Just Like Life, There’s Good and Bad in Chicago

October 03, 2011

The Windy City consistently appears on national lists. Sometimes, the rankings are good — America’s best pizza or one of the country’s best vacation spots — and sometimes, not so good — the nation’s steepest gas prices or one of the most bedbug-infested cities.

Here are a few of the most recently released lists in which Chicago ranked predominantly:

*A Chicago-area resident is the most powerful woman in U.S. business.

Irene Rosenfeld

Irene Rosenfeld

Fortune magazine released its 14th annual rankings of the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Business with Northfield-based Kraft Foods Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld at the top of the list.

Rosenfeld, 58, moved up from No. 2 last year, because, according to the magazine, she “made a big show of power this year with her decision to split Kraft into two companies, a reversal of her previous strategy of expanding through acquisitions (like the 2010 purchase of Cadbury). Her new role hasn’t been decided but she plans to remain CEO until the deal’s expected close in 2012.”

Chicago’s Oprah Winfrey fell 10 spots to No. 16.

Rosenfeld might be the most powerful, but she isn’t the highest paid American Businesswomen. Don’t worry, she’s still doing fine: Kraft’s head honcho is No. 16 on that list with a salary of $13,475,794.

*Chicago has been ranked as the fourth best city in the country when it comes to nightlife.

wrigley at night

Wrigleyville is hopping at night, whether or not there's a Cubs game going on.

According to Travel and Leisure Magazine, “People love to chow down in the Windy City, which ranks first for its pizza and third for big-name eateries. But you don’t get into the top 10 of wild weekends just for overeating. Wrigleyville, Wicker Park, and Boystown all know how to throw lively parties.”

“Chicago has a great neighborhood-based bar scene,” Shawn Hazen, who works for Roscoe’s, a gay bar in Boystown, told the magazine. “You have the gayest street in Chicago, one block from the straightest street in Chicago. It makes for some pretty funny interactions.”

Only New Orleans, Las Vegas and New York City took higher nightlife honors.

*Chicago motorists pay the highest driving costs and deal with some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation.

Busy street in downtown chicago on a very hot dayAn urban mobility study conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University reported that congestion eased slightly from 2009 to 2010: After ranking No. 1 in the country for the worst traffic congestion last year, this year, the Windy City is at No. 2.

Each driver in the Chicago area wasted an average of 71 additional hours because of traffic delays compared to time spent during free-flowing traffic.

The national average was 34 hours.

Only the Washington metropolitan area came in worse than Chicago at 74 hours.

But don’t worry, we are still No. 1: Chicago’s drivers stuck in traffic pay an average of $1,568 in wasted gas and lost time, and that, my friends, is the highest in the country.

Drivers around Chicagoland lost 367 million hours last year thanks to bad traffic, which cost the area $8.2 billion.

“Congestion does more than choke our highways, it chokes our economy, making it harder to buy what we need and harder to keep or find a job,” said Tim Lomax, one of the study’s authors. “That’s a bad thing – especially when our economic recovery is so fragile.”

A bright side: Chicago’s public transportation system ranked No. 2 in the country for delay savings due to bus and rail services. Mass transit saved Chicago-area commuters 91 million hours and more than $2 billion in 2010.

*Chicago has the friendliest mustaches in America.


Former Bears Coach Mike Ditka sports one of Chicago's most famous mustaches.

The St. Louis-based American Mustache Institute interviewed 200 mustached Americans in 100 cities over two years before declaring Chicago, “America’s Most Mustache-Friendly City.”

Because of the designation, AMI’s charitable ‘Stache Bash 2011 will be held in Chicago and outside of St. Louis for the first time.

The event will take place at Joe’s Bar on October 28 to raise awareness and funds for cancers that affect men.

“Chicago is a leader in creating a prime living and working environment for Mustached Americans,” said Dr. Aaron Xavier Perlut, chairman of the American Mustache Institute. “Its vast pool of professional opportunities in first-responder fields and in the fishing industry centered around Lake Michigan, along with the heritage of retired Chicago Bears players who have continued to embrace a Mustached American lifestyle helped to set the Windy City apart.”

So there you go. Chicagoans might have to pay more during rush hour before enjoying the spectacular nightlife, but our residents include business’ most powerful woman and the country’s friendliest mustached men.

Gotta love Chicago.

Categories: Awards, Economy

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