During the depths of winter when hope is a stale emotion; when both Patrick Kane and Derrick Rose undergo major surgeries in the same week; when the city's most beloved sausage master hangs up his hat, Chicagoans can find solace in a single thought: "At least I'm not in Indiana."
New Yorkers famously give a similar level of flack to New Jersey, but anyone who has spent time in the Hoosier State knows that it is much, much worse. Parks and Recreation might have been based in Indiana, but it had to make up a fictional town to make it appear relatively interesting.
That being said, Indiana boasts numerous charms that keep it from being the most worthless state in the country. We break down the pros and cons of our neighbors to the east.
The case for Indiana
Three Floyd's Brewery kickstarted the regional microbrew scene: If it weren't for those metalhead beer wizards down in Munster, Chicagoans wouldn't be able to enjoy Gumballhead, Zombie Dust and other favorites we've come to know and love. The brewery was founded in 1996, long before gems like Half Acre or Revolution came into being. Without the success of Three Floyd's, Chicago's beer scene might not be what it is today.
A professional football team that can field a real quarterback: The Bears have an extensive history of disappointing quarterbacks. The Indianapolis Colts, however, have fielded an all-star at the position for the better part of the past 20 years. Chicagoans are still a little sour over the 2007 Super Bowl when Peyton Manning made the Bears' Rex Grossman look like he was still in high school, but we can't deny Indiana's pigskin supremacy.
The Indiana Dunes are top-notch: Chicago's beaches are nowhere close to wonderful, but the 25-mile stretch of U.S. National Lakeshore in Indiana is nothing short of spectacular. If you want a Lake Michigan experience without the E. Coli or clumps of suburban teenagers, the dunes are your best bet.
Indianapolis's entertainment scene is hopping: Indiana will never have the inspiration, talent or following of Chicago's restaurant scene, but that hasn't stopped the city from attracting a great collection of restaurants. Places like Goose The Market, Slippery Noodle and Bluebeard are (almost) worth the drive, and if you stop by Bier Brewery or Sun King Brewing you won't be longing Chicago's beer scene. The city also boasts the largest children's museum in the world, which makes the one on Navy Pier look petty.
Illinois is dismal outside of the CTA's radius: Chicagoans might spend a lot of time hating on Indiana, but our own back yard is nothing to praise. Most of the state is covered in corn and soybeans. If you drive two hours south of Chicago, you'll feel like you're in the Deep South. Rockford is an incredibly gross "city." The suburbs are more sterile than a bottle of isopropyl alcohol. On top of it all, the Illinois State Police can make the Chicago Police Department look like cherubs, which is saying something.
The case against Indiana
Gary, enough said: Let's get this out of the way: Gary is one of the most depressing places in the country. It's a rust belt ruin that is home to the continent's largest steel mill, the smell of which is palpable from miles away. To put it plainly, Gary is both the geographic and figurative sphincter of America.
Fake Chicagoans dodge city taxes by living in Northwest Indiana: Chicago, and the state of Illinois overall, is facing an unprecedented pension crisis. Meanwhile, Indiana is home to thousands of people employed here, but would rather pay slightly lower taxes to a government that did not recognize gay marriage until last October.
The state bans liquor sales on Sundays: Why would anyone want to live in a place that doesn't sell booze around the clock? Granted, some microbreweries and restaurants are exempt from the rule, but if you're hosting a Sunday brunch you have to stock up on libations in advance. I suppose if you're into attending Sunday mass then you can get your booze fix in that shot of cheap wine they dole out, but weekend day-drinking is way more fun.
Indiana is a major source of guns in Chicago: Firearm vendors in Indiana will sell a gun to pretty much anyone. Two years ago, a federal case revealed how guns purchased in Indiana made their way onto Chicago's streets. Is Indiana the source of the city's gun violence problem? Absolutely not—but it certainly isn't helping.
Bars statewide still allow indoor smoking: Remember when you left the bar smelling "like a bar"? Illinois, like almost every other state in the country, banned smoking inside bars and restaurants nearly a decade ago. Indiana, on the other hand, still allows the cancerous tradition. If you want to smoke indoors over a beer in Chicago, you can hit up the local VFW hall. Just the same, your $12 drink at a cocktail bar won't be overpowered by the taste of floating tar.
Indiana, like any other place, is not objectively awful. And there's another upside to Chicago's bratty, less popular sister: It's a bit farther from St. Louis than Chicago.