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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How many of you see Chicago as "the complete urban package" with no desire to live elsewhere or have any need to compare our city to others?

In asking that question, I risk making this a rerun of endless other Chicagophile threads that have lined this subforum.

I'll try to shift the perspective here a bit to make it different.

I see Chicago as that "complete urban package", a city that manages (IMHO better than any other) to combine the full and complete range of all forms of urban joy in the most user-friendly box of any of the nation's great cities. Chicago doesn't fear open space and livable urban scale even as our core skyscrapers reach higher than any US city's. In fact, we embrace it. We elevate such delightfully walkable, tree-lined, humanly scaled communities like Old Town, Lincoln Park, and Hyde Park.

While we can improve what we have and, as a city, have always strieved to do so, it seems to me that when we make comparisons on how to do this, we compare ourselves not with coastal cities but with Chicago itself and how a future Chicago may be better than the present one.

America has great cities. That burg some 800 miles east of us on the Hudson is monumental and iconic in nature. California offers two world class and inviting cities, a serving no other state can match.

But to me, Chicago's contributions to what it means to be urban are unique, again that complete package. The best of urban does not mean the extreme of urban. I would never want to see the density of Hong Kong or Tokyo or endless unknown global cities far denser than Chicago repeated here.

I'd rather see Chicago the product of the Greek golden mean, a city that brings urbanism the new heights in good part because it avoids many of the extremes in urbanism that prevent this from taking place. Thus Chicago works for people, residents and visitors alike, rather than the padding of the urban resume that having "the largest", "the most", and "the trendiest" that affects the place itself rather than its human components.

That's how I see it. How about you?
 

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I don't know if Chicago is the complete urban package, but it still is a good deal in many respects.

One might say that a city such as NYC has 10 times the number of anything that Chicago has to offer. But let's be honest, how many people can truly avail of all those other choices?

To have a reasonable number of choices (and good choices at that) that are relatively affordable/accessible may be enough for most of us who appreciate city living.

This is not to say that Chicago can still improve a lot in many areas.

I certainly don't claim to have no desire to live elsewhere. And there are other things that bind us to a place -- such as the presence of family and friends -- that are incidental/accidental to the place itself.

But overall, the City has a lot to offer for those of us who take the time to avail themselves of these opportunities.
 

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Barring any more tired, overplayed, and moronic comparisons to NYC, as many of you here should really know better, I'll say the following:

I think Chicago's downtown alone has come close to the critical mass of being the "complete package", without mention of some of Chicago's numerous trendy hoods to the north & northwest.

The Mag Mile made downtown Chicago a major shopping destination, and certainly it carried its weight well. But the Mag Mile is geographically isolated and cannot carry the load itself.

Chicago's downtown already has a prodigious infrastructure (except that it needs better transit service north of the river, IMO) & is the nation's second largest employment node. No problem there. It has long had plenty of cultural attractions. No problem there.

But we need more retail & service corridors to start opening up. I'm very encouraged by what I see going on on State St (the new leases in Block 37, the other stuff Freed is pulling off at the former CPS store, etc), as well as the residential boom that fuels it. Roosevelt Collection will provide retail services for the south loop and will perhaps convince people down there to do away with their cars (as Mr. D predicts), and perhaps some time this century Metra Market will finally open.

Finally, we have huge big box districts opening up right outside the downtown core (Best Buy, Southgate Market, etc etc) which actually serve an important role to a growing downtown population. All of these developments will move people away from car ownership, and in doing so will transform Chicago's core into a full service urban center, arguably something that it has not been before.
 

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Finally, we have huge big box districts opening up right outside the downtown core (Best Buy, Southgate Market, etc etc) which actually serve an important role to a growing downtown population. All of these developments will move people away from car ownership, and in doing so will transform Chicago's core into a full service urban center, arguably something that it has not been before.
where?
 

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Im not sure if I think Chicago is "the complete urban package"; but when you experience the best of Chicago, it is tough to beat in any city. One aspect of the city that I love is that the cost of living is so cheap compared to other cities, I am 25 yrs old and own a nice condo in the heart of one of the cities greatest neighborhoods. I cant' think of too many other cities that I can do that in.
As far as the city embracing open space, I think that is a negative. There are too many street level parking lots in the heart of the city that I think take away from the urban experience. I don't think they should be embraced. I also think that a more extensive transportation system would help with the Urban Experience. Overall I think chicago is one of the best Urban Experiences in the Country!!!
 

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I second that. The River East/North area along Grand Ave. used to be an eyesore with many street level parking lots. Its much nicer now.

There are too many street level parking lots in the heart of the city that I think take away from the urban experience.
 

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Many, but not all, of these big-box stores have adapted their designs to be more urban-friendly (and saving money on valuable real estate) by shifting their parking into garages or above/below the store. Other token changes, like shifting to a 2- or 3-story format and providing pedestrian entrances on the street, have gone a long way towards setting the trend for big-boxes in the central area.

Target was really a pioneer in this regard, with urban-friendly designs at Roosevelt/Clark, and on Peterson on the North Side.
 

