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Creative Nonfiction

*Nainika's Note* Yo, so this is basically *ahem* fact-based and doesn't really have much of a plot, per se....anyways, enjoy!


My city gets a lot of mention around the country, and sometimes even around the world. The City of Big Shoulders, the Center of the Midwest, The Second City, The White City, the City That Works, and most notably, the Windy City. I have lived within the city’s reach all my life, and even though I live out in the ‘burbs, I am proud to call myself a Chicagoan. 

And I love my city, I really do. 

It is the home of deep-dish pizza, towering skyscrapers overlooking the great Lake Michigan, one of the largest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings outside of Paris, and over seventy-seven million people. And it was home to many famous people, including Walt Disney, Hugh Hefner, Bill Murray, and the adopted home of Michael Jordan, and Oprah. 

We have 26 miles of lakefront with 25 beaches. More than 8,800 acres of green space and 600 parks; the Chicago Park District is the largest municipal park manager in the nation. We have over 200 miles of bike lanes, 19 miles of lakefront bicycle paths, and more than 13,000 bike racks and parking areas. We have Art on the MART, the longest-running and largest permanent digital art installation in the world. More than 500 public works of art are displayed in over 150 municipal facilities around the city as part of the City of Chicago’s Public Art Program. These works include installations by Picasso, Chagall, Miro, and Calder Approximately 60 museums, nearly 200 art galleries, and 20 neighborhood art centers dot the city. More than 250 theatres, 225 music venues, and 200 dance companies are here also. More than 7,300 restaurants and 167 breweries call the Chicagoland area home — the most breweries of any metropolitan area in the nation. We have 369 landmarks and 59 historic districts, Seven free downtown and lakefront major music and dance festivals, more than 30 food festivals, over 400 neighborhood festivals, and more than 40 film festivals annually. The starting point of “Historic Route 66” at Grant Park on Adams Street in front of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The museum is housed in the only remaining building constructed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition’s “White City.” We have Máximo the Titanosaur, the largest dinosaur known to man, and SUE, the largest and most complete T-Rex specimen in the country, at the Field Museum of Natural History. The Chicago Cultural Center, built in 1897, originated as the city’s first public library and became the first free municipal cultural center in the United States. Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the country, and one of the few remaining free zoos in the U.S.

Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is the second-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Willis Tower held first place until the construction of New York’s One World Trade Center in 2014. Also, the Willis Tower elevators are among the fastest in the world, operating at speeds as fast as 1,600 feet per minute. Wrigley Field (1914) is the second-oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Approximately 16 examples of Frank Lloyd Wright designs in the city of Chicago, and a further 25 in nearby Oak Park. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School of architecture originated in Chicago. And we have McCormick Place, the largest convention center in the Western Hemisphere.

We also have amazing radio stations, ones that I proudly have all the merch for. We dye the Chicago River green every St. Patrick’s day, and I am proud to say that it is biodegradable, and doesn’t harm the environment. Well, it might shock the fish, but other than that, it’s an amazing place. 

We have a lot of Firsts, too. As the 44th President of the United States, Chicago resident Barack Obama became the first African-American to serve in office. Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times became the first person to win a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism in 1975. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun became the country’s first female African-American U.S. senator in 1992. In 1907, University of Chicago physicist Albert A. Michelson became the first American to receive a Nobel Prize in the sciences. Wallace Carlson and Winsor McCay created the first animated cartoon character with Gertie the Dinosaur in 1914. The following year, Carlson debuted a new character called “Dreamy Dud,” who appeared in perhaps the country’s first afterschool special for Chicago’s Essanay Studios, made famous by Charlie Chaplin. Chicago resident Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950 for her book Annie Allen. 

The name Chicago was first recorded in 1688, where it appears as Chigagou, an Algonquian word meaning “onion field.” Chicago’s first permanent settler in 1779 was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a trapper, and merchant credited with building the trading post that evolved into Chicago. With French and African parentage, du Sable hailed from Haiti and settled in what was to become Chicago with his Potawatomi wife, Kittihawa (Catherine). Chicago was incorporated as a town in 1833 and as a city in 1837. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed one-third of the city and left more than 100,000 homeless. Its initial spark remains unknown. The Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station on Michigan Avenue, now home to City Gallery and Lookingglass Theatre, are among Chicago’s few remaining pre-fire buildings. The 1893 Columbian Exposition was held on the grounds of Chicago’s Jackson Park. The exposition buildings were so striking that they launched the so-called ‘City Beautiful’ movement, which focused on Beaux-Arts aesthetics in American city planning. The exposition also gave rise to Chicago’s nickname, “The White City,” due to the appearance of its massive white Beaux-Arts-inspired edifices. In 1900, Chicago successfully completed a massive and highly innovative engineering project, reversing the flow of the Chicago River so that it would empty into the Mississippi River rather than Lake Michigan. 

