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The main stem of the river flowed east through wetlands and marshes into Lake Michigan. The river was really important in Chicago's development as a major center of the lumber and meatpacking industries during the nineteenth century. Access through the Illinois & Michigan Canal to the Des Plaines River and the Mississippi River system provided opportunities for trade and shipping throughout the Midwest.
Chicago’s average land elevation is 579 feet (176 m) above sea level. The lowest land elevations are along the lake shore at 577 feet (176 m), while the highest land elevation is at 735 feet (224 m) is a landfill located in the Hegewisch community area on the city's far south side.
Chicago has an extreme climate with very hot summers and bitterly cold winters, its lakeside setting only slightly moderating the temperatures and adding some humidity to the atmosphere. Chicago has distinct seasons, with a short spring, when temperatures are moderate and nights frosty. Summers are hot, sunny and humid, from June to the end of September, and are prone to thunderstorms. August is usually the wettest month of the year. Autumn is a lovely time of year when the air is crisp and cool, with blue skies and sunshine. Winters in Chicago are icy and prone to cold, harsh winds. Snow is common.
Month Minimum Temp. Maximum Temp. January -6 ̊C -1 ̊C February -7 ̊C 1 ̊C March -1 ̊C 8 ̊C April 4 ̊C 15 ̊C May 10 ̊C 21 ̊C June 16 ̊C 27 ̊C July 19 ̊C 29 ̊C August 18 ̊C 28 ̊C September 14 ̊C 24 ̊C October 7 ̊C 18 ̊C November 1 ̊C 9 ̊C December 2 ̊C -6 ̊C