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Editorial: Call us miserable, but we choose Chicago

Fireworks explode over Chicago skyline 4th July 2012. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

Fireworks explode over the Chicago skyline on the 4th of July, 2012. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 26, 2013 9:29AM

Every time one of these surveys come along telling us how miserable a place Chicago is, we feel the need to protest.

Maybe we protest too much.

Civic boosting is all well and good. Chicago has made an art form of it ever since the Chicago Fire of 1871, when it bragged insufferably about how the town would come back bigger and better.

Which it did.

But dumb as these surveys can be, we should pay attention to them.

The latest survey, by Forbes, ranks Chicago fourth on its list of America’s Most Miserable Cities, exceeded only by Detroit and Flint, Mich., and Rockford.

Also making the list, at No. 10, is New York, which gives away the game: This list was put together by dull people who care everything about traffic jams but nothing about culture. Yes, the expressway to Wrigley Field or Chicago Shakespeare gets backed up, but that’s entirely the point — Chicago has Wrigley Field and Chicago Shakespeare.

All the same, Forbes has Chicago dead to rights when it scolds us for our long commutes (31 minutes on average) plummeting home prices (37 percent in five years), high foreclosure rate (3.3 percent of homes in 2012) and declining population (down 107,000 in five years).

What’s to be done about it?

Build a better city.

Along those lines, we like the ambitious plans to boost Chicago tourism unveiled last week by Choose Chicago, the city’s new tourism board. Maybe it’s pie in the sky, but we don’t think so. Millennium Park, built over railroad tracks, looked farfetched, too.

Choose Chicago is proposing glass-enclosed cable cars along the river, club cars on CTA trains to O’Hare Airport, light shows on buildings and bridges, a lakefront botanic garden and lakefront plane rides.

The aim is to attract 75 million tourists by 2020, creating 100,000 jobs. But, hey, Chicagoans could ride those planes and cable cars, too, and feel a little less miserable.

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