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Chicago Is America's Last Remaining Affordable Skyscraper City (chicagobusiness.com)
72 points by ayanai 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments

Chicago is the magic kingdom of all cities. The lakefront, transportation systems, forest preserves, museums, restaurants, theater, activities, and good old Midwestern common sense provide a combination of cosmopolitan and blue collar flavor.

I can't count how many people have moved here and commented that they were shocked how easygoing people were and making long-lasting friendships was easier than they'd ever imagined.

Even so, the Bears still suck. Go Pack Go!

You're making me miss my hometown. Everything there is just amazing, I love the city and the people in it. The people are so kind and the transportation is stellar, and you can listen to Fred & Angi on your way to work.

The state is bankrupt thanks to unfunded pensions.

Taxes went up on residents before the trump tax plan and again with it.

The money in the city is controlled by a few powerful families that stick to investing in proven businesses. Don’t expect anything bigger than SocialKaty to launch in Chicago.

The city is extremely corrupt. Powerful local aldermen aren’t going anywhere and benefit from the lack of diversity in the city (it was the most segregated city in the country for years and still tops the charts). The aldermen and the corruption around them is a big part of why the south side is so terrible.

Look around during construction season (aka as Summer in Chicago) and you will see around six construction companies responsible for all projects big and small. It’s really corrupt.

Chicago is a bro culture and once you are a bro you’re in for life. If you don’t get into the drinking lifestyle it won’t be easy to integrate.

1871 is a real estate company. Not a tech incubator. Mark Lawrence / Jeremy Smith getting SpotHero going is probably the only success story that isn’t nonsense out of there.

OCA / Pritzker / Lightbank

None of those understand how to treat founders. Those are some of the biggest funds.

That all said. The cost of living is low. The talent pools are deep. The culture is changing. There is money if you have established revenue or a proven model.

No single industry is the dominant economic force making it a great test for a variety of startups seeking traction.

MHub is amazeballs. If you are doing hardware go here. Bill deserves a medal for what he’s done.

Charles Adler’s lost arts is nifty. TBD if it makes startups better IMHO but it has real promise.

Urbs in Horto

Fly the W

The state does need to remove the pension law from the state constitution. That was really dumb.

Investors in Chicago are old school. Show them a rock solid set of books and you get funded. They don't invest in hopes, resumes, or names.

1871 has other great success stories, just some of them aren't public radar material. I ran an ed-tech startup out of 1871 in its first three years and had excellent support.

Diverse economy has always been a huge strength.

I'm joining mHub next month! - related - would love to find a product engineer partner with experience in plumbing, water-flow, modular pipe connectors.

Hey, I can help with your home sickness.

It's brutal winter here for 8 months followed by a manic, hot four months of summer. No spring or fall. It takes two hours to get to anything that could reasonably be called nature. The people are great, but their main form of socializing is heavy drinking. It's cold? Let's drink about it. It's hot? Let's drink about it.

It's great, but no city is perfect.

It's too far away from the oceans which provide a temperate effect on the weather. The only place more brutal in the winter time would be northern Minnesota and North Dakota.

The cold keeps bug size small, we don't have snakes or deadly spiders, and the change of seasons invigorates the mind.

We don't have poisonous snakes or spiders where I live, and the bugs are few despite rarely getting below freezing. But it rains all the time in Seattle. And the volcanoes; third one that's blown up this week. Stay away, we have other things that will kill you beside bugs and reptiles.

Reminds me of a line from West Wing: "I meet so many people who can't wait to tell me they're from Chicago and when I meet them, they're living anywhere but Chicago." :)

Being from Chicago, "what ChicagoDave said", except go Bears. ;P

I'm going to dispute this claim. Pittsburgh, PA has skyscrapers[1], defined as any building with or over 40 floors, and is more affordable then Chicago[2]. In fact Atlanta, GA also fits in this category as well.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_buildings_in_P...

[2] https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

According to your source (Wikipedia), Chicago has around 78 buildings over 550 feet. Pittsburgh has 19 and Atlanta has 16.

So the article is right and Chicago is still in a league of its own in that regard.

The article specifically mentions Boston, San Francisco, Washington and New York as other skyscraper cities. I think their "definition" of skyscraper city is a more about density than just the number of 40+ story buildings.

I think possibly the only legit "skyscraper city" that has been left out according to the article's "definition" would be Philadelphia which is affordable still.

