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Michael Reinsdorf challenges you to savor the city

Michael Reinsdorf

Michael Reinsdorf

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Updated: August 26, 2012 6:04AM

Twelve years ago, my wife Nancy and I moved our family to the suburbs. For many people that’s an easy decision, but it wasn’t for us. We lived a short walk from Lincoln Park Zoo, steps away from Five Faces on Division Street and a 15-minute drive to both the United Center and U.S. Cellular Field. Giving all that up was hard. But, like many people living in the city with young children, we knew that a backyard with a swing set was in our future.

I get why people move to the suburbs; I just don’t understand why people abandon the city. I talk to people all the time who say, “I rarely drive to the city.”

The thing about family life in the ’burbs is that if you’re not careful, you can get into a rut. It quickly becomes the same old, same old every day. My family almost succumbed — we barely left our neighborhood during the first winter after our move. But Nancy and I missed the action and variety of the city, even simple things like walking along the lake or going to Navy Pier with the kids. Plus, we didn’t want to send the wrong message to our children; it was important to us that they learn early on how to take advantage of what life has to offer. So, that spring we made a change, and we’ve stuck to it for over a decade. My whole family tries to get downtown on a regular basis.

Now while I’ve tried for years to spread this philosophy, I find many people outside the city limits just see things differently. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told friends that we’re going to Chinatown for dinner (my family’s favorite post-White Sox game spot) and they say, “I’ve never been there.” Or I tell them about iCream in Bucktown (an ice cream shop on Milwaukee Avenue where they mix custom flavors using liquid nitrogen), and then I have to explain where Bucktown is.

For many, the only time they come in to the city is when they go shopping or attend a sporting event (yes, like a Bulls or White Sox game). And while I’m all for that (the games more than the shopping), I think they’re missing an opportunity to experience what sets Chicago apart from other cities: our incredibly diverse neighborhoods. Places like Andersonville, Lincoln Square and the South Loop; each one has its own flavor and countless menus to explore.

So I’d like to challenge my fellow suburbanites to give the city a try. To get you started, I’d like to recommend my family’s favorite spot: Chinatown’s Lao Sze Chuan (2172 S. Archer).

And, so no one feels left out, I’ve also got a challenge for Chicagoans who would never dream of venturing beyond the city limits. Get in the car and come up to Northbrook to try Francesco’s Hole in the Wall (254 Skokie Blvd.). They make a great Capellini Putanesca.

Michael Reinsdorf donated his fee
for writing this column to Chicago Bulls Charities.

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