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How to help the Wikitravel Chicago project

The Chicago article is a showcase for Wikitravel. The coverage is extensive, perhaps more so than for any other city. Updating and refining existing content is still needed, but before adding new content check that the information is not already in the article, and that there aren't already some examples of what you are adding. We want to avoid a guide that is too bloated or crowded, and we don't need to list every hotel, bar or restaurant to have a excellent guide. In addition the maps are so saturated that it may be difficult to add further listings to them.

If you are seeking to help, check the to do list. We need help to keep information current, so if you have current knowledge of a section of town, please scan the appropriate district article for out of date information, e.g., listings for businesses that have closed, outdated contact information, CTA station closures, etc.

If there is something important that is omitted, feel free to raise it on the discussion page, if you have found a hidden gem in your Chicago travels, let us know about it.

But above all, please do join the effort to keep this the best travel guide to Chicago there ever was.


To Do List

Here's what I think we need:

  • Itineraries for districts outside the city center
  • Improved coverage of Little Village shopping
  • Improved coverage of "do" activities in the Southwest Side


Many suburbs are covered on the Chicagoland page and have only one attraction of note. However, there are a few that deserve fuller coverage as a complement to the Chicago set of articles, and need work accordingly. Post 'em here (but only if you're willing to work on them).

Last updated by Peter Talk 04:04, 20 May 2009 (EDT)

Article status


Re: [1], my guess is that the IP thought that the word "idea" was a little bland after using such evocative phrases as "truth of jazz" and "heart of comedy". (But at least it keeps the parallel construction, so I agree that it's better than having nothing there at all.) Is there a loftier noun that could be used to describe the skyscrapers? Engage a pun by saying "height of architecture" or something like that?

(On a related note, the lack of a descriptor before "blues" also rubs me the wrong way as it sounds clunky when it's followed by those "___ of ___" constructions.)

-- LtPowers 08:37, 5 January 2010 (EST)

It's the home of the blues? That's actually the adage from which the following metaphors are inspired.
I rather like "idea," and Marc's nicely built some continuity with that phrase elsewhere in the guide. If I were going to try and find fault with one of the descriptors, it would be "truth," but I think we should resist the urge to wikittack the few turns of phrases on site that aspire to "speak above a whisper." It's extremely easy to do, but I don't think we'll benefit from it. (Lest I be misunderstood, I'm not at all pointing fingers, just making a point.) --Peter Talk 14:49, 5 January 2010 (EST)
I was reading it as "is the home of the blues and [the home of] the truth of jazz" rather than "is the home of the blues and [is] the truth of jazz." Honestly, I don't even know what the latter would mean. =) As for "idea", it's fine if you like it; it just strikes me as more pedestrian than the abstractions that precede it. LtPowers 15:47, 5 January 2010 (EST)


Chicago's summers are not disgustingly hot. They are hot and humid at times. "Disgustingly hot" would be more identifiable with Phoenix, or pretty much any South Texas city or South Florida city, like Houston and Miami. I have been in Chicago in the summer when it was just 81 degrees, and I have been there when it was 91. But every day or every summer in Chicago is not like that, so by definition that does not make their summer's disgustingly hot. Phoenix, Miami, and Houston, however, ARE like that every day of the summer for every year. Therefore, their articles should have the term "disgustingly hot". This needs to be changed. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs)

I'm inclined to agree that it should be changed. The lake keeps things pretty nice for people used to far worse summers. The fact that swimming is a good cool off option makes it all the more an appealing part of the year from my perspective. (I can't believe, btw, that you are still pushing that taxi madness—you need to explore the city a bit more, my friend.) --Peter Talk 21:39, 12 January 2010 (EST)
The fact that this anonymous user keeps trying to insert false and frankly dangerous information about taxis casts aspersions over the worth of everything else he or she has to say. Nevertheless, while this article need not be married to the term "disgustingly hot" if there's a better descriptive, there is more to climate than 'degrees' — the reason all the old folks go to Phoenix is because it's a dry heat, cool in the shade, low humidity. And the argument that Chicago can't be called hot because other cities are hotter is absurd. If that's true, why would we describe Miami as hot when Mexico City is so much hotter? Why would we describe Mexico City as hot when Vientiane is so much hotter? Answer: because the articles are independent of each other. Gorilla Jones 23:13, 12 January 2010 (EST)
It should also be noted that the anonymous user has employed inaccurate terms above — the article does not say that "Chicago's summers are disgustingly hot." It says that "Many days in July and August are disgustingly hot." So the anonymous user has built an argument on a false premise and is arguing against a phrasing that does not actually exist. Gorilla Jones 23:21, 12 January 2010 (EST)
Hmm, you are correct as usual. I'm tempted to add a little non-weather-related plug for the summer in that section, though. Summer, especially late summer, is the one time of the year when I feel unambivalently happier to be in Chicago than anywhere else in the world. --Peter Talk 23:48, 12 January 2010 (EST)

First of all, I never insert false information. If you walk away with nothing else, at least walk away with that. I did not say Chicago cannot be called hot in summer. It can be called "hot and humid at times in the summer", that phrasing would be better. I said it shouldn't be called "disgustingly hot" because if you use that term, you have nowhere else to go when describing the summers of cities like Phoenix, Houston or Miami, which are actually "disgustingly hot" in the summer (dry heat or not for Phoenix).