This is very astute, I was using the term "skyscraper city" primarily as colorful contrast with low-density Sunbelt cities.

Philadelphia is indeed the other contender! They weirdly haven't seen explosive job growth though, despite being an excellent city. They also don't have innovative land use policy. But the vast, partially abandoned north Philly is a "reserve army of underemployed land" keeping a check on prices--as is the excellent, fully electrified suburban regional rail network inherited from the Pennsy. Maintains a wide swathe of commutable land w/in 45 mins of CBD.

Wikipedia doesn't show anything in Washington, DC, higher than 15 stories, for what that's worth. I certainly have never thought of it as a "skyscraper city".

The urban area of DC is much larger than literal Washington DC and many places there that are technically suburbs certainly do have skyscrapers. For example, "Crystal City", which is technically in Virginia but functionally part of DC.


Washington D.C. has a height limit for buildings[1]. I think the article was just mentioning it as an example of an expensive city, not trying to call it a skyscraper city.


That Chicago number will be over 80 by the end of the year.

Which buildings are you thinking of? I'm aware of two that are under construction (the wavy building on the river near lakeshore east and the building at michigan and roosevelt), but I don't think either will be open by EOY.

The tallest building in Iowa is 44 stories in Des Moines, and it's far more affordable than any of the three. But I would never call DM a skyscraper city.

EDIT: Downvoters, what's up? Do you object to "Tallest building in IA is 44 stories" or "DM is more affordable" or "DM is not a skyscraper city"? None of these are particularly controversial, and the first two are empirically true.

The argument here is about how zoning can create dense cities with tall buildings in an affordable way. At a fifth of the population density of course Des Moins is going to have cheaper land.

I agree. That was my point; it's silly to say "there is at least one skyscraper in ${CITY} and ${CITY} is more affordable than Chicago, ergo ${CITY} is a skyscraper city", which is the argument the OP made about Pittsburgh and Atlanta. I just demonstrated the silliness of the reasoning by taking it to its extreme conclusion with Des Moines.

It was not obvious to me whether Des Moins was a sky scraper city or not. So by being too terse you just confused me, do you mean that is true for the post about Atlanta and Pittsburgh as well.

I suspect it really means 60+ stories in the "supertall/megatall" skyscraper category, of which there are quite a few in Chicago. Chicago is biased however, as the technology to build supertall and higher skyscrapers was invented by a Chicago architect. The same tech in the Sears/Willis tower is used in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Originally from PA and I really like Pittsburgh but its inner city area is pretty much a dead zone. It's really no comparison to a place like Chicago or New York.

I didn't read the entire article and then got blocked by a paywall but I do not believe "skyscraper city" is well defined, so not hard to dispute.

According to this list https://skyscraperpage.com/cities/?10=1 Chicago has the second most skyscrapers of any US city. Philadelphia is #7 on that list and is still affordable. If Philly is not considered a "skyscraper city" than that means there were only 6 or less of them in the United States to begin with.

Philly would actually be #8 on that list if all non-US cities were removed. But still.

Ah, I missed Honolulu.

I've lived in Chicago for nearly 10 years and will continue preaching its advantages to anyone who will listen.

Crime isn't as big a problem as people think it is (it's isolated to a few long-disadvantaged neighborhoods), it's affordable, cars are optional, and we have two airports to escape the winter weather.

I tried living in Chicago without a car… I wouldn’t say it is as optional as you suggest.

I tried living in Chicago with a car and I had my parents drive it back home 9mo later after having never used it past the first 30 days.

Chicago compared to anything not east coast is a life changing experience in terms of transit.

Yes, it's getting harder and more expensive. When I first moved to Chicago in 2004 though, it was cheap ($1100/mo for a 2BR apartment) to live a few stops from the loop off the blue line. That is rapidly changing, but still plenty of cheap transit-friendly locations if you're not super picky.

> I tried living in Chicago without a car

Really depends on where you live and want to be. This is true everywhere (NYC, SF, Seattle, etc.)

I would definitely not put NYC and Chicago in the same category for no-car friendliness.

I spent many years in NYC and only knew 1 person who owned a car.

By contrast, when I lived in Chicago, I was the only person without a car.

I live in Chicago and recently sold my car. I can't imagine living here with a car anymore. My car collected dust, and when I did drive on occasion it was an awful experience. Basically from what I learned driving in Chicago: don't ever use your turn signal and obnoxiously use your horn.

I'll take the train instead.

