Oh, I'm from Chicago.

A friend recently posted a status on Facebook about just how far the borders of Chicago seemed to reach.  People began to recount all the times they had been told someone was “from Chicago” only to find out that the did not even live IN Chicago and in some cases, not even the same state.

When people admit that they are not actually from Chicago despite saying so, the range of explanations are hilarious:

The – it takes too long to actually explain WHERE I live- people:

These people live relatively close to Chicago and find that saying their random hometown usually elicits a “huh?” from the person they are speaking with. Instead, these people usually just say, “from Chicago” rather than leap into some long drawn out explanation of where they actually reside.

The  – I grew up there and have since moved away but I still claim Chicago citizenship – people:

These people believe Chicago citizenship happens when you’re born and you carry it with you throughout your lifetime. Much like a United States citizen, born and raised here, but later moved out of the city limits, “Yup! I’m from Chicago!”

The – what if I still have a Chicago area code – people:

312, 773, and now 224? My friend, Natasha, was even granting partial Chicago rights via Facebook. Your phone’s connection via area code is also apparently your lifeline to the Windy City.

General confusion about our Ax-cent:

Are you from the south, southwest, or midwest? Or Chi-Cah-Gooooo? If you talk like a Chicagoan, would you say you are from there?

Chicago is hereditary:

My favorite response of the bunch?

“well my mom spent her teenage years in the south side which is where my grandparents lived so i claim Chicago via them. j/k lol” Apparently, Chicago citizenship now comes with a grandfather clause…

The conversation then turned to what officially does and does not make you a Chicagoan.

“If a hydrant is your pool, then you are from Chicago.”

From Natasha: “But when you’re talking in conversation and you say Chicago and then I start asking specifics like fave places to hang out and then you have to give me the ‘Well, I’m really not IN Chicago, but a suburb’ comment, I feel duped.”

I then brought up the argument about the idea of being in the ChicagoLAND area. If I can prove that if I’m within a specific radius, does that mean I can at least claim Chicagoland?

However, it was universally agreed that the following does NOT classify as Chicago:

Anywhere in Indiana. Milwaukee – different state, different sports teams. Gurnee, Rockford, Naperville, Wheaton, Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Orland Park, Schaumburg, Glenview, and Zion. Also, if you put ketchup on your hot dog, you may not, under any circumstances, claim that you are from Chicago.

Maybe ChicagoLAND, but definitely not the Second City.

I think it’s pretty obvious that most people within the Chicagoland area want a piece of the Chicago pie or at least the name recognition that goes with it. Has someone ever told you they were “from Chicago” only to find out they lived in Timbuktu?


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  • Several observations here based on that I grew up around here, was out of the area for 18 years, and then came back.

    (1) A person is usually used to how it was where you grew up and is out of place elsewhere. For instance, I couldn't figure out how the people there could live there, eat the food they had, not have good Greek food, sell something called "Chicago Beef," etc. This was compounded by the fact that the company recruited nationwide, but didn't do anything to integrate people into the community.

    (2) Chicagoisms do include NW Indiana. You go into southern Indiana (basically anywhere south of U.S. 30; maybe a little bit further south now) and they ask if you are "from da region" because the people from NW Indiana talk like they are from Chicago, mostly due to Central European pronunciation. Hegewisch may be in Chicago, and Calumet City and Lansing in Illinois, but they are culturally affiliated with Indiana.

    (3) 224 is a north shore area code, so I suppose not technically in Chicago. The overlay there is 872.

    (4) Where people live: I suppose Cairo is not near Chicago. Yet, Chicagoans assume that upstate New York is near NYC, not Toronto.

  • In reply to jack:

    My wife was from Ft. Lee, NJ, the town that holds up the west end of the George Washington Bridge.
    If she was speaking with someone who was not from the general area she would invariably answerer the where from question by saying, New York.
    It was (1) quicker and easier; and, (2) eliminated the need to explain, "no you weren't stationed there when you were in the Army. You're thinking of Ft. Lee, VA. near Richmond."

  • In reply to Emanon:

    Good point and I think that this can usually be an exception to "the public's rule".

