It’s hard to imagine now — with a thicket of glittering skyscrapers sprouting from its bank and dozens of pleasure boats gliding by in the summer — but almost 240 years ago, a solitary log cabin sat near the mouth of the Chicago River. A neighborly fur trader of African-French heritage chose to call this place home — the first permanent settler in what would become Illinois’ and the Midwest’s grandest metropolis: Chicago.

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Jean Baptiste DuSable’s arrival paved the way for a vibrant — and tumultuous — series of events. Battles with Native Americans, stops on the Lake Michigan flood plain would follow, all part of Illinois’ early history.

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