Monday, January 19, 2009


So, as you can see by my previous posts, I spent last week in Mexico. I returned to Chicago last night. Last week I missed some of the coldest weather Chicago has seen in a very long time, which is saying something because this city can get very cold. There was about a foot of snow on the ground to great me. I must admit that I prefer white sandy beaches to white snowy sidewalks.

I'm sure that many of you in warmer climates, or even just towns more hospitable to driving are wondering why anyone would want to live in such a place as this (especially when you read about our state's wonderful governor). Honestly, during the winter months I often ask myself the same questions. So to start off my Monday "Out and About Chicago" series I will tell you why I love this city. Most of the time.

April through September this is, in my humble opinion, one of the best cities on earth. Rent is much cheaper here than other large cities making it reasonable for small, fairly authentic ethic restaurants to exist. Also, while much higher than other mid-west cities, rent can be fairly reasonable in Chicago, especially if you are willing to live a few miles out from the center of the city. And if you want it to be safe, try a few miles north. Certain neighborhoods don't really apply, of course, but you can find some great deals.

For a large city, Chicago is fairly clean (thanks in part to our alleys where we can keep our trash). Chicago has been called "the biggest small town in the country" because you can often go places and run into people you know. We are still in the Midwest so people tend to be fairly friendly. We have some beautiful architecture which has inspired many films to be shot here. We also have launched the comedy career of many actors through Second City. We have the Cubs (who are fun to watch and build character if you root for them since you will get practiced at having dashed hopes :-P )

Of course, life isn't perfect anywhere and Chicago does live up to that from time to time. We do have crazy high taxes and the public transit is great in places and spotty in others (so I made it a point to live around where it's better).

We aren't called the Second City because we are second to NYC (and we are behind Miami and LA in size now--so if that were the case we'd be called the Fourth City!). We are called the Second City because on October 8th, 1871 the city suffered a horrible file that burnt most of it to the ground. We rebuilt. This Chicago is the second Chicago. Thus Second City. They pushed all the debris into Lake Michigan and turned it into a large public park complete with a bike path that runs along all of the city's lake front. Absolutely beautiful (they didn't understand the environmental consequences back then). Also, while Chicago is very windy, we actually got the name from our windbag politicians who wanted to get the Columbia Expedition in our city. Thus Windy City. Although, personally, I'd rather it be because of the weather than our politicians.

So, I will show you why I love Chicago every Monday with a post about various activities or interesting Chicago facts. I encourage everyone else to post why they love their own city. Because at the end of the day every place is special not because of the land, but because of the people who inhabit it. (This is modeled after Travis Erwin's My Town Mondays).

* added at 3:45pm Jan 19: For other My Town Mondays please visit Junosmom at Lifetime Learning and Chris at e-Cuniform scratchings.

For those of you who came here because of the My Town Monday links, this was just an intro blog for Chicago. It will be more "traditional" with pictures of around Chicago next week.

14 tidbits:

Travis Erwin said...

Nice post. I hope to get back in the program with My Town Monday's next week, but until then Junosmom is hosting them. Let her know and she'll put up a link to this post.

Junosmom said...

Chris is hosting, too. I'll send him the link.

Gutsy Living said...

Thanks for the information on Chicago. I have heard by many French people that they love Chicago. Perhaps there's more culture there, especially more than LA.
Sorry about the weather in Mexico. I love Cancun. been there 5 times with my teenage kids.

Lauren said...

@Travis- Thanks for telling Junosmom about my post!

@Junosmom- Thanks for the comment and for the link! So great that you are hosting the link list in the meantime :)

@GutsyWriter- Thanks for the comment and for visiting. I went to your live in Belize?! That is so cool! I'd imagine that NYC has more culture than Chicago, but I like Chicago. Never been to LA. Nicer weather Weather in Mexico was better than the weather here so it was all good. :)

lotusgirl said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I just thought I'd drop by yours too. I've heard a lot of those things about Chicago. I think it gets shortchanged sometimes. My husband travels there pretty regularly on business and was just saying the other day how nice it is. I've only ever been through the airport though.

I love the architecture of the buildings and homes. We almost moved there several years ago and as I was doing my pre-move searches online I discovered how many amazing buildings/homes there are.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hello Lauren,

Welcome to MTM! I once lived in Chicago and Hogtown, Windy City, City of Men, is a mighty fine town.

Good job of bringing us to her.

I have you posted on the MTM page.


debra said...

Welcome to MTM! Now I know what Chicago is the 2nd City. I hope you are staying warm. It is frigid in NE Ohio.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hi Lauren,

Back for a second read. I liked the way you introduced the city and incorporated history, humour (our alleys where we keep our trash), observations and opinions.

I will definitely be back to read more of your e-tours and your e-perspectives of your Chicago.

All the best.


PS I loved the fact that Chicago always felt like a live wire, recently downed, snaking across a street, spitting energy everywhere and energising everything she touched.

I also loved the numerous ethnic ghettos that existed when I was there.


Lauren said...

@lotus- Chicago has got a bit of a checkered past so that affects the perception, I think. The current mayor, for all the bad that could be said, has really done a lot to make Chicago more livable/visitable through new parks and city upkeep. The architecture is one of the reasons we chose to move here (I have only lived in Chicago for a little over two years).

@debra- Thanks for the welcome to MTM. I am excited to learn about other people's towns and share some about Chicago.

I saw your pics on your blog of the snow and ice in your NE Ohio backyard--you weren't kidding when you said frigid! I bet the bloggers down south are very happy they live where they do.

@chris- Thanks for your comments on the post and for coming back for a second read :).

I love how you describe Chicago as a live wire...great metaphor. Wow.

I am planning on visiting and writing about a different Chicago neighborhood on the first Monday of each month--in the past couple years Chicago has become less ethnically segregated as areas become gentrified, but "ethnic ghettos", as you called them, still exists to a large extent. If there is a particular ethnicity you would be interested in learning about where/how they live here in Chicago and how they keep their old customs, please let me know and I will visit their neighborhood and give you some info on them (so you know, it is a selfish offer because it will help me get ideas to write about as

Barbara Martin said...

Welcome to MTM, and wonderful post about Chicago. I have driven through Chicago on several trips to the west coast, but alas, never stopped. A friend who worked there for awhile said the city was amazing; so now I'll have to take a trip there.

Anonymous said...

what a great post for me to move to Chicago to! I'll let you know when I'm settled and we can hang out! I'm in schererville at the moment.


Barrie said...

Welcome to My Town Monday! I'm looking forward to hearing more about Chicago.

Lauren said...

@barabra- Thanks for the MTM welcome. I plan on one day (but probably not until the spring) doing some visitor specific posts. I love to show people around town and have a few weekend itineraries for various different "types" of trips.

@whit- At first I was like...who is this?! And then I realized who it was and that I had put this link on facebook :) Hope the move went well. We should definitely get together sometime.

Barrie- Thanks for visiting and for commenting :)

Wunderwoman said...

Hi Lauren, Thanks for visiting my blog. Love your post on Chicago, I've been there a couple of times and loved it!!

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