CHICAGO, Friday, February 22, 2013. Moving up from the sixth spot in 2012, Chicago is now, according to Forbes Magazine, the nation's fourth most miserable U.S. city to reside. Those of us who live in Chicago know that this is wrong...dead wrong.
For starters, lets take a look at the criteria used by Forbes as they looked at the 200 largest metro areas in the U.S. Forbes examined nine factors in determining their "miserable city" rankings: violent crime, unemployment, foreclosures, taxes (income and property), home prices, "quality-of-life issues" such as commute times and weather. From this list they determined that even though "Chicago has passionate supporters, their residents must endure the misery of long commutes, plummeting home prices, brutal winters and high foreclosure rates".
What they did not consider is the quality life that Chicago offers. From the open space, the enormous number of free events at the city's world-class venues including the Chicago Cultural Center, to Chicago's outstanding park district and the Harold Washington Library Center...plus Chicago's "second to none" front yard, Lake Michigan.
Like the rest of the country, Chicago has been struggling with unemployment and foreclosures, but we are slowing digging ourselves out of that hole along with the rest of the country. As for Chicago's "brutal winters" today's 3 inches of snow was our biggest snow accumulation this year...and within just a few hours is a distant memory--as the city's efficient snow removal team is one of the best in the country. Not to mention, what is more beautiful than glistening snow-covered trees and open lands where Chicagoans can snowshoe or cross county ski on the relatively few days the city does have snow?
I also must argue with the "misery of long commutes". Chicago is a city of neighborhoods where one can walk to the drug store, the dry cleaners, restaurants, the grocery store and often to work. For those who can't walk to where they are going, Chicago has one of the best public transportation systems in the country. The Metra commuter trains leaving from Oglivie and Union stations take commuters from the city, quickly and comfortably, in all directions to the furthermost exurbia. The CTA's elevated and subway trains extend throughout the city and to close-in suburbs. The CTA also has buses that are clean, convenient and run often on every major artery of the city. All transportation can be tracked on the CTA bus tracker or train tracker apps so there are no long waits. Plus Chicago has two major airports, Midway in town and nearby O'Hare Airport with easy connections to downtown or the suburbs.
Another option is bikes. You can rent a bike or ride your own bike throughout the city on one of the nation's best system of bike paths. Or bikers can ride along the 18.5 mile paved lakefront bike path that runs by beaches, volleyball courts, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, soccer fields and beautiful parks and gardens.
Here are ten more reasons that Forbes needs to consider before they ever call Chicago "miserable" again.
1) Chicago Theatre. With over 200 hundred theatres from Shakespeare, to improv, to award winning regional theatres many consider Chicago the best city for theater in the U.S.
2) Major Sports Teams. Chicago just may be the best sports city in the U.S. with two major league baseball teams; two pro hockey teams, Wolves and Blackhawks, one pro soccer team, Rush, one pro basketball team, the Bulls, one NFL football team, the Bears and one arena football team.
3) World Class Museums. The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, The Field Museum, The Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Dusable Museum of African Art and countless others puts Chicago again tops the list when it comes to outstanding museums.
4) The Lyric Opera, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Joffery Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance. And this is just for starters...you get the idea.
5) The Architecture. Viewing Chicago's architecture from the likes of the world's most respected architects including: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Burnham & Root, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Louis H. Sullivan and Gang Studios is an architectural immersion like no other.
6) World Class Restaurants. From 4-star restaurants to ethnic eateries and food trucks to neighbor dives, Chicago has it all.
7) The Neighborhoods. Traveling Chicago's over 77 diverse neighborhoods is almost as good as a trip around the world. Nearly every nationality is represented along with their foods and culture.
8) Chicago's Waterways. From water taxis, commuter boats, architectural tours, and rental and private boats along Chicago's Riverfront to the lakefront beaches that boarder the whole east side of the city and are open and for free for all...plus Cruise ships and a myriad of recreational activities both on and off the water, Chicagoans can go on vacation without leaving town.
9) Educational Institutions. From The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Loyola, the University of Illinois in Chicago, plus Chicago's reasonably priced community colleges, Chicago has something for everyone.
10) Shopping. From the Mag Mile and that "Great Street" (State Street) to Bucktown, Lakeview, Belmont, Chinatown, antique and art markets, malls and more--if you can find what you want in Chicago it is unlikely that you will find it anywhere.
Just in case you were wondering, here is Forbes' list of the Ten Most Miserable Cities in the Nation:
2. Flint, MI.
3. Rockford, IL.
5. Modesto, California
6. Vallejo, Calif.
7. Warren, MI.
8. Stockton, California
9. Lake County, IL.
10. New York
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Filed under: Chicago Tourism.