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Metropolis of the Mid-Continent, 4th Edition

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Irving Cutler. Foreword by James F. Marran


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
464 pages, 7 x 9.5, 300 illustrations


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About the Book

Chicago: Metropolis of the Mid-Continent provides a comprehensive portrayal of the growth and development of Chicago from the mudhole of the prairie to today’s world-class city. This completely revised fourth edition skillfully weaves together the geography, history, economy, and culture of the city and its suburbs with a special emphasis on the role of the many ethnic and racial groups that comprise the “real Chicago” of its neighborhoods. Cutler demonstrates how the geography of “Chicagoland” and the influx of a diverse population spurred transportation, industrial technology, the economy, and sporadic planning to foster rapid urban growth, which brought both great progress and severe problems.

Through insightful analysis, Cutler also traces the demographic and societal changes to Chicago, critically examining such problems as the environment, education, racial tension, crime, welfare, housing, employment, and transportation. Richly illustrated with nearly three hundred drawings, photos, maps, and tables, the volume includes six appendices with sections dedicated to Chicago facts, population growth and income data, weather and climate, significant dates, and historic sites.


Irving Cutler, a professor emeritus of geography at Chicago State University, has published several books and numerous articles on Chicago, including the award-winning The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb. He serves on the board of directors of several historical and geographic societies, including the Chicago Jewish Historical Society, of which he was a founder, and the Geographic Society of Chicago, of which he was the president. He has spent more than twenty years giving lectures and leading tours addressing the sociological, historical, geographical, economic, and architectural features of Chicago.


“For natives and newcomers alike, [this book] has much to say about how the Chicago area took shape through accident, design, and inevitability.”—Clarence Peterson, Chicago Tribune

“Far and away the best brief historical and geographical introduction to the development of the Chicago area.”—Walter J. Kelly, Metro, Chicago Council for Social Studies

“The best short introduction to Chicago.”—Frank Jewell, Chicago Historical Society

“Revised, enlarged, updated . . . [the book] can be read with profit by anyone interested in Chicago, the city, or the region.”—Alden Cutshall, University of Illinois

“Accelerating change demands that the story of a dynamic and influential city be told and retold, each time with a modified or new perspective. . . . It is a scholarly, detailed work, showing not only how Chicago developed but why.”—George Cohen, Chicago Tribune

“The past and present intricacies of the nation’s second largest city are presented by Dr. Cutler in a manner that demonstrates his enormous knowledge of—and fondness for—the Chicago urban complex.”—Ronald E. Nelson, Bulletin of the Illinois Geographical Society

"While the book is rather scholarly and detailed, it remains accessible to the general reader. It is lavishly illustrated with a large number of original and historical maps. This is a wonderful overview for anyone interested in the geography and development of Chicago."—Aaron Max Berkowitz