Chicago native who fled for Central Florida. I love Chicago, but taxes will have to rise to eye watering levels [+] to pay back pensions that should’ve never shortfalled in the first place.

[+] http://midwest.chicagofedblogs.org/?p=3096 (How Should the State of Illinois Pay for its Unfunded Pension Liability? The Case for a Statewide Residential Property Tax)

I live in an unincorporated area two blocks from the border of Chicago.

By getting the whole "municipality" thing out of the way and falling under county jurisdiction, property taxes are reasonable (and we pay for emergency services from adjacent municipalities), lot sizes are bigger, more choice over who delivers our services (like, say, trash), and we have the benefits of both Chicago and the surrounding areas.

Granted, Cook County and the State of Illinois all have their problems with unfunded pensions, but removing one layer definitely helps.

> taxes will have to rise to eye watering levels [+] to pay back pensions

If voter demographics keep rebalancing towards the young and un-pensioned, those pensions will probably be slashed quite a bit.

Not before they’re due, and it’s written into the state constitution (Article XIII, Section 5). Those obligations (~$105 billion) won’t be shed.

“Benefits to public employees are protected under the Illinois Constitution, and a recent attempt to reduce the unfunded liability by reducing retirees’ benefits was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court”


> it’s written into the state constitution

Which can be amended if there is popular will. I don’t think state pensions are enforceable under federal law.

But isn't the population of Chicago (like the rest of the US) getting older? Aren't the demographics shifting against the political popularity of cutting pension payments?

The US isn't aging, at least not significantly. The number of people in each 5 year bracket from 0 to 60 is roughly even: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/newsroom/blogs/201...

The number of people over in the brackets over 60 is substantially less than the younger brackets. Median age of the US population is 37.9.

Going back farther in history (like 1930 and before), the population pyramid did look quite different, though. There's a fun tool here to check it out (1900-2000): https://www.census.gov/dataviz/visualizations/055/

If the tax burden makes young people leave, they'll have to raise taxes even more on the remaining young people, causing more to leave, in a vicious cycle.

Exactly. This is why I’m unreassured by blithe dismissals that “oh you can just raise taxes, what’s the problem”. The problem is that no one has to join the Ponzi scheme, and that’s exactly why many corporate PAYGO plans failed!

They'll find an equilibrium where they raise taxes just enough to cover outstanding obligations while still keeping enough residents to cover the tax rise.

Pretty similar to how the Bay Area operates (you get to stay if you're rich or continue to grind, otherwise you have to GTFO).

Constitutional changes are difficult.

States are sovereign, it's more likely that when the shit hits the fan with state/local debt and broader economic conditions that the states will just stop paying and renegotiate general obligations. Look at what is happening with puerto rico, and think about how it would play out in a scenario where the Federal government has more limited ability to drive anything.

Do you know if they can modify existing contracts ? So they take out that article but I doubt it applies to the contracts (pensions) done while the provision was in force.

Yes, but only with a constitutional amendment.

To the US constitution. Contracts clause says states have to honor contracts.

Is crime key to keeping affordable housing for the poor available?

I like to keep Chicago in my back pocket as a city to go and enjoy from time to time.


The job opportunities for people newly graduating are piss poor in Chicago compared to elsewhere. A lot of old opinions on work prevail, compared to new flexibility in working that we're seeing.

Also, having lived in the suburbs for a while, I was shocked how much casual racism is present there.

Chicago is in many ways trapped in the past. It's corrupt and dirty. When I see billboards for strip clubs above sprawling concrete freeways, I know I'm in Chicago.

I think you're conflating the Chicago suburbs with the city of Chicago, because nothing you're saying is true.

The city isn't exactly a strip bar destination due to laws that forbid serving alcohol at establishments that permit nudity. The suburbs around it are different story.

It's quite well planned having burned down earlier.

And generally imports recent college grads.

"I was shocked how much casual racism is present there."

Don't move to California then as it's probably one of the most shockingly(it's California!) racist places I've ever lived. And I'm from Chicago!

> I was shocked how much casual racism is present there.

Why does this shock you in a city with such a ridiculously high crime rate for specific demographics? People are making conclusions - some of them less than ideal - based on observation. The only way that's going to stop is if the murder rate stops being similar to a sub-saharan african country.

I have only two problems with Chicago:

1. Winter

2. It's in Illinois. Which will take a century to dig itself out of a century of being the most corrupt state government in the US.