And as far as the taxi situation, ok here we go: The article states "outside of the downtown, North Side, Near West, and Near South sides you will likely have greater difficulty hailing a taxi directly from the street". Well look at a map of the city of Chicago. All those aforementioned areas added together constitute roughly half of the city's land area! Then add to that several upper-class and middle-class neighborhoods on the South Side and Southwest like Hyde Park, Kenwood, Chatham, and Beverly, to name a few, where hailing taxis are easy too. Plus the upper and middle class sections of the Northwest Side and you technically have covered almost the entire city. Now of course, there will be several lower class areas where taxis themselves may not be as numerous in numbers, but when they do ride through the streets of those lower class areas, they still will sometimes stop if hailed. This is no different than New York City where taxis can be hailed, and are more numerous in Manhattan but less so in the Bronx, Queens, or Staten Island. New York City's article doesn't state "outside of Manhattan taxis may be more difficult to hail from the street", so there should be no reason Chicago's article should have wording stating its difficult to hail a cab outside what really is a large portion of Chicago. In fact, it may be easier to hail a cab in the entire city of Chicago versus the entire city of New York because taxis are freely hailed in about half of Chicago's land area, and in New York City taxis concentrate on Manhattan only, which is not half of New York City's land area. Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C. are considered American cities where taxis can be hailed from the street. Sorry for the long reply, but you asked.

As usual, your arguments seem irreconcilable with reality as I understand it. I've made a map of the city (about 30, actually), you can view it here. What you are calling roughly half the city is actually less than a tenth of it... And did you miss my story on your talk page? To recap: taxis won't come pick you up even if you call in vast portions of the city! It has nothing to do with the "class" of the neighborhood, it's just a matter of fact that you won't see a taxi drive by in most of the city outside the center, even waiting half an hour on a main thoroughfare. And yes, that goes for Hyde Park and Beverly too. I'm really bewildered that you are still pushing this, and that you continue to edit war to try and reinsert it. --Peter Talk 22:44, 27 January 2010 (EST)
Indeed, it's wildly inaccurate to claim those areas constitute half or even a quarter of the city, which calls into question the writer's basic familiarity with the city. And, once again, there are presently no plans to describe Miami's weather in the Chicago article, just as there are no plans to describe Jakarta's weather in the Miami article, which would require us to describe Miami's weather as mild. The terminology has no relationship. I fully expect that a complete New York article would say that city has the best pizza in the nation. So does this one. Doesn't matter. Gorilla Jones 23:45, 27 January 2010 (EST)

If you are looking at your Chicago maps correctly, you will see that the downtown area, the North Side, Near West, and Near South sides added together do not constitute just a tenth of the city's land area. The Near North Side and the North Side stretch from Division all the way to the Howard border at the city's northern limits with Evanston. The Near South Side would go as far south as 35th Street and the Near West Side as far west as Western Ave. That entire land mass added together is not just a tenth of Chicago. Look again. An area that large doesn't deserve the terminology "outside the downtown, North Side, Near West, and Near South sides you may find it difficult to hail a cab" because, although that may be true, you are giving the reader an inaccurate perception of hailing cabs off the streets of Chicago. It is not hard to do; anyone in Chicago will tell you that. Look at it this way: New York City's article -doesn't- state "outside of Manhattan (or perhaps some areas of Brooklyn) you may find it difficult to hail a taxi off the street", although that statement is true. People who live in the Bronx, Staten Island, or Queens find it more difficult hailing a taxi off the streets than people in Manhattan. So if you want to keep that terminology in Chicago's article, New York's article should have the same terminology. If you didn't find it necessary to state it's harder to hail a cab off the streets in the Bronx, Staten Island, or Queens versus Manhattan, there was no need to put that type of terminology in Chicago's article when referring to the South or West Sides. Keep it consistent.

Good gracious man, that map is labeled. You can click on any of the individual district articles to view the district maps, and thus see that what you are stating is the opposite of what is fact. This discussion is surreal.
With regards to taxis, my inclination is to think that you haven't really spent any time in the areas you are talking about. You are just as likely to be able to hail a cab in Chatham (as you assert) as you are to find MLK Jr. Highway in NYC (as you invented). Statements like "several upper-class and middle-class neighborhoods on the South Side and Southwest like Hyde Park, Kenwood, Chatham, and Beverly, to name a few, where hailing taxis are easy too" make it very clear to me that you are making assertions about areas you know next to nothing about, and likely have never been to. --Peter Talk 17:21, 28 January 2010 (EST)

Point blank. It is not hard to hail a taxi off the streets of Chicago. In most American cities, you must call a taxi to come pick you up. Chicago and New York City are exceptions to that rule. But both cities have areas where it's easier to hail a cab and areas where it may be somewhat more difficult yet not impossible to hail a cab off the street. For Chicago, the easier areas are downtown, North Side, Near South, and Near West Sides. The harder areas in Chicago may be the West Side, and some parts of the South Side. In New York City, the easier area is Manhattan. The harder areas are the Bronx, Staten Island, and parts of Brooklyn and Queens. So if they both are comparable in that regard, my arguement is that when you read the Chicago article it gives the reader the impression that it's virtually impossible outside a small area, whereas the New York article doesn't give that impression, yet the same is true for both cities. That's what I'm saying.

