The City of Chicago celebrates its 175th birthday on March 4, 2012! The celebration falls on the day Chicago’s charter was approved by the State of Illinois and became an official city in 1837. At the time, Chicago’s population was documented at only 4,150 residents.

Today’s Chicago is hovering around 2.7 million residents citywide and is home to nearly 200 art galleries, 200 theaters, over 7,000 restaurants and over 100 neighborhoods.  Now that’s something to celebrate! Listed below are a few ways you can join in on the festivities as we celebrate our grand city’s birthday.

1. Chicago’s Birthday Party is taking place at the Chicago History Museum from 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday.  To celebrate Chicago’s milestone anniversary, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the nonprofit Friends of DuSable and the museum have put together an afternoon of events both entertaining and educational. The event is free for all Illinois residents. This is a great way for people to learn more about the history of the city and about our culture here. To learn more about this event, click here.

2. Beginning at dusk, city buildings will shine blue light to celebrate the city’s birthday. The blue light signifies the blue bars in the Chicago flag representing Lake Michigan, the north and south tributaries of the Chicago River and the Great Canal. Get your cameras ready! To see participating buildings click here.

3. The Chicago Sun-Times has come up with a list of recommendations on ways to enjoy the city. 175 ideas in fact that showcase the city’s culture, history and future. They have compiled a wonderful album of pictures to highlight these great ideas, click here to see.

4. The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture  blog “175 Ways to Love Chicago” celebrates the birthday by asking 35 notable Chicagoans including media personalities, artists, chefs, a dancer, a window washer and others what they love about Chicago and what the city means to them. From musician Jon Langford’s intriguing recommendations on “How to Listen to Chicago” to a Lincoln Park Zoo biologist’s favorite ways to experience nature, one Chicagoan’s list of five favorites have been featured on Explore Chicago everyday leading up to today. Meet these featured Chicagoans and see their five unique ways to love the city, here.

5. Check out some of Chicago’s fun facts below:

1837. William B. Ogden was elected mayor.

1837. C. D. Peacock jewelers was founded.

1847. The first issue of the Chicago Tribune was published

1864. Lincoln Park was designated to be a recreational area.

1864. The Union Stock Yards were established in a one-square-mile area at Halsted St. and Exchange Ave. (closed in 1971).

1871. The Great Chicago Fire (October 8 and 9).

1874. First animal purchased for the Lincoln Park Zoo was a bear cub for $10.

1879. The Art Institute of Chicago was founded.

1891. “The El” began operation.

1893. The World’s Columbian Exposition along Chicago’s lakefront attracted 27 million visitors during its run from May through October.

1897. The Marshall Field’s Clocks were installed.

1900. The Chicago River was reversed.

1924. The Wrigley Building was completed.

1939. First night game at Comiskey Park (White Sox vs. Browns, Sox won).

1942. The tradition of organ music as baseball games began when the first organ was installed at Wrigley Field.

1960. The first Playboy Club, featuring bunnies opened.

1969. John Hancock Center was built.

1971. Sears Tower opened.

1980. First Taste of Chicago was held–a one-day event on the 4th of July.