The Good Life

Dinner at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center
Dinner at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center
Chicago may be the only city that is both global and middle-class. Global in that it is one of the great cities of the world with all the finer things life can offer. Middle-class in that people of varying means and tastes not only live, but thrive here with a real neighborhood for everybody.

The tremendous depth and diversity of Chicago not only attracts all kinds of people, but actually brings them together: the symphony, the blues, downtown, the free lakefront festivals, the evening fireworks...

We Chicagoans are a unique animal, as is the culture we have conscientiously crafted. As Carl Sandburg said, "Nothing like us ever was." You should see for yourself.

Have It All

“Considered America’s most American city, this inviting metropolis blends Midwest manners with a world-class cultural and culinary scene.”
- National Geographic Traveler April, 2004

A skyline of architectural treasures

An arts tradition that has defined our universe

  • Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and a literature of our own
  • The birth place of urban blues
  • The birth place of house music
  • Nation's top symphony orchestra

80 miles of public shoreline including 88 vacation beaches

Some of the best sports out there – major league professional, collegiate, prep, and participation

A Place to Live

Chicago has all the qualities of a cosmopolitan metropolis, yet remains affordable to companies, individuals, and families in a way that other global cities are not. ACCRA places Chicago at a lower cost of living than:

  • New York
  • San Francisco
  • Washington D.C.
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Miami
  • and many others…

Chicago also offers an unparalleled variety of places to live:

  • Downtown high-rises and single-family hotspots
  • Traditional urban neighborhoods and arts-and-crafts bungalows
  • Stately suburbs and small towns
  • Large lots and rural farm houses – made a part of the city by commuter trains and extensive freeways

Spouses, children, and grandchildren can all find a lifetime of opportunities in Chicago

  • Outstanding public, private, and parochial schools
  • Post-secondary education ranging from community colleges, to art schools, to engineering schools, to the top-ranked business schools in the nation
  • An extraordinarily diverse economy that provides job opportunities for everything from working in Oprah's studio to building cars or managing a Fortune 500 company

Sporting in the City

5,229 holes of golf

Six of the top 100 golf courses in the nation (Golf Digest)

  • Medinah: three U.S. Opens, and the 1999 PGA Championship
  • Olympia Fields: 2003 U.S. Open
  • Chicago Golf: 2005 Walker Cup
  • The best public courses in the nation according to Brad Klein and Ron Whitten of Golfweek and Golf Digest – “No other city is even close."

Six Major League sports franchises including 2005 baseball world champion White Sox

Cross country skiers can ski in city parks, acres of forest preserves, and natural wonderlands in Michigan and Wisconsin

44 local ski clubs organize trips and take advantage of Chicago's 16 ski areas and 82,885 lift capacity/hour

Horse racing (thoroughbred and harness) 10 months a year and riverboat casinos

9,000+ boat slips

832 movie theater screens

20 amusement parks

18 casinos/gambling facilities

14,700+ restaurants

88 beaches

Kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing, and water bikes on the lake

Music for All Time

The birthplace of urban blues, and house music

Hometown of Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Sir George Solti, Sam Cooke, Bo Diddley, R. Kelly, Wilco, Common, Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye West, Liz Phair, Califone, Andrew Bird, Lupe Fiasco, Neko Case, Kid Sister, Fall Out Boy...

Incredible live music in both major venues and neighborhood bars. During a typical summer week:

  • 44 classical performances
  • 157 blues, gospel, and R&B performances
  • 650 rock performances (an average of almost 100 performances a day)
  • 249 jazz performances
  • 47 country and folk performances
  • 19 international performances

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is one of the world's premier orchestras

Chicago supports 33 other orchestras, the most in the nation

The Chicago Lyric Opera is one of the top three opera companies in the nation and just completed a

  • $100 million renovation of the opera house

The outdoor Ravinia Festival has been presenting music and art in suburban Chicago since 1904

  • Summer home of Chicago Symphony Orchestra for over 60 years

Free Bonus: The Grant Park Symphony Orchestra

  • 10 weeks and over 40 performances by the lake and under the stars 
  • All provided free as a gift from the City of Chicago to its people

The City That Reads

With 79 libraries throughout the city, and hundreds more in the suburbs, all Chicagoans have ample access to their public libraries

