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Andrew Huff / September 4, 2009 12:44 PM

According to Wikipedia, "Chicagoland is an informal name for the Chicago metro area, used primarily by copywriters, advertising agencies, and traffic reporters. There is no precise definition for the term "Chicagoland", but it generally means the city and its suburbs together. The Chicago Tribune, which coined the term, includes the city of Chicago, the rest of Cook County, eight nearby Illinois counties: Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Will and Kankakee, and three counties in Indiana: Lake, Porter, and LaPorte. The Illinois Department of Tourism defines Chicagoland as Cook County without the city of Chicago, and only Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will counties. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce defines it as all of Cook and DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties."

I'm curious if there's a conventional wisdom on this. Does Chicagoland include Indiana counties? Is it just the closest collar counties? Is Naperville part of Chicagoland?

Andrew / September 4, 2009 1:01 PM

To paraphrase Potter Stewart, "we know it when we see it." Naperville yes. Rockford no. Gary yes, Michigan City, no. Ya just know it or you don't, ya know?

y a j / September 4, 2009 1:26 PM

Good question. I'm doing the "Chicagoland" Danskin triathlon at the end of the month - in Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin. I do not consider that within the Chicagoland borders.

C / September 4, 2009 1:40 PM

I'd say there are no formal boundaries, but this satellite photo makes it roughly Gary to Joliet to the Fox River to Wisconsin: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_x7xEbaBRmPw/SnzTRTDPfhI/AAAAAAAAKKg/YlE0Hh2uUhg/s400/!cities_at_night_08.jpg

lakefxdan / September 4, 2009 1:52 PM

Heh, well bands at Alpine Valley typically call out "Hello Chicago" and only "Hello Milwaukee" if they're extra nice.

I don't think Rockford considers itself part of Chicagoland, but people in Pleasant Prairie probably do.

Anyway, I always liked the idea that McCormick had of Chicago as a kind of capital of a five-state region (that seems to have been lost in the merging of Wikipedia articles, but it used to be there). On the other hand, very few people in those five states would consider themselves part of Chicagoland.

Pete / September 4, 2009 2:12 PM

I'll go with the first eight Illinois counties mentioned by Wikipedia (but excluding Kankakee) and Lake County, Indiana. Kankakee is definitely Downstate, and the other two Indiana counties are just too far away - if you count those two, you'd have to include Kenosha County too.

printdude / September 4, 2009 2:52 PM

When you see a cornfield, you've reached the edge.
(soybean field, wheat field, whatever.)
I hereby decree farmed land defines the borders of Chicagoland. Hear Ye, Hear Ye!!

Mike / September 4, 2009 3:09 PM

If someone says they're from Chicagoland, it means the are not from Chicago. As for the definition of Chicagoland? It doesn't really matter to me. Apologies to my friends who come from "Chicagoland."

Adam / September 4, 2009 3:23 PM

The area surrounding and including the city of Chicago where you are least likely to see stars (with a hard 's') at night.

Guy Smiley / September 4, 2009 3:58 PM

Argh!!! I HATE that term "Chicagoland". Makes me think of a giant mouse in a pair of blue-and-white striped shorts with red stars down the middle. It's a made up term that I first head in the '70s on car commercials..."TYour Chicagoland Chevy Dealers." (Though I found out it started before that) I remember when the Bulls were in their heyday and Scottie Pippen was on David Letterman and Letterman was reading all of the endorsement Pippen had since the Bulls started winning titles and he got to "Chicagoland Chevy Dealers" and started laughing. "Chicagoland? What's that?" Does anyone from the 'burbs REALLY use this term when describing their hometown? "Where am I from? Chicagoland." (laughter ensues).

zoenotcool / September 4, 2009 8:46 PM

I don't know, but it's creeping outward in most directions. We joke that it's trying to swallow up most of the Midwest. I don't consider Joliet, Dekalb, Rockford part of Chicagoland.

