all in the state of Illinoismarker:

Metropolitan statistical area

The Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was originally designated by the United States Census Bureau in 1950 and consisted of the Illinoismarker counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will along with Lake County in Indianamarker. As surrounding counties saw an increase in their population densities and the number of their residents employed within Cook County, they met Census criteria to be added to the MSA. The Chicago MSA is the third largest MSA by population in the United States with a population of 9,569,684 (2008 estimate). The MSA covers 7,214 sq. mi. of land area and 2,367 sq. mi. of water area. The total area of the MSA is 9,581 sq. mi. U.S. Census Bureau - 2006 population estimates for combined statistical areas and their components

The MSA is further subdivided into the Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL Metropolitan Division, corresponding roughly to the CMAP region, the Gary, IN Metropolitan Division consisting of the Indianamarker Counties of Lakemarker and Portermarker as well as two surrounding counties, and the Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI Metropolitan Division. The components of the MSA and their 2007 populations are as follows:

Combined statistical area

The OMB also defines a slightly larger region, the Combined Statistical Area (CSA), combining the metropolitan areas of Chicago, Michigan Citymarker (in Indianamarker), and Kankakeemarker (in Illinoismarker). This area represents the extent of the labor market pool for the entire region. The combined statistical area, of which the Chicago metropolitan area is part, has a population of 9,750,000 (as of 2007).


Chicagoland is an informal name for the Chicago metropolitan area. There is no official definition for Chicagoland, which may be larger than the MSA and include portions of the greater CSA.

Colonel Robert R. McCormick, editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, usually gets credit for placing the term in common use. McCormick's conception of Chicagoland stretched all the way to nearby parts of Iowamarker and Michiganmarker. The first usage came on July 27, 1926 (page 1), with the headline: "Chicagoland's Shrines: A Tour of Discoveries" by reporter James O'Donnell Bennett. He stated that Chicagoland comprised everything in a 200-mile radius in every direction and reported on many different places in the area. The Tribune was the dominant newspaper in a vast area stretching to the west of the city, and that hinterland was closely tied to the metropolis by rail lines and commercial links.

Today, the Chicago Tribune's usage includes the city of Chicago, the rest of Cook Countymarker, eight nearby Illinois counties (Lakemarker, McHenrymarker, DuPagemarker, Kanemarker, Kendallmarker, Grundymarker, Willmarker and Kankakeemarker), and two counties in Indianamarker, Lakemarker and Portermarker. Illinois Department of Tourism literature uses Chicagoland for suburbs in Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will counties, treating the city separately. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce defines it as all of Cook, and DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

Geography of Chicago

The city of Chicago is in the Chicago Plain, a flat and broad area characterized by little topographical relief. The few low hills here are sand ridges. North of the Chicago Plain, steep bluffs and ravines run alongside Lake Michigan. Along the southern shore of the Chicago Plain, there are sand dunes that run alongside the lake, but no bluffs. The tallest dunes reach up to near 200 feet and are found in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshoremarker. Surrounding the low plain are bands of moraines in the south and west suburbs. These areas are higher and hillier than the Chicago Plain. A continental divide, separating the Mississippi River watershed from that of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, runs through the Chicago area.


The suburbs, surrounded by easily annexed flat ground, have been expanding at a tremendous rate since the early 1960s. Aurora, Elgin, Joliet, and Naperville are noteworthy for being four of the few boomburbs outside the Sun Beltmarker, West Coast and Mountain States regions, and exurban Kendall Countymarker ranked as the fastest-growing county (among counties with a population greater than 10,000) in the United States between the years 2000 and 2007.

Settlement patterns in the Chicago metropolitan area tend to follow those in the city proper: the northern suburbs along the shore of Lake Michiganmarker are comparatively affluent, while the southern suburbs (sometimes known as Chicago Southland) are less so, with lower median incomes and a lower cost of living. However, there is a major exception to this. While Chicago's west side is the poorest section of the city, the western and northwestern suburbs contain many affluent areas. According to the 2000 Census, DuPage Countymarker had the highest median household income of any county in the Midwestern United States.

According to the 2000 US Census, poverty rates of the largest counties from least poverty to most are as follows: McHenry 3.70%, Dupage 5.90%, Will 6.70%, Lake 6.90%, Kane 7.40%, Cook 14.50%.

In an in-depth historical analysis, Keating (2004, 2005) examined the origins of 233 settlements that by 1900 had become suburbs or city neighborhoods of the Chicago metropolitan area . The settlements began as farm centers (41%), industrial towns (30%), residential railroad suburbs (15%), and recreational/institutional centers (13%). Although relations between the different settlement types were at times contentious, there also was cooperation in such undertakings as the construction of high schools.


