Is Chicago East Or West Of The Mississippi River

Beginning with the Basics

The Mississippi River runs through North America and is a major river stretching from Minnesota in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. It has been a primary transportation route due to its length and navigational conditions and is also a major environmental corridor, home to an array of wildlife and numerous diverse species of plants. The Mighty Mississippi is also the dividing line between the eastern and western parts of the United States. To answer the question “Is Chicago east or west of the Mississippi River?” depends on the perspective taken. From a geographical standpoint, Chicago is to the east; however, from a cultural and industry perspective, Chicago may be seen as part of the western half of the U.S.

Located along the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago is at the center of the nation’s largest urban economic center and the hub of the nation’s rail network. While its eastern border is the Illinois/Indiana state line, it has its northwestern border is along the Mississippi River in Minnesota. While primarily associated with western states and communities, the Mississippi River is actually a large presence throughout the central United States, and Chicago is no exception.


At first glance, it seems obvious that the great city of Chicago must be to the east of the Mississippi river. After all, the river is traditionally seen as the “Natural East/West border” of the United States. A map analysis clearly shows that Chicago is indeed located to the east of the Mississippi River, making it part of the eastern seaboard along with some of the most iconic cities, including Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C. These cities are significantly closer to the east coast than Chicago, but all of them can be considered an east-coast city since the Mississippi River is technically their western border.

A deeper look at the geography of the United States reveals more complexity than first meets the eye. For example, although Chicago is located on the east side of the Mississippi River, it is actually much closer in terms of travel time to some western cities than it is to most of the other cities traditionally considered east-coast cities. This is because of the geographical features of the Midwest, which includes a significant amount of flat land, making overland travel significantly faster than it would be if Chicago were located on the east coast. This geographical feature has made Chicago into a major rail and air hub, with its central position on the map allowing it to act as a bridge between east and west.

Cultural Influences

Considering the cultural influences of the Chicago region is important in understanding if it is part of the east or west. The Mississippi river plays an instrumental role in the culture of the Midwest, as its winding path shaped much of the region and its many communities. The great city of Chicago is both symbolically and physically connected to the larger Midwest region and its cultural influences, as many of its residents are descendants of the people who first settled the area. Many of the cultural influences of the Midwest can be seen in the cuisine, culture, and language of the city, making it an integral part of the Midwest region and our nation, regardless of its location along the east/west boundary.

In addition to the geographical connections to the Midwest region, Chicago also has many cultural connections to the west. This includes the city’s role in popularizing the term “West Side Story” as well as its role in the emergence of popular genres of music such as jazz and blues. All of these elements combined with the city’s geographical location, serves to place Chicago firmly within the realm of the west, regardless of where the Mississippi River is located.

Economic Factors

When discussing the economic situation of Chicago, we must also consider whether it is part of the east or west. The city has long been associated with commerce, manufacturing and industry, and its location on the great lake Michigan provides it with the perfect location to operate these sectors. Chicago has been home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, including Boeing and Kraft Heinz, and its economy has grown considerably in recent years. The city’s manufacturing sector has led to job growth and increased economic opportunities, particularly in technology, making it an attractive destination for new businesses.

What is perhaps most striking about Chicago is its unique mix of eastern and western influences. As Chicago becomes increasingly closely connected to both coasts, its economic power continues to surge. It is now a leader in the “Silicon Prairie”, a network of tech companies located in the Midwest region, and these companies are helping to drive economic development in the area. At the same time, the city is a major hub for finance, media, and tourism, all of which are traditional eastern industries. All of these influences combined make Chicago a truly diverse and powerful economic center.

Political Climate

The political climate of Chicago also suggests that it is part of the western half of the United States. The city is heavily Democratic, and its residents are generally in support of progressive legislation. This includes environmental protection, improved public education, and increased access to health care. The city also frequently speaks out in support of social justice, human rights, and economic fairness. In this way, Chicago embodies many of the values associated with the progressive western states of the US.

Furthermore, Chicago is home to one of the most vibrant LGBT communities in the US, with the famous Pride Parade taking place every June. This has been seen as an important symbol of diversity and tolerance for many years, and the city’s commitment to these values shows its commitment to the progressive western values of the US.


In conclusion, it is difficult to categorize Chicago as part of the east or west. It has strong ties to both regions and sits on the east side of the Mississippi River. From its geography, culture, and economy, to the political climate, Chicago embodies many of the values and characteristics of both the east and west. While it may be difficult to determine if Chicago is truly east or west in nature, it is clear that it is an important part of both regions and a unique and powerful city.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

Leave a Comment