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Great thoughts. I especially think your post about NW Indiana is true. Certainly, the argument can be made to fall within the Chicagoland category. As a non-resident Chicagoan, I don't typically say Chicago, but I can see how (and I have) people utilize Chicago as an obvious point of reference.

    I also think it's interesting how you note that the different areas may actually be more like another state, such as Cal City and Lansing. Do you think more people use the title of "Chicago" out of convenience, because they think they city has clout, or because they truly think that's the case?

  • In reply to Samantha Schultz:

    It may be the inverse of my Cairo example.

    It has been frequently stated that no one knows where Calumet City or Fox River Grove is, so you say "Chicago" or "just outside Chicago." Heck, Letterman couldn't pronounce Naperville property when the Kid Scientists from there were on. And, he's from Indianapolis.

  • I was born and raised in Chicago. I worked in Chicago nearly my entire life. I went to school in Chicago. And while I currently live in a Chicago suburb, I put catsup on my hot dog. No one ever told me not to. And I don't care if someone did. That, alone, makes me a Chicagoan. I'm beginning to think that folks that aren't really from Chicago say that catsup bit to sound like they know Chicago.

    Here's a test of your Chicago knowledge. Who coined the term "Chicagoland?"

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Colonel Robert McCormick, of course. And I truly AM a born and raised NW side Polish Chicago girl - I grew up in the Portage Park neighborhood. (And never put ketchup on my hot dogs from Yo-Jo's!!!)

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    You don't have to be from Chicago to know it's just wrong (not illegal) to put ketchup on a hot dog. Then again, I suppose it's equally wrong for me to say I'm from Chicago since though I was born in the city I was raised in the suburbs.

  • In reply to Topher:

    I agree about the ketchup and I'm a suburbanite myself....careful about who I say "I'm from Chicago" to...

  • In reply to Topher:

    A quote from a Cecil Adams column on why ketchup on a dog is bad. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/679/why-is-there-no-ketchup-on-a-properly-made-hot-dog

    'Ketchup is destructive of all that is right and just about a properly assembled hot dog... If you go into an authentic hot dog joint and ask for ketchup on your hot dog, the counterman will pause and look you in the eye. He may or may not say, "Ketchup?" with a tone of disbelief. But you may be certain what he's thinking: "Behold this creature that walks like a man. It wants *ketchup* on its *hot dog*." '

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Col. Robert McCormick and later the Tribune. Does that work? Ha!

    To clarify, this post was a compilation of the thoughts of many people, not just myself. Thanks for sharing!

  • When someone tells me they're from Chicago, I always ask what neighborhood. Gets 'em every time.

  • In reply to saukrebl:

    Youse mus' be a Nort' sider. If you was a Sout' sider you'd ask dem what parish are dey from.

  • In reply to Emanon:

    Great responses and very true! I usually get asked what neighborhood I'm from, but I try to lean towards saying Chicagoland instead.

  • fb_avatar

    Why people who actually live in Chicago think they better then the people in the Chicagoland area, ya not, y'all the one's living off the name, that's why they don't leave out the City and when they do they think the rest of the U.S. owe them something.... Joliet's Finest, I rep the the Whole Chi Land!

  • In reply to Damon Jones:

    Hey Damon,

    Thanks for responding! I've often wondered about this complex as well. I don't live IN Chicago by any means and the most was a mixture of thoughts and opinions of others as well (Chicagoans and not alike).

    I love Joliet!

  • Blame the late Col McCormick for Chicago's extended "borders."

    You'll recall that the The Tribune and he spoke about Chicagoland,. a five state area that included all or parts of IL, IN, MI, WI and IA.

  • fb_avatar

    I have a friend who tells everyone she is "From Chicago" even though she also lives here in the Grand Rapids Michigan area. She then explains that she grew up on the "South Side" and her parents still live there.

    So I went to Chicago with her one time and dropped her off to her parents. They do live South of Chicago.... in Worth!

    If you don't know where Worth is, and you might not, its south of 55 and west of 294.

    When I tell people I am from Comstock Park, Michigan but I spend a few weekends a month in Chicago, I am talking about Lincoln Park & Lake View.

