I attended a great meeting this week with Chicago Ideas, an organization (or frankly, a movement) put together by some amazing masterminds, including Brad Keywell, co-founder of Groupon, with one main objective: to put Chicago on the map and exploit the world’s top speakers with Chicago’s best thinkers (and if you are thinking, “wow, that’s pretty cool that Ann is considered one of Chicago’s best thinkers,” let me clarify. I was trying to work on a partnership with the Chicago Starwood hotels. But thanks, that was flattering). Anyways, as we were sharing our love for Chicago and the ridiculousness that everyone else can’t see how incredible Chicago is, we had a pretty good laugh when one woman said, “…it’s funny that some people who haven’t been to Chicago relate Chicago to two things: Michael Jordan and Al Capone…” I left the meeting feeling very inspired and proud of my Sweet Home Chicago. And then last night, as I shot down a few oysters and BBQ shrimp over a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it hit me. People are CRAZY if they only associate Chicago with MJ and Alphonse! Besides, Al was born in Brooklyn and died in Palm Island, Florida…what were these people thinking?! There are so many reasons why Chicago truly is one of the best cities in the world. See below if you care to know more where that [highly opinionated] bold statement came from. And note these are in no particular order, though I do find it funny food was the first thing to come to my mind. Surprise, surprise.
- The Food. I’m sorry east coasters, but Chicago pizza kicks NY pizza’s butt. Fork, knife and all. In fact, one of my favorite pizza joints in Chicago is Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder which actually has some deep-rooted Al Capone history to it. Wait, maybe those crazy people I mention above did have some validity in their ‘MJ and AC’ thoughts. Eh. Okay, back to food. Hot dogs, Little Italy, filet mignon, Chinatown, best-in-class restaurants by world-renowned chefs and gosh, even the diners are awesome!
- Wrigley Field. A historic baseball stadium where ‘the fans leave smiling, despite the score…’ – Jonathan Neugebauer. Not sure I need (or want) to say much more.
- The Culture. Broadway shows, professional sports, beautiful architecture, comedy clubs, diversity, jazz clubs, running, opera, museums, neighborhood festivals, blues clubs, farmers markets, Navy Pier and the list goes on. But I’ll stop there.
- Lake Michigan. A man I met on a plane years ago once said to me, “all of the best cities in the world have a notable body of water in them.” Great point, I thought, as I gazed at the sparkle and beauty of Lake Michigan from my window seat. And then I was brought back to when I lived in New York City and never did hang out on the shores of the Hudson River (though I did go to Coney Island once). Okay, so maybe that wise man should have clarified what he meant by “notable.” But I can say one thing. There is no better serenity or high than running from North Avenue down to Navy Pier (or Navy Pier to the Field Museum) on the Lake. Beat that New York! Wow, I subconsciously keep picking on NY, don’t I? I think it’s like when little boys pick on little girls because they actually really like them.
- Rick Ueno. I met the love of my life in Chicago. God had a plan and it involved me moving from NYC (there I go again) to Chicago and Rick moving from San Antonio to Chicago, albeit not the most opportune time (but that’s for another note, another day). I wonder if God was thinking about that Fergie song, “Can You Meet Me Halfway?” Probably.
- Rahm Emanuel. Just kidding (I’m actually laughing at myself right now). I had to throw that in there to get a laugh (or a cry) out of you. I’m actually not an overly political person so you won’t read many notes on politics but my hands kept typing and next thing you know, point 6 is Rahm.
- The People. Besides Rick and Rahm, Chicago is filled with some of the most amazing, kind, smart and loving people I have ever met in my life. My family, my Starwood family, my closest girlfriends, the women in my bible study, my Chinese Poker friends, Park Community Church and everyone in between. It is my belief that Chicagoans (and more broadly, Midwesterners) are one of the nicest people groups in the world. Come to Chi-town and see for yourself! Oh and actually, why not come for Chicago Ideas Week?!
Listen, I could go on and on (affordable homes, unique neighborhoods, cleanliness, four seasons, ahhhh, I can’t help myself!) but did you know giving people more than 7 points may cause reading paralysis? So, on that note (pun intended), I will end there.
Chicago all the way,
P.S. Want to learn some fun facts about Chicago? Click here!