Lake effects winters are nothing to scoff at. Cold temperatures, wind, and excessive snow/freezing rain make for some really miserable times.

Sitting here in the middle of a heatwave, I have to ask: are they really that bad when you can just add warm-weather clothing? Or when even just moving will generate some heat? I've heard in Wisconsin you have to breathe a certain way to warm the air before it gets to your lungs, so maybe that's the problem? I've only lived in hot climates, so I have no concept of true cold. But with how summers have been getting hotter and hotter lately, I'm tempted to make a change.

Let me describe the effects of freezing rain on a commute. Freezing rain means that the rain has been superchilled, and it freezes immediately upon contact with something - like the road and your car's windshield. Last time I had to drive through freezing rain, we were only able to drive at around 5mph on the highway, and had to stop every quarter mile to chip the ice off the windshield so we could see.

Let me describe wind, and its effect during a cold day. Wind chill describes the effect of wind on exposed skin, by describing the equivalent effect in pure temperature. At -20 farenheit, you're uncomfortable, but you're able to operate without having your face covered; without having to breathe from a heated air supply. At -20 F with a (for the region) mild breeze of 20mph, the equivalent temperature is -50. Cold enough that you will get frostbite on any exposed skin within 5-10 minutes (i.e. your skin freezes solid and can cause permanent damage).

At -40 (a particularly cold day), with the same wind, it's equivalent to -75 F. That's much more rare, only 1-2 times per winter. You are pretty much trapped indoors on those days.

When I lived in the mid-west, they would shut down the college only when it reached -40 with a still wind, or -110F with wind chill. The college would be shut down an average of 4-5 days out of the winter.

So, yeah. You absolutely can survive it; can live in it. Like all annoying or even painful things, you can even become inured to it - consider it a badge of pride. That doesn't make it pleasant.

Overall it's really not as bad as people make it out to be. Of course I've lived here all my life. There are periodic cold snaps where it gets way below freezing, but typically it is in the 20's (F). The trick for winter is to embrace it, and wear appropriate clothing. For snow removal you may need heavy machinery (I just use a sleigh shovel, works great). For clothing, a good flannel shirt with a vest jacket and hat goes a long way (keeps you from getting too warm, and your body acclimates to the temps).

I lived in Chicago for several years and while the temperature and snow is a lot more extreme in Chicago the winter is a hell of a lot more tolerable than in Sweden where I live now. This is because where I live in Sweden is moderate temperature wise compared to Chicago but the sun basically just never comes out and you have constant cold rain for about 7 months. Chicago will definitely see enough sunshine during the winter to keep you in reasonably good spirits.

Also you forgot to mention for clothing to wear something under your jeans (my trick was sweatpants) to protect yourself from that Chicago wind whipping through them :)

I think it depends on the person quite a bit. For some folks winter is utterly miserable.

For others who generally stay indoors all year anyways, it's pretty easy.

Most are somewhere in between. I will say the winters here can get long some years, but Chicago has to be either the best, or among the best summer cities in the world. Yeah you get a few super hot muggy days, but those almost let you appreciate winter more. It's an absolutely gorgeous and fun city in the summer - and in the winter if drinking is your thing it's not so bad. If you hate drinking, you might not make it.

The one really weird thing about Chicago (coming from MN) is that the house construction is utterly horrible for cold weather. If it hits negative temps you can expect plenty of your friends to have pipes freeze. This may be getting better as units get rehabbed but it really contributes to the misery.

A few years ago I met a woman from Alaska. She told me she went to college in Chicago and she barely made it through the first winter. Her friends said "What's your problem? You're from Alaska!" She replied "You don't understand. We never get this cold at home."

Of course Alaska is a big state and not all of it is freezing, but still. Chicago winters are impressive.

Louisiana is the most corrupt state and has been for quite some time.

Yeah you're right. Forgot about LA.

I like the feel of Chicago, but while living there, I couldn't stand the aura of political irresponsibility. And the city is functionally bankrupt, even if they can't declare it as a matter of law.

Nobody should move to a city that sells off its capital to pay for operating expenses. Nobody who lives there should support any incumbent officer that went along with it.

Touting affordability in an artificially restricted, un-enumerated class sounds like starving vampires desperately advertising for new blood. Chicago's nice, but it is surrounded by cities that are more attractive in terms of fiscal stability: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Madison, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Indianapolis. And Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Pittsburgh are all in the same metropolitan aggregate, with similar cultures.

