The Windy City was established in 1833 near a portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. The area was inhabited in the mid 18th century by the Native American tribe, Potawatomis.
Following the Northwest Indian War the territory was turned over to the United States government to be used as a military post. Fort Dearborn was constructed in 1803, and the Potawatomi turned over additional land to the United States in 1804. Following the Treaty of Chicago, the Potawatomis were forced from this land. On August 12, 1833, the town of Chicago was established, and the city was established March 4, 1837.
Being the site of the Chicago Portage, the city was quickly established as a large transportation hub between the Western and the Eastern United States. In 1848 the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad opened in close proximity to the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. These two events allowed domestic products to be transported not only by rail but also by steamboat from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi. The canal ran 96 miles connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi and then down to the Gulf of Mexico. The canal, being replaced by the wider Chicago Sanitary and Ship canal, ceased operations in 1933.