Even when Covid-19 put our vibrant city on lockdown, we didn’t let that faze us, moving with the times and making sure everybody had what they needed. When times changed, we changed with them, allowing nothing to jostle our carefree spirits that shivered with the wind coming off the lake. 

But for all its great things, my city does have its faults. Sometimes I can hardly believe that the boiling pot of anger, racism, hatred, and deeply rooted suspicion can be synonymous with all the good things that have come out of the city. Sometimes I am ashamed to say that I am a Chicagoan. 

It hurts to hate the city that I was born to love. It hurts to hate something that you have walked so many times. It hurts to hate going into my city because I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to get mugged. Hurt. And even though most people are not like what I just described, there is more bad than good in my city. And that hurts most of all. 

There have already been 108 homicides in 2021. That makes it out to be approximately 1.4 deaths a day. 9 children under the age of 18 have been shot since June 20th. Gun violence in the city is only increasing every year, and it has come to a point where I almost don’t recognize my city anymore.

How can you? When all the good things about the city are canceled out by the bad?

I’ll always love the city that I was born in. There will never be another to replace it. And even though there are some times when I detest what it has become, I will always remember. 

Remember that the city has created so many good things.

And in this world, we always need to look for the bright stars even on the darkest nights.

March 16, 2021 13:43

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47 comments

Roger Crane
02:42 Mar 17, 2021

Hi Nainika. First of all, what does "I proudly have all the merch for" mean? Because I for one have no idea. Beyond that (just to have you inform me of what is undoubtedly an inside thing for Chicagoan), I have only a few points. You were of course correct in your note that this is not a story. And I might say as an aside that I find many of the prompts exceedingly difficult to write on or not interesting to me personally (although many are also quite creative and interesting). I did not care to use those this time. So, bully for you for...

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Nainika Gupta
11:49 Mar 17, 2021

Hi roger! Well, yep, its a Chicagoan thing :) Like I have all the merchandise for it! Ohhhh, I understand what you're saying! Makes sense! Thanks so much, Roger, really appreciate it! Will do :)

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11:43 Mar 26, 2021

I absolutely adored the format you used. Honestly, it was so shocking to see a fact-based "story" (I wouldn't quite classify it as a story, but more a social critic) that I was compelled to keep on reading up until the very end. I am not very keen on hard facts, I must admit, but the occasional chaotic enumerations (a literary technique I thoroughly enjoy) gave a certain light to the writing I couldn't help but congratulate you for. An avid traveller at heart, I was enthralled by the uniqueness of your city, and I could almost imagine its ta...

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Nainika Gupta
13:25 Mar 26, 2021

Aw thanks so much Carmen! I really appreciate it :) and no problem!!

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21:20 Mar 26, 2021

Of course! It really is my pleasure to read and review other's work, if only to help in what I can with what little I know! Cheers!

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R. B. Leyland
06:41 Mar 18, 2021

Considering there are so many facts about your city in here, you sure presented it as exciting. "How can you? When all the good things about the city are canceled out by the bad?" - i love this rhetorical, then answering it yourself, kind of letting the good parts win out. Great!

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Nainika Gupta
12:04 Mar 18, 2021

Aw thanks so much Ben! really appreciate it :)

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Keya M.
12:54 Mar 17, 2021

Gosh Nainika, I think ur emoji movie puzzle this time is the hardest one yet! Can I have a hinty?

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Nainika Gupta
13:02 Mar 17, 2021

loll its really not but ok.... "the wolf cry to the blue corn moon" that was a BIG hint...

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Keya M.
13:10 Mar 17, 2021

wait.........that was Pocahontas? damn, i'd never have guessed that lol

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Nainika Gupta
13:34 Mar 17, 2021

loll yep :)

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Wirda Bibi
07:37 Mar 17, 2021

movie emoji puzzle: is it TITANIC.......i am confused in it

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Nainika Gupta
11:50 Mar 17, 2021

nope!

