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News / City Life

A native Angeleno's first impressions of Chicago

A native Angeleno's first impressions of Chicago
Photograph: CC/Flickr/Allen McGregor

Transitions can be tough, and moving from Los Angeles to Chicago for a month is no small jump. I came out here from the West Coast in April, and I’m doing my best to acclimate to Chicago life; I took my first shot of Malort, I bought a hat, I have a Ventra card. Now that the dust has settled, here are some of the culture shocks I’ve encountered so far in the Midwest.

The weather: Springtime in Chicago does a great impression of winter in LA, with the exception that overcast days aren’t an empty threat here. When it gets cloudy, it actually rains. I’ve seen more lightning in two weeks in Chicago than I have in three years in LA, and I now have a much deeper understanding of the phrase “windchill factor.” Even crazier to me than the weather is the fact that no one in Chicago talks about the weather (or at least not to me). Let the weather in LA veer from 75 and sunny in any direction and everyone is talking about it; Chicago has a huge storm and no one says a word.

The food: Midwestern food is heavy, you guys. As thrilled as I am to be able to have Shake Shack without waiting in line for hours, I have never felt as compelled to work some salads into my diet as I have since landing in Chicago. I’ve seen five-egg omelettes on breakfast menus, eaten sandwiches slathered in sauce and cheese and don’t even get me started on the focaccia at Eataly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happily devouring it, but I'm very grateful for all the walking I’m doing here.

The drivers: The most surprising thing about walking around in a city with tons of pedestrians is how little the drivers making turns seem to care about the people crossing the street. Maybe it’s because so few people walk in LA, but anyone crossing the street usually gets some space to do that without being skimmed by a car. Chicago drivers get a little too close for comfort.

The public transportation: Navigating a city with great public transportation is a dream. The only thing I hate more than driving is looking for parking, so being able to get pretty much anywhere I need to go by walking or hopping on a bus or train is seriously amazing. I’m sure when the Metro expansion is done in 2057 LA’s public transportation will be just as good, but for now Chicago wins hands down.



Scott A

There is an amazing world out there young lady, beyond the city of angels.  It would serve you well as a human on earth as well as in your career as a journalist to continue to travel and see the rest of this magical land we call America.  Enjoy Chicago, perhaps the greatest city on earth.  And you don't have to look too far to find some of the best chef's foods on the planet, beyond meat heavy street foods and neighborhood eateries. May I suggest all restaurants in the Boka Group empire of hospitality.  You will be liberated from your meaty, cheesy, gravy laden treats that have befallen you. 

Tim T

Brought me back to LA, I was so used to stepping off the curb and taking your chances. Then moved to LA the first wee there got a Jay Walking ticket. Then again the last week there at 5 am near Venice beach got another Jay Walking ticket. That would never happen in Chicago. Welcome and enjoy the summer, you've earned it!

Julian B

I moved from Los Angeles to Chicago in late January of this year. I have to say that this blog post brought me back home. 

I can't say I agree wholeheartedly with this author though.

Let's take this author's insights concerning the weather. Firstly, I don't know if I've gone a day without talking to a friend or coworker about how Mother Nature bends us over a barrel every winter; she teases us with the onset of spring like she's taken a book out of Ramsey Bolton's book. My take is that if you asked someone who was deeply familiar with both Chicago and Los Angeles to describe how the weather affects them, their answer would be more visceral.

You might leave your house and realize that you don't need that sweatshirt. Describing the first night of leaving a coat at home is sending tingles around my body as I type this out. How do you properly express the guilt you feel while cooped up at work knowing that it's 70 degrees outside for the first time in forever? It's challenging to say the least.

Public transportation is interesting because in LA cars serve as a status symbol. Do you own or lease? Is it new or use? Hybrid, electric, gas guzzler perhaps? These are things you think about on the west coast. Now that I live in Chicago I don't care what car someone drives, whatever the make or model, I feel sorry they have to park that thing when I have access to transportation anytime I want.

I love LA but I couldn't be happier to be starting my life here!