Chicago is a huge city with a population of over 2.7 million people.
Chicago was founded in 1837 by land speculators John Kinzie and Jean-Baptiste Pointe du Sable and incorporated as a city in 1837.
It became the most populous city in the United States in 1920.
It is the third most populous city in the United States.
Chicago is known for its architecture, its food, and its culture.
The city is famous for its deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef.
These foods are considered staples of the Chicago culinary scene today.
It is a popular tourist destination, with attractions including Wrigley Field, Navy Pier, North Michigan Avenue shopping district, and the Willis Tower.
According to 2021 statistics, Chicago has a population density of 11,953 people per square mile (4,622/square kilometer), ranking it one in terms of city population density in the United States.
Famous people from the “Windy City” include Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, and Walt Disney.
Chicago got its nickname from a New York newspaper known as the Daily Chicago Times.
It made fun of the Chicago winds back in 1857 and the name stuck!
Warnings & Dangers in Chicago
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Chicago is generally safe for tourists, though some neighborhoods are best avoided. Avoid sketchy neighborhoods known for gang and similar criminal activities and take normal precaution measures.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Today in Chicago, taxi and Uber drivers tend to be the victims of crime as opposed to passengers. Drivers often deal with cash robberies or attempted carjackings. Be aware of thieves on buses and trains, but you should be okay as long as you don't flash cash and expensive electronics. Try to avoid public transportation late at night - use Uber and verify the driver.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
Several reports still cite pickpocketing as a major issue to worry about when walking around Chicago. Chicago can be a crowded city, so when you are in a large group of people, be aware of your valuables and your surroundings. When you're riding public transportation, there's also a huge risk for pickpocketing as well. If you are a man don't put your wallet in your back pocket. Women may want to invest in a travel safe purse that can snugly sling over the body.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Chicago’s geographic location makes it highly unlikely to be prone to major natural disasters. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and droughts are usually not something you will see on a weather forecast in the Windy City. As a matter of fact, the state of Illinois is ranked as the third least likely state to experience a natural disaster in the United States. The top two unlikely states for natural disasters, Michigan and Minnesota, are also in the Midwest.
MUGGING RISK : HIGH
In terms of crime, Chicago is rated only 8% safer than other US cities. 1 out of 105 people is likely to become a victim of violent crime in Chicago. The further south or west you go, you are more likely to become a target of mugging. However, within the past couple of years, muggings and robberies have also gone up in more affluent areas that criminals are driving to.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Chicago is a major city and an international hub for transport. While there have not been any specific known international terrorist threats in recent years, the Chicago Sears Tower was later confirmed as a target during the 9/11 attacks in 2001. On a domestic level, any place in the United States can be a target for local terrorist uprisings - Chicago is no exception.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Most tourists can be safe in Chicago as long as they are aware of their surroundings. Unfortunately, a tourist in Chicago has to look out for certain scams such as fake taxis, people selling hot items, money scams, and even fake monks. The illegal taxis will often charge insane prices and target people arriving at the airport.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Any tourist can be at risk, regardless of gender, if they are not aware of their surroundings. A female tourist in Chicago can enjoy the city and remain relatively safe, as long as she sticks to tourist areas. It is best for women, in particular, to avoid public transportation or walking alone at night. While certain crimes have remained steady or increased ( like robberies), the number of rapes in the city actually went down by 24% from 2019 to 2020.
TAP WATER RISK : HIGH
Unfortunately, Chicago tap water does have high concentrations of lead. A study in 2018 concluded that 30% of Chicago homes had lead in the faucet water. Chromium-6 is a carcinogen that has been found in Chicago's drinking water in 10 times the standard amount. The drinking water also contains haloacetic acids, which can increase the risk of cancer and cause issues such as mutations or DNA damage during pregnancy.
Safest Places to Visit in Chicago
The safest places to visit in Chicago include Navy Pier, the Downtown Loop, and Lincoln Park.
The Pier is an interesting place to visit and explore, especially for those that love boats and the waterfront.
This place has many food options to choose from, as well as games and other activities.
Tourists and locals alike enjoy the downtown loop, which is a great place to take a walk or go for a run.
Lincoln Park is a great place to rub elbows with financial brokers and area college students.
The architecture and history are fascinating and there are many shops and restaurants to explore here as well.
