Chicago’s Advantages

"Chicago sunrise 1" by Daniel Schwen - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

“Chicago sunrise 1” by Daniel Schwen – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

When I wrote that Chicago is the duck-billed platypus of American cities, I noted that there were a lot things about Chicago that were unique – both good and bad – putting it in a class of its own and making it hard to compare Chicago with other cities.

Today I want to put together a starter list of some of the positive distinguishing factors about Chicago. This doesn’t include things like a downtown construction boom because lots of places have one of those. If Chicago’s boom is big, well, it’s a big city. I only want to put something on the list if it is truly distinguishing, or perhaps something limited to only one or two other places.

I’ll create a starter list. Feel free to share yours in the comments, and if I see any ones I agree make the cut, I’ll promote them to the home page.

  • Cheap – least expensive major urban center in America. A middle management level couple can afford a very nice condo in Chicago.
  • Only globally important financial exchange in America outside NYC (the CME Group)
  • Only full slate of globally renowned cultural institutions outside NYC
  • Only large scale, transit oriented central business district outside NYC – and with a skyline to match
  • Fantastic architecture
  • Not only does Chicago have great skyline, it’s got great vistas of the skyline even from within the city (something missing in NYC inside Manhattan)
  • It’s the alley capital of America
  • Improv capital of the world, and one of only three major training locations for comedy in the US (with NYC and LA)
  • Incredible lakefront park system
  • Most car friendly urban big city in America (traffic is bad, but much of housing stock comes with a parking spot, and there are plenty of stores you can drive to – great for families)

There are probably some things like food and music scene were you can rate Chicago as in a league above most cities, but it’s tougher to make that case since you can get great food everywhere now, etc.

Share your thoughts in the comments because I don’t want to leave anything out.

from Aaron M. Renn


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