Chicago Northside: Blowing Away the Windy City Stereotypes

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Chicago. Is it all that windy? Your weather can be intolerable at times, but not the diversity of your neighborhoods. In this edition we take a focused look at the parts of the city where people can’t figure out where to go… we know how complicated the diagonal avenues make for navigating.

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More on Chicago from Chief of Content Trevor Felch:

Any resident or visitor to Chicago knows that the Windy City isn’t second to anyone (Go Blackhawks! Cubs…more like 32nd each year). Seriously, how can you not win the gold (coast) if President Obama and Oprah call your city home? The old Midwest stockyards and railroad town is as grand and sophisticated as New York, and complex and sprawling as Los Angeles. The Loop at lunch time might feel like any old Financial District and a summer day playing volleyball at the Lake Michigan beaches can seem California. That’s about where the comparisons end. Don’t let anyone tell you that Chicago plays second fiddle to any of the coastal big boys. They’ll say there’s no visual or performing arts scene, no natural beauty, no traffic, and nothing to eat besides gigantic steaks at Gibson’s and Morton’s, and the signature trifecta of Italian beef, deep dish, and hot dogs (ketchup strictly forbidden), right?

Sure and you can count on an on time flight at ORD.

Fulton Market’s old slaughterhouses now are home to chic dining hot spots serving quinoa and poached halibut and what is literally the NEXT big thing in the culture of dining out. Any conversation about the national arts scene must include Steppenwolf, Second City, and the Art Institute. The architecture of Chicago, from Burnham to Sullivan, speaks for itself. Just stand on the Michigan Ave. bridge and look around. It’s downright grand, evoking a European’s capitals most handsome plaza. There’s a reason the Chicago River Architecture Cruise is way more than the name suggests. Out west in Oak Park or down south at Robie House, some guy named Frank Lloyd Wright left his unmistakable mark. Sometimes it seems this city and many of its outlying areas were one big design school project.

O.K., except the Stalin communist architecture eyesore known as the Merchandise Mart.

The north-south green duo of Lincoln Park and Grant along the lakefront is a treasure of environmental city planning. At least they’re green half the year. There are more than one magnificent miles around, though only one boasts sidewalks as wide as its accompanying vast avenue. Many miles aren’t so magnificent either. Chicago’s problems aren’t just being next to Northwest Indiana. Being in the Midwest, the rest of the country imagines Chicago as the capital of Americana. From Pilsen’s Mexican population to Little Vietnam in Uptown, there is tremendous diversity up and down, east and west.

The Daley Machine isn’t in power anymore. Al Capone isn’t either. The weather? Chicago won’t win any awards in that either -20 wind chill or absurd humid thunderstorm department.

Of our first  10 maps, no city has excited me more than this one. Having just spent two weeks in the city and consulting with several locals who’ve lived in Chicago all their lives or barely a year, we’ve discovered a Chicago really having its moment. A super city that even has its own super station. I’m not talking about Union Station. Mapping such a vast city isn’t easy. Fortunately our local experts, research of the city’s on the ground media, and personal experiences have put our pulse better on the wide-ranging neighborhoods over central Chicago.

The healthy discussions will continue about the differences of Wicker Park and Bucktown is Streeterville becoming part of The Gold Coast? For me, there is nothing quite like The Loop. I’m no shopper or financial titan either. It’s just endlessly fascinating to even think about the concept of the commercial district literally wrapped by the elevated subway..

Well as I leave, I’m looking at myself in the Bean and considering this city of the past, city of today, and certainly city of the future (spaceships at Millennium Park and Soldier Field). I’m already excited about working on our second Chicago project.

  • whoson

    what kind of white, kind of racist , and poor attempt at humor is this? Most Black and Latino neighborhoods are completely eliminated. let’s take a wild guess: a white person clearly made this…


    • Teresa Zalewski

      I can agree with your assumption, even as a white person myself. This is shameful and ignorant.

  • heather

    saw this on the red eye website in chicago. soooo where’s the rest of the city? you missed a lot of it…. and it’s definitely not to scale…..

  • Dally

    I’d say half of the city is missing, it’s just like a tourist to go on and on about all the white and affluent areas (on the north side) and think that by throwing in a few references to latinos and obama that it has some credibility. You need some lessons on my city:
    Potential presidential library sites are actually 6 and 13 miles south of where your map ends.
    Midway is a major domestic airport (also 7 miles off your map) where anybody with any sense flies to/from if they’re not leaving the country
    Merchandise mart is an Art Deco gem, if you ever bothered to step inside, whose grandiose nature requires its on el stop and postal code.
    Nearly the entire shoreline of Chicago is park land, all the way down to a golf course a stones throw away from indiana, all thanks to a real estate deal with montgomery ward 100 yrs ago
    Also, Crown Fountain is way more fun than the Bean (the face fountain just 100 ft away)
    Few chicagoans belong to the entire city, you have to get to know more than just north siders if you want to talk about the whole city.

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  • Tia Booker

    Why am I not surprised that the entire south side is missing? You do realize that people live there? And mentioning Puerto Rico in a passive aggressive way does not add diversity to this joke of a map.

