Oh happiest of days, March 4th, 2012. My heart was glad yesterday because it was the 175th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Chicago.
Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States, according to Wikipedia. It is a city full of history, some good and some bad. When I was in Istanbul in 2003, someone asked me where I was from and I said Chicago and they immediately responded with Al Capone. There is a great deal more to Chicago than just Al Capone. For example, Chicago is where Abraham Lincoln was nominated to be the Presidential candidate in 1860. The Great Chicago Fire in 1871 led to the world’s first skyscraper to be built. The World’s Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893 led to many wonders, such as the Ferris wheel, Juicy Fruit gum and Cracker Jack.
Many other innovative ideas and architecture got their beginnings in Chicago. The Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower but will forever be the Sears Tower to me) rises above the flat plains and can be seen on clear days from miles and miles away. The Trump Tower and the John Hancock Building, among others, fill out the skyline. Chicago architects include Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, Frank Loyd Wright just to name a few.
In art, Chicago is world class. Chagall’s “Four Seasons” and the “Chicago Picasso” are outdoors and plain for people to see, located in the Chicago Loop. The Art Institute of Chicago (incidentally located in one of two buildings that remain from the World’s Fair, the other building being the Museum of Science and Industry) has many exhibits and famed artworks. Chicago has inspired many writers and poets, such as Carl Sandburg and was home to writers such as Hemingway, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Jakes, David Mamet and Bob Woodward. Chicago’s place in the musical world is anchored in Chicago Blues, jazz, Chicago soul and gospel music. Chicago is the birthplace of house music and many songs have been sung about Chicago including “Sweet Home Chicago” and “My Kind of Town” which was immortalized by Frank Sinatra. The Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye West, Ministry and Liz Phair are musical artist/groups that have emerged from the Chicago music scene, just to name a few.
The cultural make up of Chicago is diverse, with all kinds of nationalities, some with their own little concentrations within the city. For example, Indo Pak culture is located on part of Devon Avenue, Greektown is located along South Halsted St, and Little Italy is along Taylor Street.
Chicago has great sports teams as well. It is home to the Blackhawks and the Wolves (hockey),the Fire (soccer), the Bulls (NBA), the Bears (NFL) and the greatest baseball team, the Chicago Cubs (MLB/NL). And I suppose I should include the White Sox (MLB/AL) as well.
Chicago is a partner city of Paris, France and has 28 sister cities including Warsaw (Poland), Shanghai (China), Birmingham (UK), and important to me personally, Lahore, (Pakistan) which is a pearl among cities in its own right and Delhi (India) where my maternal ancestors were from.
For me, Chicago is one of the most glorious places in the entire world. I could go on for hours about why Chicago is so amazing. I was born in the city of Chicago and I want to end my days there as well. Most of the people dearest to me in the universe are there. When I drive anywhere in Chicago, I feel blessed that my roots are so deeply intertwined with such an amazing place. It’s worth facing the harsh winters and the humid, sticky summers.
Sure there are other cities that command more attention. New York is a sprawling beast and Boston has its own wonders. Seattle is a cute little city and Las Vegas is a playground, full of amusements, drunkeness and debauchery. Washington D.C. has split personality disorder, St. Louis and Cleveland are sedate. I haven’t been to L.A., Miami or San Francisco but I am sure they are nice.
One of Chicago’s nicknames is “the Windy City” allegedly (one of many reasons) because the citizens of Chicago are such braggarts about it. I guess I’m guilty. But you know what they say… If you got it, flaunt it. And Chicago’s got it.