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Chicago or Philadelphia?

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Hi

I am considering jobs and these two cities are strong contenders as possibilities. The real unknown for me is Chicago. I have already been to Philly and really like the Center City area. (Philly has more going for it, such

What am I looking for? Good public transportation (i.e., don't need a car), vibrant urban center, ethnic diversity (i.e., decent size Chinatown, Latin American community, queer community), open-mindedness toward differences, great restaurants, people-watching and cultural opportunities. Philly from what I've seen has enough of what I'm looking for to keep me happy. To give you an idea, I also love NYC, Boston and to a degree DC, Montreal and Toronto in Canada, and a number of European cities like Paris, London and Brussels...These cities though are quite expensive, so Philadelphia and (possibly) Chicago have seemed like better options.

So I want to hear opinions and comparisons from people who've travelled to both, maybe if I'm lucky, have lived in both. Yes, I realize this is not a relocation forum (hi BJ) but I think some of my queries may interest potential travellers also. I'd be particularly interested to hear from those who LIKE (or at least appreciate aspects of) Philadelphia already, since I know that I do appreciate the vitality of that city.

Thanks Dan.

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    The sentence that was meant to go in parentheses is

    (Philly has more (unrelated factors for me) going for it, such as proximity to family in DC and NYC.)

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    Chicago is many different cities within a city- depending on where you choose to live and where your work is. If you tell me more about the general location of your work possibility, I could tell you more about what you could expect. If proximity to your relatives etc. is very important than the distance would be a major consideration. East coast locations have much easier access to each other. Chicago has great opportunities in education. There are some neighborhoods in Chicago where you could live without a car, but not many.
    You would fine all of your other requirements in Chicago. Do you like to live in "center city" area- if it means no grass and your door opening on to a sidewalk? Downtown, parks, restaurants are tremendous- but need to know more about where your work would place you.

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    Hi

    I prefer areas in the city centre or at least with easy access to one (near subway stop, i.e.). I have lived for many years where my front door opened onto a sidewalk and that was not an issue; greenery requirements for me? Presence of nearby parks are fine by me, maybe a pretty place for a weekend getaway...I figure Chicago would have those. The things that matter to me more are in my posting above.

    As far as location, there were several jobs that I felt qualified for, but the University of Chicago is one... I wanted to hear more what people had to say (here as well as friends and family) before I applied.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Dan.

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    Dan,
    Seeing as you are familiar with the east coast and have already identified Philly as a place you like, I may suggest moving there. I am from Chicago, and can go on and on about how wonderfully diverse, vital, and wonderful it is, which is indeed my opinion. However, I know from experience that relocating to a totally unfamiliar part of the country, no matter how great it is, can be difficult. Philly's proximity to NY, Washington, and other East Coast regions you are familiar with would ensure a sense of security and familiarity, and "escape options" that would be missing from a midwest relocation. However, if you have any further questions about Chicago, feel free to contact me!

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    Dear Daniel: That's what I wanted to know. My nephew goes to the University of Chicago right now. It is in Hyde Park and not in the city center area. Hyde Park is another world of its own. This not meant in a bad way, but it is very different than downtown or Near North. To live in the city center and work in Hyde Park would not be impossible but I can't see it happening without a car. But depending on your likes / dislikes it sounds like you would love Hyde Park. DIVERSITY and more. GREAT Thai restaurants. They are actually doing a big rehab job on the park nearest to U.of Chicago campus that will make it a cultural center in itself- (entertainment, skating, etc.) If I were you I would apply and come for a visit/ interview and stay as long as you are able. My oldest history professor went to U. of C. and told me tons of great stories about the area.
    She is a Black woman who is originally from Washington D.C. and said over and over that her perfect world would exist if Hyde Park could be on the East Coast, as she missed the easy access to other Eastern cities the most. But that is all she regrets- as she has lived here over 20 years now. The area is the center for many Jewish Chicagoans lives and livlihoods. It is also probably the most open-minded with the possible exception of the very new Near West, Near South apartment/ condo areas. A lot of Chicagoans seem to feel the need to have a yard, parkway, front grass etc. Some of our neighborhoods look and feel like suburbs elsewhere. We often have more space in our streets etc. than they do in the East. Was just trying to feel out what you are used to.
    I love downtown but could never live with the density. Culturally you would have a very hard time finding any tops to this in Philadelphia. Don't know about affordability or housing costs in this area. Downtown and Near North Chicago is very expensive.

