News / City Life

23 ways to tell a real vs. fake Chicagoan

23 ways to tell a real vs. fake Chicagoan
Photograph: Hallie Dusenberg

Chicago is a proud city, and its residents know how to spot one of their own. If you’re a real Chicagoan, you will find many of the items on the following list a familiar source of frustration. If you’re not a real Chicagoan but someday hope to be, don’t feel ashamed. There are ways to earn city status but fair warning, it won’t be easy. Consider this your introduction and please take notes. One day, you may even find yourself looking down on posers with the rest of us.

1. A real Chicagoan knows the “do not walk” sign is merely a suggestion.

2. A fake Chicagoan asks for the address when all you need is the intersection.

3. A real Chicagoan knows that LSD is short for Lake Shore Drive (not the drug).

4. A fake Chicagoan puts ketchup on their hot dogs.

5. A real Chicagoan knew about Chance the Rapper before he won a Grammy.

6. A fake Chicagoan can’t wait to attend Chi-Town Rising.

7. A real Chicagoan never uses the term “Chi-Town.”

8. A fake Chicagoan still thinks Mike Ditka is cool.

9. A real Chicagoan knows the only beer worth drinking is a craft beer; preferably one that's brewed within walking distance of where they’re drinking.

10. A fake Chicagoan has only heard rumors of Malört's potency.

11. A real Chicagoan always knows which way is east.

12. A fake Chicagoan never seems to have their bearings.

13. A real Chicagoan can name at least five players on the Cubs’ World Series team (not just Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant).

14. A fake Chicagoan thinks the party is downtown.

15. A real Chicagoan draws a distinction between “downtown” and “the city.”

16. A fake Chicagoan thinks the 606 is an area code.

17. A real Chicagoan knows there are plenty of beach options in the summer and spends their days wisely avoiding the crowds. 

18. A fake Chicagoan sets up shop at Castaways.

19. A real Chicagoan knows what really goes on at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

20. A fake Chicagoan never seems to be wearing the appropriate amount of clothing during winter.

21. A real Chicagoan knows the difference between Wicker Park and Logan Square.

22. A fake Chicagoan wastes time transferring between trains in the Loop instead of using an east and west bus route.

23. A real Chicagoan knows the source of the delicious chocolate scent in the West Loop.

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Slugs K

I am dumber for having read this whole thing.  Thanks, jagoff.  

Alejandra A

I want to know where does The chocolate scent in the west loop comes from?

Juke tastemaker

This list lost any slight credibility it had with #8. Mike Ditka will always be cool. Ditka is God. You are a clown. 

Tom O

A fake Chicagoan shows up to a softball game with a glove. I mean WTF?

A real Chicagon stops to give tourists directions WITHOUT a mobile phone. It's a block or two over by 'der.

A fake Chicagoan uses Uber and Lyft. You whistle to shag a cab.

A real Chicagoan knows where Harlem Ave. is. Yes, there is life west of Halsted.

A fake Chicagoan pays for parking near the United Center. Ridiculous.

James G

I agree with most of it. I can't stand it when people say Chi-town. But there's no way real Chicagoans only drink craft beers. A real Chicagoan is a shot and a beer guy. The latter being an Old Style or Old Milwaukee or High Life. Was this written by a millennial?

Slugs K

@James G  As much as  I love all the really great beer being made these days, a High Life or a Modelo and a shot of whiskey will always be my go to.  

sharon r

1-6:true 7-9:false 10-debatable 11-23:all true,with the exception of 22 which should state "a real chicaogan never trusts cta directions"

Tom F

REALLY? You get paid to write down these lame ideas, that YOU THINK define a person as a "Real (Copyright)(Trademark Registered) Chicagoan?

A "real Chicagoan is any person whose body is in the city limits of Chicago, and is kind enough to take a couple minutes out of their busy day, to assist someone who's trying to get to an address. Or an intersection.

Smart ass posers who ridicule people who know less than them are not "real Chicagoans," because they have not yet matured into "an adult."

sharon r

@Tom F lol...sorry-Real Chicagoans did not vote for Trum

Dale G

One thing I'll never get is the rule of no ketchup on hot dogs. I'm a born and raise Chicagoan and LOVE ketchup on my hot dog and I will always get it that way no matter what people tell me. I order it every where I go and only got flack a few times, including of course  Weiner's Circle but I still get it on the side. I cant understand how people can tell someone what not to put on your food, that would be like me saying someone can't have mustard on your polish or that you can't have cheese on your burger, I just don't get it. Last time I checked it was a free country

Kathy G

Oh, no! I've been gone so long I'm now a fake Chicagoan!! :-)

Joe P

A real Chicagoan thinks the 1969 Cubs were robbed and can still name the starting line up.  Santo, Banks, Beckert,,Kessinger, Williams, Hundley, Young and Hickman.

No real Chicagoan refers to it as 'the City'.  If you do then you live in the suburbs.

The different parts of Chicago are north side, south side, northwest side and downtown.

The question is where are you from, 'Chicago.'  if you say Chicago but were born in Naperville then you are a poseur.

A real Chicago thinks beer is something that gets you drunk not something you turn into a hobby.

Norman L

@Joe P Joe ... You missed one ... there is an East Side ... 95th and Ewing south to a 106th street !

Sarah M

This list was written by a fake Chicagoan trying to look like a real Chicagoan.

My Two C

A fake Chicagoan thinks this article will put them in the know.

A real Chicagoan knows that "Time Out Chicago" is mostly full of $hit.

Seep D

A real Chicagoan knows how nasty Blommers and its chocolate vomit stench actually is.

Jack R

I'll bet this was written by someone who wasn't born in Chicago. Completely witless.

Rod A

These are so stupid. A real Chicagoan lives in Chicago.. A real Chicagoan gets mail at an address in Chicago. A real Chicagoan answers the question, "where do you live?" with the word "Chicago."

Slim J

Strange. I couldn't name one player on the cubs, yet I was born and raised here. I guess this is just a list of "real Chicagoans" that live north of Roosevelt. Typical.