Chicago's History of Diversification | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Chicago's History of Diversification

Detroit, Michigan's decline has been something of an obsession for Americans – a half-century long obsession. But our interest in the Motor City is especially strong today. The economic blows resulting from the global recession have altered Detroit like no other American city. How has our city avoided the pitfalls of Detroit? Much like Detroit, Chicago grew up as an industrial town on a big lake in the middle of the country, but along the way our paths diverged. The decline of American manufacturing leveled Detroit while big-shouldered Chicago kept on. It's easy to point to Chicago's economic diversification versus Detroit's historic reliance on one industry – car manufacturing. But if cars defined Detroit's economic destiny, what factors shaped Chicago's? We recently posed that question to Loyola University economic historian Louis Cain. He says the seeds for Chicago's economic success were planted way back – thanks to the 17th century explorations of Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet.

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