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15 Chicago stereotypes that aren't true (and 3 that totally are)

Written by
Brent DiCrescenzo

We all do it. Someone says "New Yorker," and you might picture Carrie Bradshaw or Andrew Dice Clay. Or mention "typical LA," and an image of a movie producer with a ponytail doing hot yoga in his car while drinking cold-pressed juice springs into the mind. It's silly and it irks the people who live in these giant, diverse cities. Likewise, the rest of America thinks of us as sports bumpkins content to eat pork products while our criminal leaders suck money from our wallets. If you're looking for ways to piss us off, assuming these following misconceptions to be universally true is a start. That being said, sometimes stereotypes exist for a reason. So we've included three facts that are hard to argue with.

We are not as ambitious or as smart as East Coasters. Chicago is not the safety school of life. 

We have no fashion sense. I have yet to see someone stroll into the office in sweatpants, nor do black Crocs count as formal footwear here, as I often witness when I visit my parents in Florida.

We are all in the mob or a gang. When you call your grandparents, it's always, "I knitted you a bulletproof vest" and "Don't get shot!"

It's called “The Windy City” is because of the wind. No, and it's not because of our politicians, either. It actually traces back to a baseball rivalry with Cincinnati and had more to do with our inflated sense of self. No wonder Kanye is from here.

We all wish we lived in New York or Los Angeles. Believe it or not, we would not all jump at the first chance to move to the only two bigger American cities. Frankly, if we dream of another place, it's going to be sparsely populated, hilly, tropical and cheap. 

We only eat hot dogs and steak. Would Morrissey be playing the Civic Opera House if this were true?

We all love the Cubs.

A lot of people love the White Sox—you know, the team that won a World Series fairly recently. Some of us—gasp!—don't even care about baseball.

We hang out in the Loop and downtown. Whenever we see tourists wandering lost around a deserted Loop on a Sunday, we want to shake them and shove them on a Blue Line train. If you want to eat how we eat—beyond our work-day lunch breaks—you have to head out to Logan Square, Argyle or anywhere at least five CTA stops out that is not Wrigleyville.

Al Capone is our most famous historical figure. He's got nothing on Oprah at this point.

Lake Michigan is tiny and our beaches aren't real. If you can't see across it, and if you can surf it, it's a legitimate beach.

We're all overweight. The lakefront jogging trail is like Bangkok traffic every morning and weekend. Plus, we'll see how skinny you want to be when those sub-zero breezes cut through your coat.

The only pizza we have is deep dish and we love it. Tourists are the only ones keeping these restaurants alive. We'd rather scarf down Neapolitan pies, because who wants to wait 45 minutes for a pizza to cook? 

We’re lacking in culture. We care about more than sports and eating. See our deep storefront theater scene, new-music troupes on the bleeding edge of classical, a lively avant-garde jazz community, art galleries.

We all have Chicago accents. "Da" is not our definite article. It's rare to run into someone who speaks like Bill Swerski. When we do, it's usually a Metra train conductor from Kenosha, and it's as charmingly quaint as finding an old-timey prospector in the modern age.

Everyone in the suburbs lives in a North Shore mansion like in a John Hughes movie. Eighties flicks like Home Alone, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science and Risky Business make it seem like every teenager grows up in Winnetka. 

And here are three preconceptions of Chicago that are absolutely true:

Our politicians are corrupt. Six Illinois governors have been convicted of crimes and four of them have gone to prison in the last 50 years. Who needs term limits? We just wait for the inevitable arrest.

The winters are terrible. According to NOAA, Chicago has 189 total days with sun—not much more than Seattle's 164. Thing is, all of our overcast days come bundled together, in a five month span where we hardly see light. It's a miracle that…

People are nicer here. Try smiling and saying hello to someone when you walk pass them on a Manhattan street. They will think you are a crazy person. It's pretty common here. We wouldn't know if this applies to LA, because nobody walks.

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