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A Tale of two American cities: Chicago - New York, which one is your favorite


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The two most dynamic cities (arguably) in the US are said to be Chicago and New York. What are your observations, your pros and cons, towards each city?

Based on my experiences in both cities, here is what I found. These are just my opinions. I'm sure many people would agree or disagree on many of the following:

1) Dynamism: Few cities in the world can compete with NYC on this level. Although Chicago is dynamic in its own way, it is laid-back compared to the round-the-clock, "on the go" attitude in NYC. Winner: NYC

2) Friendliness: I found that Chicagoans are more friendly and down-to-earth than New Yorkers, while New Yorkers are more sophisticated, serious (business is business), and steadfast. Many people in Manhattan would not even bat an eye if they accidentally bumped next to you while walking among the huge crowds on Fifth Avenue or elsewhere in the city. If you are walking in the streets of Manhattan and gaze up at the surrounding buildings or architecture, you are definitely a tourist in the eyes of New Yorkers.

Winner: Chicago

3) Quality of natural environment such as noise, open space, and air cleanliness: Chicago is more spread out compared to the denseness of NYC. NYC is notorious for taxi drivers honking at other taxi drivers as well as regular drivers who are insane enough to drive a car in Manhattan. The honking has gotten better recently. I noticed that in some areas of the city, especially near residential side streets, there are signs that warn of fines toward drivers who honk.

In comparison to NYC, there is more privacy of space in Chicago.

Winner: Chicago

4) Transportation: NYC is one of the few cities in the world where it is absolutely possible to live without driving a car. Excellent transportation infrastructure (subway, bus, taxi) make getting around very convenient in a short time. Walking is also a very convenient method of getting from here to there. One time I walked from 125th Street in Harlem to 59th Street in Midtown at night after accidentally taking the express train all the way to Harlem. I could have hopped back on the express in the southbound direction, but chose to do some adventuring despite the potential thugs and hoodlums in the neighborhood.

In contrast to NYC, the only major rail artery in Chicago is the Loop. Outside of the Loop you would need to rely on bus, taxi, or your two feet.

Winner: NYC

5) Culture: With its countless, world-class museums like the Met or the recently renovated MOMA (where you can see Van Gogh's Starry Night or Picasso's Les Demoiselles D'Avignon), theater shows, and film festivals like Tribeca or the International Film Festival (which includes overseas Asian films that are not yet released in the US) held each October at the Lincoln Center, NYC is hard to beat. I visited the MOMA prior to its renovation. Have yet to visit the new MOMA.

Chicago also has an excellent museum in the Art Institute of Chicago, where you can see Georges Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, or Grant Wood's American Gothic.

In terms of nightlife, both cities have a vibrant jazz scene. I never been to a jazz club in Chicago, but I heard that the jazz joints there surpass their counterparts in Greenwich Village.

Winner: NYC

6) Recreation: Biking, rollerblading, or jogging along Lake Michigan, Grant Park; versus Central Park. NYC has few places designated for recreation other than the wide swath of Central Park or mini-parks like Bryant Park. Winner: Chicago

7) Food: The best pizza I ever tasted was at a Italian-owned restaurant in Chicago called Giordano's. I also enjoyed the Indian food I tasted in Chicago when I visited the city with my American friends. In New York there are excellent Korean restaurants on 33rd and 32nd Streets behind the Empire State Building. Their counterparts in LA's Koreatown are a little better though in terms of quality.

Manhattan's Chinatown also have some very good Shanghai-influenced cuisine.

Winner: Tie

8. Shopping: Most of the upscale or trendy stores in Chicago are centered on Michigan Avenue, while shopping in NYC is more spread out, other than Fifth and Madison Avenues, and Bloomingdale's on 59th/Lexington.

Retail is very conveniently accessible in NYC via walking and subway. If I want to buy produce, I can easily walk to a nearby produce stand on the sidewalk operated by an immigrant owner. One of my favorite places is the Whole Foods market in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. It's been a big hit in the city from day one and is usually very crowded. The produce is excellent and there are buffet stands offering Asian food items, pieces of sliced fruit priced by pound, and a sushi counter where you can pick up freshly sliced sashimi while Japanese chefs are working their knives behind the counter. There is even a Jamba Juice stand inside the market right after you get off the declining escalator.

And the good thing is that there are no super-sized markets like Ralph's or Albertsons' (establishments associated with the car) in NYC.

Winner: NYC

9) Education: If I want to attend business school, Northwestern University's Kellogg or University of Chicago is a good choice. If I want to attend law school, NYU or Columbia would be perfect. Both cities have excellent educational institutions for advanced, higher learning.

Winner: Toss up.

10) Weather: Both cities have extreme weathers, very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. However it really feels like Christmas in New York City with the snow falling while you are shopping among the crowds on Fifth Avenue during the holiday season amid the children skating in Rockefeller Center.

Both cities can get quite humid during the summer, and both cities can get a fair amount of snow during the winter, especially New York.

11) Finally, architecture: My favorites in Chicago are the classical, cast-iron buildings such as the Rookery, the Robie House near U. of Chicago, and the residential townhomes on Astor Street.

NYC has its own share of great architecture like the Gothic, Woolworth building; the Chrysler; or the majestic Grand Central.

Winner: Chicago

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NY is doubtlessly the number one city.

1. Compare the number of movies and TV shows made in NY and Chicago.

2. Chicago doesn't have a stock market.

If we're comparing which city is more livable, why not include my city.

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If we're comparing which city is more livable, why not include my city.

Someone should do a side-by-side comparison of the pluses and minuses of Beijing versus Shanghai. :D

I noticed that there is a huge abundance of Starbucks in NYC. There seems to be one at almost every other block in the city. I never seen so many Starbucks concentrated in one city. Coffee lovers would love it there.

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I've only to been to Chicago twice, but I'd wager that NYC is way ahead in the food department. Its Chinese food is just ok, though one of the best Sichuan restaurants in the US is Wu Liangye in midtown Manhattan. NYC also has a large number of good Thai and Italian restaurants. It's also paradise if you like bagels (along with a good cup of coffee).

You forgot to mention that there are a lot of beautiful people in NYC. :wink:

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