10 Ways Chicago Could Be Even More Amazing

Chicagoans certainly have more than one reason to brag about the city they call home. Beyond the amazing pizza and world-class architecture, there's the James Beard Awards, Obama Presidential Library, and the George Lucas museum to give us even more reasons to feel a burst of hometown pride. Unfortunately, there are some things about Chi-town that make us want to bury our heads in the sand at Oak Street Beach.
Don't get us wrong, Chicago is one of the best cities in the world — but sometimes you've got to face the music — after all, no place is perfect. And, maybe by pointing out the flaws of our fair city, we can make strides to change the town we love. So, if you're in agreement that those potholes have got to go and the term Chiraq is nothing to be proud of, click on for the 10 worst things about Chicago.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
We hate to state the obvious, but enough people complain about the Chicago winters that we couldn't leave it off the list. After all, who could forget Chiberia, when temps dropped to a record-breaking 16-degrees-below zero — colder than South Pole in Antarctica at the time. So, even if your boss let you work from home on those brutally cold days, there was no skating through the epic season that was filled with sleet, sludge, and snow. Don't even get us started on shoveling out a parking spot. While we can't change the fickle weather in the Windy City, at least we know what we're in for so we can prepare (read: chili, a down coat, and plenty of red wine).
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
We've all heard the Chiraq jokes, and, while probably unfair, anyone who reads the news every the morning knows there is far too much violent crime in Chicago. Worse, it tends to be highly segregated by neighborhood. While progress has been made (well, we hope so), the city, and all of its citizens, still have a great deal of work to do until we can catch up with less volatile locales, like our friendly East Coast rival.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
While some things have changed in recent years, Chicago remains among the most segregated cities in the nation. Though some neighborhoods, such as Hyde Park and Rogers Park, are admirably diverse, they remain the exception, not the rule. The ramifications are not only depressing, but potentially devastating.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
Cold fact: Two out of three of Illinois' most recent governors have gone to prison. But, even forgetting state "difficulties," the city itself has a long, inglorious history of graft, sweetheart deals, and other shadiness. Just how bad has it been? Mob watchers believe that both First Ward Alderman Fred Roti and longtime Secretary of the First Ward Pat Marcy were not only affiliates, but actually "made men" in the Chicago Outfit. (Beat that, NY!) As recently as 2000, Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt got busted running a jewelry-thieving ring for the mob.

In his hugely popular book When Corruption Was King, attorney-turned-informant Robert Cooley paints a nauseating, almost darkly comedic, picture of the scene in the '70s and early '80s, when he was buying off judges and other public officials the way tourists shop on Michigan Avenue. While things have improved drastically since then, it will be a long time until we shake off this particularly troublesome label.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
It could be worse, but it could be better, too. According to the American Lung Association's State of the Air report, a recent study places Chicago at number 20 by ozone and particle pollution, and number 14 for short-term particle pollution. So, what grade did we get? An F. Read it and weep, friends. Want to take action for healthier air? Us, too.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
Whoa, did you just lose a hubcap? You're not alone, thanks to the overabundance of potholes in the city. The City of Chicago has an online resource where you can report any holes you encounter. Unfortunately, reporting them will result in construction, which leads us to the next item on our list...
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
Summer in Chicago is amazing — the extra construction is not. There's nothing that you can really do except make sure you have a frosty beverage and good road tunes. And, if at all possible, plan ahead with apps like this one.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
Underdeveloped River Walks
Thank goodness, it's getting much better. But, we still feel the Chicago River is a vastly underutilized resource. It's nice to have a decent stretch to run on these days, but we're not greedy to want a pedestrian-friendly river walk stretching from the southwest to the northwest sides. One thing is clear: The river is one of Chicago's greatest assets, and we look forward to finding many ways to take advantage of it better in the near future.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
Highest Sales Tax
It's 9.25%, folks. While that's not absolutely terrible among major metropolitan regions, for many it's more than enough incentive to head out of state to do a fair amount of shopping.
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Illustrated by Tania Lili.
National Image
See: Chiraq and segregation. Are the negative labels fair? Probably not. But, hopefully, as a city, we can make national headlines in the coming years for achieving significant progress on both fronts, while continuing to celebrate all the wonderful things (too-numerous-to-name) about our beloved metropolis.