What is something about Chicago that only a Chicagoan would know?

As Darron Collins travelled to Mongolia to preserve the wildlife of the Taimen River, he knew a masters degree in ecology and reading all the science journals in the world would not cut it. So he asked for help. “Locals know so much about about their environment—more than any scientist in a white lab coat could,” he humbly said as he showed us the pictures of horses he road to the river (that was the only mode of transportation to get there) and the Mongolians that guided him and ensured his survival. They brought along fermented mare’s milk and cured meat for the journey and revealed the secrets of the great hucho taimen.

So when it comes to Chicago, whether it be the fastest streets during rush hour or best slice of pizza, what secrets lie within the locals of the Wind City? Maybe we can get some out of them.

On culture:

“The theater company, Lookingglass, they got their space in the Water Tower for only a buck.”

“Lou Malnati’s trumps them all.”

On transportation:

“Elston, Cortland, Willow. I’m not going to tell you all of them, or they will cease to be fast, but those are some good streets to take during rush hour.”

“Real Chicagoan’s don’t Divy”

“The Edens, Ike, Kennedy, Dan Ryan…yup, those are the expressways, but you won’t find that written on any signs.”

On nature:

“Chicago has so much light pollution you’re lucky to spot a star at night. However, there is one place. One place where all the the milky way is visible to the naked eye. On Lake Michigan.”

“You know how we dye Chicago River green to “celebrate” Saint Patrick’s Day. Well it’s really to make it less muddy looking.”

On architecture:

“Some of the old city buildings—like the big ones downtown—well my dad told me that they still pump hot water through it, at least on the lower levels, to keep it warm. That was the way before central heating, but I guess they never got around to changing them.”

“Nobody calls the Sears Tower the ‘Willis Tower.’”

Now these are just a handful from the surveys and interviews I conducted, but if you yourself grew up in the Chi Town and think something crucial is missing, feel free to contribute to the compilation of factoids, secrets, and myths here.

There is only so much we can learn from books. We know the best streets and pizzas because we have gone out and tried them ourselves. Collins saved the taimen because he galloped out to the river and researched the problem himself.

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