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Old December 9th, 2007, 04:18 PM   #1
edsg25
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Chicago: Uniqueness along with greatness

In some respects, more than any other city that at least I can think of, Chicago is viewed in an unusual way:

unquestionably great. not-very-unique.

I, obviously, totally disagree with that observation on uniqueness although I really believe that it is prevalant with many non-Chicagoans.

Few people would have difficulty telling you what is unique about New York, Boston, Washington, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles or San Francisco. But if you buy into my argument and also feel that Chicago's uniqueness doesn't get its just rewards as does Chicago's greatness, please identify the things that you see that make Chicago unique. Why isn't Chicago just "the American city" writ large or the rather unpalitble "New York's little brother"?

How would you answer the person who asks "Why should I plan a trip to Chicago? What will I find and experience there that I couldn't experience elsewhere?"
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Old December 9th, 2007, 07:05 PM   #2
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we invented the Italian beef sandwich, deep dish pizza, and skyscrapers. I will post as more comes to me.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 07:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicagophotoshop View Post
we invented the Italian beef sandwich, deep dish pizza, and skyscrapers. I will post as more comes to me.
and the garden in a bun.

and don't think those accomplishments are not incredible sources of pride. and uniqueness.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 07:38 PM   #4
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and the garden in a bun.

and don't think those accomplishments are not incredible sources of pride. and uniqueness.
you dont? I do. how can they not be? people come from around the world to eat our food and see our buildings.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 07:38 PM   #5
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How about the first and truly greatest development of water-and-city as a pleasure zone? No city tailored its waterfront in quality and extent to Chicago. The lakefront "culture" of this city as it plays out from spring through fall is unmatched anywhere else in urban America. I'm not talking beaches alone per se. I'm talking about a tie between the urbane and the dense and the waterfront that brings it all together.

how about the world's greatest example of concentric ring development...the core and periphery relationship of a city where everything is drawn inward to the magnet of the core.

how about the city that was able to develop a truly american sense of "raw power" in its position of not being a product of Europe like coastal cities. Chicago, more so than any city, was the manifestation of America asserting its own presence on the world without berift of the influences from across an ocean.

city as museum of high rise architecture; no city emits that dynamic like Chicago and no city looks at architeture as sport the way we do.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 07:44 PM   #6
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Chicago seems to be unique in its:

Perfection of alley-based planning. Alleys everywhere, it seems, and now it has evolved into a newer motor court, which is simply an adaptation of the alley concept. Is there another city in the US with such an extensive and well-kept (and growing) alley system?

Courtyard buildings. New and old. A lot of buildings face inner courtyards that lead out to the street, something that we are seeing a lot of today as well. Sometimes, the courtyard is expanded into a whole greenway, which is what we see with University Village and some other newer developments. This combination of suburban privacy with urban density is not for everyone, perhaps, but I think there is something unique about it (and time will tell how future generations view such projects). And, to stay on topic, I definitely have not seen such a large proliferation of this type of development in other cities.

The green necklace. Need I say more?

HELLO? The L. Yeah, New York has an L too, especially in Brooklyn and parts of Queens. But Chicago has the L running right through the Loop, which is too cool to handle. Plus, Chicago's L seems to carve right and left right through neighborhoods (esp the Brown Line), an experience that is much more intimate and different from what you experience in New York.

The architecture. Some of the older buildings in Chicago's neighborhoods are just priceless. I haven't seen some of that stuff elsewhere. The newer stuff has yet to be judged.

Wrigley Field. Very few cities have classic, original ballparks any more.

Soldier Field. Love it or hate it, we're talking about a classic stadium with a completely modern one plopped on top of it. Add to that the setting (Chicago skyline, parks, LSD, and the lake) and you've got a pretty unique experience.

Those are at least a few...
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Old December 9th, 2007, 08:48 PM   #7
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Unique = singular, one of a kind - not a matter of extent but of singularity. No such animal as "more unique" or "pretty unique" - it either is or it isn't.