I really want Chicago to be better than it is. I'm not sure that Illinois can make it in the long run without amending the home rule exceptions for Chicago out of its constitution. It gave the Chicago Political Machine (read Boss by Mike Royko, if you haven't already) its own playground and has driven a gigantic wedge between the city and the entire rest of the state.

I love Chicago. I've visited most of the major cities in the U.S. and Chicago is the only one that seems comparable to NYC's historic, big city feel.

I've only visited a couple times but I thought if it wasn't for the brutal winters, it might be the best city in the US for me.

I've never heard of this publication, I'm definitely going to pay them $5/mo to read this one article.

Wait, no I'm not: http://archive.is/pLqLI

Title probably should also read, "To Chicago with love: Emanuel is a housing policy pioneer".

Edit: ... versus the current, "Chicago Is America's Last Remaining Affordable Skyscraper City"

I think they are A/Bing different headlines.

Chicago's a great town, but honestly the taxes are a killer. I grew up in the area and have a great deal of love for the place. Almost moved back after a hiatus, until I calculated the percentage of my mortgage I would have to toss away just to own a home.

Prices are often quite affordable but taxes can add 30-50% on top of the monthlies which makes it quite hard to stomach. If you add in the fact that taxes at the state level pretty much _have_ to increase I'm not sure the affordability argument holds up in the medium term. I hope, however, that they can start to fix some of those underlying issues.

I've been saying this for years.

The math is pretty straightforward: as cost of living skyrockets in most cities, any city that has the infrastructure and housing to accommodate large numbers of people will win the race.

So for example, at this point San Francisco and the Bay Area are in fact losing the race even though surrounding economy is booming; all because housing is lacking and incredibly unaffordable and there's zero political will to change it.

This is the opposite of what is happening if you look at the population changes of their respective MSAs. Chicago's is barely growing and SF added an estimated 9% to the population from 2010-2017. [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metropolitan_statistic...

Growth will stagnant once the area reaches capacity. There is no political will to relax zoning to increase housing inventory to meet the new demand as existing residents are becoming very rich from their increased property values.

Do you have any evidence?

From what it seems like the disparity is increasing between big cities and not.

Anecdotally, the push by larger companies to find sister cities to house their 2nd HQ's seems to be lending credence to my theory. The cost of living is high near their HQ so they move all their lower cost operations into another HQ into a lower cost of living areas such as Chicago.

Chicago/Austin/NYC welcomes them open arms and huge tax breaks and huge inventory of available housing.

I'm not entirely sure I follow the logical argument: regulation is relaxed along transit arteries, allowing developers to build and sell more units there at market rates, thereby keeping the market prices in check; that's great.

But I would assume someone capable of paying market rates, typically still owns a car. That car still needs a parking space, so even if the owner does not use it for his daily commute, the presence of the car still has an impact. I would furthermore assert that many if not most middle class citizens living alongside good transit do not actually use it for work, because of the complexity and inconvenience. It certainly seems that way and the article puts forward no hard numbers.

So there should be a marginal decongestant effect from encouraging high density in those areas, but the same rules could be applied everywhere for an even stronger effect on market prices. The task of the mayor then becomes to get transit to those newly developed areas and keep congestion down; not to coax developers to build where transit is - they will do that by themselves simply for the market premium transit options afford to their investments.

> But I would assume someone capable of paying market rates, typically still owns a car. That car still needs a parking space, so even if the owner does not use it for his daily commute, the presence of the car still has an impact.

I can't find the study, but there's actually some data to back up what you're saying regarding TODs -- people generally still cling to their cars despite living close to public transit.

But it's not necessarily a black-and-white issue. You have to look at actual miles driven to get a clear picture.

For example, I live in Chicago near a CTA Blue Line station and Metra Station. We've have gone weeks without using the car. We drive, maybe 2,500 miles/year, with a chunk of that visiting my father up in Wisconsin. But we'd never give it up since we have a kid and that just makes things easier.

Chicago is definitely enough of a 'big city' that people choose to forego car ownership.

I work in an office of developers, and people only tend to get a car once they have kids, and then they only have one car for the family.

I own two parking spaces in a private garage on the edge of downtown - have one car and rent the other space. 5 years ago, I could rent it for $300 per month with a waiting list of people that want it. Today I am renting it for $200 per month and it would take a week or so to find a new tenant. In that time, my neighborhood has grown considerably and has become much more expensive.

