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Chicago, Illinois' largest city, is an important shipping center on Lake Michigan. It is also the home of the Chicago Board of Trade, the world's largest grain market. Because of it size and output, Chicago was known as "America's Second City" until the mid-1980s when Los Angeles passed it in population. About half of the state's residents live in and around Chicago.

Chicago is also known as the "Windy City," because its residents bragged about it so much. The nickname stuck because of the gusts of wind that blow across the city from Lake Michigan. In fact, by New Years, the fierce wind makes the temperature seem like 50 degrees below zero F (wind chill factor). If you're in Chicago, take in an incredible view from the Skydeck Observatory of the Sears Tower, one of the world's tallest buildings. Other important cities in Illinois include Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield, the capital.