Swamp to City

Swamp to CityWhat does the story of Chicago’s waterways have to do with Chicago history? Nearly everything!

Swamp to City: Chicago History from the Portage Site to Metropolis is a curriculum unit for middle and high school students designed to connect the local history of Chicago to the larger story of American history through the interaction of history and geography of Chicago. While carefully pointing out the geographical context of the city, Swamp to City also asks students to understand the impact of human actions that eventually created the city we know today.

From the formation of Chicago’s waterways through glaciation, through the encounters between the European “discoverers” of the Chicago Portage Site, and ending with a look at historical memory and Chicago, Swamp to City covers a wide swath of topics and ideas for your class to explore in the classroom, either as a complete curriculum or through individual lessons. Using a variety of primary sources materials such as personal letters, maps, and contemporary reports, Swamp to City investigates major events and periods in the city’s history, such as the reversal of the Chicago River, or the growth of the city as a central commercial center for the nation, as part of larger historical themes that reach far beyond Chicago city limits.

Based on the inquiry method and primary source material, Swamp to City is specifically designed so that students experience the process of discovery, questioning, analysis, and prediction as a way to come to individual conclusions about the subject matter. In this way, students will not only be able to understand what happened in the past but also to engage students in making history and use higher-order historical thinking skills to answer questions about why these events occurred and their historical significance to the city of Chicago.

Swamp to City: Chicago History from the Portage Site to Metropolis is located in downloadable PDF format on the website of our partners. Please visit http://www.chicagoportage.org/teachers.htm to download the curricula or to view the unit lessons in more detail http://www.chicagoportage.org/stc_units.htm


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