The Economist recently ran a series of stories on the city of Chicago in their March 16, 2006 issue. If you have access to the Economist, here is the link.
The Economist, rightly, gave the city of Chicago credit. They referred to our opaque, awful politics and our totally broken down school system, but mentioned the many improvements in our business climate and residential developments under Daley's watch (or lack of watch, as it turns out).
This photo is a recent shot of a park under development in the River North area. you can see the Sears Tower to the south, our beautiful "Chicago Style" bridges over the Chicago River, and the cranes representing the new investment and development springing up in the area.
While the Chicago school system is a disaster, the Economist makes too big a deal about it. Chicago draws in professionals and educated people from all over in the Midwest. I can't even count how many top people came from Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, and cities in Illinois such as Decatur or the "Quad Cities".
Not to mitigate the crisis in the Chicago public schools, but it actually doesn't significantly impact the competitiveness of our work force because we are able to draw in skilled professionals from all over the midwest. If you are already used to the cold weather (see our "Midwest" blog posts), then Chicago is for you if you are ambitious and talented.