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    I will preface this by saying I live in DC & love it, visit NYC often and love it, and am originally from the midwest and visit Chicago often and love it. I haven't really spent any vacation/weekend time in Philly, though I've read with interest your recent posts and they've piqued my interest. But it's hard for me to compare Chicago to Philly since my experience with Philly is very limited.

    Chicago is fantastic, but as I go through your criteria I think in the end Philadelphia nudges it out. You can't discount the importance of proximity to friends and family.

    Transportation -- yes, but all my friends who live in Chicago have cars and wouldn't live there without one, and my experiences on the "El" have been OK but I wouldn't say it compares favorably with DC or New York.
    Vibrant urban center -- DEFINITELY yes.
    Diversity -- yes, but Chicago definitely has a more conservative "feel" to it than most major cities on the east coast I've visited. Race relations in particular seem strained to me (more so than in many southern cities I've visited). There is a very strong gay community in Chicago, including but not limited to a neighborhood called "Boystown," but I can't compare it to Philly's.
    Open-mindedness toward differences -- well, as a native midwesterner I must admit this is probably not our strong suit. I do think people are very friendly and tolerant for the most part, but maybe a little less open to differences than east coasters tend to be.
    Great restaurants -- YES!
    People-watching -- average for a city of its size.
    Cultural opportunities -- YES!
    I would also mention a few other standout attributes Chicagoans have over many east coast cities: more of a sense of fun for fun's sake (not that they're not hardworking, just that they LOVE recreation and it permeates work and life), a more casual attitude than most east coast cities (in dress and in comportment), a HUGE interest in sports, a great emphasis on humor (with less of an emphasis on the sarcastic, ironic, cynical-style humor you find so often on the east coast), reasonable cost-of-living for a city of its size, and a down-to-earth attitude (very few snobs, which you can't really say about many east coast cities). Less of an emphasis on pedigree or education and more of an emphasis on accomplishment. If you walk into a bar in Chicago and sit down at the bar, you are likely to find yourself sitting between someone in advertising on one side and a plumber on the other side, and they will be dressed identically (in sweatshirts or untucked T-shirt/polo shirt, jeans, tennis shoes, and baseball caps) and will be equally fun to talk to, and for both of them it will be their "neighborhood bar" -- there is less class stratification in Chicago than almost anywhere I've been.

    Good luck with your decision.

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    I've lived in both places and offer this: First, there's a substantial weather differential. Chicago's weather is more extreme -- colder, more bitter in the winter; bitingly hot in the summer, but probably not as much snow as Philly. Philly has longer springs and falls but can be miserably humid in the summer.

    Next, I'd really say that Chicago's music, arts, and theater outclass Philly's. It's got more to offer culturally and it's definitely more diverse. However, it's pretty inhospitable to outsiders who don't think Da Bears are more important than, say, conducting a reasonable elementary school education. Race relations aren't great, and that includes rifts between Eastern European groups as well as skin-color issues.

    Philly has almost as much of a chip on its shoulder sometimes as Chicago does, but occasionally "Brotherly Love" wins out.

    Finally, as impressive as Chicago's resources are -- and they are enormous -- the people who are happiest there are those born there, which is not nearly so true of Philly. My own preference is Philadelphia, finally. Not only for reasons similar to yours (proximity to NYC, DC, Boston) but also because of the atmosphere -- and its suburbs are prettier and there's more to do within 100-200 miles of it.

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    Hi!
    I'd pick Philly but I've never been to Chicago although I've heard many good things about it. Just wanted to comment on the diversity issue. Philly is pretty positive in that sense. I don't think there is a lot of racial tension. As far as the queer community, I think I can comment at least peripherally. I work for a company that is very gay friendly. we're about half gay & lesbian, half straight. There is a pretty vibrant gay community here. A number of clubs, bookstore, and a great annual g&l film festival. If you have any specific questions, post and I'm sure I can get you answers.

