Thursday, July 24, 2008

Let's talk about Chicago

Why are we talking about Chicago? Because Monique asked: How long have you lived in Chicago/Chicago area?

The answer is pretty boring, because I've lived here most of my life (minus two years in California and three-and-a-half years at college in Iowa).

So that leaves almost 34 years that I've lived within the same 10-mile radius west of O'Hare International Airport, and when I write it that way, it sure makes my life sound very boring.

In an effort to not be boring, I'm going to expand on the original question.

How deep are my roots in the Chicago metropolitan area?

My Dad's family came here first.

My grandmother's family came here from New York state for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and decided to stay. They were a family of teachers, and their daughters were educated at the University of Chicago. Both my great-grandfather and my great-aunt worked as principals at a high school on the southwest side of Chicago.

My grandfather came here from Australia to study for a career with the YMCA at George Williams College. During the Great Depression, when he couldn't afford to return home, he met my grandmother and decided to stay. He enlisted with the Army during World War II, but because he broke a leg in basic training, he was never sent overseas. He spent the war stationed at Fort Sheridan, and after the war made a career with the Evanston YMCA.

My mother came here from Wisconsin to work for Capital Airlines, which was eventually merged into United Airlines. Two of her aunts had already made their way to Chicago, so she lived with them for a time, but eventually met and married my Dad, who also worked at United.

Why do I stay in Chicago?

At a point in every person's life, they have to make a decision to stay where they grew up or move on. Obviously, my great-grandparents, my grandfather and my mother all made the decision to move on, and Chicago was their choice. There were opportunities here for them.

My husband and I flirted with leaving. We both went to college in Iowa. We moved to San Francisco for a few years during our marriage. But always, Chicago was home and we fully intended to return.

I guess the main reason we live here is because this is where our family and friends are. Secondarily, I like living in a major metropolitan area and having easy travel options around the world. I like the city of Chicago and the people.

It's also where the best opportunities have been for us. I'm not opposed to moving somewhere else, given the right opportunity. But Chicago is and will always be home.

So, I'm curious: Have you ever thought about why you live where you do? Did you decide to stay near where you grew up? Or did you fly at the first opportunity? How did you end up where you are now?


  1. My wife just asked me a similar question the other day: What's there to see in Chicago? I didn't have much of an answer except for downtown skyline, wind, and O'Hare Airport. :-) We've heard of a few good eateries from the Food Network. But those are it.

    It's a good question to ask about my roots and where I'm at now. I've moved 5 times in the past 40 years, so I may have a few words to say about that.

  2. @Rudy -- In connection with this post, I was contemplating a post about what to do in Chicago. Maybe I'll actually deliver on that. And 5 places in the past 40 years? I'd imagine you'd have some words on that. I hope you write about it.

  3. Oh I love how you expanded on the question!

    I live in Texas because of lies and betrayal, so here I am stuck for a bit. But that's not important now. lol.

    I absolutely love Chicago since for most of my 20's I lived in Milwaukee. We would often take the drive down to Chicago and spend the weekend there. I can not wait to move back.

  4. I've been out of the city now for almost 10 years but still am grateful for every minute I was there. It's a wonderful place. And it beats the s**t out of New York ...

  5. I'm going to be here til they cart me out of my house. Mike will never leave the city. He loves being close to the concert venues and it's a good pool town. So there is no way he's leaving. And since he is not leaving, I'm not leaving either.

  6. @Monique -- Lies and betrayal -- that will endear you to a place. I like Milwaukee as a city. The downtown has a nice sense of history on a very walkable scale. I wish we had better train service between Chicago and Milwaukee, because it really is close, but the traffic between the two can totally suck.

    @Don -- I know you love New England, but Chicago really was a good fit for you.

    @Karina -- I think love is a great reason to stay some place. :)


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