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These Are Not Chicago's Boundaries

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 7, 2014 4:45PM

Based on what Gawker's readers said, the Portage Theater in Six Corners is not in Chicago. (Photo credit: Katherine Hodges)

Sometimes I miss the days when the expectations for Chicagoist were smaller and readers who didn’t like a specific post would encourage the staff to “move back to Naperville,” as if not being born or raised in Chicago’s borders disqualified us from writing about the city’s happenings.

It’s nice to see we’ve all evolved since then.

Maybe not. We know Chicagoans (whether native or naturalized) tend to be more territorial than most and saying “I’m from Chicago” is done so as a badge of honor to many; saying you're from Chicago but admitting you're from Wilmette could have been punishable by stoning in the Old Testament days. If you were to tell someone where in Chicago you’re from, would you say, “I live in Logan Square” or “Okay, I really live in Lisle?”

Spurred by an argument on territorialism in an August New Republic article, Gawker asked its readers to define the boundaries of major American cities, including Chicago. We can only assume, based upon the results, the readers who chimed in are recent transplants.

Peep, peeps.

image via Gawker.

That’s a pretty tight area, is it not? I was born at Resurrection Hospital at Addison Street and Central Avenue on the Northwest Side. Based on the responses of Gawker's readers, if I were born there today, I wouldn’t be a Chicagoan. (Frankly, I’m surprised the western edge on that map extends to Cicero.)

Now, let’s get to the main subject in the Gawker article: which suburbs is it OK to be from and “lie” about being from Chicago? Oak Park and Oak Lawn make the cut. (They apparently consider Rogers Park to be a suburb. If any neighborhood would be a suburb within the city limits, that honor should go to Hyde Park, which is Chicago’s answer to The Land of Shire.)

In my humble opinion, you can be a suburbanite and claim to be from Chicago if you live in a “border suburb”: Oak Park; Oak Lawn; Evanston; Skokie; Niles; Evergreen Park; Elmwood Park. You get the idea. If you live in a suburb where only a street separates your home from Chicago’s city limits, go ahead and claim you’re from Chicago. You folks from Naperville? No. Don’t do it.

If you insist on being orthodox, here’s a map of the city limits. Study it as you'll never know when you may be tested.