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Old 04-29-2010, 10:31 PM
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I am curious so as to How Detroit compares to Chicago. Diffrent/Same culture? Is Detroit sprawled out like Chicago? How is the cost of living and economy? I went to A job fair in Chicago a few years ago and noticed people drink beer like its water up there. Is that a Chicago thing or midwest thing?
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:34 AM
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Detroit is a declining city, with little to no white collar (and even blue collar) employment base. Detroit is also extremely impoverished and dangerous. Chicagoland has way more people, is much larger, and has many varied job opportunities. I think both cities are equally as urban, but our suburbs stretch farther.
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Old 04-30-2010, 06:46 AM
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Chicago has a solid base of jobs, even though unemployment may be high, it will recover much better then Detroit. Detroit lost most of its jobs when the automotive industry began to take a dive, and it brought most of the state of Michigan down with it. Michigan as a whole still hasnt recovered because it has a hard time diversifing its economy like Chicago can because Chicago has such a wide range of industries and companies. Yeah Chicago has crime, but alot of that crime is in segregated areas, in Detroit, the crime is more widespread. Also Chicago has nighlife, tourism and a transportation system, things Detroit just doesnt have, or has a very low percentage of compared to Chicago.

Last edited by chris0681; 04-30-2010 at 07:21 AM..
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:15 AM
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There are so many differences. Yes, some drink beer like water, in fact Miller-Coors moved here! Not as much open space, there are few large tracts of it in the City as there are in Detroit. Other contrasts: The Lakefront. A more diverse economy - still depressed but nearly as much as Detroit. A cornucopia of transit options: the "L", commuter trains, even commuter boats. Two major airports and ML baseball teams. More historic and interesting buildings. More and better museums. Finally, Chicago is a more international city, even though it is not just across the river from Canada.
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Old 04-30-2010, 09:36 AM
Location: Denver, CO
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I'd say the main difference between Chicago and Detroit aside from it's economic shape is transportation. Driving is part of Detroit's culture (with good reason), while Chicagoans are much more likely to use trains to get around. Of course, if driving is an important part of your life, you can do so in the Chicago suburbs, you just have to learn traffic patterns and how to use GCM (http://www.GCMtravel.com - broken link) to effectively get around. Even without Detroit's recent woes, Chicago is a bigger and more crowded city.
Other than that, I would say the two cities are pretty culturally similar. The climate in both cities are quite similar, with cold winters and mild-warm summers, a decent amount of rainfall, and Great Lakes causing some strange weather patterns. Both cities were built up in the 19th century originally around the railroad. Both cities were also destinations during the "underground railroad" as well as the "great migration" giving them sizable Black populations. Because of Chicago's more diversified economy and recent economic strength, Chicago is probably more diverse, with more sizable Asian and Hispanic communities. Both cities also have plenty of urban areas and suburban areas, which differ from each other within the metropolitan area more than the two metropolitan areas differ.
The beer drinking thing is definitely more of a Midwest thing. I was told in 2005 that the top 3 states for binge drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks in one night) were Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois. Wisconsinites are proud of how much beer they drink and how early they introduce their children to it. The rest of the great lakes states seem to go heavy on the beer as well.
If deciding on a place to live, I would definitely pick Chicago given Detroit's economic conditions, and if you are looking for a place where you can find Detroit's way of life, but with job opportunities, I would say there are parts of Chicago that fit that bill.
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Old 04-30-2010, 10:32 AM
Location: Not where you ever lived
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I saw part of a show in the last couple of days where the City of Detroit is actually going to physically downsize. They're talking about demolisihing more than a few acres and turning it in a green zone.
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:04 AM
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It is not just the "city" of Detroit that is serious peril right now, it is the surrounding areas and the whole state.

A few weeks ago my wife and I had some business related travel to the suburban areas outside Detroit -- it would be the equivalent of "Gold Coast" / North Shore of Chicago and its suburbs.

The really upscale places that used to be kind of immune to shifts when jobs moved to Mexico or Canada are really hurting bad. If you check out Grosse Pointe or Dearborn or the other areas that were for the executive class they are not bombed out like Detroit;s worst areas, but the real estate sales have ground to a halt, prices are in free fall and even the once cute little shops are in a state of suspension.

Decades of government has claimed they want to diversify the base of the economy away from automobiles but the sad reality is that tourism and speciality agriculture can't hold a candle to the kind of wages / benefits that centuries of labor union mindest imposed upon every layer of the state. It is both sad and a little ironic that the false promise of "green jobs" neglects the fact that very low wage countries like Spain and China already have a near deadlock of the basics of wind power and such that is closest in manufactuirng skills of folks familar with big motors, gears and complex mechanical systems.

I have vacationed in SW Michigan for many years, along with huge numbers of Illinois residents. There is a long history of SW Michigan being a "summering spot" for Chicagoans, but over the last few years the reasons behind why this part of Michigan has become reliant upon our dollars is woefully obvious.

Literally dozens of decades ago the furniture business that flourished in Michigan shifted to lower wage states in the South as more skilled wood workers realized they could earn more doing trivial assembly jobs in the factories of the Big Three. Michigan should have had a strategy way back then to deal with the rot that organized labor sunk into its workforce. Instead the stupid politicians doubled down on automakers and created a climate that allowed the labor unions to snuff the life out of any independant businessmen. The horrors that face Michigan's schools, roads, healthcare and basic life needs can either serve as warning to us in Illinois to halt the mindless fealty of your politicians to organized labor or will soon doom us to as miserable a fate...
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:30 PM
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If you were to go back in time, as late as perhaps the '70s, you wouldn't have noticed much difference.

Although Chicago boomed a bit earlier (late 19th century: starting in 1870s) than Detroit (Detroit is over 100 years older than Chicago as a village, but didn't start "booming" until around 1910s), they basically grew up during the industrial era of America so many of the older buildings (built say from 1900-1960) are the same, both cities saw similar immigration patterns due to the attraction of low-skilled labor. (ie: A Polish immigrant looking for work and opportunity wouldn't have seen much difference between Chicago or Detroit in the 1950s). Because of this, the two cities have many historic similarities.

This all changed starting in 1967 (although the roots of the change go back further). Chicago evolved with a more diverisfied economy from the start due to its natural central location in terms of transportation. (Although some Chicago homers like to emphasis the determintation and planners of old. Rebuilding after the fire or reversing the river, is a little mythologized). Chicago was just in a better location. Detroit did not diversify its economy.

In the 1967, some of the worst race riots in history happened. Chicago has some riots altough were not as big as Detroits, and given Chicagos size it affected less of Chicago. Shortly after, by the 1970s, Germany and Japan started rebuilding their industrial base after having been reduced to rubble 25 years earlier, they now had an auto industry that caught up to Americas car industry. Over 30 years of being the sole major automakers in the world, the big 3 car companies got lazy because they didn't have competition.

Chicago also had industry too, that went in decline, because of foreign competition, mostly on the south and west sides. Through a combination of white flight (and later middle class of all colors) and deindustrialization what happened to basically all of Detroit, happened to 2/3 of Chicago. It was the other 1/3 of Chicago (the north side plus Hyde Park; essentially the part of Chicago that is a little bit more like a slice of New York and a touch of Boston (Hyde Park/U of C) essentially "saved Chicago" from becoming Detroit.

So today, you can find vacant land where the used to be factories, houses, and businesses on the south and west sides, but its not anything like what you see in Detroit because

A. The high cost of the north side, is good for the south and west sides, because new building goes on, as the north side is all "gentrified out" and

B. Poor, unskilled residents (many of which don't have a car) can take the El to go serve drinks and food for the masses of upper-middle class downtown workers. Something of which there is less opportunity of in Detroit.

To summarize: the two cities have rather similar historic roots, but things that happened over the last 40 years or so, caused the two cities to go down very different paths.

Comparing Chicago and Detroit can be analagous to comparing Thailand and Myanmar, North Korea and South Korea, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, or the former east and west Germany.

Similar in many ways historically, culturally, but because of differences that go back in the last 60 years, are rather different today.

The effect this has on their respective suburbs is this:

Although there are corporate headquarters, major office complexes in the Detroit suburbs of Oakland County (essentially Detroit version of North Cook/south Lake county or DuPage county) the fact is, in this day in age, where cities have become very popular, and suburbs are considered "meh" the younger generation judges suburbs by the central city.

So, many suburbs that are rather characterless, bland, Anywhere USA have gone in cost of housing and are "hot" for the simple reason they are Chicago suburbs, whereas outside Detroit people just don't care if the fact that Oakland County has the suburban business districts of Soutfield and Troy or the hip downtowns of Royal Oak and Ferndale. The fact that they are part of metro Detroit turns off companies and corporations that are interested in relocating, as well as potentially new residents as well.
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Old 04-30-2010, 02:59 PM
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While Detroit and Chicago did have some similarities in their early 20th Century development, there are some obvious differences that are important to this conversation.

1. Chicago is more of a 19th Century city than Detroit, and to that effect it is more dense. Detroit is a city of single-family or duplex houses on tree-lined streets. The 19th Century core of Chicago is denser and has more brick.

2. Chicago really put a lot of investment into its downtown, even as many neighborhoods were declining in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. A lot of the credit for this should go to Mayor Richard J. Daley. He has been criticized for letting neighborhoods go to pot while concentrating resources on the downtown, but the reality is that the neighborhoods would have declined no matter what due to the changes that ravaged every American city in the automobile age. And because Chicago's downtown remained the major employment and cultural center for the region, the city maintained some level of desirability. Without a vibrant CBD, Chicago's gentrification would not have happened to the extent that it did.

3. In spite of the gritty Democratic machine politics, Chicago has remained a place for business to thrive. While Chicago certainly has blue collar roots, it has always had a larger and more diverse labor pool than detroit--including highly-trained and highly-educated white collar workers.
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:33 PM
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Default Don't leave out the KEY difference my friend...

Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
While Detroit and Chicago did have some similarities in their early 20th Century development, there are some obvious differences that are important to this conversation.

...While Chicago certainly has blue collar roots, it has always had a larger and more diverse labor pool than detroit--including highly-trained and highly-educated white collar workers.
The Big Three still have LOTS of highly trained highly educated white collar workers too, but they have a "cement boots" around their feet of organized labor. Instead the white collar workers of Chicago are involved PRIMARILY in the free wheeling worlds of financial markets, banking, insurance, service oriented marketing and real estate that all align themselves (at least ideologically ...) with the Chicago School of economics that embraces the unfettered movement of capital to wherever the return is greatest. What tangible assets does the CME have? Why is former Secretary of Commerce Bill Daley in chairment of the Midwest for JP Morgan Chase... William M. Daley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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