Dave Schuler looks at Chicago, just up the road:
Without the jobs in meatpacking, steel, light manufacturing, transport, or those associated with being the center of retail empires, Chicago is still wicked, crooked, and brutal but it is no longer proud, no longer strong. There is no future for Chicago as a place where the pale and slender young men and women flit from bistro to boutique. Or even the fashionably sun-kissed ones.
There are two possible reactions to this. We can either surrender to the fate that decay brings and be willing to become Nineveh on Lake Michigan, crumbling and forgotten, or we can make Illinois a welcoming place for making things, wresting things from the soil, industry, and commerce. And deal tirelessly with the problems those things bring along with them.
This metaphor slightly misses the mark, since Nineveh wasn’t left to waste away: it was sacked. Former vassals of the Assyrian empire were more than happy to pay back Nineveh for slights received. And let’s face it, Rahm Emanuel ain’t exactly Ashurbanipal.
Still, that’s pretty much the dilemma facing the soon-to-be Fourth City, and there are times I get the feeling that everyone south of about Kankakee would just as soon it detached itself from the rest of the state and floated into the lake.