Chicago always was, is now, and may always be about two things; moving nature. There are actually three concepts embedded in those two words; “moving” in the sense of physically moving collected natural resources and farmed commodities to market, and “moving” in the sense a trader “moves”, or sells his stock. Chicago’s larger and consequently more efficient market attracted the natural and farmed resources of the Midwest to be traded on the banks of its river, in its lumber yards, in its world famous stockyards, and on the trading floors of its commodities exchanges.
The Chicago Portage is still in operation today. You can see the realization of LaSalle and John Jacob Astor's dream of global commerce in shipping containers stacked high beside the railyards along the Stevenson Expressway bearing the name: "China Shipping". And the Portage lives on the trading pits of the Board of Trade where Chicagoan's set the price of grain for the world on a street named after LaSalle.
Today Chicago markets still trade the resources of the Midwest to the world. Chicago’s transportation network and markets created each other on the furs of beaver, the forests of lumber to the north, on the vast waving fields of grains to the south and west, and on the vision and work of the Chicagoan’s who were born here, or came here from every other place on the planet.