Chicago celebrates 180th birthday with families and cheesecake

By Wenjing Yang

Chicago, city of the big shoulders, turned 180 years old on Saturday.

The Chicago History Museum threw a special birthday bash with free admission for Illinois residents, a 60-pound Eli’s cheesecake and a jazz trio that led the crowd in a chorus of “Happy Birthday”.

Guest speaker Vincent Romero, interim executive director of the American Indian Center of Chicago, called the museum “a wonderful place” to celebrate Chicago’s birthday.

“It’s a place of living history, and everyone here helps make that history,” Romero said. “And it’s important for people getting together, celebrating each other, and being happy with the differences that we have.”

Chicago was incorporated as a city by the State of Illinois on March 4, 1837. Jean Baptist Pointe DuSable is regarded as the first permanent resident of Chicago. The museum held an essay contest that honors DuSable. Hundreds of K-12 students in Chicago submitted essays on what they thought DuSable would do to help stop the city’s epidemic of violence.

As Chicago is known as a city of neighborhoods, “diversity” became the theme of the celebration.

Photo at top: A 60-pound cheesecake with Chicago’s four-star flag was served by Eli’s Cheesecake. The firm calls its product “Chicago’s most famous dessert”. Eli’s has made cheesecakes for four American presidential inaugurations including those of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. (Wenjing Yang/MEDILL)