I don't know why you persist in thinking the New York article is a model for this one, since that article is (generously) at 'usable' status, two levels below this one. (Also, nobody from Chicago gives a crap how New York does anything.) Nevertheless, I have 25 years of experience of not being able to hail a taxi off the street up by Howard Street or anywhere in the vicinity of it. So you're objectively wrong. Gorilla Jones

Lede (again)

I found the lede to this article to be misleading. Chicago is not the birthplace of jazz and the blues; those are from the South. Moreover, the local music scene isn't really the most important thing to the city's identity. My suggested rewrite was reverted; no particular objection to the content was specified. It is reproduced below. -- Beland 01:08, 18 May 2010 (EDT)

Chicago [2] is the hub of the American Midwest, its identity partly formed as a gateway to the agricultural heartland of the country, and partly as a teeming metropolis of cultural expression and innovation. Economically, it has thrived as a central North American transportation nexus, whether in the age of ships, railroads, or airplanes.
The city is easy to find — its picturesque skyline calls across the waters of Lake Michigan, a first impression that soon reveals world-class museums of art and science, miles of sandy beaches, huge parks and public art, and perhaps the finest downtown collection of modern architecture in the world.
Culturally, Chicago has become the adopted home of jazz and the blues, and a center of comedy and theater. It has shopping of an international caliber, while maintaining a local flair in architecture and food. The hustle and bustle of big city life have barely put a dent in real Midwestern friendliness.

What's a lede?--Burmesedays 01:15, 18 May 2010 (EDT)

Read back to the discussion above. Apparently the argument goes that "home of" does not equate to the "birthplace of". Apparently the blues, like a petulant teenager, has found its true home distant from its birth. --inas 01:26, 18 May 2010 (EDT)

That's... pretty boring, overall. The current version is interesting to read, whereas "teeming metropolis of cultural expression and innovation" feels like a jumble of buzzwords saying nothing about Chicago in particular. — D. Guillaime 01:33, 18 May 2010 (EDT)

wikipedia:wikt:lede#English defines "lede". It's a variant spelling of "lead" that is used only to refer to the opening section of a written work, like an encyclopedia article or a news article. And yes, I reverted Beland's contribution because it was dry and encyclopedic instead of lively travel writing. And because this is a star article, and reached star status with its current lede, I felt that any changes to the lede ought to be discussed here first, especially when they change the Tone so much. LtPowers 08:57, 18 May 2010 (EDT)
OK, here's another try, avoiding misleading claims (not the birthplace of jazz and the blues, meat packing is no longer a big industry) while trying to keep a livlier style. -- Beland 13:39, 19 May 2010 (EDT)

As the hub of the Midwest, Chicago [3] is easy to find — its picturesque skyline calls across the waters of Lake Michigan, a first impression that soon reveals world-class museums of art and science, miles of sandy beaches, huge parks and public art, and perhaps the finest downtown collection of historic and modern architecture in the world. Here, the age of railroads found its center and spawned a huge meatpacking industry; in more recent decades, airplanes have swooped in to connect the city to the world and carry its faith in social progress.

Known for its blues, jazz, comedy, theater, shopping, and fine dining, the hustle and bustle of life in America's "Second City" (a title now contested with Los Angeles) have barely put a dent in its genuine Midwestern friendliness.

I'm a little confused regarding what exactly is "misleding." The article neither claims Chicago is the birthplace of jazz or blues, nor that meat packing is currently a major industry.
Marc's version is one of the most dynamic intros we have on the site—it's about the last one I think would be worth much effort tinkering with, when there are so many lifeless "X is in Y" bits floating around. It's possible to quibble endlessly about originality in writing, especially in a collaborative wiki environment. But I think we should resist the urge to eye "the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme," and instead focus on improving the vast quantities of legitimately poor writing on the site. --Peter Talk 14:01, 19 May 2010 (EDT)
Well, as a tourist visiting Chicago, I read that lede and I interpreted it as saying that Chicago was the birthplace of jazz and the blues. I had to do my own research before I was certain this was factually incorrect. I don't think this travel guide should sacrifice factual accuracy in the name of being "dynamic". I tried to fix only that part of the intro, but that change was also reverted. It was requested that I discuss the issue here, so that's what I'm doing. -- Beland 14:30, 20 May 2010 (EDT)
I just don't see what's misleading about calling it the Home of the Blues (and actually, it says nothing about it being the home, much less the birthplace of jazz). It's not a Wikitravel coinage—it's a well-known city slogan. And regardless, if I say I'm going "home," I mean to my house, not to a hospital in New York. Further down the article at Chicago#Jazz and blues, the process by which the blues came to live in Chicago is explained.
And you're most certainly not doing anything wrong in discussing it here. I just disagree with you ;) --Peter Talk 18:19, 20 May 2010 (EDT)
Well, I was personally misled, because I thought the article was claiming that Chicago was the birthplace of the blues and jazz. I'm sure it reads differently to people who live in Chicago vs. those who don't know anything about it. If it's a well-known city slogan, the article should make that clear to people who have never heard it, as in "Chicago calls itself 'The Home of the Blues'". -- Beland 15:12, 24 May 2010 (EDT)
Sometimes clarity and poetry are mutually exclusive. The minor negative effects of a misunderstanding (one which, frankly, I don't expect a large number of people to have) are not worth disrupting the flow of the lede, IMO. Is it really a big deal if you were momentarily confused about the true birthplace of the blues? The rest of the article makes it clear that the blues migrated from the South along with several other cultural elements. LtPowers 18:47, 24 May 2010 (EDT)
I stopped reading before I got to the full explanation, and so walked away from the article with the wrong impression. Isn't the whole point of Wikitravel to give people accurate information about the places they visit? After having a discussion on the road, I concluded that this article was simply wrong, which undermines the site's credibility. -- Beland 19:52, 23 June 2010 (EDT)
Sorry, but that's your mistake, not the article's. Home ≠ birthplace. If it did, we'd all live in hospitals. Gorilla Jones 20:04, 23 June 2010 (EDT)

