10,000 Words On Why I Live, Love and Will Die as a Chicagoan MyGuide 2017
This blog post is a work in progress, pardon the dust. I plan on writing 10,000 words to express the amount of gratitude and love I have for my city of Chicago. I am sharing my perspective and might get little personal from time to time. I am a native Chicagoan and have always appreciated everything it has to offer. As you can see by this post I will live, love and will die in this city.
I will share the good the bad and the ugly of my city and I will be blogging a little bit each day to get to my goal of 10,000 words so please bare with me.
So hence, where do I begin? lol 🙂 Well I was born and raised on the north side and then my mom took me to the south side so I have been all over Chicago. I also am happy to say that I was part of the 2016 Chicago Cubs Championship and treasured every single minute of it.
I was the happiest Chicagoan ever okay maybe not ever since there were like over 5 million people in grant park sharing the excitement with me but it was the greatest experience ever. Especially after the Cubs not having won anything since 108 years. I am not sure if you are a baseball fan but if you are ever in a city where you win some sort of championship be sure you will be proud of your team and you will feel so much more connected to your city. Since we are talking about sports I cannot leave out our Chicago Bulls winning 9 straight championships in a row - Go Michael Jordan!, Chicago White Sox (they won the championship in 2005, woohoo)
Here is a video that I can share with you so you can also feel the excitement as well. Although the video is super quick but you can see the excitement and joy in everyone's face.
Of course we also have the Chicago Bulls that have won over 6 championships from 1991 to 1993 and then from 1996-1998, The White Sox that won a championship in 2005 and lets not forget the Chicago Blackhawks they have won three Stanley Cups from 2010 - 2015. But wait! The Bears exist to, I cannot forget about them they also won a superbowl in 1985. I think we are over due for the Bears to win maybe in the year to come 2018.
Our stadiums are also very popular with Wrigley Field having so many sports bars around the field to The Chicago Bears Soldier Field stadium sitting right next to all our wonderful Chicago Museums. Oh wait! let me not forget about our Chicago Fire Soccer team they are not talked about much but they do play a good game ever once in a while.
Chicago is super huge in my opinion our population according to wikipedia is has approximately 2.7 million residents.
What's up with the Chicago Communities?
Let's begin by discussing how Chicago is broken down with a grid system Madison Street starts at zero for North/South and Madison start at zero for East/West. If you go south of Madison the N/S streets are numbered as 1000 S, 2600 S, etc and if you head north 800 N, etc. East of State streets the E/W streets get an E and west of State they get a West. Makes sense?
Okay so let me be honest, I was never really good with directions so I studied Chicago by their community areas. Chicago is broken down by 77 communities. Starting at number 1 all the way in the upper right hand corner is Rogers Park to number 77 right underneath Rogers Park which is Edgewater.
Honestly Chicago is still very segregated despite our diversity. Every community is different there are clusters of Italians, Chinese, Hispanics, Jewish etc. I was just reading a CNN article that states Chicago is amongst the most segregated city in America that http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/05/news/economy/chicago-segregated/ similar to the whole Cubs vs. White Sox but a little more complex than that.
Despite the city being so segregated we all get along and it's a very diverse city with many different attractions and tons of ethnic places to eat.
Not only that but we celebrate diversity there are many festivals like the Polish parade, Bud Billiken, the October German fest, the Pilsen food truck social, the African Caribbean festival of life fest that is just a few off the top of my head.
There is a an ongoing stereo type regarding the north side portion of Chicago and the South side.
North siders vs. South Siders
If you are a true Chicagoan you will hear about the north siders despising south siders and vise versa.
Basically the south siders say there is zero parking, it's to crowded and rowdy on the north side. Yet the north siders say that the south side is infested with criminals and that there are zeros areas to shop or dine. Either one is far from the truth.
You will find though that the north side has many more restaurants then the south side in my opinion. We will further explore that later in this blog where I will be talking about restaurants.
Every community in Chicago is unique despite the segregation it is a very diverse city. Being a realtor driving around from neighborhood to neighborhood I get to experience every small nuance and it's one of kind events.
I remember going to a showing and the streets where blocked off because there was a ceremonial procession of Jesus and re-enactment of the Last Supper. This was in the Pilsen neighborhood, here is a DNA post about it https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20170413/pilsen/stations-of-cross-processional-takes-streets-pilsen-friday
What area do I love the best? Honestly I am neutral since I am back and forth pretty much everyday I get to enjoy my old childhood spots and new spots I see popping up daily. So I enjoy both worlds. This is why I love my city it's never a dull moment.