  • Teresa Zalewski

    I am so offended by this. This is shameful. The communities that are most important to me are not even ON THE MAP. Can’t go north of Foster or south of 18th? For shame, HuffPo and other sites for posting this. And “getting better” is not an ok way to describe a community area, especially if you have never lived, worked, or even BEEN TO that community area. Gentrification does not mean a place is “getting better.” For many this means families are being pushed farther south and out of the city, cultural diversity is fading, and we are covertly telling the working and lower class that Chicago doesn’t want them. Also, Rogers Park is not that far away, and it is the reason I ever felt at home here! These are all special and important places in your city, whether you like it or not. Life does not exist solely in Lakeview, River North, and Lincoln Park. And the ciy doesn’t stop when you start feeling uncomfortable. Disgusting “journalism.”

    • Teresa Zalewski

      Also, what the hell is this dig at Puerto Rico? Are you unaware that it is also part of our country and Puerto Rican people have just as much right to display their flags as you do your Cubs flags (also red, white, and blue btw).

  • JdeLeon

    I didn’t know half the city had seceded from Chicago, can I still vote for Mayor ?

  • kb787

    way to fulfill the well-earned stereotype that people from the north side and suburbs are some of the most racist SOBs out there. chicago is not chicago without the south and west sides, period. i hope you stand back and look at what creating this disgusting map says about you and people like you. i hope you recognize in this map your own racism and ignorance. perhaps then it will not be an entirely wasted effort, because it is exactly this mindset that makes chicago one of the most racially segregated and economically unequal cities in the US.

  • madopal

    As a Chicagoan, fuck you guys. If you’re going to paint a city with broad strokes, at LEAST get the boundaries correct. Quick Google gets you all 77 community areas. Fill those in with your witty platitudes, but don’t go leaving out half the freaking city.

    You just showed that whoever showed you around has racist blinders on. There’s more to the city than bars & schools.

    Skip the second Chicago project. Fix the first one.

  • lurker_erin

    Dear Urbane,

    You might read all the enraged comments here, and, understandably, feel the temptation to excuse yourselves under the umbrella of “humor” or “good intentions.” When you feel this temptation, I urge you to consider these two questions:

    1) How would you feel if someone butchered a map of your city?
    2) Why do you hate design, editing, grammar, brown people and fact checking?

    My thanks in advance for your future attention to these troubling issues.

    With the very shallowest of regards,

  • Kay D. Bee

    Umm…so where’s the rest of the city?

  • Mimi

    I live walking distance from Midway Airport, but according to this map I don’t live in Chicago. Where is Beverly? Where is anything west of Western? Also, according to this nitwit, there is nothing between Foster Ave. and the North Shore mansions? Excuse me? What about Edge Water and Rogers Park? West of Western there’s Jefferson Park, Portage Park and Mayfair, all part of the city the last time I checked (Portage and Jefferson are great communities, BTW).

    Some of this stuff is on point, but the who ever put this together probably thinks that the South/West sides don’t count. Chances are he/she knows nothing about the area and might be afraid of saying the wrong thing.

  • Brenda Sabina Martinez

    So by consulting several locals, do you mean people who live in the Lincoln Park/Lakeview/Wrigleyville area only? Where is the rest of the city? Chicago has so much more to offer and this so-called map is a complete disgrace to my beloved city. Next time consult born and bred Chicagoans and not some transplants from the suburbs and other cities, because they are not ‘real’ locals.

  • Glenn Brown

    Just underscoring what others are saying. You have missed most of the people in the city of chicago.

  • Crash Crawford

    I’m not even FROM Chicago, having only called it home for 7 of my 36 years- yet it seems I’ve seen SCORES more of it than you have!
    You suck, poseur hipster hacks.
    Fuck you.

  • Spugi di Savoia

    It’s more stupid than anything. For example, who in Chicago would call it Lake Illinois? Most of us here don’t even THINK about Illinois. We don’t. I have lived in Chicago since 1982, yet I have seen more of the states of California and New York than I’ve seen of Illinois. If you really wanted to reflect the people who live here, you would just cross off Michigan because everyone says just THE LAKE. Not sure who you talked to but, no. It’s all wrong and it’s not very funny..

    • Jason

      Everyone who lives near Lake Michigan just calls it “the lake”whether in Chicago, Indiana or Michigan.

  • Liggett_Weston

    What an incomplete, racist piece-of-shit map for the city of Chicago!

    Fuck you Urbane, you racist, worthless piece-of-shit motherfuckers.

  • christine

    P.S. And for the gazillionth time, “The Windy City” is NOT a reference to Chicago’s weather.

    • Michael Riley

      It is also a reference to the weather. Chicago was called the Windy City years before the 1893 World’s Fair

  • Michelle C Burke

    Typical … obviously you only consulted with people who live on the North Side … nothing on the south side worth mentioning as a highlight of life in Chicago? What about the entire neighborhood of Beverly-Morgan Park, which is not only integrated but is a historical district (one of the largest urban historical districts?) (not even a mention of the South Side Irish Parade, which returned last year?), and what about Midway Airport? This should not be given any attention as a representation of the city of Chicago, humorous or otherwise.

  • Stephen Miklosik

    I don’t think any Chicagoans would buy this. Actually if someone gave it to me I’m not sure I’d want it. This isn’t my Chicago.

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  • Jackson Cheese

    Not enough gang violence & shootings on this map for accuracy.

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