Hyperbole in the lead

The lead sounds like it was written by the Chicago Tourism Bureau. It is not the "home of the blues," only electric or Chicago-style blues. I don't know what "the truth of jazz" means. New York has a stronger association with skyscrapers. It's midwestern friendliness is noted, so no need to insult other cities as surly in the next sentence. The first sentence should note that Chicago is the third biggest city in America and the capital of the midwest. The features of the city should be noted without sounding so cheesy. Hyperbole destroys an articles credibility. —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

Yeah, and dry encyclopedic writing destroys an article's readability. I agree that "the truth of jazz" is a pretty meaningless phrase, but it sounds good and fits with what you'd find in any good travel article. LtPowers 13:30, 26 July 2010 (EDT)

"any good travel article" doesn't need to exagerate to be colorful. Look at the articles for New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles, or Berlin. They lead with the information a traveller would want, not meaningless praise. We can have a readable lead that people will like. There have been many changes, but the Chicago Tourism Bureau keeps changing it back.

FYI, a good half of the Chicago Tourism Bureau has moved to D.C., but does miss his 26th St style pizza at Connie's quite dearly. --Peter Talk 17:06, 15 August 2010 (EDT)
I just think it's a shame that the New York Tourism Bureau chooses to keep conducting itself like this. Gorilla Jones 23:33, 15 August 2010 (EDT)

You betray your bias. I was citing the other cities not to bring conflict, but to show that Chicago's lead is in no way typical. It is an off-putting, over-exciting lie. I'm sorry your "book" contains the hyperbole lead, but lets make this online article easier to read and use. We don't need Chicago-patriots screaming their cities praise. Travel is about putting prejudices aside. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs)

There clearly isn't any consensus to tone down the lead, so I've reverted the latest changes until there is some agreement. While I'd tend to agree that the current lede does stray a bit into hyperbole, trimming it down to cold, boring facts is IMHO going too far in the opposite direction. Wikitravel:Tone encourages lively writing, so given the choice between the current version or a stark recitation of fact I'd prefer the status quo. -- Ryan • (talk) • 17:35, 21 August 2010 (EDT)
The other cities cited were at guide status, while this was the first huge city star article. Just for fun, lets quote the top of Wikitravel:Tone right here:
Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme. -Ray Bradbury
--Peter Talk 17:42, 21 August 2010 (EDT)
I agree. This whole article reads like a travel brochure. People don't go to wikitravel to be convinced to go to a place. They've already decided to go and want clear, no-nonsense information about everything city related. Great cities speak for themselves. —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)
Don't tell us what people come here for. I think everyone here would agree this may be the best article on the site. It is the article to which the rest of us aspire when writing our own articles. It has been turned into a book that has a perfect review score on Amazon and sells better than Frommer's Chicago and Chicago for Dummies. We are writing travel guides both for people who want to know where to go and what to do, as well as people who already know where they're going and what they're doing. We cater to both markets; deal with it. LtPowers 11:49, 31 January 2011 (EST)

Willis / Sears Tower

There have been numerous edits to the Chicago articles in the past year to change "Sears Tower" to "Willis Tower", most of which have been reverted. At some point "Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)" is going to be the most common name. If we aren't there yet, then "Sears Tower (officially Willis Tower)" might be a decent compromise that will stave off further well-meaning edits. I don't know Chicago well enough to know which is better, so can anyone provide some input so that those of us watching this article know what to do with edits to the tower's name? -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:52, 24 August 2010 (EDT)

