The vitality of maritime commerce
The city's strategic location is important to Chicago's rich maritime history. Connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River system was key to early trading in canoes and to today's more substantial commerce. In 1869, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers first began to improve the Calumet River and make it an effective harbor. George Pullman’s decision to locate his model town and car works near Lake Calumet and the giant North Chicago Rolling Mill’s move to the mouth of the Calumet River, signaled the emergence of the region as an industrial center. The permanent reversal of the Chicago River in 1900 encouraged additional growth of the area's waterways and rivers commerce. Today, maritime commerce continues to be a vital part of the regional economy.