Chicago (Zbigniew Bzdak / July 1, 2011)

On March 4, 1837, exactly 175 years ago, Chicago was incorporated. Not that Flashback needed a reason, but we took this occasion to compile a very long list of events, year by year and decade by decade, that helped shape this great city.

Some events are admittedly bigger than others, but we think all of them say something interesting about the metropolis. That said, we're also sure we missed some notable happenings. That's where you can help. Submit suggestions to Stephan Benzkofer at or add them in the comments box. Ideas that check out will be added to the list — with our thanks! Please keep in mind this is a Chicago-specific list, not a Chicagoland celebration. We'll blow those candles out another time.

1837: Chicago becomes a city and elects William Ogden its first mayor.

1837: The first local theater company is established.

1838: Hundreds of the mostly Irish workers digging the I&M Canal die of disease.

1839: A night watch is hired to look out for fires and criminals.

1839: First published theater reviews (of "The Warlock of the Glen" and "The Midnight Hour")

1840: Chicago population is 4,470.

1841: Retail workers band together to force stores to close early: 8 p.m.

1841: First business opens near Six Corners intersection in Portage Park at Irving Park Boulevard and Milwaukee and Cicero Avenues.

1841: City's first permanent Jewish settlers arrive.

1842: Washington Square Park, later known as Bughouse Square and home to orators of all stripes, is established.

1843: Roman Catholic Diocese of Chicago is established.

1844: First Catholic school opened (for boys).

1845: Chicago passes first blue law, closing "tippling houses" on Sundays.

1846: Chicago claims it has one of the "best and safest harbors on the lake."

1847: Chicago Tribune begins publishing.

1848: Chicago welcomes business with opening of the I&M Canal and the Chicago Board of Trade.

1848: Telegraph comes to Chicago.