During my years of international travel, I've occasionally experienced a frustrating slight.  People ask where I am from, and when I respond with "Chicago", there are a few typical responses:
  • "Oh, Michael Jordan" (Yes, he's my neighbor here in Highland Park)
  • "Chicago -- gangsters, bang bang"  (Not so much anymore)
  • or "Yeah, I connected at O'Hare once, what a confusing airport" (Well, it is the world's busiest)

Occasionally, someone will say they'd like to visit, but they've been prioritizing New York / DC / Los Angeles / Orlando / Vegas when they come to the US.  I understand -- the US offers an incredible amount of diversity between stops at Starbucks and the Gap.  But Chicago?  There's such an amazing array of museums, sights, world-class restaurants, shopping, and most importantly neighborhoods.  Yet for some reason, this is often poorly known outside the US.

Mayor Richard Daley has done a heck of a lot to improve Chicago's image.  He may be teased by the local press for the planters in the roadway medians, or his love of wrought iron fences, or the excess of the new Soldier Field and museum campus, or what went into building Millennium Park...but add all that up and wow.
Image:Chicago finally finds a marketing department ... and scores an Olympic bid

So I'm pleased that some people in Chicago government and the community have put together the winning proposal for the US bid for the 2016 Olympics.  Obviously, I'd like to see the games come here -- where they've never been before, and in a city with so much to offer.  Yes, a winning Chicago will lose money on the games, as most of the bids have in recent years.  But the economics are only partially a simple budget spreadsheet.  The intangible of introducing the world to this great city would be worth way more than the apparently-insufficient marketing budget the Chicago tourism department has had going.

While getting this far is a huge victory for the city, now it's time to compete -- and win -- on the world stage.  The rest of the world will learn what the nine million of us in the metropolitan area already know -- this is one incredible city.  Congratulations, Chicago!

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