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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just a bit of meaningless comparisons to have some fun with.

What if....

Chicago's size were different than what it is, but the size and the population of our metropolitan area were the same as it is today.

What would Chicago look like in each of these two scenerios:

(1) Chicago being San Francisco or Boston like in its own metropolitan area. A small city as part of a powerful metro region with that city taking on power that cities of its size rarely do. So imagine Chicago as stretching on the lakefront from Lakeview on the north (we'll include Clark and Addison for obvious reasons) on down to Hyde Park on the south with the UC being the western limits. What would such a Chicago be like?

(2) Chicago gobbling up its hinterlands to match NY's outer boroughs and LA's far flung and often disconnected zones. To keep it easy, let's make Chicago and Cook County as identical juristictions. Thus Chicago would spread from downtown core to solid city neighborhoods to virtually suburbia-within-city-limits. What would such a Chicago be like?

(3) And would either of those scenerios be better than the structure of Chicago/Chicagoland today?
 

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Interesting thread...

Using your city limits of Wrigley to the North, Hyde Park to the South (I made bucktown/wicker park as the western limits to make comparable in size to Boston, SF, Manhattan) here is what Chicago would look like compared to the cities; I also added Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Miami for fun!

CHICAGO (Wrigley-Hyde Park-Wicker Park)
Population: 548,231
Area: 31.39 Sq Miles
Density: 17,465/sq. Mi

SAN FRANCISCO
Population: 765,000
Area: 46.7 Sq Miles
Density: 15,834

BOSTON
Population: 591,000
Area: 48.4 Sq Miles
Density: 12,327

MANHATTAN
Population: 1,621,000
Area: 22.96 Sq Miles
Density: 70,595

BROOKLYN
Population: 2,465,000
Area: 70.61
Density: 35,800

BRONX
Population: 1,333,000
Area: 42.03
Density: 31,709

QUEENS
Population: 2,229,379
Area: 109.24
Density: 20,409

MIAMI
Population: 404,000
Area: 35.68
Density: 11,554

This smaller Chicago would look very similar to S.F. / Boston on paper, but I don't know that anything would change in how the city functions. Perhaps the CTA would be in better shape b/c there would be less tracks to work on (assuming the CTA did not run outside city limits)

I couldn't even imagine Chicago taking over all of Cook County, that would be a mess!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
^^i wasn't very clear on this. i was thinking more along the lines of what if (from up until the early 20th century), Chicago had followed that route:

a smaller city that never extended past Lake View or Hyde Park

-or-

a larger city that had incorporated Cook County perhaps at the end of the 19th century, corresponding to the NY legislature's creation of Greater New York.

I wasn't thinking along the lines of any sort of incorporation or deannexation today; merely a "what if" if we had gone in one of those two routes rather than our actual middle ground.
 

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If Chicago had consolidated with Cook County way back when, akin to Indianapolis or Baltimore, then I definitely think the suburbs would be more urban.

With Chicago city planners laying out the streets, the road network in the suburbs would be a lot more dense, with each individual major street being smaller. The winding country roads that existed before would become diagonals in the city, like Lincoln or Ogden.

However, the population density levels within these areas would be similar to the densities that currently exist in 50s-60s suburban towns, like Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Deerfield, etc.

Superhighways still would have been built in the 1960s, thanks to the Honorable Richard J. Daley; these would still have fueled the flight of people, not out of the city, but out of older neighborhoods.

The weird relationship between city and county government would be abolished, and we wouldn't have to deal with the god-awful Stroger dynasty. The litigation involved with the expansion of O'Hare would be greatly reduced; only Bensenville would be pressing the issue, but not Elk Grove or Des Plaines.

Finally, Chicago would still rightfully lay claim to the "Second City" moniker, with all 5.2 million people of Cook County.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If Chicago had consolidated with Cook County way back when, akin to Indianapolis or Baltimore, then I definitely think the suburbs would be more urban.

With Chicago city planners laying out the streets, the road network in the suburbs would be a lot more dense, with each individual major street being smaller. The winding country roads that existed before would become diagonals in the city, like Lincoln or Ogden.

However, the population density levels within these areas would be similar to the densities that currently exist in 50s-60s suburban towns, like Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Deerfield, etc.

Superhighways still would have been built in the 1960s, thanks to the Honorable Richard J. Daley; these would still have fueled the flight of people, not out of the city, but out of older neighborhoods.

The weird relationship between city and county government would be abolished, and we wouldn't have to deal with the god-awful Stroger dynasty. The litigation involved with the expansion of O'Hare would be greatly reduced; only Bensenville would be pressing the issue, but not Elk Grove or Des Plaines.

Finally, Chicago would still rightfully lay claim to the "Second City" moniker, with all 5.2 million people of Cook County.
OUTSTANDING RESPONSE!
 
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