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    Hi

    All I can say is WOW. I check my computer after work and see 5 thoughtful responses to my query. Thank you ALL so much for your opinions.

    LISA--I was very interested in what you had to say, particularly with regard to Chicagoans dressing more "casually" than East Coasters. Of course, I'm living in unpretentious east coast Baltimore now, so your comment struck me as vaguely amusing. I'm on a 2 year contract after moving from Montreal where I did my Ph.D. Montreal is as many of you probably know almost polar opposite far as dressiness is concerned. Let's just say, living there one feels more obligated to try to keep up with the Montreal style (kind of a melange of Parisian/European, London and NYC). After living there, although I sometimes found it tedious following the vagaries of the French/Quebecois fashion world, I also learned to enjoy "dressing up" and seeing some of the outrageous high-style over-the-top hairdos and clothing fashions people come up with. Rather than finding it snobbish (which it can be), I saw it like many local city-dwellers there do... as FUN.
    In Baltimore, although I like being able to let my hair down from time to time, I do miss some of the fun, stylish, crazy shoes, hairdos, etc...that I used to see in Montreal. One thing I like about Philadelphia is I felt it had a little more of that European fashion flair than Baltimore has.

    Thanks again for all your ideas.

    Dan.

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    I now live in the Philly area after 14 years in the Midwest. While in my previous residence, I visited Chicago numerous times. From what you describe, Daniel, I'd recommend Philly for one major reason. Both cities have much to offer themselves as far as cultural opportunities, public transport, ethnic diversity, and restaurants. So why Philly? Because you're so close to OTHER cities offering even more of this. Within a few hours of public transport you can be in New York, Baltimore, and Washington DC. Thus, no matter how much more you need of what you're looking for in Philly, you can always find it pretty rapidly. With Chicago, if you need more, you're stuck. There's almost no way you can get to another vibrant metropolis via public transport within a day.

    If one of these cities has enough of what you need, they probably both do. If one doesn't, the other probably doesnt' either. If the former, it doesn't matter much. If the latter and you're in Philly, just hop the train. If the latter and you're in Chicago, there's not much you can do.

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    Thanks everyone for all thoughts.

    It's interesting Lisa (#2) that you mention that you don't think there's a lot of racial tension in Philadelphia. That was also MY impression while visiting...that people of different races seem to mingle more easily than in the cities further south...in particular blacks and whites. This factor is a big PLUS for Philly in my books.

    I realize that Philadelphia is North of the Mason-Dixon line, but so is Chicago and the overall sentiment here for that city seems to be that racial relations are tense there. I wonder how Philadelphia has managed to create a more harmonious environment...thoughtful Quaker philosophy? Ben Franklin's (hero of Phila.) teachings? William Penn's original tolerance passed from generation to generation? Philadelphia's heavy involvement in abolitionism and the Underground railroad? Proximity to NYC combined with the diversity of Philly itself? It's interesting. I also did notice that the city seemed more accepting of its Gay and Lesbian population than many places I've been.

    And Paul, I agree that having the other cities nearby is a big factor. This is the case with Baltimore, where I live now, also. But I will say that while I've come to appreciate Baltimore for that and its numerous other qualities, I find I would prefer a city with more of what I'm looking for, rather than feeling the need to escape so often. But I can't deny that the easy ability to get away is important. Even though I loved Montreal tremendously, I was glad that I could easily slip off to Ottawa or Quebec City for a day/night, or Toronto to visit friends for a weekend.

    Dan.

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    Take the following for what it's worth (which may be equal to what you paid for it), regarding why things might not be quite so tense among ethnic groups in Phila., compared to Chicago:

    Phila. has been around longer and was built on an assumption of a fair amount of capital (from Europe and later from the young American economy of finance and shipping) and community support.

    Chicago is "younger" and was built out of the struggles of the pioneers, who had a tough time getting the mid-western economy up and running until only about 100 yrs. ago. Thus the attitude toward newcomers has been less welcoming, as a legacy of hard times and short money. It's much more a working-class mentality of not-quite-enough-to-go-around. If you get something, it was taken away from me. In addition, recent arrivals have more recent memories of rivalries from "the old country," compared to a much more long-standing immigrant population in Phila.

