The moment has arrived. I’m human, and I just can’t help myself. It’s time to compare Chicago to Los Angeles. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I just can’t help myself...
Los Angeles: The city is a frigging nightmare to get around. It took up to an hour and a half to go 42 miles. I have friends who sit on the freeways 2+ hours to go 65 miles. On the other hand, virtually all drivers zip along – unless there is a cool accident to rubber neck. Freeways are constantly being widened.
Worst situations? Hot-rodders at night who watch TVs embedded into the steering wheel during rush hour and then zoom down the highway at 100+ once it gets later.
Chicago: Holy crud, it took 1.5 hours to go 12 miles to the airport. There are no east-west freeways 15 miles north or south of us, so no easy way to get out of town. It’s amazing to realize that in the 20+ years I’ve been gone, the freeways are still 3-lanes wide with no new ones. They just keep repaving the same freeways over and over.
Worst situations? Some Chicagoans only drive a few times a month because they can walk everywhere. These folks blithely cut everyone else off as if there aren’t any other cars on the road.
Chicago double negative: Toll roads everywhere. They’ve been adding booths every 20 feet to keep traffic crawling. They’re called Open Road Tolling. Should be called “Get a Loan Tolling.”
Los Angeles: We had to drive 25 miles for the nearest Whole Foods. It took 22 minutes on the weekend.
Chicago: We have to drive 5 miles to get to a Whole foods. It takes 23 minutes.
Los Angeles: There is something to be said about fast-moving freeways.
Los Angeles: The buses I took were generally clean and arrived on time.
Chicago: The bus takes 40-60 minutes to go 6 miles. They break down regularly and as a result don’t always show up. On the plus side, my bus goes down Lake Shore Drive, which reveals amazing views of Lincoln Park, Lake Michigan and downtown.
Los Angeles: MetroLink trains – heavy rail – are paradise: they are clean, roomy and efficient. Trains are late about twice a month, but rarely beyond 15 minutes.
Chicago: Holy crud II, the Elevated – light rail – looks much as it did when it was built by the Romans. I recommend geologists carbon date the wood to see just how far back this petrified system goes. Trains are repeatedly late, break down often and the interiors are dirtier than the La Brea Tar Pits.
Los Angeles: Unless you are lucky enough to live along the ocean, the mountains or in one of the cooler downtowns such as Pasadena, it’s all by car, baby. L.A. still has the ugliest big-city downtown in the nation, despite all the claims it’s “coming back to life.”
Chicago: Okay, it’s paradise during the summer and a bit nasty during the winter. There is nothing like walking along the lake front on a warm, sunny day or night. And unlike Los Angeles, it’s (sort of) affordable to live near Chicago-area’s numerous lakes, rivers and parks. And let’s not forget downtown, which is eye candy for anyone who loves architecture.
Comparisons: Most of the buses in Chicago use diesel instead of natural gas. While Los Angeles may have worse overall air, I’m breathing black clouds of death at street level. I find myself holding my breath 30 times a day to avoid inhaling that crap.
To make matters worse, everyone smokes on the street in Chicago. I’m holding my breath when I pass these folks, too. By the time I get into the office, my face is blue and I’m close to passing out.
Which city has the worst overall commutes? Chicago.
Which city has the prettier commutes? Chicago.
Which city can you walk in? Chicago
Chicago: When we arrived, all the women in Chicago were tastefully exposing their midriffs and legs. Suddenly (as in the temperature dropped 45 degrees overnight) they all were wearing heavy clothing covered up by long black jackets. I didn’t notice any appreciable difference in men’s clothing except the jackets.
Los Angeles: Men and women wear same clothes year around. Okay, that’s not entirely true – except for flip-flops – but I do have sweaters that are 10 years old that look brand new. To be honest, Los Angeles clothing styles are all over the map so I won’t even pretend to stereotype.
Who dresses better? Chicago in the summer, L.A. in the winter.