Author Nelson Algren famously wrote of Chicago, “you may well find lovelier lovelies, but never a lovely so real.” Algren famously took strolls around Lincoln Park and Old Town in the dead of night and in the coldest of months, continuing to fall in love with his cherished town.
I can certainly relate to Algren’s assessment. I’ve had my fair share of winter strolls and bike rides throughout this town, as well. On those trips I can’t help but think that the Chicago I call home is the same cold, alluring city Algren called home, except that instead of falling deeper for the city I’m feeling out of sorts, as if I’ve outgrown this place.
It’s probably no surprise to anybody reading this that Chicago has held up over the decades as world class: we are recognized as an alluring city, a welcoming city. Tourists crave our friendly Midwestern embrace, businesses love our eclectic demographics, and New Yorkers are just jealous for every reason imaginable.
I grew up in the Northwestern suburbs as an overweight, sheltered white kid -- a rare find, I know. “The City” was the cool spot to go on a Friday night when we had nothing to do. Grabbing cupcakes from Molly’s and empanadas from Lito’s was a staple of my high school suburban existence. Wicker Park in 2008 was a vastly different Wicker Park than it is now: still edgy, still weird, raw with a twist of put-togetherness.