Chicago Steps Out

By Sokolov, Raymond | Newsweek, March 7, 2011 | Go to article overview

Chicago Steps Out

Sokolov, Raymond, Newsweek

Byline: Raymond Sokolov

The Second City is finally hip. Now Rahm has to keep it rolling.

In the final days of the campaign that got him elected mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel crossed paths with Patricia Sandifer on the Blue Line of the city's transit system. Emanuel, a long-serving Washington insider, is leading a pack of high-powered Obama stalwarts back to the Windy City. Sandifer, who commutes to an administrator's job in a local law firm, is better known as Boss Lady in the world of juke, Chicago's lightning-fast dance/electronic-music craze.

Together, Emanuel and Sandifer represent Chicago at a crossroads. Careening toward bankruptcy after 22 years under Mayor Richard Daley, the city has lost 200,000 inhabitants in the past decade. The racial tensions of the past have lessened palpably, but no one would say the potential of a future resurgence of the bad old days has vanished. But Daley also leaves behind a glittering metropolis that Chicagoans rightly love and outsiders can only envy.

There's no talk here anymore about being the "Second City." When he coined that phrase 60 years ago, New Yorker writer A. J. Liebling was twitting Chicagoans for their obsession with not measuring up to New York. For even then, Chicago had most things a "first" city needs: the peerless setting on Lake Michigan, the unrivaled urban architecture, great cultural institutions. What was missing were fizz and edge. But especially in the last decade, Daley, for all his cronyism and budgetary denial, put a shine on a great but gray town. He built so many parks that Midwestern nurseries ran out of trees. His triumph, Millennium Park, is the dazzling emblem of a period that brought Chicago social harmony--along with booming tourism, e-commerce, and new kinds of culture.

Now, from a music scene powered by the underground footwork energy of juke to adventurous three-star restaurants, high-stepping fashion, and hot artists, Chicago is not only "the city that works," in Mayor Daley's slogan, but also an exciting, excited city in which all these glittery worlds shine. The sunburst arrived late. Chicago's moment was supposed to come in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama. But the exodus of local talent that followed him to Washington sapped some buzz, which just gave the city's already sparkling cultural side that much more time to jell. Now the political names are returning, and though the challenges may be daunting--the city's budget is a mess, and class struggles are breaking out in the surrounding states--Mayor-elect Emanuel will take over a city whose poise and elan are in flood state.

The zest that pervades Chicago now cannot be explained simply as a result of seed money invested in parks or a liberal openness on the part of a mayor toward resentful and hitherto barely suffered segments of the urban crowd. But a mayor can make a difference just by standing for something bigger than reelection and paying off people who either look like himself or carry his water.

Nevertheless, there is a mysterious spirit no one can objectively locate that forces the hand of a place or forces things to grow as in a hothouse. Mellody Hobson, the president of Ariel Investment, has thought a lot about growth in the broker's way of talking about growth. She has an earthy explanation for the most ostentatious and politically unnecessary piece of glamorous expansion all over town: Why is Chicago the world's leader in cutting-edge food? Why is the city once known as hog butcher to the world now offering it a bacon martini at Moto? The cause, speculates the enthusiastic Hobson, is a matter of the "begats." One begats another that begats another.

But it takes a special kind of ease and openness for all this begetting to take place. And Chicago has lately come to see itself as a place whose inherent friendliness can now embrace all sorts of improbable invention and behavior. There is self-confidence, an upbeat feeling. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Chicago Steps Out


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.