I think it is important to call it both "Sears Tower" for historical recognition and "Willis Tower" for the sake of being completely up-to-date (and for interesting trivia). I agree that "Sears Tower (officially Willis Tower)" accomplishes this perfectly.
The name appears many places throughout the Chicago pages though, most notably in Architecture, Buildings, and Skydeck. I would suggest noting the name change only in its first appearances on the Architecture and Buildings sections to avoid unnecessary confusion. By the time someone navigates to the Skydeck listing hopefully it will already be apparent to them. --Jtesla16 11:48, 24 August 2010 (EDT)
I suppose that's a reasonable compromise; the edits I made earlier today were merely to enforce what I saw as the existing consensus, that the building is still called the Sears Tower. I don't claim to be an expert. LtPowers 15:37, 24 August 2010 (EDT)
There is an infobox explaining the name change in the main article, but I think it would be fine to put the parenthetical after the first mention in the architecture section, for anyone who is confused, and missed the infobox. It's anecdotal, of course, but I was talking about the Sears Tower today (comparing it to the height of the ridiculously high Burj Khalifa) with people who neither familiar with Chicago nor terribly interested in skyscrapers or architecture, and it never even crossed my mind or theirs to refer to it as anything else.
I don't think that the Willis name is catching on, nor do I think it will, as the Sears Tower, unlike, say, Chicago's Standard Oil Building, is an icon with worldwide name recognition. Similarly, if the Eiffel Tower was whored out under corporate naming rights as the GazProm Tower, people would keep on calling it the Eiffel Tower. The notable exception, of course, is Wikipedia, where I'd say they are violating their own policies, by asserting without much evidential basis that Willis will become the more widespread usage. --Peter Talk 16:40, 24 August 2010 (EDT)
This edit to the Skyline guide, as well as one to the USA article, are actually what prompted the discussion, since I've seen such edits reverted and was curious whether we had an agreement on this. It sounds like the parenthetical is a decent compromise to ward off those trying to "fix" the name. As to "Sears" vs "Willis", it sounds very similar to when San Francisco tried to claim that "Candlestick Park" was actually "3Com Park" or " Park" - aside from the guys in the broadcast booth I can't recall ever hearing anyone utter the new names, and if they had the scorn directed in their direction would have been fast and heavy. It got to the point that in 2004 there was actually a ballot measure passed to prevent the city from trying to rename the park again. -- Ryan • (talk) • 16:50, 24 August 2010 (EDT)
I'm not sure what policies Wikipedia is violating by calling their article wikipedia:Willis Tower. They have wikipedia:WP:COMMONNAME, of course, but it's my opinion that the plainest reading of it doesn't necessarily mean "what do most people on the street call it", especially for things that do have official names. Most of the most reliable sources -- such as news articles and official sources -- will call it the Willis Tower, so that's a perfectly reasonable name for the article's title. (Our purposes, of course, are different; in our case, we definitely should prefer what most people call the building, so that travelers can better find it.) LtPowers 17:03, 24 August 2010 (EDT)
I'd be happy to wager that most official sources and news articles still call it the Sears Tower. --Peter Talk 17:05, 24 August 2010 (EDT)
I'm fine with 'Sears Tower (officially Willis Tower)' at the first mention. I spoke to a Chicago Architecture Foundation docent recently, and he said that they refer to it as the Sears Tower on their tours, but usually include a brief (and derisive) reference to Willis. As for Wikipedia, they had the name change in place the day the contract called for it, before any meaningful reading of wikipedia:WP:COMMONNAME had been met. To be fair, though, it's obvious from their talk page that it was a small group of users who rammed it through, not the result of any consensus. Gorilla Jones 18:38, 24 August 2010 (EDT)

Bus table

I'm moving this here for discussion — I'm not sure we should devote this much space to bus transit between Chicago and a scant two cities. Gorilla Jones 18:20, 26 September 2010 (EDT)

A summary of bus fares to Milwaukee and Minneapolis frequencies and services including the lowest internet fare, the walk-up ticket price and how often the buses run:

Milwaukee lowest Milwaukee walkup Milwaukee frequency Minneapolis lowest Minneapolis walkup Minneapolis frequency wifi 110v outlets
Amtrak² $22 $22 7x day $56 $56-$74 1x day No Yes
Greyhound $6 $16 8x day $27 $65 5x day No No
Ind. Trails  ?  ? 1x day Yes Yes
Megabus $1 $20³ 4x day $1 $24³ 3-4x day Yes Some
Wisconsin $26 $26 14x day No No

²Train. AAA, ISIC, SA, Senior (walk-up) discounts: Milwaukee $18, Minneapolis from $47. ³Tickets must be purchased via internet or telephone($3 fee).

Coyotes downtown?

Not sure whether or where this might fit it in the article. Seemed worth posting, though: Pashley 05:37, 25 November 2010 (EST)

Heh, that article mentions "nuisance problems, like mice, rats, and rabbits." Chicago does have an unusually large number of weird nocturnal urban bunnies, but I never thought of them as a nuisance. --Peter Talk 11:27, 25 November 2010 (EST)

Lead needs more color

The lead was so boring before. Everyone knows that blues and jazz are centered in Chicago, that people are super-friendly there unlike every other city that size, and that there is days weeks and months of stuff to see in Chicago.

But there might be some foreigners reading this and we need to convince them to come to Chicago! We should add more color to the lead. I added some real colorful stuff. It's not all true, mind you, but color is more important than truth. Chicago!