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Wirda Bibi
18:01 Mar 17, 2021

uh.....oh......then i don't know😩😞

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23:15 Mar 16, 2021

Hi Nainika! I wanna go there someday lollll You write good EVERYTHING ex: funny, fantasy, creative nonfiction . . . WHAT CAN'T YOU NOT WRITE GOOOD XDDDD ~ Amethyst p.s. hELLo!

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Nainika Gupta
14:06 Apr 14, 2021

:) lol yesss

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22:36 Apr 15, 2021

:)))

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14:21 Mar 16, 2021

Lol there's a specific chicago college i may or may not be pining after and this is perfect. Like, sure it's not particularly artsy, but like, as an introduction to something? It'd be great.

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Nainika Gupta
14:30 Mar 16, 2021

Yes!! Go Chicagoooooo :) loll thankss

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Dorian Gray 📖
14:19 Mar 16, 2021

I WANNA GO TO CHICAGO. I'm not going to talk about how long the paragraphs are because I'm reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez and there are PAGES WITHOUT BREAKS. PAGES. This was so lovelyyyyyyy it was great creative nonfiction.

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14:09 Mar 16, 2021

👏🏾Chicago👏🏾Nainika👏🏾 Dang, you're making me want to travel there!!! 😆 This story was amazing. Despite the fact that it didn't have much of a plot and it was just listing facts, I found this enjoyable to read. The end was inspirational, and it put a smile on my face. I actually learned a lot about Chicago in this one. You Chicagoans actually dye the lake green??? Yep. In a 1.3k story about Chicago, the thing I find most fascinating is about food dye. How typical of me 🤣 My only critique is that some paragraphs are a little long. That was pro...

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22:50 Apr 24, 2021

Being that Chicago is the best city on the face of the planet, I couldn't help but read this. I'm going to link to it in my bio, so that when I say, "it's the best city on the planet," I have a few details to back it up. LOL

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Nainika Gupta
01:12 Apr 25, 2021

Aw haha thanks! :)

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Lily Burke
13:44 Apr 09, 2021

WOW this story is so cool

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Nainika Gupta
16:10 Apr 09, 2021

Aw, thanks!

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Lily Burke
19:10 Apr 09, 2021

You are so Welcome so do u like writing storys.

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Nainika Gupta
14:07 Apr 14, 2021

of course I do!!

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Elle Orthan
15:58 Mar 18, 2021

wow amazing job nainika ur really good

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Nainika Gupta
14:07 Apr 14, 2021

:) Thanks!

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Elle Orthan
13:51 Apr 25, 2021

ofc!!

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Misti Davidson
14:19 Mar 18, 2021

this is really unique, a wonderful article like tone with evidence and personal tidbits as well. i love this one of a kind writing style, there were a few grammatical errors but this is pretty well written and it has so much voice!

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Nainika Gupta
14:07 Apr 14, 2021

:) Thanks!

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Sarah 🖤💖
11:25 Mar 17, 2021

Well crap, looks like my next vacation is gonna be in Chigaco- (thanks a ton Nainika...))

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I love this. I defs want to go to Chicago someday, maybe when i'm visiting family i have near there :) i see we're both writing about our hometowns/states this week :)

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Nainika Gupta
15:28 Mar 16, 2021

Thanks Carolinaaa ;) YES you shouldd ooh yeahhh :)

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23:15 Mar 18, 2021

Hallo, Nainika! My Reedy Cast story is out, and you're in it, please check it out when you have time :)

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Nainika Gupta
14:07 Apr 14, 2021

:)) yess

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Opal Fireball
21:57 Mar 17, 2021

PART 5 OUT!

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Opal Fireball
21:57 Mar 17, 2021

Part 5 out!

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Hey! Wow I loved all the descriptions u gave of ur city! Felt like I was actually there:) Great work!

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Nainika Gupta
14:07 Apr 14, 2021

:)

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Dorian Gray 📖
14:51 Mar 17, 2021

POCAHONTAS

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Nainika Gupta
14:07 Apr 14, 2021

YES

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Nainika Gupta
14:07 Apr 14, 2021

oR At lEAST IT WAS XD

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