    There are still "newcomers" to Philadelphia, but they don't join such well-defined ethnic communities with such active and entrenched rivalries. (Of course, you might want to check with the Soprano family the next state over to see if I'm wrong.)

    I'd like to say the Quaker heritage has something to do with it, but I suspect that's true only in small, educated enclaves.

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    Having never lived in Chicago, mine may not be the opinion you are looking for. However, I lived in the Philly area and most of my family still lives in that area. Others have pointed the main reasons for living there already... you are within a day trip of NY (and culturally we all agree that NY is strong), a day or two day trip of DC, a day trip of where you are now, a day trip to the ocean... etc. etc. It definitely costs less to live in Philly, and I doubt anyone would argue that. As for the queer community and openmindedness... I think that Philly can be as harsh as any other city, but I also think that it is more openminded than most. A close friend has lived in a gay community (close to south street) and I must say that that community was one of the nicest, as well as safest one would find. The U of the Arts is also close-by, so the community is quite strong.

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    This is a very interesting thread, and Daniel has gotten some very good responses. As a native Chicagoan, I'm a little puzzled by some of the statements, though. Here are a few thoughts: I'm especially puzzled by the racial tension viewpoints. I don't feel this at all, and in fact would have thought it was more of a problem in, say, Washington, but then maybe this is the perception of a tourist rather than a resident. We do have lots of interesting ethnic areas, but I don't find them more tense than equivalent areas in New York, Boston, etc. Again, I've never lived there.

    Public transportation, and whether you need a car--This one really stumps me. It's true I'm pretty dependant on my car nowadays, but I lived over 10 years as a student/single in Chicago, never in the most trendy neighborhoods, and did just finewithout a car. I think Chicago has a great public transportation system, with buses and els and trains and even boats all flowing together.

    The weather: Philly gets more snow? This I think I would dispute. I was once at a weekend meeting in Philly, and snow was predicted. Every single person asked me if I wasn't nervous about it--they were all planning to stock up on groceries, stay in, etc. When it snows in Chicago we just carry on as usual. Lake Michigan actually has a temporizing effect on snow and temperatures in the city itself.

    I guess I just love Chicago, but have only limited experience of actually living anywhere else. I love the midwestern blend of work ethic, down-to-earth outlook, friendliness, and an outgoing attitude. I think people can assimilate very easily in Chicago, which is sort of the capitol of the midwest. I know lots of people who are not natives who love it here.

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    Who would have thought this posting would have been upgraded to a HOT THREAD? Very cool.

    Anyhow, I'm glad Marilyn that you stepped forward and stated your differing point of view. The more different thoughts I get, the better. I did find it interesting that you found racial tensions higher in Washington (a city I know well) than Chicago. I must comment that Washington and Philadelphia I find have a noticeably different racial climate particularly as far as black-white relations are concerned. I find as one moves to cities further northeast, the climate changes from a traditionally Southern, with little mixing between races, to a more integrated society, where race is less of an issue. Baltimore for example I find is moderately more integrated in this regard than Washington, D.C.; DC far more so than Richmond, Va.; Philadelphia far more than Baltimore. This is my perception of the present situation at least, possibly influenced by my knowledge of US history, but also from eye observation.

    Janus, I enjoyed hearing your theories about why you think the racial environment is different in Chicago vs. Philadelphia. I like the way your mind works.

    All the best, Dan.

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    Who would have thought this posting would have been upgraded to a HOT THREAD? Very cool.

    Anyhow, I'm glad Marilyn that you stepped forward and stated your differing point of view. The more different thoughts I get, the better. I did find it interesting that you found racial tensions higher in Washington (a city I know well) than Chicago. I must comment that Washington and Philadelphia I find have a noticeably different racial climate particularly as far as black-white relations are concerned. I find as one moves to cities further northeast, the climate changes from a traditionally Southern, with little mixing between races, to a more integrated society, where race is less of an issue. Baltimore for example I find is moderately more integrated in this regard than Washington, D.C.; DC far more so than Richmond, Va.; Philadelphia far more than Baltimore. This is my perception of the present situation at least, possibly influenced by my knowledge of US history, but also from eye observation.