"Color" is not more important than truth, and your edits were nothing but vandalism. Besides, if someone were to visit based on their love of "pubic art" and the "ambiguous sexuality" of Midwesterners and Subway Restaurant employees, they would likely be highly disappointed and they'd go home and tell their countrymen that Chicago is overrated and not worth the visit. ChubbyWimbus 04:24, 28 February 2011 (EST)

I agree that truth is more important than color. But legitimate concerns about the lead's bombastic claims were repeatedly brought up and shouted down by people who said "we need color, your edits are boring." Some of the people round here think its dull writing if it doesn't have a bunch of meaningless color that isnt based on reality.

Satire, not vandalism.

We need to calm down the lead and bring it in line with the helpful, informativie, and interesting nature of the rest of this site. Not a "Chicago is awesome" banner. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by‎ (talkcontribs)

As the article's history and this talk page shows, this anonymous user is trolling; please revert any further contributions. While there are legitimate points to be made about the article being too promotional, feeding the trolls is counter-productive. -- Ryan • (talk) • 15:28, 28 February 2011 (EST)

Can we have a discussion about making the lead appealing and informative without being so grabby? With consensus, huh? —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

Sure. First, what do you mean by "grabby"? LtPowers 09:49, 13 March 2011 (EDT)

I think the lead is laying on the gravy a bit heavy. Let's have some biscuits.

The first paragraph could be shorter. The last two sentences could be one. "World-class luxury mingles with real Midwestern friendliness in a city that likes to swagger." How about that?

We can replace the whole first paragraph with...

"Ready to laugh, cry, sing the blues and swagger through the third-biggest city in America? Chicago has been there for trains, planes, hog-butcherin', and skyscrapers. World-class luxury mingles with real Midwestern friendliness. Because around here, everything is done "Chicago style!"

Or no? I wanna work with you guys. —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

It would help if you registered for an account; your IP address changes a lot and that makes it hard to contact you. Anyway, it's difficult to talk about changes to the lead without identifying what you feel is wrong with it. Is it just that it's too long? I don't think it is; we don't need to ramble, but the lead should be substantial enough to give the reader a good idea of what they'll find in the rest of the article. LtPowers 21:25, 13 March 2011 (EDT)

Ok, I'll think about this account thing. Bear in mind that I did "hyperbole in the lead" and this and that's it.

You are right that the lead should be "substantial enough to give the reader a good idea of what they'll find in the rest of the article." The rest of the article is very good, great even. Concise, complete, and with some helpful swagger in the writing too.

The lead isn't concise. It is coming from too many places at once, like an Illinois twister.

"Chicago is where blues went eletric and jazz found its swing. Comedy and cuisine adapted and were adopted again by the rest of America from this skyscraper metropolise. Hogbutchering and moonshining are gone, but the Second City hasn't lost its downhome charm."

That mentions blues, jazz, comedy, food (bbq, pizza, etc), skycrapers, The Jungle and gangsters, Second City, along with its downhome charm (I wanted to say swagger, but didn't).

It cuts out some of the lesser-known references from the first paragraph, but will leave it stronger. Plus the "downhome" segways into the second paragraph. —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

Well if you don't get an account, at least sign your posts. =)
I'm starting to see what you mean, but I think we might be able to tighten up the focus without actually shortening the lead. I think it's really the perfect length on a page this size; three good-sized paragraphs provides a nice introduction. If there's any place to err on the side of verbosity, it's in the lead, which is supposed to grab a reader's attention. LtPowers 19:59, 14 March 2011 (EDT)

I agree about grabbing a readers attention. I think we can be more informative without loosing flavor. I like my line "Chicago is where blues went electric and jazz found its swing." We can play up the "Second City" theme, in that Chicago puts its own style on Americana.

Before I went at the lead with my own take, someone was graffiting the lead consistantly and with some stuff that was pretty obscene. There are other examples. I think people are graffiting because they are bothered by the unabashed lead.

Well, I have to be honest that it's hard to defend words I didn't myself write, and it seems the main authors of this article are busy elsewhere. My feeling, more or less, is that while encyclopedias might be able to be written by committee, when it comes to lively, creative writing such as this, it's going to have to come down to one person just taking it and running with it. So I'm reluctant to try to assemble something "better" rather than leaving the distinctive voice that is already present. LtPowers 20:46, 24 March 2011 (EDT)

Articles don't have "main authors." Bullys protecting their handiwork is not the point of a wiki.

Wikitravel says color and information must coexist.

So, I don't see any ojections around here to me changing the lead, except from the guys trying to sell books on EBAY. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs)

Ah, so the facade of reasonableness drops. Yes, articles do indeed have main authors - or "primary contributors" if you will. A simple look at the page history will make it abundantly clear who has done the majority of work on this article. Also, as you will note, I am not trying to sell anything on "EBAY" [sic]. My concern is that the lively writing authored by the primary contributors to this article will be watered down because an anonymous IP address somewhere in Internet-land thinks it's too promotional. LtPowers 08:30, 1 April 2011 (EDT)

I'm not the only reader who thinks its too promotional. Thats why it is susceptable to graffiti.