  • In reply to Robert Uzarski:

    Thanks for sharing, Robert. This actually made me chuckle!

    As a Chicago Ridge rat (right NEXT to Worth), I know exactly where you're talking about. I think south suburbanites frequently identify with the "south side."

  • I was also born and raised in Chicago; I also put ketchup on my hot dogs and I resent anyone trying to tell me that, because I no longer live in Chicago that my claim of being "from Chicago" is dubious or spurious. This is the part where I quote Mayor Daley I to a reporter in 1968...I'm sure I don't have to go any further because a real Chicagoan can tell you what he said. The way I talk, think and TCB tells you just where I'm from and some smug know-it-none can take that away...Ms. Schultz probably doesn't even say "Dag"...I heard Michelle Obama say that on "Oprah' in '08 and I knew exactly where she was from (Southsider!). I sneer at the you Ms. Schultz..

  • In reply to Horusbedhetys:

    Hey there,

    Thanks for commenting. Just to clarify - I'm actually not a resident of Chicago by any means and my bio says that. This post was a compilation of thoughts from many people (Chicagoans and not alike). You can sneer at me, sorry to hear that, but this post is not limited to my my opinions alone.

    Have a great day!

  • I grew up in the Calumet Park / Blue Island area - a stone throw away from the Southside. I spent over 10 years working at a major bank downtown in the Loop. I don't have to tell most people where I am from - they guess it by my accent and my work ethics - sometimes that doesn't go over too well where I live now - "Southern Georgia" - lol! When I meet a fellow Chicagoan I can tell if they really are from there just in a brief conversation about neighborhoods, restaurants, bars, driving on the Dan Ryan Expressway - etc. I am and always will be a Southside Chicago girl and proud of it - no one can take that away from me.

    btw....I too put ketchup on my hotdog along with the neon green relish!

  • In reply to ArielPlath:

    Haha! Alright, I promise that I (nor the original FB poster) will remove your status - you are WAY more Chicago than me!

  • I live in the suburbs and went to college in Washington DC. When asked the question I always answered, "Chicago" and when asked "what part" would say "Glenview".

    One time, my response elicited a rant: Why is it that when residents of the rest of the US are asked, they answer with a state. But Chicagoans never say, "Illinois". It is very true. Texans say they are from Texas. Not Houston, Dallas or San Antonio. Even Californians may add a "northern" or "southern", but they generally don't name a city.

    Why is this a thing?

  • In reply to abradley:

    I've often wondered the same. I went to a conference recently and when everyone said where they were from, they named a state. I (and other Illinoisians) always said, "Chicago." Big city pride?

    Thanks for joining the conversation!

  • I was born in Chicago. I was raised in the near suburbs. I live in the far suburbs. When somebody in the Chicago area asks me where I'm from, I will tell them, "I live in " When I travel and somebody asks me where I'm from, I say, "Chicago." It's quicker and easier than explaining, "I live in which is a suburb of Chicago." Only people living within the Chicago city limits seem to have an issue with people from the Chicago Metropolitan Area claiming to be from Chicago. Get over it.

  • Hmm . . . Tribune site doesn't like brackets. What was written above was: "When somebody in the Chicago area asks me where I'm from, I will tell them, "I live in (suburb name.)" Maybe this will pick up parentheses. Maybe not.

  • In reply to JoesGarage:

    Hey there!

    I totally get it. I'm not within the city limits and this posting was actually inspired by a friend (Chicagoan). Thanks for your thoughts - I definitely appreciate it!

  • No matter where you live now or where you grew up, you may be "From Chicago" if you use Chicago as your basis of comparison for everywhere else you go.

  • In reply to Gwydhar:

    Definitely did this at a conference recently! {{guilty as charged!}}

  • Great post!! Totally guilty of this!

  • In reply to Katy Kusek:

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Katy!

  • Nothing makes me feel more like a Chicagoan than working in Wisconsin and having to endure "flatlander" and "fib" descriptions, not to mention mingling in ubquitous Packer attire.

  • In reply to Topher:

    Haha! Great point, Topher! Have they brought you over to the green/yellow side yet?

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