Urban waterfronts, courtyard buildings, bungalows - other cities have these things also. Doesn't matter if Chicago had them first, or has the most or has given them their fullest & best expression - they aren't/can't be "unique" to Chicago if they also exist elsewhere, unless you narrow the range somehow. Ditto with alleyways and greenbelts (Detroit, Cleveland, etc.) Ditto with classic ballparks. Were Wrigley Field the only classic park left, then yes, it would be unique to Chicago - "Chicago is unique in North America as having the only classic ballpark still standing" - but Wrigley field isn't the only classic park still standing.

However, Chicago is unique in that it has a ballpark named after a chewing-gum magnate.

Last edited by wrabbit; December 9th, 2007 at 09:17 PM.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 10:11 PM   #8
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I am not sure you or someone else that already created a similar thread a while ago about this topic.

Perhaps the so-called "sophisticated travelers" who voted for Chicago in these surveys know best

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edsg25 View Post
How would you answer the person who asks "Why should I plan a trip to Chicago? What will I find and experience there that I couldn't experience elsewhere?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bay Area View Post
Rankings of top cities according to the Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Awards:

Sydney 87.7
Florence 86.8
San Francisco 85.9
Bangkok 85.8
Rome 85.0
Santa Fe 84.1
New York City 82.9
Venice 82.9
Cape Town 82.8
Chicago 82.2
Vancouver 82.2
Charleston, S.C. 81.8
Paris 80.8
Hong Kong 80.4
Buenos Aires 80.0
Chiang Mai, Thailand 79.9
San Miguel de Allende 79.8
Victoria, B.C. 79.8
Barcelona 79.7
Carmel 79.6
Siena 79.6
Quebec City 79.3
Singapore 78.8
Honolulu 78.4
Aspen 78.3
Bruges 78.3
London 78.3
Vienna 78.1
Seattle 78.0
Kyoto 77.7
Sedona 77.7
Shanghai 76.5
Melbourne 76.3
Oaxaca, Mexico 76.3
Cuzco, Peru 75.7
Marrakech 75.6
Montreal 74.6
Queenstown, N.Z. 74.6
Jerusalem 74.2
Jaipur, India 74.1
Christchurch, N.Z. 72.5
Beirut 71.1
Wellington, N.Z. 70.8
Tokyo 70.5
Toronto 70.3
Dubai 69.9
Hanoi 69.8
Rio de Janeiro 69.4
Beijing 67.3

http://www.smh.com.au/news/news/sydn...696060150.html"
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Old December 9th, 2007, 10:33 PM   #9
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While, Chicago has some unique features, such as the river canyon, the el trains in the CBD, and the expansive waterfront parks next to a huge skyline, I don't think the overall atmosphere in the city is unique in the way the other cities mentioned by Edsg in the original post have a unique/distinct urban atmosphere.

Chicago's position in the US reminds me of Osaka's position in Japan.
Tourists visit Tokyo because it is the capital/largest city, Kyoto for the history, and Hiroshima for the A-bomb memorial/museum. Although Osaka is a very urban and dense city, it lacks a unique/distinctive draw and it can be viewed as Tokyo's little brother from an urbanism perspective.

Even if Chicago is not unique enough among US cities to draw many foreign tourists away from the coasts, Chicago is by far the most unique non-coastal US city and this undoubtedly attracts many domestic tourists from the interior states who seek a big city experience and don't want to travel all the way the coasts to get it.

What I am saying is that IF you view it through a domestic lens, Chicago is completely unique in the sense that it is the ONLY non-coastal city that offers a true urban experience on a massive scale.