I am being reasonable, asking for a reasonable intro, not a meaningless one. "It can't change, its so colorful" is not reasonable. Sure, there are some people contributing more than others, but that doesn't make their opinions more important. As an IP address, my contributions are not less valid than someone who spends alot of time on their user page.

Go to the EBAY (I'll spell it as I like) page and you will see a bunch of ridiculous reviews made by meat puppets. The primary conts are selling a book. If that is the purpose of this site, I'll back off, but I thought its to give quality info to travellers.

So, its "watered down" if it has more info?

I don't know why Chicago residents are so defensive about their city. I think it has to do with an inferiority complex next to LA and NYC. Chicago can stand along side any city in the world with its own merit, it doesn't need invented praise.

Nobody except the Chicago gang has commented in support of the lead. I'm going to make some minor changes and we can go from there.

—The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

You really aren't being reasonable. You've unilaterally declared that this article is too promotional, rather than listening to opposing opinions. You prattle on about "EBAY" -- I'm not even sure what you mean by that: reviews for what? -- and I am not a member of the "Chicago gang", whatever that means. LtPowers 13:11, 3 April 2011 (EDT)

Sorry, not ebay, Amazon, my mistake. Look at the reviews, they are written in the same style as the old lead. "Wow, buy this book, it heals Leprosy!"

Other people bring up the lead and it was always shouted down. If changes were suggested they were labelled bland. My edit isn't bland, its colorful and truthful. It tells people interesting stuff about Chicago.

Did you notice that the lead used to link to I got rid of that. I said it before and I'll say it again, the old lead was written by someone with a vested interest in increasing tourist numbers to Chicago.

I like being flippant and childish on talk pages. I think its fun. But the article exists for the reader. Lets give them good info without being a dusty old tome.

You and me, like the Blues Brothers. We're on a mission from God.

We always link official tourism sites. Why would you remove it? LtPowers 09:23, 4 April 2011 (EDT)
After doing some research, I've reverted the entire change, as it contained a number of inaccuracies: in particular, jazz didn't "find its swing" in Chicago at all. LtPowers 12:43, 4 April 2011 (EDT)

Chicago jazz distinguishes itself from other styles in a variety of ways, and Chicago-style means Swing Jazz. That is not a factual statement, it is a blend of color and information.

Are you saying that it is verifiable that the "truth of jazz" is in Chicago? That is like saying the best jazz is in Chicago. We can say "alot of the best jazz is in Chicago" but your revert is not more true. Which do you prefer, color or truth? —The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

Don't try to change the subject. The basic point to remember here is that the version you changed had widespread support, and was viewed by many eyes while this article was being reviewed for Star status. That means you better have some really good reasons for changing it, and so far "I don't like it" is about all you've come up with. Try to garner some consensus for your problems with the lead before making any further changes. LtPowers 12:07, 6 April 2011 (EDT)

Widespread support? There is consensus for change. It has been brought up numerous times for improvement and always shouted down by a few individuals. Just like you are doing now.

The widespread defacement of this page can be viewed as adding to the consensus for change.

This article deserves a gold star for its completeness. Many people overlooked the bombastic lead for that reason, I think.

At least part of the lead needs to be changed to make this article easier to use, more informative, and less whimsical.

You've still failed to help improve the lead, only champion it as perfect. I'm not the one saying "I don't like it." I have specific beefs. You have general praise.

So are you gonna get on the trolley of progress?

—The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs)

It's not perfect. Your changes made it significantly worse. There's no "consensus for change" here; what we have are a bunch of IP addresses who've made few if any edits to our travel guides, and whom (for all we know) could be one person having a laugh. Frankly, we put a lot more stock in the opinions of long-time editors who have a proven knack for writing travel guides rather than visitors who complain rather needlessly about "boosterism". LtPowers 21:36, 7 April 2011 (EDT)

It was made "significantly worse"? So it started out bad. Agreed. I'm changing it back. Can we let it hang a few days, see if we get some criticism? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs)

To the anon - please either create an account or at least sign your posts with four tildes (~~~~) so that these discussions are easier to follow. Regarding the latest revert, I've been following this conversation and don't have strong feelings about either edit version, but if we're going to use the new version then please stop removing the official Chicago link (see Wikitravel:External links). -- Ryan • (talk) • 14:57, 12 April 2011 (EDT)
Jazz didn't "find its swing" in Chicago; "downhome" is a word no self-respecting Chicagoan would use; these and the gratuitous "Chicago!" at the end of the paragraph all mark the revision as entirely non-serious and completely unacceptable. I'd be interested to see a serious defense of this revision that didn't start with "no one else has objected to it". LtPowers 19:01, 12 April 2011 (EDT)
The Chicago style of Jazz is often called Swing Jazz. It is a more upbeat, dancable big band sound. I think the first line of the new edit is its best strength, especially since the old "home of blues and truth of jazz" was poorly worded.
If you object to the word "downhome," please change it. Maybe Chicagoans don't say it much, but it is a Midwest term. We are trying to say that Chicago is a big city but still has small town friendliness.
I removed the "Chicago!". Ok, maybe that was a bit of a joke. But it would have been appropriate in the old lead.
If you want the link back in, go for it.
I just don't want a "COME TO CHICAGO!" lead. Something more like "Chicago is a great destiniation, here is why" would be more palatable.
Tildy tildy tildy 14:40, 14 April 2011 (EDT)
I always thought of swing jazz as more of a New York thing (even Benny Goodman left Chicago), but I'm no expert, and regardless I'd prefer that phrasing over the moderately incomprehensible "truth of jazz". I'm hoping at least a few other current or former Chicagoans will weigh in, but thank you all for moving back from edit warring to calm(-ish) discussion. – D. Guillaime 20:53, 15 April 2011 (EDT)


