Landscape analysis; Chicago
As years have gone by, the natural landscape of Chicago areas in American Midwest has continuously changed dramatically from the pristine prairie and forests during the pre-settlement era in the early 1800s, an agricultural landscape by 1880 to a major metropolis in the twenty-first century. With time, Chicago has grown to become one of the world’s greatest industrial, transportation as well as financial centers due to the interaction that exists between its urban core and the various services being offered. Compared to other cities, Chicago is one of the most productive farmlands in the world that stretches numerous hundred kilometers from Lake Michigan. As a result, Chicago has been characterized by many as “Nature’s Metropolis.”
Chicago is made up of six Illinois counties that make up a total land area of nearly 9,600 square kilometers. Generally, the land can be defined as a flat plain. During the early 19th century, the land was largely covered with natural prairie grass such as Indian grass and bluestem. Most of the forested areas which were covered by old oak as well as hickory hammocks were situated in the northeastern region. With time, the agricultural frontier began moving west and this played a large part in transforming the city’s landscape. For starters, the natural grasses got plowed and burned and ended up being replaced with domestic crops such as corn, wheat among others. The soils present in this area are predominantly nutrient-rich soils that have been generated by the degradation as well as re-growth of prairie grass. The alfisols situated in northern Lake County are somehow light in color and this offers a mixture of both rich and poor quality nutrients. When it comes to the temperature, Chicago annual temperatures vary from approximately 23oC to 27oC during the summer months and -5oC to 0oC during winters, Additionally, the standard annual precipitation is roughly less than 1 meter.
Generally, the region has an excellent combination of soils, temperature as well as precipitation that are ideal for elevated agricultural productivity. Historically, the presence of fertile soil and plentiful timber acted as a force for the development of the local economy. Today, Chicago has embraced all its natural resources and thus depends more on the rural hinterland lesser than the early ages. With the help of the city’s business sector, sales and financing for any agricultural products are still being offered. Ever since the 1800s when the city was unsettled, the land use of Chicago has continued to change drastically. All the existing natural environment offered a way to agricultural production and by 1900, almost ninety percent of the area was being cultivated. Though agriculture dominated land use in Chicago up to the present days, urban influence has also been a great factor. By 1900 urban regions made up six percent of the City and as the agricultural areas began dwindling, the trend intensified to nearly forty percent between 1955 and 1990. With time the urban areas were nearly tripled and this meant a decrease in agricultural land.
In Chicago, the regional land use is largely administered by the extent of dependency between agricultural surroundings and urban centers. Throughout the period of early development, roughly from 1800-1900, the land use system was dominated with agricultural hinterlands with raw goods being processed in urban areas. Up to now, Chicago has continued to flourish and develop as many structures such as the Millennium Park (initiated in 2004) being opened. Chicago is one of the most promising cities in America and it is bound to continue growing as technology continues advancing.
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