Last edited by A42251; December 9th, 2007 at 11:10 PM.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 10:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A42251 View Post
While, Chicago has some unique features, such as the river canyon, the el trains in the CBD, and the expansive waterfront parks next to a huge skyline, I don't think the overall atmosphere in the city is unique in the way the other cities Edsg mentioned in the original post have a unique/distinct urban atmospere.
i fully and totally disagree with that assessment. that myth is one of those situations where a lie is retold so many times that it becomes the truth for some people. chicago is no more nor no less unique than New York, Boston, Washington, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles or San Francisco, or any other large american city.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; December 9th, 2007 at 10:51 PM.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 11:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
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i fully and totally disagree with that assessment. that myth is one of those situations where a lie is retold so many times that it becomes the truth for some people. chicago is no more nor no less unique than New York, Boston, Washington, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles or San Francisco, or any other large american city.
New York = our largest city
Boston = colonial era and Revolutionary War history
Washington = our capital city
Miami = America's Riviera
New Orleans = unique cultural mix
LA = Hollywood, world-wide pop culture
SF = breathtaking natural setting in a Mediterranian-like city

Chicago = ???????
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Old December 9th, 2007, 11:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A42251 View Post
New York = our largest city
Boston = colonial era and Revolutionary War history
Washington = our capital city
Miami = America's Riviera
New Orleans = unique cultural mix
LA = Hollywood, world-wide pop culture
SF = breathtaking natural setting in a Mediterranian-like city

Chicago = ???????
chicago = the miami of canada
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Old December 9th, 2007, 11:17 PM   #13
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I think the look and feel of Chicago is absolutely unique, which is what I was sort of implying in my previous post on this thread. Perhaps on the surface it appears to be another urban city, but those points I made on the last post are the real differences that can be seen by someone who pays a bit more attention to the built environment.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 11:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by secondcity1 View Post
I am not sure you or someone else that already created a similar thread a while ago about this topic.

Perhaps the so-called "sophisticated travelers" who voted for Chicago in these surveys know best
second, i have no doubt that our place in tourism and acceptance as a great city is not an issue. i really am not one of those people who think people don't respect chicago.

as i tried to get across in the initial post, it isn't our sense of greatness that was an issue...but our uniqueness is.

I believe there are people who love coming to Chicago and thoroughly enjoy our city immensely but do not view it in that "unique" category.

on this thread, i was trying to get a sense of those unique attributes that are there and scream out Chicago is different.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 11:39 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A42251 View Post
New York = our largest city
Boston = colonial era and Revolutionary War history
Washington = our capital city
Miami = America's Riviera
New Orleans = unique cultural mix
LA = Hollywood, world-wide pop culture
SF = breathtaking natural setting in a Mediterranian-like city

Chicago = ???????
i like the way you put it.

Chicago = the truly great American city that America put together itself

Chicago is, more so than any other city, the product of what America assembled on its own, removed from the coasts and their colonial ties and access to lands across the sea, and established in its interior where the greatest influences was the new American nation which this city, as much as any, helped to assemble in the 19th century.

Chicago is uniquely the great AMERICAN city, writ large.
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Old December 9th, 2007, 11:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Urban Politician View Post
I think the look and feel of Chicago is absolutely unique, which is what I was sort of implying in my previous post on this thread. Perhaps on the surface it appears to be another urban city, but those points I made on the last post are the real differences that can be seen by someone who pays a bit more attention to the built environment.
i agree.

i really believe the progression of blue water, yellow beach, green park, and a towering spectrum of high rise color is uniquely Chicago.

i would add to that the very Chicago mix of super tall structues that dominate the core and adjacent lakefront areas coming shoulder to shoulder in an extradordinary contrast with the human scale of the neighborhoods.

you mentioned the el on a previous post and well you should have. what is so uniquely Chicago as an elevated train snaking through a leafy neighborhood of two and three flats (with hopefully a tavern on the corner).

I'd add one more too: lots of cities have ethnic neighborhoods. Chicago's differ in a major respect and add immeasurably to the unique Chicago experience: unlike New York or other eastern cities, the ethnic/immigrant neighborhoods in Chicago were often built as home to the immigrants themselves as opposed to them moving into existing neighborhoods. Also, the ethnic neighborhoods of Chicago have more "staying power" in the sense that they are less likely to shift or to lose presence all together. Sure, turnover exists, but the ethnic connection in long lasting places like Andersonville, Greektown, Chinatown, Bronzeville, Taylor Street, Lincoln Sq, Pilsen, West Rogers Park (I'm thinking of far WRP...areas still Jewish), etc., still exists....even when a lot fewer members of the various ethnic groups call these places home.
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Old December 10th, 2007, 12:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edsg25
Why isn't Chicago just "the American city" writ large or the rather unpalitble "New York's little brother"?
When it comes to "height", Chicago is not New York's little brother. According to ultrapolisproject, Chicago has been the tallest city in the world since 2001. While there are some dispute about the methodology used to determine the "world's tallest city" title from different sites, one undeniable fact is that the tallest building in America in the last 33 years is still right here in Chicago and that probably won't change in 2011 when the CS finally reaches 2000 ft into the sky.

