I’m not from Chicago, but it has been my home for the past 22 years, so I think I qualify as at least an honorary local.
I have always taken pride in my being from South Dakota–I’m the first person most folks have ever met from that state! But more and more each year, I have grown to admire and love Chicago, this metropolis with world-class attractions and incalculably insolvable problems.
Murder capital of America? Check.
Most vacated county in the United States? That’s Cook County.
America’s most segregated city? Yes, according to CNN.
Yes, it has crime. Lots of it, actually. It has winters that would scare Siberians.
But it’s also the city of Carl Sandburg, Nelson Algren, and Saul Bellow. This city clawed and scratched its way to prominence in the 19th century, repeatedly reinventing itself through the decades, from the era of river traffic, railroads, and meatpacking through organized labor and bootlegging to interstate travel and flight. Al Capone ruled the roost in the 20s only to be brought down by Elliot Ness from his Printer’s Row office building in the 30s. Chicago somehow survived the collapse of Rust Belt manufacturing, managing to remain a city of international significance.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ll mss most about this place as I make my move to San Francisco. Here are the top five things that get me a little misty-eyed when I think about leaving:
1. – Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan during the good months!
A lake? Really? This would be a sea in any other part of the world. I’ve lived here for 22 years, and nearly all of them were spent within spitting distance of this great body of water. Though I’ve been living in the Midwest, but I probably spend more time walking on a beach than most coastal dwellers I know.