Led by its 'Hyperactive' Mayor, Chicago Plots a Comeback

When he took office last year, Rahm Emmanuel inherited a city in which a sheen of new projects hid a crumbling infrastructure. With a laundry list of initiatives, the mayor is intent on retaining the city's place amongst the world's great cities.
July 16, 2012, 6am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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The capital of the Midwest for over a century, Chicago has been showing signs of its age for decades now. A much-needed face-lift is in order. Fortunately, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has made modernizing the city a priority. As Ed Pilkington of The Guardian reports, "[o]ver the next three years Emanuel will pump $7bn to bring the ageing city up to scratch."

The mayor's list of improvements include, "a massive upgrading of the underground water infrastructure, two new runways at O'Hare airport, an overhaul of subway stations, $660m investment in public schools, a rapid-transit bus system in the centre of the city and the first steps towards making Chicago the most bike-friendly city in the world." Perhaps most interesting is the plan to make all of downtown Chicago completely wireless, giving the city, already as the "broadband backbone of America..., a huge strategic advantage."

As cities increasingly face international competition, Emmanuel centers much of his ambition on rejuvenating what he calls "the most American of American cities."

"Should Emanuel succeed in implementing even a portion of his ambitions," writes Pilkington, "he will have written himself into the history books as one of a new generation of activist mayors grabbing American cities by the lapels and giving them a good shake."

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Published on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 in The Guardian
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