November 3, 2007


Amid Architectural Glories, Piles of Cheap Fun (MATT GROSS, 11/04/07, NY Times)

TO drive into Chicago on a sunny Friday afternoon is to experience the city the way God — or at least the holy trinity of Daniel Burnham, Louis H. Sullivan and Mies van der Rohe — intended it. Iconic skyscrapers rise from the strip-mall-strewn prairie to pierce the blue in a jumble of geometries, their glinting glass, steel, stone and concrete announcing the power and prestige of the capital of the Midwest.

It's a sight that stirs the souls of architecture buffs and cosmopolites alike, and as I stared ahead and upward amid the creeping traffic on a visit there this summer, I felt a mix of excitement and apprehension. Chicago looked glorious, but glory always has its cost.

Perhaps that price was the immobile rush-hour traffic? If so, it was one I'd gladly pay, as I had just $500 on which to live that weekend, experiencing both facets of Chicago, the chichi and the short-order.

All cities are mills of Satan, but if you have to live in one for a couple years, you could do worse than Chicago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 3, 2007 6:01 PM

Live in Hyde Park a few years, and not just as a student, and your opinion of Chicago will change, and not for the better.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 3, 2007 6:18 PM

We were in Lincoln Park, which was okay except for Cabrini Green....

Posted by: oj at November 3, 2007 9:59 PM

Philly is worse. That ain't saying much.

Posted by: mcf at November 3, 2007 10:41 PM

What's wrong with Hyde Park? I lived there for something like 10 years of my life, though I won't remember much about the first 3 (my dad was a grad student at the time). I loved it. I've spent another 6 years in other parts of town, 3 in Bucktown and 3 on the far nw side. Great town. Remarkably liveable for a big city.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at November 3, 2007 11:08 PM

having lived in boston, nyc, sf, philly and chicago I'd say boston is the best sports town, nyc is the most exciting, sf has the best weather, philly is just, well, philly, but chicago has some of the best elements of every other city, the people are the friendliest and most real, and the city is the most livable, while the cost of living is the least amongst them all. And the steak here is terrific too. Just stay away from the highways, they will eat at your soul.

Posted by: neil at November 4, 2007 1:04 AM

Never been to Chicago, so I can't compare it to all the other cities. Safety--civic peace--is the big issue for most of us. How safe is it? Do we need to take care to carry a weapon when we go out of doors?

Philadelphia is a pleasant city with many attractions, but the g.s.c's--grungy street critters--have turned it into a war zone. It has gotten so that a policeman cannot walk into a donut shop without getting his head blown off, which just happened a oouple of days ago and is currently the big story around here.

Also, you may talk of how "cool" this or that city may be to the young urban professionals. If the public schools have tipped and the city's children are constantly subjected to intimidation, spoilation and molestation, it is over, and it is time, past time, to load the covered wagon and to trek forth.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 4, 2007 7:24 AM