Friday, November 8, 2019

Chicagoland: How did the name originate?

As the editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune for most of the first half of the 20th century, Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick usually gets credit for coining the term "Chicagoland."
Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick (1880-1955), was named the President of the Chicago Tribune Company in 1911, and he held this position until his death in 1955. 
The first use of the term "CHICAGOLAND" was in the McHenry Plaindealer Newspaper on April 23, 1849, in an article about new railroad lines coming into Chicago. WGN 720 AM, first used "CHICAGOLAND" as a name of a radio show playing from 8:30pm to 9pm in September of 1928.

In McCormick's time, it referred to the city and its grain, timber, and livestock hinterlands covering parts of five states (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa), all of which were served by rail delivery of the colonel's newspaper. Later in the century, it came to mean a smaller, denser area of city and suburbs in three states stretching from northern Indiana to southern Wisconsin.
Blanchard's map of Chicago and Suburbs. (1910)
Chicagoland is a term that carries several common misconceptions. It is believed by many people that Chicagoland, or more formally the "Chicago Metropolitan Area" is restricted to only the areas within the Illinois state boundaries. However, due to the fact that a metro area is based on cultural and employment patterns and similarities, this is simply not true.

Because Chicago is such a large city on its own, it boasts a much wider metro area than most others in the country, save for New York and Los Angeles. Dating back to 1950, when statistical analysis for metro areas emerged, Chicagoland included the eight collared counties of Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, McHenry, Kane, Kendall, and Grundy as well as Lake County in Indiana which to many a Chicagoan's surprise physically borders the city. Over the years, due to Chicago's expansion, the definition has also widened to include four more Indiana counties (Porter, LaPorte, Newton, and Jasper) as well as Kenosha County in Wisconsin.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. Love the name Chicagoland because it evokes childhood memories of the place where I was raised.


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