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Chicago stereotypes that are actually pretty true

Everyone thinks they know what Chicago locals are really like—but how many of those stereotypes are actually true?

Isaiah Reynolds
Written by
Isaiah Reynolds

As Chicagoans, it can be hard to hear the truth sometimes.

With the abundance of Chicago characters in the popular media, there are some pretty strong stereotypes about how locals speak, act and support their sports teams. Even though these are often dramatized, it can be humbling to admit a few stereotypes actually hold water. We asked Time Out Chicago readers on Facebook and X to share a few stereotypes, good or bad, that are true based on firsthand experience. Below are a few attributes that even Chicagoans had to admit aren't fiction.

Chicago stereotypes that are actually true

  • “We don’t put ketchup on our hot dogs.”
  • Political corruption. At least you get to tell every out-of-towner “you know, it’s not really called the ‘Windy City’ because of the weather…”
  • “Best summer city in the world.” If only all stereotypes were this nice!
  • “Chicagoans have a unique dialect that is recognizable. A former South Sider, I now live in L.A. and hear about it all the time. I'm proud of it.” I still can’t hear it.
  • “Best blues and jazz on the planet.”
  • “Parking kinda sucks.” If you can’t parallel park, can you really call yourself a Chicagoan?
  • The “Zipper Merge” on highways.
  • “We can experience all 4 seasons in one day.” Always be prepared for a fake spring.
  • “It’s pop, not soda.”
  • “They will tow or ticket you here for any reason.” Unbridled rage unleashed by the sight of an orange envelope on your windshield is really a rite of passage in Chicago. 
  • "Fabulous food. Great museums and culture."
  • "The most beautiful Downtown architecture in the USA/World!"
  • "People that live in the suburbs and bordering states have too many opinions and not enough facts about Chicago." Amen.
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