How Big is Chicago? 

Aerial view of Chicago

Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States, behind New York City and Los Angeles. Chicago’s size and population easily make it the biggest metropolitan area in the midwest, sometimes even leading it to be mistaken for a state! Chicago has also gained notoriety in terms of sports, food, and local attractions that have made it a household name across the world. So how big is Chicago? We’re diving into the numbers to cover square miles and how many people live in Chicago. 


Chicago Square Miles 

Chicago encompasses 234 million square miles in the northeastern corner of Illinois. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the city blends downtown amenities with natural elements, giving residents and tourists alike easy access to everything needed for both work and play. Within its expanse, Chicago is broken up into a myriad of distinctive neighborhoods and distinguishable areas, including: 

  • The Loop: Theater, dining, and major tourist attractions are located in the downtown Chicago area.
  • The North Side: Up north you’ll find Wrigley Field and a variety of popular neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park, River North, and Lincoln Square. 
  • The South Side: Travel south to root for the White Sox at US Cellular Field or visit the Museum of Science and Industry. 

How Many People in Chicago? 

Chicago is home to 2.71 million people from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. The city prides itself on its diversity, and in 2020 was recognized as one of the top 10 most diverse cities in the country. Chicago’s population puts the city squarely in the middle of the five biggest cities in the United States:

  1. New York City: 8.33 million people
  2. Los Angeles:  3.98 million people
  3. Chicago: 2.71 million people
  4. Houston: 2.32 million people
  5. Phoenix: 1.68 million people

People are drawn to Chicago for its unique cultural and entertainment offerings, which makes it a popular travel destination as well. In addition to its residents, Chicago is host to up to 54.1 million people each year, cementing its status as one of the visited cities in the country. 


Check Out Chicago’s Size From the Top of Skydeck! 

One of the coolest ways to truly take in Chicago’s square miles is from Skydeck! Located at the top of Willis Tower, we give you views of the city unlike any other, helping you see Chicago’s size and everything it has to offer from a breathtaking vantage point. Get tickets for your next visit today!

Important Notice Regarding COVID-19

Willis Tower and Skydeck Chicago have implemented measures consistent with CDC and local and federal guidance to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the premises, including enhanced cleaning protocols. Even with these procedures in place, PLEASE BE ADVISED that building occupants, building and Skydeck visitors, or others currently or previously present upon this property and/or the Skydeck MAY HAVE CONTRACTED OR BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 or other infectious diseases, and may expose you. By accessing and using building common areas, the Skydeck, and their associated amenities, you and your party voluntarily assume all risks of your use—INCLUDING THE RISK OF EXPOSURE TO INFECTIOUS DISEASE—and you waive all claims, including claims for negligence, against Willis Tower, Skydeck Chicago, and their respective owners, managers, affiliates, agents and representatives, arising out of such use. The above parties hereby disclaim all liability for any injuries arising out of your use of this property and the Skydeck, including exposure to infectious disease.

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