Census Area July 1, 2008 2000 Census 1990 Census 1980 Census 1970 Census 1960 Census 1950 Census
Chicagomarker- Napervillemarker- Jolietmarker, ILmarker-INmarker-WImarker 9,569,684 9,098,316 8,065,633 7,869,542 7,612,314 6,794,461 5,495,364
Cook Countymarker, Illinoismarker 5,294,664 5,376,741 5,105,067 5,253,655 5,492,369 5,129,725 4,508,792
DeKalb Countymarker, Illinoismarker 106,321 88,969 77,932 74,624 71,654 51,714 40,781
DuPage Countymarker, Illinoismarker 930,528 904,161 781,666 658,835 491,882 313,459 154,599
Grundy Countymarker, Illinoismarker 47,958 37,535 32,337 30,582 26,535 22,350 19,217
Kane Countymarker, Illinoismarker 507,579 404,119 317,471 278,405 251,005 208,246 150,388
Kendall Countymarker, Illinoismarker 103,460 54,544 39,413 37,202 26,374 17,540 12,115
Lake Countymarker, Illinoismarker 712,453 644,356 516,418 440,372 382,638 293,656 179,097
McHenry Countymarker, Illinoismarker 318,641 260,077 183,241 147,897 111,555 84,210 50,656
Will Countymarker, Illinoismarker 681,097 502,266 357,313 324,460 249,498 191,617 134,336
Lake Countymarker, Indianamarker 492,104 484,564 475,594 522,965 546,253 513,269 368,152
Porter Countymarker, Indianamarker 160,578 146,798 128,932 119,816 87,114 60,279 40,076
LaPorte County, Indianamarker 110,888 110,106 107,066 108,632 105,342 95,111 76,808
Kenosha Countymarker, Wisconsinmarker 164,465 149,577 128,181 123,137 117,917 100,615 75,238
As the Chicago metropolitan area has grown, more counties have been partly or totally assimilated with the taking of each decennial census.


The Chicagomarker metropolitan area is home to the corporate headquarters of 57 Fortune 1000 companies, including Boeing, McDonald's, Motorola, Discover Financial Services and United Airlines, representing a diverse group of industries . The area is a major financial center in North America, and is home to the largest futures exchange in the United States, the CME Group.

A key piece of infrastructure for several generations was the Union Stock Yardsmarker of Chicago, which from 1865 until 1971 penned and slaughtered millions of cattle and hogs into standardized cuts of beef and pork.

The Chicago area, meanwhile, began to produce significant quantities of telecommunications gear, electronics, steel, crude oil derivatives, automobiles, and industrial capital goods.

By the early 2000s, Illinois's economy had moved toward a dependence on high-value-added services such as financial trading, higher education, logistics, and health care. In some cases, these services clustered around institutions that hearkened back to Illinois's earlier economies. For example, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a trading exchange for global derivatives, had begun its life as an agricultural futures market.

In 2007, the area ranked first among U.S. metro areas in the number of new and expanded corporate facilities. It ranked third in 2008, behind the Houston Metropolitan Area and the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex.

The Wall Street Journal summarized the Chicago area's economy in November 2006 with the comment that "Chicago has survived by repeatedly reinventing itself." Brat, Ilan, "Tale of a Warehouse", Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2006, page A1.

Principal municipalities

Over 1,000,000 population

Cities over 100,000 population

Cities over 60,000 population

Urban areas within the Chicago CSA

Within the boundary of the 16-county Chicago Consolidated Statistical Area lies the Chicago urban area, as well as 27 smaller urban areas and clusters. Smallest gap indicates the shortest distance between the given urban area or cluster and the Chicago urban area.

