“Ah, Chicago. Bang-bang!”
So pervasive was the image of Chicago as a gangster capital, this quote worked as a laugh line in the 1981 film “Stripes,” released 52 years after the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and 49 years after Al Capone went to prison.
Eventually, Michael Jordan pushed mobsters out as the go-to talking point for outsiders attempting to relate to Chicagoans. However, even the greatest basketball player of all time — now two decades past his playing days — isn’t the identifier he once was.
Yet, the fact is a lot of people outside of the 312 (and the 773 and 872, newer additions to Chicago’s area code arsenal) cling to Chicago stereotypes that are no longer true — if they ever were. Here are seven:
- It’s Always Been a Cubs Town
The White Sox were the first team in town to eclipse the 2 million mark for single-season attendance (in 1983). Additionally, most boomers grew into adulthood with the Sox routinely outdrawing the North Siders — 23 times, in fact, from 1951 to 1992.
If anything, it’s a Bears town — and even then, you’ll have a few dissenters who hate them because of their grandfather’s notion that George “Papa Bear” Halas forced the football Cardinals out of town in 1959.
- We Drink Old Style
In 2019, Modelo Especial passed Miller Lite as the city’s most popular beer by dollar sales. Bud Light checked in third.
Old Style’s imagined stranglehold owes to a few factors: a sponsorship deal with the Cubs dating to 1950; a 1970s sales campaign giving free signs to taverns; and a 1991 series of commercials starring native Chicagoan and Hollywood tough-guy Dennis Farina.
- It’s Windy
Chicago’s average wind speed of 9.0 miles per hour doesn’t put it in the top 10 among U.S. municipalities with more than 50,000 residents. Amarillo, Texas checks in first at 12.9 mph.
For the record, Chicago was nicknamed “the Windy City” because of its blowhard politicians.
- We’re fat
In a ranking of the 100 most-populated metro areas in the U.S. for obesity, health consequences, and food and fitness, the Chicago area checked in at 80th. Thanks, Super Fans.
- We Lack Culture
Speaking of the cardiac-compromised Super Fans, that Saturday Night Live skit was developed by some of its many players with Chicago roots. Fitting, because Chicago is essentially the birthplace of improv comedy. It’s also home to a couple dozen Michelin-starred restaurants, has thriving theater and art scenes, and hosted the nation’s first gay pride parade (now just one of hundreds of annual Chicago festivals celebrating culture in all its forms).
- The Loop Is Where the Action Is
Sure, the Loop can be fun. However, Lakeview, River North, the Fulton Market District, Wicker Park and Logan Square are just some of the many neighborhoods where the nightlife pulses with an energy equaling or exceeding that of downtown.
- We Eat Only Deep-Dish Pizza
The truth is tavern-style is the most ubiquitous Chicago pie. It’s thin, round, cut into squares (better to fit on a napkin) and generally has a crispier crust than New York-style. That said, we won’t hesitate to drive visiting relatives to the Near North Side for a visit to one of the many deep-dish proprietors.
Experience the Real Chicago
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