I guess the change being proposed here is from:

Chicago is the home of the blues and the truth of jazz, the heart of comedy and the idea of the skyscraper. Here, the age of railroads found its center, and airplanes followed suit. Butcher of hogs and believer in progress, it is one of the world's great cities, and yet the metropolitan luxuries of theater, shopping, and fine dining have barely put a dent in real Midwestern friendliness. It's a city with a swagger, but without the surliness or even the fake smiles found in other cities of its size.


Chicago is where blues went electric and jazz found its swing. Comedy and cuisine adapted and were adopted again by the rest of America from this skyscraper metropolis. Hogbutchering and moonshining are gone, but the Second City hasn't lost its downhome charm.

While I do genuinely appreciate that someone is taking the challenge to heart and trying to write something original (rather than simply neutering existing writing), to me this would seem a clear degradation in style. The only part that works well is the first sentence—which I like. The second sentence is a weak watery construction, serving only to mention the items that would otherwise be forgotten from the existing version (comedy & skyscrapers). The third one is quite cute, and I like it, but "downhome" is a jarring term for Chicago—it's a little too southern; a little too country.

Now on the other hand, the original intro has a lot going for it. The introductory sentence has a neat structure of parallel metaphors touching on Chicago's biggest contributions to the world of American aesthetics/culture—it's a punchy way to lead off the article, and one which serves as a hook, to get the reader to figure out why the city is these things. The next puts the city at the center of the nation's transit infrastructure, which aside from finance is probably the city's most prominent economic role in the country. I'm a big fan of the third sentence, with another punchy line ("butcher of hogs and believer in progress"—c'mon, this is great stuff), followed with what I think is one of the main reasons visitors to the United States really should make a point of visiting—the city has all you could want in terms of urbanity and culture, but still represents the country well in terms of casual American hospitality.

The fourth sentence is IMO a little wanting, as the second clause is kind of an awkward veiled dig at the two cities in the country larger than Chicago, but it still serves as a good concluding line to the lede. I initially suggested that it might work better as an overt shot: "without the surliness of a New York or the fake smiles of L.A." But maybe an even more abstract version would be better? Again, the point being made is worth emphasizing, because I think it's a main selling point of the city.

Lest I be accused of some sort of bias..., I did not actually write the existing version. --Peter Talk 13:45, 7 June 2011 (EDT)

My main concerns with the revised lead are the discounting of New York's contribution to swing and the general limp fit-everything-into-as-few-sentences-as-possible writing. And I agree "downhome" doesn't sound right.
For the last sentence of the current lead, the semi-alliteration between "swagger" and "surliness" could be emphasized to provide a more generic but more poetic contrast.
-- LtPowers 16:02, 7 June 2011 (EDT)
I've thought about this too much, methinks, but how about "It's a big city with a big swagger, but with an uncommon shortfall of surliness or pretense." --Peter Talk 17:47, 18 June 2011 (EDT)

I wrote the "blues went electric" revision. I read your criticisms and tried to give it another go. This one incorporates more from the old version, which I'm starting to appreciate more. But, I took off some phrases that I thought were still over the top (days, weeks and months) and tried to introduce some other flavor.

I put two movie references in, but I think they are appropriate. Ferris and the Brothers both have Chicago as a character in the movie and give people who've never visited there a picture to put in their heads. The last sentence of the second paragraph is new, but touches on the friendliness of people while bringing up comedy and nightlife in Chicago as well as the many sports teams.

Anyway, just trying to find a good tone in the lead for this increasingly excellent article. 03:23, 13 June 2011 (EDT)

The new lead is improved over previous attempts at revision, but it just doesn't flow like the old one does. (And when did Ferris Bueller ever try to tame Chicago's swagger? If anything, he added to it.) LtPowers 21:27, 17 June 2011 (EDT)

I disagree that the old one "flows". Revision is going back up to generate comments from 3rd parties. 18:36, 3 July 2011 (EDT)

We've had several third parties comment, and you're the only one who likes it. LtPowers 21:30, 3 July 2011 (EDT)
This is the place to solicit comments, not the article itself. --Peter Talk 20:24, 6 July 2011 (EDT)

There have been numerous 3rd party comments supporting changes and revisions. If we leave the old one up, we will only get continued vandalism (which is an arguement for change).

Revision needs to be up so that people can comment on the talk page. 19:16, 7 July 2011 (EDT)

What numerous 3rd-party comments. I only see you, and vandals, and I'm still not convinced there's a difference there. LtPowers 10:18, 8 July 2011 (EDT)