Millennium Park is also a popular tourist destination, thanks to the iconic Bean sculpture and other attractions.
It is safe to visit during the day or night, and there are plenty of great food options nearby, making it one of the safest places to visit in Chicago.
Placess to Avoid in Chicago
There are a few places that are considered dangerous when going out or just visiting around town.
The south side is one of the most dangerous areas in Chicago.
There are high crime rates and a lot of violence here, so it is best to avoid this area if possible.
West Garfield Park is the most dangerous neighborhood in the city due to a 1 in 20 chance of being a victim of a violent crime.
The west side also has a higher than average crime rate, so it is another place to avoid.
Another area to be aware of is the downtown loop after dark.
Any area in the city can see more crime at night, so it is best to take a taxi or Uber if you’re going to be out late.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Chicago
- Explore the city during the day and early evening – The crime rate is much higher at night, so it is best to explore the city during the day and early evening.
- Watch your belongings while on public transportation or in crowded areas – When you are at Navy Pier or Millennium Park, make sure to keep an eye on your valuables and don’t leave your things unattended for too long.
- Call an Uber or Lyft if you plan to stay out after 8 p.m. If you’re planning on staying out late, make sure you call a ride service beforehand and keep your phone close to avoid any issues with pickpocketing.
- Watch for uneven sidewalks and curbs – The curbs in downtown Chicago can be very high, so it’s important to watch your step while walking down the street. Also, watch for uneven sidewalks and avoid walking in dark alleys or streets unless you are in a well-lit area.
- Try to avoid the south side and west side neighborhoods due to gangs. During the day, these areas may be fine for travelers but it is still important to watch your belongings at all times.
- Protect yourself from pickpocketing. Stash cash and cards in different places and use an RFID blocking wallet. Don’t flash your expensive phone out in public.
- Avoid walking alone at night. If you do need to walk alone at night, make sure that you are walking on sidewalks with street lamps or other well-lit areas with people around you. If possible avoid walking in dark alleys or streets where there are not many people around.
- Don’t leave any valuables in plain sight in parked cars. If you are going to leave anything in the car, it is best to put it in the trunk.
- Don’t let your guard down just because it is daylight, you are in an affluent area, or are in a very touristy part of the city. Criminals can travel by car or public transportation and target victims – especially if they are not paying attention.
- Join a group tour – a great way to stay safe while exploring a new city like Chicago. Not only will you have someone to watch your back, but you’ll also learn a lot about the city and its history.
So... How Safe Is Chicago Really?
While you are certainly safe from natural disasters, and New York City-level terror threats, unfortunately, gang members and other criminals are another issue.
Gun violence has increased by 15% since last year.
Chicago can be safe if you stick to most touristy areas while being leery of crowds.
However, crime has traveled to more affluent areas in the last couple of years, so one must always be careful.
Chicago seems like a place where people may have to practice some extra precautions to avoid being robbed or scammed by others.
If you drive for a rideshare service or a taxi, you may be a moving target, as well as a pedestrian with an iPhone in their hand.
How Does Chicago Compare?
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)||60|
- Visas - If you need to get a visa to travel to Chicago, most tourist visas for the United States will cost $160. If you are already in Chicago and you need a visa for a different country, check with the specific consulate of the country you plan to go to. Most of Chicago's consulates are located in the downtown Loop, Millennium Park, and River North.
- Currency - Chicago is in the United States, so the standard currency is the US dollar. The city is a financial hub, so there are plenty of banks spotted throughout the city for you to do a currency exchange or get cash from an ATM. When you fly into Chicago O'Hare Airport, you can also exchange currency in every terminal.
- Weather - Chicago is known as the windy city for a good reason. Winters here can be very harsh and cold with a strong wind chill factor. If you come during winter, make sure you have boots, sweaters, warm pants, jeans, a winter hat, and scarves. Prepare for autumn rain and pack a light rain jacket. If you plan to partake in any of the city’s robust fine dining, such as their famous steak houses, be aware of the appropriate attire. Upscale area restaurants often have dress codes.
- Airports - Chicago O'Hare International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world, while Midway International Airport is a smaller airport with one primary terminal.
- Travel Insurance - When visiting Chicago, it is a good idea to get some type of travel insurance and health insurance. In the event of pickpocketing or other theft, property insurance will be useful to have to replace anything that might get stolen or damaged.
Chicago Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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