City Club of Chicago

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The City Club of Chicago is a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization intended to foster civic responsibility, promote public issues, and provide a forum for open political debate. Founded in 1903, it is the longest-running public policy forum in Chicago.


When the City Club began, it operated amidst adverse social and working conditions. Chicago had the dubious honor of being labeled a notorious city in terms of politics. The City Club took a leadership role in initiating political change in Chicago by establishing committees to investigate and report on aspects of local government and public policy. One of the most notable probes conducted by the City Club was its 1904 "Piper Report," which took a critical look at the operations and conduct of the Chicago Police Department.

The City Club of Chicago is a non-profit membership organization whose affiliates include prominent business, civic and governmental leaders in Chicago. The organization attracts those interested in civic responsibility, public issues, open political debate and networking opportunities. Founded in 1903, it is the longest-running weekly forum in Chicago, celebrating a century of civic leadership in 2003.

By 1913, membership included more than 2,400 individuals. Membership increased shortly thereafter upon merging with the Women's City Club of Chicago, its sister organization. The City Club has boasted such prominent members as Jane Addams, Ruth Hanna McCormick, Louise DeKoven Bowen, Richard J. Daley, Henry Horner, George Herbert Mead, Charles Edward Merriam, Harold Ickes, and Louis Sullivan.

Recent forums have included such high-profile speakers as President Barack Obama, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to the White House Harold Ickes, first woman vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, political scientist Larry Sabato, U.S. Representative Hon. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.), Former White House Chief of Staff and Current Chairman of Center for National Policy Leon Panetta, U.S. Representative Hon. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and Speaker of the House Hon. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). The national import of these speakers, coupled with media outreach efforts, has garnered national media attention, including coverage on WLS-7, WGN-9, C-SPAN and WTTW-11.

The City Club of Chicago's crusading spirit inspired the founding of unaffiliated City Clubs in other major cities, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Seattle and San Diego.

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