Reality: Chicago was “on the map” long before NATO.

There’s an interesting argument that’s been put forth that Chicago really, really needed to host the NATO Summit to be taken seriously in the eyes of the world. The phrase I hear most often is that, as far as branding our city goes, the presence of NATO puts Chicago “on the map.”

I guess they’re right. Before NATO, we didn’t have much going for us.

We didn’t have arguably the finest restaurant in the country, Alinea, along with ridiculously good steakhouses, Mexican food and every other ethnic cuisine.

We didn’t have professional sports teams and rabid fans certainly on par with those in New York and Boston.

We didn’t have a Marathon that got 45,000 registrants in 6 days before it was closed.

Nightlife? With NATO’s influence, maybe we can have some now on Rush Street and Bucktown and Wicker Park and Wrigleyville.

Musically-wise, we sure were suffering. If only we could get concerts by every major act in the world you can imagine or gigantic music festivals like Lollapalooza.

Before NATO, we didn’t have the corporate headquarters of Motorola. Baxter. McDonald’s. Hyatt. Boeing.

Thanks to NATO, it’s only a matter of time before we have greater cultural diversity. Perhaps someday we’ll have a Greektown, Chinatown, Puerto Rican Day parades and St. Patrick’s Day parades. And the largest Polish speaking population outside of Warsaw.

Shopping? Yeah, not much there on Michigan Avenue.

Thank goodness NATO is here so we can soon have a Chicago Stock Exchange and CME Group to turn the wheels of financial trade.

Maybe now O’Hare Airport will get some much-needed traffic.

In time, perhaps we’ll have a profound impact upon the theatre community with the momentum of NATO. Second City and I.O. will have alumni as famous as Tina Fey or Bill Murray. Maybe we’ll even be able to bring Broadway-style productions here.

I hope our art scene gets greater recognition at some point as well – it would be really great if we had a phenomenal art museum to house the works of Renoir, van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne, Picasso.

Ah, dare to dream.

Hopefully someday we’ll have the finest orchestra in the world and a renowned opera company.

I suppose now we can finally have some architectural development around here.

Oh. Wait.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for the opportunity to host the diplomatic community. Especially since we host so many international embassies and consulates here every day.

And I really don’t mind that NATO is coming or its inconveniences. What I do mind and am offended by is the notion that now because NATO is coming, Chicago has finally “arrived” as a city.

Please. We arrived well before any world leader gets here and says so.

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