40 Reasons to Love Chicago

Why we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else

40 Reasons to Love Chicago image

This past year, we witnessed our fair share of history makers and head-scratchers. One of our own (now relocated to Washington, D.C.) shepherded a sweeping health-care reform. The Blackhawks awoke from a long nap to win the Stanley Cup. Twenty million Hollywood dollars turned downtown into a movie set. On the other hand, we couldn’t rid ourselves of an embarrassing ex-governor. And the Cubs made it 102 futile years in a row. Brilliance flourishes alongside ignominy in dynamic cities, just as beauty lives next to grit. Underneath, though, there’s a current, a vitality, that supports the whole and moves us forward. For this, Chicago magazine’s 40th anniversary issue, we’ve chosen to highlight the people, places, and ideas that keep us optimistic about where we are headed. Consider what follows a celebration, an analysis, an accounting—40 reasons why we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

1
Because we’ve got the only human qualified to imagine the ultimate Chicago movie: Roger Ebert

2
Because it takes a Chicagoan to replace Oprah on daytime TV

3
Because we’ve watched a sports star (Derrick Rose) grow up in front of our very eyes

4
Because we find inspiration in rugged thoroughfares (like Elston Avenue)

5
Because we’ll be arguing for years over whether Mayor Richard M. Daley was good for the city

6
Because we still realize the American dream

7
Because a spirit of invention prevails

8
Because Chicago’s economists have suggestions for our most pressing civic dilemmas. Now if only they could agree . . .

9
Because for 25 years a thorough, thoughtful reporter has been keeping an eye on city hall

10
Because we export record-breaking feats of engineering

11
Because, for three years, a DIY talk show has survived on beer, humor, and its host’s persistence

12
Because the Neo-Futurists can crank out a great play in a flash

13
Because where would New York theatre be without us?

14
Because Chicago continues to stoke SNL’s flame

15
Because even when the star conductor falls ill, the CSO soldiers on—and blows you away

16
Because an amateur photo contest can uncover serious talent

17
Because Chicago theatres have nurtured America’s edgiest playwrights for decades

18
Because gospel music is still being played in the very churches where it originated

19
Because every neighborhood is its own awesome universe

20
Because we’ve cultivated a come-one, come-all bar culture

21
Because our chefs (Bill Kim, Stephanie Izard, and Patrick Fahy) can make magic with anything, including rutabagas

22
Because after a long, slow boil, the local craft beer scene is cooking—and the competition is friendly

23
Because there’s amazing food on almost every corner (40 favorites in 40 neighborhoods)

24
Because you can live a lot of different lives here without leaving

25
Because neighborhood joints (like Stella’s Diner) still hold the place together

26
Because, in the country’s third-largest city, we maintain beehives and chicken coops

27
Because we love our game so much we are willing to go to the ER for it

28
Because Chicago sports fans wear their colors into battle, and once in a while their devotion gets its due

29
Because Cupid likes to strike in Chicago’s ballparks

30
Because we speak our own language: a quiz—who said what—Daley or Guillen?

31
Because at last we can dress stylishly in local fashion

32
Because there’s a Wilco for everyone

33
Because Chicago produced the most introspective hip-hop artist in America: Common

34
Because Chicago’s shopkeepers put Midwest designers front and center

35
Because architecture in Chicago is a contact sport

36
Because we can move to the suburbs and not feel like we’re selling out entirely

37
Because, as a center of architecture innovation, we can still strut our stuff (the annotated Aqua building)

38
Because the city continually changes—yet a few precious things remain the same: An essay by Joe Meno

39
Because our poets (like Reginald Gibbons) see beauty in rush hour

40
Because everybody knows somebody who knows the president

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