    Janus, I enjoyed hearing your theories about why you think the racial environment is different in Chicago vs. Philadelphia. I like the way your mind works.

    All the best, Dan.

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    Philly is the obvious choice.

    I don't think any of the pro-Chicago contingent mentioned the nightmare of O'Hare.

    Another consideration - drive for an hour in any direction from Philly - you have mountains, an ocean, you are still near civilization, so much more to do - try doing that in Chicago, the options pale in comparison.

    As for that myth about the work ethic and friendliness - people here in Chicago are the same as everywhere else - and the lack of road courtesy on the highways is appalling, even compared to major East and West Coast cities.

    It's a no-brainer.

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    Wow -- I was all set here, to add to the Chicago defense (esp in terms of racial acceptance - v-v Philly's recent headlines: a no-brainer)...but then those last 2 replies drew me up short.

    Chicago does have lots and lots of things going for it. Great diversions and R&R: that lakefront (and parks and bike paths and zoo and onandon...) and great Midwestern friendliness...

    But..the previous two are entirely correct: O'Hare is a nightmare (all the more so to one who's moved away from it all, Want a true 'dream' experience? Fly out of Milwaukee someday, on cant be beat Midwest Express.)

    And Chicago/Illinois drivers do rate among the worst...why, i wonder? Anyway, it's a good place to keep your fingers firmly folded within your fist. Abd always expect the guy alongside you to do the ultimate dumb-A. thing....

    And then, indisputably, you've got Philly's geography...too, too true is that you cant' get to ANYWHERE from chicago, without flying....

    Who knew -- This Midwesterner (and e.coast fan) never really expected to change so, mid-stream! Good luck in your choice.....

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    Sounds like Daniel has moved a few times already. Wanting a new "flavor" would make the choice Chicago. As I said before, Chicago is many different cities within one and depending on where you pluck yourself would change a lot. Janus correctly states some facts that make Chicago rather unique. In my generation (over 50) there are very, very few people who have not worked hard with their hands and most are one generation or less from competing for jobs such as in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. The Chicago of the Gold Coast is an extremely small percentage of the population. Lots more "life" in the suburban areas than in Eastern big cities. As far as driving, especially on the Dan Ryan or the Stevenson, all above is true. O'Hare is like almost all of the main hubs, but I fly out of Midway all the time with little difficulty. Peotone Airport is coming in the next decade also. If you really want adventure, the weather can give you some experiences of a lifetime. I remember times when 30 or 40 neighbors would go dig out 20 cars stuck in the park (snow)after doing 3 hour treks home. Chicago is a city of churches, neighborhood parishes, and people who love to help people who also help themselves. There is also a strong working class legacy and respect (bordering on prejudice)for those in the trades, in some areas of Chicago. Chicagoans tend to like those that "do." This work ethic has been strongly influenced by our heritage and our history of rebuilding, but if you
    live in a few North side areas you may find a more cosmopolitan / leisurely outlook that finds people sipping coffee, attending ball games, and doing two or three hour lunches in the home bars.

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    For your consideration, here is Carl Sandburg's great poem, "Chicago" (anyone know a good one about Philly?):

    CHICAGO

    HOG Butcher for the World,
    Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
    Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
    Stormy, husky, brawling,
    City of the Big Shoulders:

    They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
    have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
    luring the farm boys.
    And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
    is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
    kill again.
    And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
    faces of women and children I have seen the marks
    of wanton hunger.
    And having answered so I turn once more to those who
    sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
    and say to them:
    Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
    so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
    Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
    job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
    little soft cities;

    Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
    as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
    Bareheaded,
    Shoveling,
    Wrecking,
    Planning,
    Building, breaking, rebuilding,
    Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
    white teeth,
    Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
    man laughs,
    Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
    never lost a battle,
    Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
    and under his ribs the heart of the people,
    Laughing!
    Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
    Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
    Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
    Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.


    - Carl Sandburg

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    found a Philly poem (a little more current than the Sandburg ditty):

    I Died on a Summer's Day in Philadelphia


    Only a passerby;
    but somehow its streets felt like home,
    as if it chose to adopt this timorous exhausted outcast.
    I fell in love.

