Best City in America? Absolutely It’s Chicago, But…

August 1, 2023

Some Observations by Tom Nash

We knew it all along, but now one of the nation’s premier travel magazines and visitors agree: Chicago is the best big city in the U.S.

In a recent issue, Condé Nast Traveler crowned Chicago as the “Best City in America.” This is not a flash in the pan either; this is the sixth year in a row that Chicago has been honored this way. Chicago is the only city to win this honor for more than three years in a row.

“It’s no wonder Chicago is topping this list yet again,” the magazine reported. “A world-class destination known for its impressive architecture, first-rate museums, brilliant chefs, and massive brewing scene, it’ll take several repeat visits to get through your list of must-dos. Most people start downtown—from the Magnificent Mile to the ritzy Gold Coast to funky Old Town—but there are 77 neighborhoods to explore, where you’ll find cutting-edge restaurants, chilled-out corner bars, and, no matter where you go, some of the most pleasant people you’ll find anywhere.”

Clearly visitors to our city agree that Chicago is a world-class destination. Sixty percent more tourists visited Chicago in 2022 compared to the year before, according to the tourism group Choose Chicago. Nearly 49 million domestic and international visitors came here last year and spent nearly $17 billion on food, hotels and entertainment.

Chicago’s boom helped shatter an all-time record for Illinois hotel revenue. Hotels in our state took in $308 million during Fiscal Year 2023 (from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023). This was a sizable increase over a pre-pandemic haul of $296 million in 2019. Noting the hotel revenue record at a news conference, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker pointed out that increases in tourism dollars lead to increases in good-paying jobs and growth for small businesses and local economies.

A recent excellent review of the hit Netflix TV series The Bear set in our great city also served as a timely love letter to Chicago, The review said in part, “there are rich and idiosyncratic scenes in theater and music and art and literature that seem to thrive [in Chicago] regardless of whether any national spotlight [on this] will ever tilt in their direction.”

So, Fox News, STFU about Chicago!

But if you are still reading, let’s not inhale too much of our own exhaust either. There is a very bad “national spotlight” on our very real crime problem. How is it going to go away?

Our new Mayor Brandon Johnson has a focus on longer term efforts to address what he refers to as the “root causes” of crime. But, respectfully, in my view, changes have to be made to address matters in the short term.

For example, in our Chicago Social Security Disability law firm, we have appeared before hundreds of different judges, albeit Social Security ones. The Social Security Administration’s judicial bureaucracy is just that—and it has challenges. Well, the Cook County judicial system at 26th and California is also a bureaucracy, with bad decisional challenges that relate directly to our safety. I’ll have more to say in the future about that.

Regardless of the obstacles we face as a community, and that we have to work together to overcome, we at Nash Disability Law join with nearly 2.7 million other Chicagoans who are extra proud to call this city our home.