Multiple car ownership (or ownership at all) just isn't that desirable any more and Chicago's relaxation of minimum parking requirements are very much market-driven. Parking costs a lot of money to build and takes up a lot of space in a building. Because there is nothing preventing a developer from building more parking than required, he or she has the freedom to match market demand.

There is a 50-floor, ~500-unit apartment building under construction in my neighborhood that, due to its proximity to a train station, was required to build exactly 0 parking spaces. The developer chose to build around 75.

After college, I actually moved from the Chicago suburbs into the city in part because I don't like driving and didn't want to get a car. It's worked pretty well.

Yep. I am a dev, and my family has one car (Honda Odyssey) out in the suburbs. The Metra is pretty incredible, and I get 1.5 hours of remote work done on it a day.

Don't worry, the government is hard at work putting a stop to affordability: http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/ct-re-re....

> In 2017, Chicago renters making the median income spent more than half their workdays earning enough money to cover the rent, according to an analysis from HotPads, an apartment search platform.

Seems more like living in Chicago is actually already unaffordable for most of its residents, contrary to TFA.

Anything in that article address the highest effective tax rate in the nation(and it's not close)?

Raised in Florida, live in Chicago (old town) with kids. Walk to work (and drop off kids at school); 1.75 mile walk. Walk all year. Weather is fine above -15, which it only hits a couple times every couple of year. No special breathing required, though you need to bundle up. Rain is the worst to walk in. We have a car, but used mostly for golf.

I think with restaurants, art scene, theater, and parks, it beats other affordable cities (not sf, nyc) in my mind. But it doesn’t have the outdoors fun of the West. If we leave, we may go very rural. Taxes and financial trouble do make me a little nervous, as a property owner.

Those property taxes may well be driving affordability.


If they land HQ2, that will be the end of that.

There's another factor keeping housing prices down in Chicago, relative to Boston, New York, etc.:


Rents are always going to be high for any dense city, but lighter touch regulations can make it less sprawled and car-centric. The transit-oriented development policies mentioned do just that.

Donald Shoup is a transit scholar who has shown in detail the distorting effects of mandatory minimum parking requirements.

What about Philadelphia? It has one of tallest skyscrapers in the US. Good public transport and is pretty affordable even compared to Chicago.

Austin has SkyScrapers... It's vastly more affordable than Chicago and has superior weather...

Detroit? Cleveland?

I am a big fan of Cleveland, but it isn't a "skyscraper city." There are a number of mid-sized buildings and really nice downtown, but it hasn't grown vertically like some other cities.

To avoid the paywall: https://outline.com/tRbqhU

Call me crazy but I think a publication named "Chicago Business" would probably have a conflict of interest here.

Edit: Nevermind, it's an opinion piece, and behind a paywall to boot.

But still, they may be biased. Chicago is affordable compared to many other big cities, but getting from there to "last remaining" probably requires a careful choice in the cutoff for what you'd call a "skyscraper city".

About an hour and a half north you'll find another American city that has skyscrapers, and also has a cost of living that's somewhere between half and 3/4 of Chicago's.

> "About an hour and a half north you'll find another American city that has skyscrapers"

If Milwaukee counts as a "skyscraper city", then practically every city in the US counts, and the term becomes mostly meaningless.

It really should be "city livable without a car" because that is what really separates Chicago from all of the other affordable midwestern cities.

This is pretty much it. I haven't lived in Chicago, but have a lot of friends from there and did some research while on my last jobs search. Putting affordability next to availability of public transportation, Chicago is probably the best mix I found. Unfortunately, as others had mentioned, the job market couldn't make it worth it for me.

I've heard there are a lot of HFT/fintech firms in the Chicago area, which if you've got the math/stats chops for it blows every non-FANG job out of the water in terms of earnings potential.

I used to live in Milwaukee without a car.

It wasn't as easy as it is in Chicago, but it's also not so much harder that I'd call someone crazy if they thought it was worth getting to pay half as much in rent.

Only if you mean "Skyscraper city with lower prices because of higher crime".

I would encourage you to venture over to Wikipedia and sort the violent crime rates per 100,000 people[1]. Chicago is 28th, behind Oakland, Houston, Atlanta, and Miami.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_b...

It is #8 on that list if you sort by homicide rate though. I'm not saying that makes OP's comment accurate as they did just say "higher crime" and not specifically homicide rate. But I do believe that blending murder rates with property crime rates gets a little muddy. The only "skyscraper city" that the article mentions that ranks higher in homicide rate is Washington D.C.

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