August 23, 2011 : Ellen Tsay

August 23, 2011 : Ellen Tsay

How many people do you think are in the city of Chicago?

It could be a trick question, if you wanted it to be. Let’s break it down for just a single day. Today, I saw two guys in black suits and black shoes and black laptop cases, sweating under the August sun but pretending that they are a-OK. The three women rushing home so that they can hop into Lululemon pants (cropped ones) and get to yoga class. Next passes the five girls-not-yet-women walking in a flying V, keeping formation while they text on their cellphones and have Forever21 bags hanging off their wrists. Then, there are the bikers, the cabbies, the CTA double-long buses, the lone rollerblader coasting down Wacker in a ripped-sleeve tee.

I’d say that makes 7,500 people. I saw 7,500 people today on my way home, out on the streets of Chicago. Bad math? Probably. Not real math? Yes. But it could be. I mean, there are people in the office buildings I passed (not at full capacity, it’s 5:30 p.m.!), each cab can take four passengers, that CTA double-long bus could probably fit 100 or so Chicagoans…so, good math?

One year ago, I would have said that there were 2.7MM people in the city of Chicago - 99% reliant on the fact that Wikipedia tells me so. I was 1 out of 2.7MM people. Correction: I was 1 out of 2,700,000 people. It looks more daunting with more zeros.

That’s how this city felt to me: daunting. Because exactly one year ago today, I became the 2.7 millionth Chicago resident (give and take a few…thousand.). I gave up my east coast roots, said goodbye to Boston, and started a one way roadtrip to the Windy City.

Today, I bet there’s another twenty-something girl making her big trek to this city, adding one more to the tally of Chicagoans. She’ll feel like 1 in many millions. I know, because I did. But, the zeros start dropping, and then all of a sudden the 2.7 starts feeling cozier, familiar, maybe a little bit like home. It’s not good math, but it’ll happen.

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About the author: Ellen Tsay (@ellentsays) is a 2nd yr Chicagoan. She works with numbers, but thinks she’s more creative than others give her credit for.

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