Made in Chicago
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler…
When Carl Sandburg penned his pioneering (if timeworn) poem “Chicago,” the city’s identity as a place where things were made was clear to itself and to the world. Chicago rolled up its sleeves, got grimy and sweaty and did what it took so that the industry of America would chug forward. The city has shed much of its rugged reputation, sometimes for better, as it’s a vastly cleaner, less-gritty place now, and sometimes for worse, as the big-shouldered jobs have disappeared to places afar or unto bytes unseen. If anything, Chicago rugged is now a body count of young men rather than cattle carcasses.
We still make things. Though it may seem like we’re more about “maker culture” than manufacturing, we’re still builders. Sometimes we make foods, resulting in the kind-of-annoying obsessions visitors have with “Chicago-style pizza” but also leading to the how-can-anyone-live-without-it likes of giardiniera. Sometimes we export culture, whether in the form of music like gospel or house, or in the blueprints for the biggest skyscrapers in the world. Sometimes we even make a model for the utopian ideal of the President of the United States, only to see it replaced with a Queens-crafted caveman.
For this twenty-seventh edition of Best of Chicago, we’ve focused on the made-in-Chicago idea, from feature stories about architecture, music, mild sauce and soapmaking, to dozens of smaller items that address the concept (sometimes with precision and other times with ample liberty).
Visual artist David Heo was given the same made-in-Chicago mandate, and you’ll see his interpretation on our cover, as well as on our section splash pages. Special thanks to Fred Sasaki, the art director of Poetry magazine and a Chicago original in all the best ways, for introducing us to David. And thanks to everyone—writers, designers, editors, artists, salespeople, drivers—who rolled up their sleeves and got to work to make this issue something special.
Look for Newcity’s November 2019 print edition at over 1000 Chicago-area locations this week.