The name "Chicago" derived from the Native Americans in the region. The Chicago area was first known to be inhabited by a number of Algonquian peoples, including the Mascoutens and Miamis. Trading and hunting linked these peoples with their neighbors, the Potawatomis, the Fox, and the Illinois. One generally accepted origin of the city's name comes from the Native American word for either wild onion or skunk, but some historians believe that the word Chicago denoted "strong" or "great." In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette, a French-born missionary of the Jesuit order, and Louis Jolliet (also spelled Joliet), a French-Canadian explorer and mapmaker, were the first Europeans to view the land on which the City of Chicago was to stand. During the mid 1700s, the Chicago area was inhabited primarily by Potawatomis, who took the place of the Miami, Sauk and Fox who had previously controlled the area. In the 1770s, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, born in Haiti in 1745 of African and French descent, established a trading post at the mouth of what is now the Chicago River. Du Sable is regarded as the "Founder of Chicago." In 1803 the United States Army built Fort Dearborn, which was destroyed in 1812. It was rebuild and remained in use until 1837. On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago was incorporated with a population of 350. Incorporation was enabled by an act of the legislature, passed February 12, 1831, which provided that any community of over 150 inhabitants was authorized to incorporate as a town, with limits not to exceed one square mile in extent. On March 4, 1837, Chicago became a city with a population of 4,170. Today Chicago has a population of 2,836,658 (2007), and is the third most populous city in the United States. Its current mayor is Richard M. Daley.

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