Happy Demisemiseptcentennial, Chicago

This Sunday, Chicago will celebrate its Demisemiseptcentennial, which is a complicated but eye-catching way of saying our city will be 175 years old. There’s an official birthday party at the Chicago History Museum. A website, www.ExploreChicago.org/175days, lists ways to celebrate the city’s 175 years.

The Department of Cultural Affairs is holding a Demisemiseptcentennial Exposition in the Water Tower. Running until April 30, the exhibition takes an in-depth look at the monumental moments and cultural trends that have shaped our city.

Business and industries has been the economic engine of the City, and is represented in the Typography and Printing Industry section of the exhibit, which depicts Chicago’s pioneering production of large mail order catalogues and magazines. Chicago is by no means all work and no play, as it is known as one of the friendliest bike cities in the United States. One exhibition section reveals that the leisure activity and industry of Bicycles has long played an important role in the city.

The evolution of Chicago’s skyscrapers is illustrated from Architect William Le Baron Jenney’s ten-story Home Insurance Building at La Salle and Adams streets built in 1885 (and torn down in 1931) to the longtime record-holder, the iconic Sears Tower built in 1974 (now Willis Tower). A comprehensive map will highlight locations discussed in the exhibition.

What’s remarkable about Chicago is not how old it is, but how young it is. As the WPA Guide to Illinois once noted, “Chicago is the youngest of the world’s great cities.” Compare the date of its founding to those of other global cities, and marvel at how quickly it grew from a trading post to a metropolis of 3,000,000 people.

    London -- 43
    New York -- 1624
    Dubai -- 1095
    Hong Kong -- 214 B.C.
    Paris -- 250 B.C.
    Shanghai -- 1074
    Singapore -- c. 100
    Tokyo -- 1457
    Sydney -- 1788

This is not an occasion to be celebrating Chicago’s age, but an occasion to be celebrating its youth. 

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