http://www.ultrapolisproject.com/ult...nes_cities.htm

Anyway, the admiration people have for Chicago skyscrapers and its skyline differs from NY's. People admire NY skyline because of its impressive size, height and density. Chicago skyline on the other hand got love from around the world thanks to its style, height, beauty (thanks to the view) and architectural marvel. That of course is Chicago's uniqueness, which sets it apart from the New York's dominance.
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Old December 10th, 2007, 12:16 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A42251 View Post
New York = our largest city
Boston = colonial era and Revolutionary War history
Washington = our capital city
Miami = America's Riviera
New Orleans = unique cultural mix
LA = Hollywood, world-wide pop culture
SF = breathtaking natural setting in a Mediterranian-like city

Chicago = ???????
Chicago= Unique and Original World Class Architecture+ Unique Food+ breathtaking natural setting next to one of the worlds largest lakes+unique cultural mix(polish,german,greek,spanish,irish,muslim,etc.)+one of the best sports cities in the world+unique festivals(lollapalooza,taste of chicago,looptopia)+one of the premier shopping destinations+birthplace of modern skyscraper
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Old December 10th, 2007, 12:19 AM   #19
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Chicago= World capital of modern architecture.

For over 100 years, the City of Chicago has been indisputably recognized as the world capital of historical and contemporary landmarks of modern architecture. The city is a virtual open text book on the history of 20th-Century design. No other city in the world can boast the vitality and aesthetic quality of buildings designed in our century from the many high-rise towers that define the Loop to the smaller bungalows that compose many of the city’s neighborhoods. Chicago remains the birthplace of modern architecture and the modern high-rise have impacted every modern city throughout the world - from Hong Kong to Paris.

http://www.chi-athenaeum.org/land/land2.htm


Quote:
Originally Posted by A42251 View Post
New York = our largest city
Boston = colonial era and Revolutionary War history
Washington = our capital city
Miami = America's Riviera
New Orleans = unique cultural mix
LA = Hollywood, world-wide pop culture
SF = breathtaking natural setting in a Mediterranian-like city

Chicago = ???????
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Last edited by secondcity1; December 10th, 2007 at 12:28 AM.
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Old December 10th, 2007, 12:54 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Unique = singular, one of a kind - not a matter of extent but of singularity. No such animal as "more unique" or "pretty unique" - it either is or it isn't.

Urban waterfronts, courtyard buildings, bungalows - other cities have these things also. Doesn't matter if Chicago had them first, or has the most or has given them their fullest & best expression - they aren't/can't be "unique" to Chicago if they also exist elsewhere, unless you narrow the range somehow. Ditto with alleyways and greenbelts (Detroit, Cleveland, etc.) Ditto with classic ballparks. Were Wrigley Field the only classic park left, then yes, it would be unique to Chicago - "Chicago is unique in North America as having the only classic ballpark still standing" - but Wrigley field isn't the only classic park still standing.

However, Chicago is unique in that it has a ballpark named after a chewing-gum magnate.
San Francisco is not alone with fog, having a Chinatown, built on hills, or even having cable cars (they were in other cities, too). there is very little that you can point to in any city that is totally unique in that sense.

however, when you talk about a unique city, you are packaging a lot o what it has and saying there really is no place quite like it. it transcends other places in its ability to convey a set of attributes that say "it can only be that place".

semantically it is a tough concept, but in reality I think we all know what we are tlakng about when we say a city is truly unique: it has its own special vibe, a sense of being a place apart.

If talks like unique and walks like unique, it's unique...or "I can't quite define it, but I know unique when I see it.
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