Chicago: America's City

Rahm Emanuel came up with a brilliant idea in his inauguration speech: Brand Chicago as America's City. Here's what he said:

Look at the three of us being sworn in today. Treasurer Stephanie Neely and Clerk Susana Mendoza. Both are superb public servants who represent the best of our city. They are among a new generation of smart and capable civic leaders.

I think it is fair to say, we are not our parent's Chicago.

An African-American whose family came from Grenada, Mississippi in the great migration north; a daughter of immigrants who came from Mexico; a son of an Israeli immigrant from Tel Aviv and grandson of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Our parents and grandparents came not just to any American city. They came to America's city. They came to Chicago. [Emphasis added.] 

America's City. 

It's not New York or Los Angeles. Thankfully. Yes, Chicago is a world-class city, but it also is uniquely American. In its composition, and its aspirations. In its talents and determination. In its history, in its faults. And in its qualities.

The city should promote the hell out of this new brand: "Chicago: America's City." It should be on the sign welcoming O'Hare Airport travelers into the city (replacing "Mayor Richard M. Daley.") It should be on all advertisements, all brouchures, all letter-heads, all business cards. It is, after all, quite accurate. And we got there first, before other cities.

Great start, Mayor Emanuel. Don't stop now.

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  • If one wants to start branding Chicago as "America's City," there were the Dallas Cowboys as "America's Team" and the Atlanta Braves as "America's Team," but in another sport.

    Heck, even the Pace board tackled the weighty issue of changing its tag line last week, like it doesn't have more important things to do.

    However, there is something in the substance of the speech that is worth building upon. Maybe Chicago now does have leaders who are first generation and did work themselves up (although it does help to have a father who is a doctor). No more of the entrenched Irish pols who ruled Chicago, except for the Washington years, since apparently 1933. However, the questions are (1) whether Emanuel can capitalize on that to show the underachieving students in CPS that they can accomplish something (other than a few shooting hoops) as the named officials did, and (2) whether the actual governance will be different than what we had in the Daley Era.

    BTW, when he talked about "founding a city by the Lake," I thought he meant Highland Park. I also thought that he grew up in Glencoe, but apparently Wilmette. That's on the Lake, too.

    Finally, who got the sign contract? Between politicians and banks, I've always believed that there was money to be made there.

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