Established 184 years ago, the city named “Chicago” is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, translated as “wild onion” or “wild garlic”, from the Miami-Illinois language.
The first known reference to the site of the current city of Chicago as “Checagou” was by Robert de LaSalle around 1679 in a memoir written about the time. It was also noted that the wild garlic, called chicagoua, grew abundantly in the area. The 1780s saw the arrival of the first known non-indigenous permanent settler in Chicago, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who was of African and European (French) descent.
(Funnily enough, right at the time of publishing this latest blog article, I can literally smell garlic. It’s lunchtime, and someone is consuming a fair amount of garlic nearby. The coincidence is uncanny and quite humorous).
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