What's the deal with Crime in Chicago?
The dreaded old city of crime. My sister and mother live in Florida and they always tell me I am going to get shot around the corner or when I leave my house. They are overly worried, I have lived here all my life and I always say if you look for crime you will find it, it doesn't find you.
I did a google search on crime in Chicago and it came up with 68,000,000 searches need I say more, I even found it's own wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Chicago.
Here's the thing. After doing my research, Chicago is not even in the top 5 per capita for the highest crime city.
According to atlas.com
|Rank||City||Homicide Rate (Per 100,000 People)|
|1||St. Louis (Missouri)||59.30|
|4||New Orleans (Lousiana)||41.70|
|5||Newark (New Jersey)||33.30|
Even in USA today they have the same list and again Chicago is not on the top 5.
Honestly Chicago has a ton of crime and it doesn't matter what neighborhood you are in. However if you want to find out more about crime you can go here, I wrote a post about 3 websites where you can find out about crime in Chicago. http://www.seesonia.com/top-3-websites-about-chicago-crime/
Personally I lived on the North Side as a kid growing up in Logan Square before it became full of yuppies and hipsters of course there is nothing wrong with that but when I was a kid I remember bumping into many gangbangers. The area has already gone through gentrification and the property values continue to rise. There's a lot of commerce now like laundromats, grocery stores, cleaners there all within walking distance.
As a teenager growing up my mom made us move to the south side because back in the day Logan Square was rough. I always use to think that the south side was bad and that I would get shot in a second. So far from the truth.
Don't forget that media plays a role in this as well, every news broadcast always focuses on the negative like shooting they never really talk about positive like the community gardens and the revitalization of the areas that under populated.
Being in real estate I always tell my clients drive around the area take a look for yourself on the weekends, nights, whenever you can whether it's always been north side vs south side. Now if you are just looking at cost of living it does vary from north to south side.
Okay I wouldn't be a good realtor if I didn't get into Chicago Real Estate.
If you are on the Northwest side or North East side the real estate prices tend to be twice as much as the south east or south west side of Chicago. The Chicago loop and surrounding down town area also tend to be the most expensive with high white collar income workers.
In general the household income from the north side of Chicago to the south side varies tremendously.
If you look at the picture below you can see great disparity in terms of prices. I only included 3 communities to avoid to much confusion but you get the idea, right? This bar chart is only for single families but it does also apply to condos and multi-family units.
If you are not from Chicago you might not know where these communities are Englewood is on the southside, Lincoln Park is close to downtown Chicago northeast side and Garfield Ridge is close to midway airport a southwest side neighborhood. Here are more of the communities and where they are located geographically. If you want specific pricing on a certain area feel free to reach out to me via email [email protected]
Aside from taking an Uber how can I get around in Chicago ?
Real Estate prices also vary depending on how close you are to transportation many people don't like to be stuck in our crazy traffic so they would pay more for a home it its located next to the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). According to wikpedia "The Chicago Transit Authority provides service to Chicago and 40 surrounding suburbs. The CTA provided a total of 532 million rides in 2011, a 3 percent increase over 2010 with ridership rising to levels not seen for 20 years."
David Wilson from Oak Park, Illinois, USA - 19680601 18 CTA 9728 Central Ave. @ Lawrence Ave., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16344060
Now, I can't leave this blog post without saying that true Chicagoans don't call it "the train" we call it the "L"
The "L" stands for elevated. If you are ever in Chicago hope on the orange line it will give you a scenic view while riding. Oh yea, our L system is color coded.
It has eight different lines and they are color coded: Red, Orange, Blue, Pink, Green, Brown, Purple, Yellow to get you through the city! There are maps everywhere so you really can't get lost. Here is an example of our colored coded map system http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/maps/2017-P19-RailMapRedAsh-light.pdf
Aside from the "L" we also have the Metra stations which is another form of transportation in Chicago. Metra got its name in 1985 but you can read more their history here https://metrarail.com/about-metra/our-history.
I look at Metra as the more upscale side of the "L". They are both great for getting around the city but in my opinion the interior is a bit cleaner then its competitor this is also why the fare is more expensive as well. I remember as a kid wanting to ride one so I can go up to the 2nd floor as they are double decker trains.