Rank Urban area type Population
(2000 census)
Land Area
Smallest gap
1 Chicago-Aurora-Elgin-Joliet-Waukegan, IL-IN UA 8,307,904 5,498.1 n/a
2 Round Lake Beach-McHenry-Grayslake, IL-WI^ † UA 226,848 344.9 2
3 Kenosha, WI † UA 110,942 109.2 1
4 Michigan City-LaPorte, IN-MI^^ † UA 66,199 86.1 3
5 Kankakee-Bradley-Bourbonnais, IL UA 65,073 71.5 >10
6 DeKalb-Sycamore, IL UA 55,805 46.3 >10
7 Woodstock, IL † UC 20,219 21.1 4
8 Morris, IL UC 13,927 19.3 >10
9 Sandwich, IL^^^ UC 12,248 23.9 >10
10 Braidwood-Coal City, IL UC 11,607 19.5 >10
11 Harvard, IL UC 8,575 13.3 >10
12 Lakes of the Four Seasons, IN † UC 8,450 12.5 4
13 Lowell, IN UC 7,914 15.8 >10
14 Wilmington, IL UC 7,107 20.8 >10
15 Manteno, IL UC 7,106 9.4 >10
16 Marengo, IL UC 6,854 8.6 >10
17 Rensselaer, IN UC 6,096 10.9 >10
18 Plano, IL † UC 5,911 6.5 3
19 Genoa, IL UC 5,137 5.5 >10
20 Genoa City, WI-IL^^^^ † UC 5,126 12.5 >10
21 Westville, IN UC 5,077 4.4 >10
22 Hebron, IN UC 4,150 11.7 >10
23 Momence, IL UC 3,711 9.7 >10
24 Peotone, IL † UC 3,358 3.5 9
25 Wonder Lake, IL † UC 2,798 2.0 5
26 Monee, IL † UC 2,787 3.7 3
27 Union Township, IN † UC 2,593 4.9 1
28 Hampshire, IL † UC 2,591 2.0 6

The formerly distinct urban areas of Aurora, Elgin, Joliet, and Waukegan were absorbed into the Chicago UA as of the 2000 census.

† These urban areas and urban clusters are expected to be joined to the Chicago Urban Area by the next census in 2010.

^ The Round Lake Beach-McHenry-Grayslake, IL-WI UA extends into Walworth County, WI, which lies (for the moment) outside the Chicago CSA.

^^ The Michigan City-LaPorte, IN-MI UA extends into Berrien County, MI, which lies (for the moment) outside the Chicago CSA.

^^^ The Sandwich, IL UC extends into LaSalle County, IL, which lies (for the moment) outside the Chicago CSA.

^^^^ The Genoa City, WI-IL UC extends into Walworth County, WI, which lies (for the moment) outside the Chicago CSA.


Major airports

Subway and Commuter rail

  • Chicago Transit Authority trains, locally referred to as "the L", (after "elevated train") serving Chicago and the near suburbs
  • Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation, also known as Metra:
    • 4 lines serving southern Cook County and Will County
    • 3 lines serving western Cook County, DuPage County, and Kane County
    • 1 line serving northwestern Cook County and McHenry County
    • 3 lines serving northern Cook County and Lake County, with 1 line extending up to Kenosha, Wisconsinmarker
  • South Shore Line shares the Metra electric lines and connects Chicago to Garymarker, Michigan Citymarker, ending at South Bend, Indianamarker.

Major highways

Major corridors

In addition to the Chicago Loopmarker, the metro area is home to a few important subregional corridors of commercial activities. Among them are:

Area codes

From 1947 until 1988, the Illinois portion of the Chicago metro area was served by a single area code, 312, which abutted the 815 area code. In 1988 the 708 area code was introduced and the 312 area code became exclusive to the city of Chicago.

It became common to call suburbanites "708'ers", in reference to their area code.

The 708 area code was partitioned in 1996 into three area codes, serving different portions of the metro area: 630, 708, and 847.

At the same time that the 708 area code was in trouble, the 312 area code in Chicago was also exhausting its supply of available numbers. As a result, the city of Chicago was divided into two area codes, 312 and 773. Rather than divide the city by a north/south area code, the central business district retained the 312 area code, while the remainder of the city took the new 773 code.

In 2002, the 847 area code was supplemented with the overlay area code 224. In February 2007, the 815 area code (serving outlying portions of the metro area) was supplemented with the overlay area code 779. In October 2007, the overlay area code 331 was implemented to supplement the 630 area with additional numbers.

Plans are in place for overlay codes in the 708, 773, and 312 regions as those area codes become exhausted in the future.
  • 312 Chicago - City (The Loopmarker and central neighborhoods, e.g. the Near North Side)
  • 773 Chicago - City (Everywhere else within the city limits, excluding central area)
  • 872 Chicago - City (overlay for 312 & 773, effective November 7, 2009)
  • 847/224 (North and Northwest Suburbs)
  • 630/331marker (Outer Western Suburbs)
  • 708 (South and Near West Suburbs)
  • 815/779 (Far Northwest/Southwest Suburbs; Joliet)
  • 219 (Northwest Indiana)
  • 574 (North-central Indiana)
  • 262 (Southeast Wisconsin surrounding Milwaukee Countymarker)

Proposed overlay area codes

  • 464 overlay for 708 (no effective date)

See also


External links

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