Earlier this year, my wife got a “too good to pass up” job offer outside of our nation’s capital. She arrived in April to start work, and I figured it would be reasonably good form for our new marriage if we lived together, so I quit my job in Chicago and headed for the East Coast. Now that I have been living here for six months, I thought I would do a head-to-head comparison.
DC vs. Chicago: Which city is better? (an un-OY-ficial match-up)
Chicago: Founded around the turn of the 19th century from a muddy swamp on the shores of Lake Michigan.
DC : Also founded around that time, also in a swamp along the banks of the Potomac.
Winner: DRAW (pretty much the same start)
Chicago: Native American name for a smelly wild onion that grew in the area.
DC: Named for George Washington, our nation’s first President.
Winner: DC (Smelly Onion? Really?)
Most Recognizable Politician
Chicago: President Barack Obama
DC: President Barack Obama
Winner: Draw (I have now seen the motorcade block miles of traffic in both cities!)
Chicago: Famous Chicago Deep Dish and Stuffed Crust Pizzas began here! Uno’s, Giordano’s, Lou’s, Gino’s, just to name a few.
DC: A lot of specialty pizza places like Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza. That’s New Haven, Connecticut, so it’s not really a DC original. There’s also Amy’s Neapolitan Pizza. Again, this is an imported style and isn’t Neapolitan a flavor of ice cream?
Winner: Chicago (No contest! Chicago has the best pizza!)
Chicago: The Shedd Aquarium is the second largest aquarium in the country and the Art Institute has the second largest French Impressionist collection. Most of the museums have occasional free days.
DC: Home of the world’s largest museum complex, the Smithsonian, with 19 museums and galleries, nine research centers and the National Zoo (with pandas). Did I mention they are all free, all the time, every day!
Winner: DC (It’s hard to beat FREE!)
Most Visited Tourist Attraction
Chicago: Navy Pier, visited by 8.6 million people every year. Navy Pier has shops, the Shakespeare Theater, an indoor botanical garden, the IMAX, a convention center, a Ferris wheel and fireworks.
DC: The National Mall, visited by 25 million people every year. The Mall is home to some of the most recognizable memorials and monuments in America— Lincoln, Washington, WWII, Korea, Vietnam are all a part of the mall.
Winner: DC (Fireworks over Lake Michigan are pretty cool, but how can you compete with all that history and honor rolled into one park? 25 million people a year agree.)
Getting Around by Car
Chicago: The streets are on a pretty simple and orderly grid that holds true throughout most of the city. The blocks are mostly spaced out so that eight blocks is a mile and you can figure out approximate distances.
DC: The streets are in no order at all. There are angled streets, curvy streets, traffic circles and streets that just start and stop without any real reason. Some say DC streets were designed to keep foreign armies from ever being able to reach the Capitol. It seems to have also made it impossible for current residents to get anywhere.
Winner: Chicago (I’m still lost in DC—seriously. I’ve been driving for two days straight now, trying to find my home.)
Getting Around by Public Transit
Chicago: Second biggest transit system in America. $2.25 allows you to ride as far as you can get for as long as it takes. It tends to be slow, smelly and often scary late at night.
DC: One of the cleanest subways in the world thanks to strictly enforced no food policy. The seats are cushy though, the floor is carpeted and the stations are air conditioned. The whole thing shuts down at midnight during the week and has a complicated fare structure based on time and distance (over 400,000 possible fare combinations).
Winner: DC (You do get what you pay for, but the few extra bucks get you a much more comfortable and almost luxurious ride.)
Chicago: The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, allegedly started by Mrs. O’Leary’s cow (though later theories attributed the fire to either a drunk guy with one leg or a meteor), burned and gave way to a new era of building that changed architecture forever.
DC: The Burning of Washington, during the War of 1812. The British had captured our nation’s capital and burned some of the most important buildings in the capital including the Capitol, the White House and the U.S. Treasury building.
Winner: Chicago (Chicago gets the slight edge here because the fire had such an impact on the city’s history moving forward and because of the song that school children sing about the song. Also Chicago now has its Fire Academy at the very spot the Great Chicago Fire started!)
Chicago: Snowmageddon 2011 was the third largest snowfall in Chicago history. Hundreds of people were left stranded for hours on Lake Shore Drive.
DC: This fall DC weathered an earthquake and a large tropical storm just a few days apart from each other. The Earthquake knocked over a few lawn chairs and startled a few people, but no major damage was reported. Tropical Storm Irene proved to be much more of a problem in other parts of the country.
Winner: Chicago (I can’t imagine spending the night in my car on LSD!)
I could go on for days putting one city against the other; however I think for this match-up we’ll call it after 10 rounds. I realize there are many other categories to look at, like beaches, parks and recreation, tallest buildings, mayors, other elected officials (by the way DC can’t actually elect any voting representatives in Congress, hence the license plate motto that reads “Taxation Without Representation”). Perhaps those topics can be revisited in a future post.
And with five points for each win (I gave half a point to each during the draws) it looks like it’s a tie. Really, a tie? Hmm….
What’s the tiebreaker? Perhaps those that know both cities well enough can add your comments and weigh in for the next un-OY-fficial match-up of Chicago vs. DC. For the moment, though I am writing for Oy!Chicago, the jury is out as to which city is better, which makes this post: To Be Continued…