Here are some Chicago conversation starters, even some the city's locals might not know ...

Chicago has more than 5500 restaurants, more than 200 theatres, around 200 art galleries, 552 parks and 41km of lakefront including 30km of lakefront bike trails.

Made a city in 1837, Chicago's nicknames include the City of Big Shoulders, the Second City, The Windy City and The City That Works.

In 1900, Chicago completed a massive and innovative engineering project - reversing the flow of the Chicago River to empty into the Mississippi River instead of Lake Michigan. The main reason was to improve the quality of the city's drinking water.

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Each year, to celebrate St Patrick's Day, the Chicago River is dyed green.

The historic Route 66 starts in Chicago at Grant Park, in front of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The world's first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Company, was built in Chicago in 1885.

The 110-storey Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Its elevators are among the fastest in the world, as fast as 487m a minute.

The first Ferris wheel debuted in Chicago at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Today, Chicago's Navy Pier has a 15-storey Ferris wheel, modelled after the original one.

"Jazz" was coined in Chicago in 1914. The city's musicians included band leader Benny Goodman and drummer Gene Krupa.

The city has the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris.

Walt Disney was born in Chicago in 1901 and went on to study drawing at Chicago's McKinley High School and the Institute of Fine Arts.

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More than 48 million people visit annually.

Further information: See DiscoverAmerica.com for more on visiting Chicago.