Friday, April 23, 2010

The Times has a piece today... its "Chicago" section on how the city is trying to distance itself from Al Capone's legacy. As someone whose great uncle found himself on the wrong end of one of Capone's henchman's guns, I actually think it's kind of cool. Whatever.

But what really caught my attention was this paragraph:

Karen Vaughan, manager of communications for the Chicago Office of Tourism, said the city was not focused so much on negating Capone’s legacy as it was on highlighting Chicago’s other draws. “Chicago has become known as a world-class city,” she said. The city’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics and Mr. Obama’s presidency, she said, “helped to give a positive association to the city around the world.”

First of all, losing a bid for the Olympics is nothing to brag about. Any city can claim that. What's more, President Obama isn't really from Chicago (nor was Al Capone, for that matter).

But what I'd really like to tell Ms. Vaughan is that if you have to tell people that your city is "world-class," then it probably isn't. Do you think anyone in New York or Washington has to convince anyone else that their city is important? (And who uses the term "world-class" anyway? No one that's world-class, that's for sure. I haven't heard that since Ross Perot back in 1992.)

So can't it just be enough to say that Chicago is a very livable big city (with world-class pizza)?

1 comment:

James said...

I think the first thing that needs to get cleared up in order to earn the "world-class" moniker is the police department. No world-class city can have it's law enforcement officials punching out people in bars. Talk about needing to pick on someone your own size. It's cowardice, plain and simple.
Still, I guess I would say (according to a humble 6 years of experience) there is more to Chicago than pizza. The best plays I've ever seen were in Chicago and SNL was launched in large part by talent fostered in Chicago. Not to mention world-class (truly) architecture and the art institute. Add cutting edge restaurants and an international population and you're well on your way to being "world-class" (whatever that means).
Still, I think the greatest part about Chicago is that it doesn't feel like it's trying to be some big international hub. Instead of trying to awe or impress you, it gives you space to live. Put it this way, the most important part of New York is New York, the most important part of Chicago is its people.