Question for someone who has been to Manhattan and downtown Chicago

Just want to know how would you compare both downtown areas? Looking to visit Chicago in the summer and wanted to know how it compares to NYC. Been to NYC a few times and love Manhattan/Harlem and want to know what to expect when I visit downtown Chicago.


Much the same. The major difference is that Chicago has the L downtown, so you keep seeing the trains go around. But it’s on a grid system (though the streets are not so straightforwardly named) and the buildings aren’t quite as high (downtown).

There aren’t as many food vendors in Chicago.
ETA: or musicians.

So what is the main attraction of downtown chicago? Like NYC has times square.
Was wondering what attraction chicago for a new visitor?


The equivalent place is probably Navy Pier in that it’s a touristy place, and like Times Square, most local don’t go there or recommend it.

I always recommend a river architecture tour. Some of the Museums are quite good too. The Field Museum is downtown. Museum of Science and Industry is on the south side, but worth it I think.

Chicago was founded by a group of New Yorkers that looked around and figured that they liked the crime and poverty well enough but they figured New York just wasn’t cold enough (very old and outdated joke except for the weather part).

I always thought that Chicago is easy to get around in even by car but the pockets of poverty and despair that you stumble across are appalling, scary and possibly even personally dangerous. NYC is doing much better in that regard today. I never had a problem in the downtown area however and I consider Chicago to be more “American” and it is the godfather of modern skyscraper architecture and general modern large city layouts so you get the benefit of wide streets and intelligent, impressive building designs.

Lifelong Chicago(area)an who has been to Manhattan a few times. To me, Manhattan makes Chicago seem downright quaint. I dunno - maybe it is my familiarity w/ my town, but Manhattan just seems many time larger, busier, more crowded.

Downtown Chicago is really quite small. If you want to be VERY generous and go from Roosevelt on the South to include the museum campus, and go up past the river to include N Michigan Ave, that’s maybe 3 miles N to S. A mile wide E to W from the lake to the river.

What is Manhattan - maybe 2 miles by 8? I’d be interested in a comparison of the average building heights in those areas. I’d wager serious coin that Manhattan is at leas 25% higher - likely much more.

Downtown Chicago has one world-class art museum and several smaller ones. Manhattan has the Met, Guggenheim, and MOMA.

And Manhattan is smack dab in the middle of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, which stretch for miles. Get outside of the Loop, Chicago stretches for miles, but the neighborhoods are far less densely populated.

Quite honestly, I met a woman once who was moving with her two sons from Chicago, to NYC, to “get away from the gangs.”

So, what does Chicago have to recommend it compared to NYC? I am a native New Yorker, and I don’t believe that any city in the US has anything to recommend it over NYC, unless it happens to be closer to you.

But, the museums in Chicago are very good-- maybe even just as good as the ones in NYC-- the Smithsonians are probably the best in the country.

I would say that what Chicago maybe does have is affordable restaurants, especially in the 3-star range, and a lot fewer panhandlers.

In the 1980s, crime was lower in Chicago, but since NYC has made a real effort to clean up, I’m now sure that’s that case. NYC returned to the beat cop (although they are in cars), but pretty much there are way fewer random victims of crime than there were in the 1980s. Which is to say, if you are a drug dealer, the chances of you getting shot or robbed are still pretty good. Anyway, I don’t think stats have changed as much in Chicago. Crime in the US in general has gone down, but I think in Chicago it has not gone down as much.

That doesn’t mean that there is no reason ever to go to Chicago. For one thing, it’s its own place. I mean, there are probably even reasons to go to Indianapolis, although they elude me now, but you may discover some restaurant that serves the best something or other that you’ve ever had.

And you can go to Second City. I saw Rachel Dratch there before she was on SNL, and when I saw her, I told my brother “She’s going to be the next one on SNL,” and I was right. But I also know that SNL never fully exploited her talents, which was a shame. She had a huge range, and SNL gave her Debbie Downer.

So have fun in Chicago.

But the gangs are not in downtown chicago which is where I plan to be during my visit.

Moved to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Downtown Chicago is as safe as anywhere in the country, and as for what to do, what is it that you would like? Museums? Restaurants? Boat tours? Nightclubs? Shopping? There’s a zoo in Lincoln Park. What would you like?

Chicago doesn’t smell as bad as Manhattan.

You’re funny.

I won’t be anywhere near the hood

Chicago purposefully and by design retained it’s lakeshore area in as pristine a way as possible for such a large city. They also try hard to keep the shore areas clean. No, it isn’t the ocean, but you wouldn’t know it. Lake Michigan has waves rolling in, just as the ocean does.

Chicago is, as said, more condensed in area than NYC and that makes it easier to see more in a shorter period of time. Traffic tends to be less condensed, although not always. People are more easygoing by and large and often friendlier and more approachable.

And there is the Blues… ������

Does chicago have tour buses that last 2 hours or more?

Oh, yeah. One more plus for Chicago.

Manhattan smells like my childhood.

Look at the map w/ the story, and it shows 3 - maybe 4 shootings downtown since 2010. Maybe not “as safe as anywhere”, but still pretty damned safe, especially per capita.

I think Chicago is a really nice big city. Manhattan is a huge fucking city. Chicago pace is considerably slower, attitude is different, prices are much lower. But if you dig Manhattan, no other American city is the same.

I was told that chicago is the Midwest Version of NYC