lolita / September 5, 2009 10:32 AM

it's totally unfair to say that chicagoland is a term used only by wordsmiths. having grown up just outside the official chicago city boundary, i consider myself a chicagoan, and use the term affectionately to include my hood in the mix... in america's present state of development, smaller (suburban) communities are still recognizing that they too have an identity to share with the world (aside from that of the big cities that engulf them). having lived abroad for the past few years, using the term chicagoland makes loads of sense to me!

annie / September 5, 2009 1:25 PM

I'm with Guy Smiley, I hate that word. It's not an amusement park, it's an area, therefore I use "Chicago Area" to describe the surrounding suburbs. I am a Chicagoan and self admittedly one of those people (jerks, ok, jerks) that can't stand when people say there are from Chicago, when in fact, they are from the Chicago Area. With that said, I have no problem using the word Napertucky to describe the distance of Naperville to the city. I don't get out of the city, much, at all though...unless I'm flying somewhere.

mike / September 5, 2009 2:04 PM

Add me to the list of people who do not use the term Chicagoland. People who use that term are the same people who refer to the entire city as "downtown."

Them: "Hey, I'm from Chicago too, where do you live?"
Me: "Edgewater"
Them: (vacant expression) "Is that downtown?"
Me: "No."

Chris / September 6, 2009 5:49 AM

It's simple. Does the CTA pick up near your house? No? Congradulations, you live in northern Illinois, stop by and visit Chicago some time!

mary / September 6, 2009 10:19 AM

if you can get into city proper in an hour or less, i would consider that "chicagoland".

however, i try not to use that term too often since most people from out of state that i know laugh uncontrollably when they hear it. it just sounds too much like an amusement park. a high crime rate amusement park.

Karl / September 6, 2009 10:44 AM

Obviously "Chicago" refers to just the city, although not everyone uses it that way (as mentioned above.) I always thought "Chicagoland" was a good nickname for the conglomeration of characterless suburban sprawl existing beyond the city limits. As far as the boundaries? I think that once you get to the satellite cities (Waukegan, Elgin, Aurora, Joliet, Gary) that you're leaving "Chicagoland."

Spook / September 6, 2009 12:56 PM

Chicago's boundaries are
O;Hare Airport to the west and my passport in my pocket, son!
Cause soon I'm gonna be during the day 160 feet below sea level and at night? LIke Wyclef said I'm gonna be "standing at the bar smoking a Cuban Cigar"

Carfree Chicago / September 7, 2009 11:47 AM

I would say that if the Metra (or South Shore Line) goes there, it's part of Chicagoland.

lakefxdan: Chicago will indeed be viewed as the capital of the five-state region when we've built out our high-speed rail network with Chicago at the center.

LaShawn / September 7, 2009 9:54 PM

I'm limiting "Chicagoland" to the 312/773/708/847/630 area codes--that's IT!! :-)

Hal / September 8, 2009 11:22 AM

When we were watching WGN on cable back in the 70's or 80's in Houston, we'd see those Chevy Dealer ads and other references to "Chicagoland" and couldn't figure out what the hell they meant. It seemed something distinctive and apart from the "Chicago metro area."

Now that I live here, I go by the ~1 hour rule or the more subjective, "Thank God, almost home" measure. When driving home from a visit to Texas, Joliet is that from the south. The Wisconsin border from the north and sort of Gary, because I can't help but think about the proposed airport.

maardvark / September 8, 2009 6:54 PM

It's a fuzzy set, with values from 1 (definitely in) to 0 (definitely out), and it goes something like this:

Chicago: 1
Rest of Cook County: .98
Lake (IL), DuPage, northern Will: .90
Northern Lake (IN), eastern Kane, southeastern McHenry: .85
Porter (IN), Kendall, rest of the counties I gave partials to: .55
Grundy, Kenosha (WI), Kankakee: .25
LaPorte (IN): .05

Carfree Chicago: the problem with your definition is that the South Shore Line goes all the way to South Bend, which no one would include in Chicagoland. Yet almost everyone would include Lake County, Indiana.

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