Chicago City Guide

by Jose Marc Castro on August 19, 2008

USflagIMAGE200Chicago is the biggest city in the state of Illinois. The city is known by many names, from “Chi-town” to “the Windy city” to the
Second City” and recently, “The City of Big Shoulders.”  It is also the biggest in the entire Midwest with a population of around 3 million people. Chicago is the third largest city and metropolitan area in the United States. The city is situated in Cook County while the metropolitan area moves over many other counties.

Chicago has quickly grown in terms of business, transportation and trade because of its strategic location between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. Now it is an alpha world city. UK expatriates will surely appreciate the booming economy as well as the rich architecture and history.

An expat shared in the way one can get to know Chicago in a post at the America Expat Forum last April 29, 2008:

To get acquainted a bit with Chicago, you may want to start following the Chicago Tribune online Chicago news, sports, photos, video, blogs, Chicago weather, business, travel, tourism, entertainment and jobs — chicagotribune.com

Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, and there are a huge variety of neighborhoods available within the city. Most (but not all) areas are reasonably well served by public transit (bus and the “El” a subway/elevated rail service). The suburbs of Chicago use commuter rail service to get into the city, but many commuters have to drive to the train station. Public transit in the suburbs is minimal to non-existent.

Residential Places in Chicago

Chicago is subdivided by the river into three, which are the North Side, South Side and West Side. The metro area has been informally named Chicagoland, which has become generally accepted to mean the city and the suburbs. There are more than 210 neighborhoods all around Chicago. UK expatriates will find cozy condominiums and apartments in the heart of the city on Division Street, Roosevelt Road and DesPlaines Avenue. Tall skyscrapers fill the area with a nice view of Lake Michigan at the eastern part. Several residents with interests in business, trade and commerce have occupied the downtown region very near the Loop.

The North Side is the most populous subdivision in all of Chicago due to its economic stability. The River North area is full of commercial establishments, entertainment hubs as well as suburban communities. Expensive townhouses are located along Halsted. The South Side of the city is the largest in terms of area so there are several neighborhoods that sprout all across. Museums and parks are found in the region as well like Washington Park and Jackson Park. Notable neighborhoods include Hyde Park and South Shore. The West Side has beautiful neighborhoods like Austin, Garfield Park and West Town. People may find affordable houses for rent and sale in these communities.

An expat lent their thoughts on the subject of living in Chicago in a post at the America Expat Forum last May 6, 2008:

You will probably be more comfortable on the North side of Chicago.

But, your best bet is to research temples and contact them directly for recommendations on where to stay. If you live North you won’t have any trouble getting around. You need to ask yourself do you want to live close to your husband job or close to “Little India”. Chicago has everything China town, Little Italy, Greek town.

As far as safety goes. Right now Chicago is up for grabs

Hospitals and Universities in Chicago

The Illinois Medical District on the Near West Side is conveniently situated inside Chicago. Top quality health establishments like Rush University Medical Center, the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago and John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County are found in the city. The University of Chicago Medical Center is associated with the University of Chicago and is one of the best hospitals in the United States. John H. Stroger Hospital of Cook County is one of the best trauma centers in the country too.

Other notable health institutions include Northwester Memorial Hospital, Holy Family Medical Center, Resurrection Medical Center, Chicago Shriners Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hospital Chicago. World-renowned medical groups and agencies are based in the city namely: The American Medical Association, American College of Surgeons, American Dental Association, and American Society for Clinical Pathology among others.

Educational Establishments

The University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business are among the best in the world. Northwestern University at Evanston is one of the best in the country. Feinberg School of Medicine and School of Law in Streeterville both comprise the Northwestern University downtown campus. Loyola University Chicago has two campuses plus a medical center making it the biggest Jesuit Catholic university in all of America. DePaul University is another catholic university in Chicago. The Illinois Institute of Technology is known for its expertise in providing engineering and architectural courses. All in all the city of Chicago has 666 public schools, 394 private schools, 83 colleges and 88 libraries in the Chicago proper area.

Commercial Places in Chicago

Old Town is situated between North Avenue and Division Street boasting abooming nightlife. The area is filled with shops, bars, clubs and restaurants. Wrigleyville is found between Sheffield and Broadway featuring international restaurants, unique shops and meat and vegetable markets. Oakbrook Center is nearby downtown Chicago that has major department stores with over 160 shops and dining places. Some popular stores are included like Kenneth Cole, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Nordstrom.

River North presents celebrity-owned restaurants, art galleries, dance clubs, bars, bistros and cafes. The world’s biggest jazz record shop is also found in the area, which has a very historic and aged feel. Westfield North Bridge features more than 50 specialty shops, 5 hotels and 20 restaurants. It ranges a total of nine city blocks filled with well-known stores like Nordstrom and Ann Taylor. Two notable malls in the city are Chicago Ridge Mall and Chicago Place Mall.

There are several great places to dine in the heart of Chicago. Cold Stone Creamery offers great desserts and light snacks. UK expatriates will find their favorite Italian dishes at the Italian Village and Vivere. Nine Steak House serves top quality meats and vegetables with a wide selection of wines. Biaggi’s and Birth River Grill serve excellent grilled seafood with a delectable array of salads. Wow Café & Wingery on Maxwel Street and Coco Pazzo Café on Saint Clair Street are great places to relax and unwind with some wine or coffee.

Service Establishments in Chicago

Commonwealth Edison or ComEd is responsible for electricity for most of northern Illinois. ComEd is a division of Exelon, which powers the most number of nuclear generating plants in the entire country. 75% of Chicago power comes from nuclear plants. Water supply is also provided all throughout the city with private institutions offering cleansing and sanitation procedures. As for telecommunications, several private companies provide telephone and mobile services. Novacon, ANET and Citadel Data Center are some of the best internet service providers in the area.

Transportation has continued to grow and improve in Chicago. There are nine interstate highways that run through the city and surrounding suburbs. Train and bus stations are conveniently located in all three main subdivisions. O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport are among the busiest in the world. The Chicago Transit Authority or CTA is responsible for all public transportation while the Regional Transportation Authority or RTA oversees three service boards namely: Pace, Metra and CTA.

As for domestic and industrial waste, the former practice of incineration has been abandoned and now it is being landfilled, with developments of using blue bags for refuse that can be diverted from landfills and become recycled products.

Embassies in Chicago

The British Consulate General is located at 400 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The other address is at 161 E Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. Contact numbers are (312) 907-3800 and (312) 944-0806. The Consulate General in Chicago primarily handles UK Trade and Investment wherein willing expatriates may want to start doing business and trade in the city of Chicago.

Initial enquiries can also be passed to the Chicago office but other consular services will be forwarded to the British Consulate in Denver. The address is at Suite 1030, World Trade Center, 1675 Broadway, Denver, CO 80202. Contact numbers are (303) 5925200 (Telephone) and (303) 5925209 (Fax).

Useful Sites

Find Chicago Real Estate

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