Saturday, January 21, 2017
Apparently Chicago surpassed its all-time record for tourism revenue in 2016. This is great news for the city. From afar, most of what I hear and read about my hometown is bad news. High taxes, high crime, racism, police brutality, population decline. So I am happy that the city is being appreciated by visitors, and I hope that some of these people will stay on to become residents, to add to the city's ever-evolving mix of people. The article points out the paradox that this boom in tourism has come despite a 20-year high in total murders. On the one hand, I don't want the city's crime problem to negatively affect tourism, since the latter is one of the few bright spots that could potentially improve Chicago's economy in the short term and thus lower the murder rate over time. But on the other hand, I don't want the city to keep pushing a few sectors and prospering in these, while huge swaths of our residents are terrified of stepping out their front door in the neighborhoods that the city isn't investing in. This would cement the trend I've seen for the 30-odd years of my life, whereby the well-off in Chicago enjoy all the great things the city has to offer, while most of the city's inhabitants are excluded from the cycle of prosperity. If this continues, Chicago will continue to lose population and to become more violent and unequal, despite any bright spots in a few areas of the city and a few sectors of the economy.