Carl Sandburg famously dubbed Chicago the “City of Big Shoulders.” We wanted to find out how big are those shoulders, exactly?

One way of measuring Chicago’s girth is to use the city’s limits. Chicago encompasses an area of 227 square miles. That figure probably doesn’t do you much good, though. It isn’t easy to envision an area that size without a frame of reference.

So, to better express the size of Chicago, we drew those limits using a special mapping tool that allowed us to move our outline of Chicago around the globe, recalculating its shape to account for Mercator projection distortions. This allowed us to compare Chicago’s city limits with other cities, states, countries, and geographical features, as you’ll see in the infographic below:

How big are chicago's city limits - by SpareFoot Chicago

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And since we’re SpareFoot and self-storage is kind of our thing, we had to make one last calculation: how many self-storage units would it take to store Chicago, and how much would that cost?

Obviously, it makes sense that we’d go with a large storage unit size for this — let’s use a 10×20. Since 227 miles equates to 6,328,396,800 square feet, you’d need 31,641,984 10×20 storage units. And since the average monthly price of a 10×20 storage unit in Chicago is $150, you’d be paying $4,746,297,600 a month to store those broad shoulders.

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