Mayor Daley was named one of the outstanding library advocates of the 20th century for the 50 new or renovated libraries that have opened since 1989, and the many new facilities under construction

The Harold Washington Library Center has 10 floors, and 70.85 miles of shelving, making it one of the largest public libraries in the world

A literature and voice all our own – Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Gwendolyn Brooks, Theodore Dreiser, Ben Hecht, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Upton Sinclair, Edgar Lee Masters, John Dos Passos, Willa Cather, Richard Wright, Ring Lardner, Edgar Rice Burroughs…

Creating the Infrastructure of Culture

Chicago moved an eight-lane freeway in 1996 to create a "Museum Campus" along the lakefront

  • 36 additional acres of open space
  • Connecting three world-class museums – the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium
  • $110 million investment

Millennium Park

  • 1 million square feet of new green space built over railroad tracks in the midst of one of the highest concentrations of buildings in the world
  • Extensive gardens, a Great Lawn, an outdoor ice rink, and a 1,500-seat auditorium for music and dance
  • A music pavilion designed by Frank Gehry, the architect of the renown Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

Revitalization of the downtown theater district

  • Renovation of two hotels, the Allegro and the Burnham
  • Rehabilitation of two grand old theaters, the Palace and the Oriental
  • Construction of two brand new theaters as part of the Goodman Theater Complex
  • New dormitories for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the best fine arts schools in the nation
  • New Gene Siskel Film Center
  • Joining of the existing Shubert, Chicago, and Auditorium Theatres

City in a Garden

A top-10 bicycling city (Bicycling Magazine)

29 miles of shoreline, 15 miles of beaches, and 552 parks in the City of Chicago alone

96 streams and 213 lakes within 9 counties Illinois

Roughly 225,000 acres of protected natural lands and 160 acres of forest preserves (over 300 square miles, or 1.5 times bigger than the entire city of Chicago)

Two conservatories – Garfield Conservatory is the largest in the world

The City of Chicago pledges that in five years, at least 20% of the electricity it uses will be from renewable sources

Chicago is using rooftop gardens to reduce area temperatures, lower demand for electricity, and improve water runoff

  • City Hall boasts the biggest roof top garden

Painting in Strong Colors

Voted #1 art destination by AmericanStyle magazine’s reader poll

Art Institute of Chicago named the best art museum in the United States for kids by Child Magazine in 2006

The Art Institute has the largest membership of any art museum in the nation

Home to finest impressionist collection outside of Paris

In no other city in the world can your kids slide and roughhouse on a Picasso

Future Picassos are being nurtured in Chicago through the city-subsidized summer arts and job-training program Gallery 37

A vibrant arts scene. Go gallery hopping! Drink wine! Eat cheese! Chat with artists!

  • Numerous art openings year round in galleries big and small 

Museums, Museums, Museums

Chicago has 70 museums to choose from, over 500 in the metro area, among them:

The Field Museum – home of Sue, the world's most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton

The Adler Planetarium – largest collection of astronomy artifacts in the Western Hemisphere

The Shedd Aquarium – largest indoor aquarium in the world

Chicago Historical Society, Dusable Museum of African American History, National Museum of Mexican Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Broadcast Communications, Notebaert Nature Museum, Polish Museum of America…

Theater for Life

An average week brings over 160 productions to the stage in Chicago. If one were to see a play a day, it would take more than 20 weeks to see them all. By the time you were finished, a whole new set of plays would have taken their place.

Big time downtown theater:

  • Ford Center for Performing Arts
  • Goodman Theatre
  • Cadillac Palace Theater
  • Chicago Theatre
  • Auditorium Theatre
  • Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The only U.S. city to boast three Tony awarding-winning theaters

Legendary theater companies

  • Steppenwolf: Gary Sinise, Joan Allen, John Malkovich… 
  • Second City: John Belushi, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert, Dan Akroyd, Mike Mires, Chris Farley, Gilda Radner, Joan Rivers, Martin Short, John Candy… 
  • Victory Gardens: Julie Harris, Dennis Zacek, Marcelle McVay… 

200+ theaters large and small


Data Sources:

  • Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau
  • Chicago Metropolitan Ski Council
  • Chicago Park District
  • Chicago Public Library
  • Chicago Wilderness
  • City of Chicago Fact Book
  • City of Kenosha
  • Indiana Department of Natural Resources
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics