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Old 08-17-2014, 09:41 AM
 
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My wife and I are planning on visiting the US (from England) in the near future and we have narrowed it down to either New York or Chicago. We really don't know where to go so was wondering if you would be kind enough to give us a quick summary of the vibe/size/scenery/etc of each city?

We want to visit a true "American" city (I know every city in the US is "American" but some look different to what you would associate with traditional Americana e.g. Santa Fe isn't a typical American city) and not have to rent a car.

Which would you suggest?

Ask us a few Qs to help us with our decision and we'll gladly answer!


Cheers
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Old 08-17-2014, 09:58 AM
 
Location: Twin Cities (StP)
3,017 posts, read 1,871,010 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doz3ns View Post
My wife and I are planning on visiting the US (from England) in the near future and we have narrowed it down to either New York or Chicago. We really don't know where to go so was wondering if you would be kind enough to give us a quick summary of the vibe/size/scenery/etc of each city?

We want to visit a true "American" city (I know every city in the US is "American" but some look different to what you would associate with traditional Americana e.g. Santa Fe isn't a typical American city) and not have to rent a car.

Which would you suggest?

Ask us a few Qs to help us with our decision and we'll gladly answer!


Cheers
You are gonna start a fight with a claim like that... I suppose to help us Americans out, you have to give us a sense of how other countries (and you in particular) view "traditional America". If it is the 1700's and Revolutionary War, then NYC will be your best bet. If it is the mid to late 1800's and the industrial revolution/expansion westward, then Chicago will be your best bet. If like many other foreigners you watch MTV and Bravo and attribute those traits to be traditional America, then LA (or Miami) would be your best bet. It all depends on your view of traditional America.
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Grizzly Addams View Post
You are gonna start a fight with a claim like that... I suppose to help us Americans out, you have to give us a sense of how other countries (and you in particular) view "traditional America". If it is the 1700's and Revolutionary War, then NYC will be your best bet. If it is the mid to late 1800's and the industrial revolution/expansion westward, then Chicago will be your best bet. If like many other foreigners you watch MTV and Bravo and attribute those traits to be traditional America, then LA (or Miami) would be your best bet. It all depends on your view of traditional America.
Sorry. I didn't mean to offend!! I was talking about a more middle America. The stereotypical image of a British town is rainy, red letterboxes, red buses, agriculture, hills, forests and rivers (according to my Bostonian friend). When us Brits think of America we don't think of the pueblo architecture, but gothic skyscrapers, four seasons, urban grit in the bigger cities, apple pie, county fairs etc. That's all I meant

We definitely don't watch Bravo and MTV (!) and California has never interested us. I am a history teacher and I find Chicago's history more interesting than New York (personally), so that may seal the deal for us; although my wife has always wanted to visit NY. Any suggestions for a compromise? Or is Chicago a compromise in a way ( I have been told by my American friend that they are very similar cities - well Manhattan/the Loop feel the same in some respects)
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Twin Cities (StP)
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Originally Posted by doz3ns View Post
Sorry. I didn't mean to offend!! I was talking about a more middle America. The stereotypical image of a British town is rainy, red letterboxes, red buses, agriculture, hills, forests and rivers (according to my Bostonian friend). When us Brits think of America we don't think of the pueblo architecture, but gothic skyscrapers, four seasons, urban grit in the bigger cities, apple pie, county fairs etc. That's all I meant

We definitely don't watch Bravo and MTV (!) and California has never interested us. I am a history teacher and I find Chicago's history more interesting than New York (personally), so that may seal the deal for us; although my wife has always wanted to visit NY. Any suggestions for a compromise? Or is Chicago a compromise in a way ( I have been told by my American friend that they are very similar cities - well Manhattan/the Loop feel the same in some respects)
I would say they are somewhat similar. Chicago is definitely the NYC of the Midwest. However while it doesn't quite give off the same aura of NYC, it will give you a much better feeling of middle America.

If history is what you really want to see then in my opinion, Boston or Philadelphia might be your best bet, they definitely aren't middle America, but both are very rich in history. If you visit one of those cities then NYC is an easy trip and as the old saying goes, "A happy wife is a happy life".

Last edited by Grizzly Addams; 08-17-2014 at 10:27 AM..
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:21 AM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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I personally find NYC a more interesting city to visit. It is typically American than Chicago in a lot of ways — but the US is diverse no place is exactly typical. You're not going to get county fairs in either place, they're both very big cities. They're similar on the surface but I find they're big differences on surface. New York City is much more crowded outside of the immediate downtown and the city center functionally feels a bit like London in a way Chicago can't.

I'd recommend NYC if only because you can see a few other cities: Boston and Philly and maybe a roadtrip to some small towns and rural areas. The surroundings of Chicago aren't as interesting.
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Old 08-17-2014, 09:09 PM
 
Location: Raccoon City
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doz3ns View Post
Sorry. I didn't mean to offend!! I was talking about a more middle America. The stereotypical image of a British town is rainy, red letterboxes, red buses, agriculture, hills, forests and rivers (according to my Bostonian friend). When us Brits think of America we don't think of the pueblo architecture, but gothic skyscrapers, four seasons, urban grit in the bigger cities, apple pie, county fairs etc. That's all I meant

We definitely don't watch Bravo and MTV (!) and California has never interested us. I am a history teacher and I find Chicago's history more interesting than New York (personally), so that may seal the deal for us; although my wife has always wanted to visit NY. Any suggestions for a compromise? Or is Chicago a compromise in a way ( I have been told by my American friend that they are very similar cities - well Manhattan/the Loop feel the same in some respects)
I also find Chicago's history fascinating. I don't think you can go wrong with either city. I think Chicago is a bit more off the beaten path in the sense that it doesn't have a large amount of international icons like NYC (Empire State Building, Lady Liberty, Times Square, etc), so Chicago is interesting to foreigners because they're not quite sure what to expect. From my experience, most enjoy their time in Chicago. The city represents a part of the American soul that is not as prevalent in American media as the coastal regions.

If your lucky enough to have the option, visit both!
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Old 08-17-2014, 09:23 PM
 
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I think the traditional line is that NYC is an international city, while Chicago is an American city.

Both cities would be fun to visit, but you sure aren't going to get an "American" experience by just visiting either one of those cities.

It would be like going to the UK and only visiting London. London is cool, London is London, but would you say that an American tourist has seen the "UK" by just going to London?

If I have to pick, and since I know both cities pretty well, I'd rather go to NYC for a fun short trip. I find it easier to get around via the public transportation there than in Chicago. But I'd go understanding that I'd be seeing what NYC has to offer, not "America".

There really isn't a "typical" American city. That's what's nice about America.

Last edited by 601halfdozen0theother; 08-17-2014 at 10:07 PM..
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 601halfdozen0theother View Post
I think the traditional line is that NYC is an international city, while Chicago is an American city.

Both cities would be fun to visit, but you sure aren't going to get an "American" experience by just visiting either one of those cities.

It would be like going to the UK and only visiting London. London is cool, London is London, but would you say that an American tourist has seen the "UK" by just going to London?

If I have to pick, and since I know both cities pretty well, I'd rather go to NYC for a fun short trip. I find it easier to get around via the public transportation there than in Chicago. But I'd go understanding that I'd be seeing what NYC has to offer, not "America".

There really isn't a "typical" American city. That's what's nice about America.
A "typical American city," IMO, wouldn't be a city at all - it'd be a smaller suburban town in any city's metro region. Find a town of 30,000 people anywhere and that's a good feel of everyday life in America. There are differences between regions, of course, including differences in look, from scenery to architecture and overall age/history, and differences culturally when it comes down to the individual people, but larger cities do not really represent America that well. Cities are full of transplants, foreigners, and tourists. Smaller towns are full of more local people who live their daily lives in their smaller region.

To answer the OP, I say New York. You can never go wrong with New York. I admit I'm surprised you find Chicago's history more interesting, but of course that is a subjective matter and you are entitled to that. I prefer colonial history, so I find NYC and anywhere else in the original 13 much more interesting than the other 37 states history-wise, but that is just me. Chicago's history is definitely interesting and very cool, nonetheless. I remember when I was in Chicago I did some sort of bus tour involving the Mafia, you know Al Capone and organized crime and all that, and I thought it was really awesome. It was a while ago so I wish I could give you more information, but I don't remember.
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:18 PM
 
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If you want an All-American city, then definitely Chicago. The Midwest is the most All-American part of the U.S.

But if you've never been to the U.S., I would definitely go with NYC. They're both great cities, but NYC is arguably greatest city on the planet. Visiting Chicago first would be like visiting France the first time and deciding to go to Marseilles instead of Paris or visiting the UK and going with Manchester instead of London.
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by doz3ns View Post
SOr is Chicago a compromise in a way ( I have been told by my American friend that they are very similar cities - well Manhattan/the Loop feel the same in some respects)
No. They are very different cities, and the Loop feels nothing like Manhattan, except that they're both big American cities. I would say certain downtown streets in Boston, Philly and SF feel closer to Manhattan than anywhere in Chicago, because they have the same narrow-street, no-alley non-grid in parts.
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