Regular one-way fares to downtown Chicago range from $3.50 from the closest zone, Zone A, to $10.50 from the farthest, Zone M. Metra has 11 lines with 241 stations radiating from downtown Chicago to the six-county area of northeast Illinois. Needless to say the Metra goes through longer routes throughout IL. The "L" really focuses on the city of Chicago itself. The fare for the "L" is $2.25 (as of 2017)
Monthly permit and daily fee parking is available at most train stations. The stations also have parking but the municipalities take part in maintaining the parking.
Since we are on the topic of transportation, I can't leave out the fact that we also have Buses all over the city that is part of the CTA. What I find super cool is the app you can download to let you know when they are arriving. https://http://Transit Stop CTA Tracker App
You can also receive a text message if you'd like to check that out go here http://www.transitchicago.com/riding_cta/how_to_guides/bustrackertext.aspx
Here are some other interesting facts
Chicago is home to...
- 237 square miles of land
- An estimated 2,695,598 residents
- Dozens of cultural institutions, historical sites and museums
- More than 200 theaters
- Nearly 200 art galleries
- More than 7,300 restaurants
- 77 community areas containing more than 100 neighborhoods
- 26 miles of lakefront
- 15 miles of bathing beaches
- 36 annual parades
- 19 miles of lakefront bicycle paths
- 552 parks
- United States President Barack Obama
As you can see above Chicago has over 7,300 restaurants if I were to talk about each one of these this blog post will turn into a book, lol.
I am picking some my favorites from the north and south side communities including my favorite in downtown Chicago.
If stay in Chicago long enough you will notice that we our known for our hotdogs and our deep dish pizza's. I would even add Italian beef to the mix.
Chicago is definitely a foodie place with an enormous amount of places to eat. I have only selected of few of my top spots.
My top 7 favorite restaurants in Chicago are...
1.) Pasta D'Arte Trattoria Italiana
Address: 6311 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60646
I took this picture June of 2017 and the restaurant was under construction so I will post my review of the food once they reopen.
It's seems like there food is delicious they have over 219 yelp reviews, so it looks as if I must try it out most of the reviews are positive. They open at 11:30am and close at 9:00pm.
It's an Italian restaurant with wine & cocktails served. A charming bistro with an open kitchen & outdoor seating.
Roger's Park is home to Loyola University , it'a a very hip area full of yuppies and millennials. In 2007, the Web site outside.in named Rogers Park one of the country's "bloggiest neighborhoods."
So I am a softy when it comes to burger joints, I can indulge in a burger like if it were my last meal on earth.
Address: 6604 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60626
bopNGrill is creative burger joint full of Korean & other global ingredients & Asian rice plates it was also featured on Diner's Drive In's and Dive's with Guy Fieri http://www.foodnetwork.com/restaurants/il/chicago/bopngrill-restaurant
This is the area where we have the The Bean, Navy Pier, Chicago cruises, Museums, and the famous Willis Tower. In this part of town there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from. I am not a huge spender so I look at places that are semi affordable and that are not so stuffy.
My selection is "The Dearborn"
3.) The Dearborn
Address: 145 N Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60602
The Dearborn is an american tavern the menu features seafood, salads, and has some great steaks to. I chose this place from all because it's in the heart of the loop and it's not a boogie place. Its patrons are a cluster of tourists, native folks and fine diner guests.
As we move further along the communities we will going to the opposite side of "the loop" to the west known as Clearing neighborhood which is home to Midway Airport the next neighboring community is Garfield Ridge.
The biggest landmark in this neighborhood is the Chicago Midway airport which was originally known as the Chicago Municipal Airport, its our 2nd largest airport. When I growing up this airport was really small in 2001 it starting going through a huge renovation project and now it resulted in resulted in the addition of 14 gates , 43 gates and new 6,300-space economy parking garage, including a new bridge and roadway for buses shuttling passengers to and from the terminal, that opened in December 2005. Source
A new place popped up in 2017 that is a franchise and they have over 47 locations here. They opened up in 1971 and are known for it's delicious deep dish pizza. I could not have left out a traditional Chicago dish. Although several Chicagoans have other preferences such as Giordano's, Pizzera Uno, Pizano's, Ninos and there are a few more.
3.)Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
Address: 6456 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60638
I also cannot leave out a great hot dog place so we are going to travel further south to West Englewood. I will be totally transparent here and let you know that Englewood gets a bad wrap similar to say Compton in California. Do not get scared the place does look like it's falling apart but trust me it has some loyal followers and the hotdogs are awesome. Johnnies has been serving hot dogs for over 40 years. You know it's one of those whole in the wall places that serves some delicious food.
5.) Fat Johnnies
Address: 7242 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60636
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