    JFK Square.
    Sounds and colors
    spinning in circumference around me:
    practicing jazz band
    obsidian trombone
    crimson saxophone
    tawny cymbals
    snoring homeless on a newspaper-bejeweled bench
    rolled up trousers and oxford sleeved businessmen
    lemonade vendors in a frantic ballyhoo of opposition
    half naked boys splashing rousing water
    crashing from the sky like ice cream from heaven.

    The metro orange line.
    Running from bed to bunk
    to the bottom surface of any city.
    A vagabond that found comfort
    in the haze and heat and Broad Street.
    I waned off at Logan Circle;
    feet in the water, free of worries,
    layed full length on my back,
    overhead the city voluptuous and vast,
    rolled and wrapped me in its black.

    by Helga Tawil - www.helga.com - 1997

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    Of course in addition to poetry there are other (supposed) measures of greatness...

    There's a broadway musical "Chicago", isn't there? Can't think of one about Philly.

    Then again, there's the academy award winning movie "Philadelphia". Can't think of one named "Chicago"...

    Then there's the Elton John hit "Philadelphia Freedom" (what a great song!). Never heard of Chicago Free! Does this mean people in Chicago are less free? "Motown Philly" by Boyz-2-Men; Chicago less Motown? Then there's the Broadway hit song "Chicago"...Is Philly not worthy of Broadway?

    You guys are hilarious and it is fun to think about...now I've got "Philadelphia Freedom" stuck in my head. Maybe Elton John is subliminally telling me that I should take the job in Philly. (At least it's better than having Britney Spears "ooops I did it again" stuck in my head like I did yesterday.)

    Cheers Dan.

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    One last thought on this, some make it sound as if these qualities that Sandburg's poem features are out-dated and in the past. Maybe on the North side and out in the all the fancier "burbs"- but not really in S, SW, West Chicago proper. There are more Eastern European, Hispanic, Asian, and Black new-comers coming to Chicago right now than in the past few decades. (All working their ***** off.)Ford is opening up their biggest distribution plant near Ford Heights, UPS has centered here on the West side, ElectroMotive is still in McCook, I-80 corridor is opening new Convention Center and industry every day. Some manufacturing is returning. I'm not marketting Chicago- but downtown and the North side is small in comparison.
    Distances are totally different than in Eastern cities. All the students I know, in about 6 colleges closest to me, all need cars to survive. Public transportation is NOT like in the Eastern cities. From where my mother lives (SouthWest side Chicago- Ashburn
    District) it takes 10 block walk, 2 busses and 1 hour or more to get to downtown area. The only people I know that would tell you that public transportation is ok are from limited areas of the North side. Most value education for their children above work, but not all- and those that do can not always back it up with $$$ support, especially their daughters. The song that comes to mind (you are probably too young to remember it)that
    reflects Chicago to me is a old 50's one called "Get a Job."

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    Jeanette, you sound like you think the North Side and suburbs and downtown are less reflective of "Chicago" than the south and west. I've lived in Chicago and northern suburbs all my life and I don't really recognize a lot of the things you say. Yes, maybe geographically the south side is bigger, but I don't know how you can say it is more typical. There's the real split in Chicago: not between races or ethnic groups, but between north and south siders!

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    My husband and I both grew up in the Philadelphia area, and have recently lived in Chicago. Hands down - Chicago is the best! Chicago is a world class, vibrant, clean, safe city. In terms of cultural activities, I'd say Chicago is just a slight step ahead of Philly - but both cities are awesome in that regard. There are as many wonderful restaurants in Chicago as in Philly -- you'll just have to get used to Chicago's version of pizza. Public transit in Chicago is pretty good if you're planning to live in town. We lived in Lincoln Park which is just north of Downtown - and we could walk, cab or train pretty much anywhere we wanted. If you like to run, bike or rollerblade you cannot beat the trails in Lincoln Park and the awesome lake view! Spend a weekend in Chicago, walk by the lake, eat the food and check out the entertainment ... I think the choice will be obvious...you'll love Chicago!!

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    I've been to Philly almost a dozen times in the last 4 years. Chicago, I've been to three times. Both cities are great...the best margarita I ever had was at "su casa" in Chicago (how's that for a reason to pick a city).

