In Veronica Roth's Divergent series, residents of a dystopian Chicago are divided into factions based on their values. And while the world created in this novel seems entitrely unlike the one in which we live, if you think about it, real life isn't so different. After all, if you make the choice to move to a big city, there's the daunting task of choosing which pocket of that city is right for you. Okay, so we -- unlike the characters in Divergent -- aren't officially bound to one faction, but we are faced with the task of choosing a neighborhood in which to live... and we all know that the cultural differences from one neighborhood to another can be staggering.
We've all probably heard -- or even delivered -- the argument that Chicago is unlike any other city in the world. There's truth to this idea: the balance our city strikes between big-city urbanization and medium-city quality of life is remarkable. But when it comes right down to it, Chicago has a few structural commonalities with every other city. And like any metropolis, Chicago is made up of neighborhoods that each represent something very different in its cultural equation.
I won't specify which neighborhood fits each description in Chicago -- because frankly there may be more than one answer to each option -- but these are the five archetypical parts of a major city, and each of these genres is represented here in Chicago.
They're characterized by things that seem superficial, (the way their inhabitants dress, what they do with leisure time) but actually speak volumes about the nature of the area and what the people who have chosen it value. So without further ado, let's look at the five standard neighborhoods each big city has and discuss who belongs in each.
The 'Hipster' 'hood
For you if: You always manage to look artfully disheveled, even though you shop at Urban Outfitters and Free People. The only thing you love more than a good vegan meal is your leather jacket. You love telling people your shirt is "vintage" even though you aren't quite sure what that means. You own at least 2 pairs of large, plastic framed glasses. Ten points if you wear said glasses (without the lenses) even though your vision is 20/20. Fifty points if you're wearing said glasses (without the lenses) over your contacts.
The center-of-everything hood
For you if: Flashing lights don't give you a migraine, you're cool with walking in heels (if you're a girl.) You work as a banker. Or in PR. Your parents support you. You don't mind living in a closet-size apartment as long as your address screams "trendy!" You're not scandalized at the mention of club drugs. You've perfected the subtle art of walking up to a bouncer and demanding that he let you cut the line at whatever bar/club/lounge is "so right now." After all, your mental Rolodex includes the names of every service industry professional in town. You went to college in a big city. You enjoy good food, and by 'good' food, I mean food that's served in portions so tiny, you can't really tell if it's good or bad because it's gone by the time you start tasting it.
The all-American 'hood
For you if: You "like beer" but you're "cool with the cheap stuff, man." You wear a lot of baseball caps. You think it's socially acceptable to wear Uggs when it's still kind of warm... or at all. You went to a state school and are trying to recreate the glory days. You were in a fraternity or sorority. You like theme parties. The most exotic thing you'll eat is a plate of bar nachos. Speaking of bars, you only go to them because clubs are pretentious; you know this even though you've never been to one. Also speaking of bars: you can't resist bursting into song when they play "Don't Stop Believing" at "the bar." Which they will. Every. Single Time.
The off-the-beaten-path 'hood
For you if: You don't mind living next to a family. Like, a real family, like a married couple with kids and pets. You go to bed early. You like authentic, unassuming ethnic restaurants that fly under the radar. You could spend hours pouring over a tattered novel (not a Kindle) at a coffee shop so small, it's almost an afterthought. You wear a lot of scarves. You make your own scarves. You're the kind of person who could be happy living in a total dump as long as you personalize it in such a way that, when your friends visit, they call it "quaint" or "charming." You think high-rise buildings have no character. You don't own a TV.
The not-really-in-the-city 'hood aka the city-adjacent suburbs:
For you if: You own a car and actually do a decent job of operating it. You think Olive Garden has "really good food." You have or want kids. You're okay with playing role of DD. You shop at the mall.