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You're never going to convince a Californian that Chicago has "the complete package" because it allows essentially no outdoors life. I know that's not important to Chicagoans (that's why you live here and not somewhere else) but lots of people cannot imagine ever living somewhere where they don't have the option of taking the weekend to backpack in the hills (or mountains, desert, forest, whatever). No need to bring up minuscule state parks in Wisconsin, there is no comparison. I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you mean by "the complete package," but if part of a complete package includes "something to do as an escape from the city," then no, Chicago does not have it.
 

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You're never going to convince a Californian that Chicago has "the complete package" because it allows essentially no outdoors life. I know that's not important to Chicagoans (that's why you live here and not somewhere else) but lots of people cannot imagine ever living somewhere where they don't have the option of taking the weekend to backpack in the hills (or mountains, desert, forest, whatever). No need to bring up minuscule state parks in Wisconsin, there is no comparison. I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you mean by "the complete package," but if part of a complete package includes "something to do as an escape from the city," then no, Chicago does not have it.
Actually as a 35+ year Californian originally from Chicago, I have to strongly disagree with your concept.

Chicago actually has a lot of close by outdoor activity. Besides a terrific park system, Chicago has a wonderful series of forest preserves located all around the periphery of the city. The beaches are surprisingly nice. There is terrific boating in Lake Michigan as well as boating and fishing in the chain of lakes connected to the Fox river just a little west of the city. The Indiana Dunes are quite beautiful and there are more dunes around Zion.

Granted no mountains or deserts, but there are lots of outdoor activities, plenty of hunting and fishing, (my Dad pulled an almost twenty pound trout out of Lake Michigan once) and the western shore of Lake Michigan and the forests of Wisconsin are not all that far away. Even without the mountains, the midwest has a lot more rivers and lakes than we do in California. And honestly the fall color is generally better in the Midwest.

I'm not sure any city is "the complete package" and I have no intentions of leaving Santa Monica but Chicago has as nice a "package" as any other city in the country, and if the Chicagoans want to exalt in their city on their own forum, G-d bless them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You're never going to convince a Californian that Chicago has "the complete package" because it allows essentially no outdoors life. I know that's not important to Chicagoans (that's why you live here and not somewhere else) but lots of people cannot imagine ever living somewhere where they don't have the option of taking the weekend to backpack in the hills (or mountains, desert, forest, whatever). No need to bring up minuscule state parks in Wisconsin, there is no comparison. I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you mean by "the complete package," but if part of a complete package includes "something to do as an escape from the city," then no, Chicago does not have it.
In light of svs's outstanding response, I'm reluctant to add anything here.

In some respects what the way you have raised the issue ( it allows essentially no outdoors life. I know that's not important to Chicagoans) is not only absurd but highly troll like. We love the outdoor life and are legendary on how we embrace it in the city that makes (more than any other) summer into a round the clock festival.

By "complete package", BTW, I was referring to the city itself and how it packages itself, not its hinterland.

But I'm hardly going to dignify the way you dismiss the midwest as a region. Hell, the Great Lakes alone, a unique and marvelous resource, would make outdoor mid-America into a joy. And one would have to blind not to find incredible beauty in neighboring states as Wisconsin and Michigan.

I love California. It is my favorite state. But that great outdoors in the Golden State is getting tougher and tougher to access between the crowds and crowded highways. And urbanization has taken a bit away from the natural beauty that was always there. When you leave San Francisco for the pleasures of Carmel and find the trip straight through from the Bay Area to the Monterrey Peninsula has become urbanized takes something away from what is still an incredible experience. And the sheer awe of Yosemite is lost a bit when you are in a traffic jam to access it.

Nature has taken a hit nation wide. Globally actually. It is all flawed compared to what it once was. But I'll be damned if I don't find even our flawed Midwestern natural areas to be quite inthralling.

And there is an added advantage for us here: neither in Chicago or its woodsy surroundings in Wisconsin or Michigan, we will not have to encounter Abner as we enjoy their incredible offerings.
 

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I was in Chicago last year for the annual ACS meeting down at the Mccormick Convention Center in March 2007 and stayed at the Fairmount hotel and I must say that I really liked Chicago much better than New York.

The loop area is fantasic, it has green parks one of them was the Mellenium park and all the way down to the University its all riverfront which makes for really nice walking area.

The only thing I would say is that the winters are really cold! But thats nothing to do with the city, over all I would give Chicago as a city 10/10.
 

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You're never going to convince a Californian that Chicago has "the complete package" because it allows essentially no outdoors life. I know that's not important to Chicagoans (that's why you live here and not somewhere else) but lots of people cannot imagine ever living somewhere where they don't have the option of taking the weekend to backpack in the hills (or mountains, desert, forest, whatever). No need to bring up minuscule state parks in Wisconsin, there is no comparison. I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you mean by "the complete package," but if part of a complete package includes "something to do as an escape from the city," then no, Chicago does not have it.
But you are comparing California which is a state to Chicago which is a city as far as I know! Midwest of America and West Coast are two totaly different landscapes and in terms of living also different in L.A you have to drive miles to get anywhere but in Chicago you can walk around and see sight like the Magnificent Mile etc. Nevertheless a tourists point of view!
 
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