    But I think Philly wins out, mainly for the reason that many mentioned...so much to see so nearby. You just never get tired of the east coast! I haven't seen too much of the philly suburbs, except those in Jersey, and I wasn't thrilled...a lot of it seemed stuck in the 70s with strip malls and such. But Philly is a fascinating city to me, and once you have a Cheesesteak from Jim's, how can you live without?

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    Thanks as always for all the thoughts. At very least, one day I think I'll have to make it out to Chicago to see what all the fuss is about.

    Interestingly, I spoke to two friends who lived in Philadelphia in the past 4 years. They had a slightly different spin. Both found there are racial tensions in the city, particularly in the outlying areas. However, they both did find that Center City Philadelphia was an area where people are used to greater diversity and those of different backgrounds mingle more easily and are generally more respectful and appreciative of differences.

    I thank you all for all your thoughts. Although Chicago does sound fantastic in many ways, I believe I am convinced that Philadelphia is the better choice for me of these two. So, now I think I've narrowed it down to Montreal or Philadelphia, maybe Toronto with the right job...(although I WOULD consider a high-paying job in NYC or Boston, and why not? with enough money, Paris or London would be too fabulous to refuse...well, I can DREAM, right?).

    DAN

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    Good luck to you, Dan! You have a spirit of adventure and should find your new "place" successfully- and hopefully it will be a good fit.

    Marilyn, you have proved my point. You live on the North side and in Northern suburbs of Chicago your whole life so you can't "understand" what the public transportation problem is. Have
    you ever been in Englewood, Marquette Park, Hyde Park, Garfield Ridge, Beverly, Bridgeport, Brighton Park, Ashburn or any of the other 30 or so Southside Chicago neighborhoods? I have lived on all sides of Chicago, and wonder why so many North siders think their Chicago is the only definitive one. Population numbers, physical area, work history of the region, purpose are all centered South of the Gold Coast area and all the way into Indiana. Look at our Major's personal background. It just isn't accurate to represent Chicago as small areas of Lincoln Park, Bucktown, and Downtown- which is what happens again and again on this forum. Very much like saying you "saw" NYC when you only visited the isle of Manhattan.

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    Well, actually I have been to Clearing, Beverly and a few other south side neighborhoods. You misunderstood me: I was saying that YOU were making statements that didn't reflect my experience from living in north side neighborhoods. I am not referring to isolated pockets on the north side, but to neighborhoods such as Independence Park, Ravenswood Manor, Rogers Park, Albany Park, and others I have lived in--NOT downtown, Bucktown and Lincoln Park. Yes, I know Chicago is a huge metro area, but please acknowledge that real people DO live north as well as south. Also, I may be wrong, but I think that most younger people relocating to Chicago WOULD be talking about areas like Old Town, DePaUL, Lincoln Park, etc. And yes, tourists DO typically see the areas oriented to tourism, which in Chicago are downtown and points north more than south.

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    Glad you have come down to see us sometime. Know that there are a lot of people (tourists too) coming in to go to the South Side -35th Street- right about now. And some of them are actually young. They also go to the Museum of Science & Industry, Hyde Park, University of Chicago and tons of other places. More than half of the population lives South and they do not
    have good public access except for maybe the Orange line to Midway, so please don't say that it is not a problem.

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    What's with all the bickering. As long as you live and work in the downtown area, you don't need a car, nuff said. When tourists come to Chicago, they think there that Downtown is Chicago, they usually don't care about the north side, the south side or the burbs. I know there is more to chicago than downtown because I've lived here all my life, but that's not what matters - very few tourists or newcomers venture outside of downtown unless they have relatives there so please respond to the message in a manner that is helpful. And, in case anyone cares, I am from the north side and think that it is as reflective of Chicago as any other area of the city.

    Kristy

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    Sorry to resurrect this thread (hope your decision worked out, OP) but I am finding myself with basically the same potential question of which of these two cities in which to live. In additional to all of the information here, I'd be curious to know about apartment rental affordability (say 1 BD in Center City/Rittenhouse versus say Streeterville or near Boystown)

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