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Horist: Chicago No Longer My Kind of Town

Horist: Chicago No Longer My Kind of Town

I was born in Chicago.  Spent most of my life in the Windy City.  I grew up in a gritty neighborhood on the northwest side.  I spent time in every neighborhood in-depth with every conceivable ethnic group. 

 I fought against the Democrat’s racist and corrupt political machine.  My civic activism coincidentally started as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago about the time Mayor Richard M. Daley died.  That is significant because the City was freed from the iron-fisted rule of “Da Boss.”  

It was not a complete reversal, but under a succession of later mayors, there was a vacuum to be filled by the civic community.  Political edicts were replaced by negotiations.  You could fight City Hall and occasionally win.  In the post-Boss days, Chicago had a woman mayor and two black mayors.

During those years, Chicago was a great place to live and bring up children.  The neighborhoods were safe – with the notable exception of the segregated minority communities. But progress was being made.

Circumstances brought me to South Florida – not disdain for Chicago.  Naturally, I maintained an interest in Chicago – and occasionally wrote about some of the latest events.  In the eleven years since my departure, I watched my hometown change into a city I had never known.

Places where we safely walked the streets – and the children would play outside without supervision – turned into places of violence and death.  Those places included the heart of downtown Chicago.  My youngest son was raised in a Michigan Avenue high-rise with Grant Park as his playground.  Today that section of Chicago is terrorized by marauding mobs.

My son attended elementary school at Holy Name Cathedral.  He could play outside or walk across the street for a Mcdonald’s burger.  That was recently the site of a gang-related mass shooting that killed two people.

We would often walk to the Magnificent Mile to shop and enjoy a soda fountain treat at the Godiva Chocolate shop.  That has become the scene of crash-and-snatch looting.  Chicago was famous for its parks and beaches. 

Many of those have been taken over by the homeless and drug addicts.  It is not uncommon to see needles and other drug paraphernalia on the ground.

Over the years, I have given hundreds of speeches at churches and civic meetings in the inner city.  Not much changed for those trapped in the segregated neighborhoods, with the notable exception of crime – deadly crime. 

Chicago’s segregated community always had a deprivation of education, jobs, quality housing, and maintained infrastructure – but one aspect of ghetto life got a lot worse.  Crime.

My son recently got married and is living in a home on Chicago’s far north side.  One of those invigorating diverse neighborhoods with interesting shops and restaurants.  The other day, a person was shot outside his front door.  At about the same time, a friend was found floating in the Chicago River.

As I see it, the decline of Chicago came about the time the infamous Chicago Democrat political machine was re-established by the second Mayor Daley – Richard M. – the son of Da Boss.  In terms of government and civic corruption, young Richard was a lot like his father. 

Unlike his father, young Richard was woke before the term achieved widespread usage.  The combination has been disastrous for the Windy City – and it continued to get worse under the leadership of the mayors who succeeded Daley – Rahm Emanuel, Lori Lightfoot, and now in-coming Mayor Brandon Johnson.  Under their leadership of the first two, Chicago has been devastated by financial mismanagement (corruption) …  soaring crime rates due to ineffective law enforcement … an unprecedented drug crisis … and, to add insult to injury, taxes are soaring.   Mayor-elect Johnson may be even worse than his predecessors.

There is a sad, ironic twist to my Chicago story.   As the head of the City Club of Chicago, I launched a range of civic projects – including two investigations of police corruption … a civic investigation that forced a corrupt official off the Library Board … fighting city hall’s efforts to shut down Marva Collins’ private school serving the Black community …  a similar effort to stop the shutdown of Probation Challenge, an operation fighting recidivism.  I led the successful fight to save the historic Chicago Theatre.  

Shorty after my departure from Chicago, the City Club was taken over by a political hack named Jay Doherty, who used the Club as his personal lobbying operation and as an adjunct to the Democrat political machine.  All the reform work was shut down.  The 100-year history of civic reform was cancelled.

But justice caught up with Doherty.  He was ousted from the City Club and has been fined $75,000 for failing to disclose his lobbying activities.  He is currently standing trial for bribery and conspiracy for funneling money to then House Speaker Michael Madigan for the benefit of clients.

Chicago is now an exodus city – with both residents and businesses leaving in record numbers.  A lot of those folks are taking up residency near me in southern Florida.

We have seen this movie before.  Its title is “Detroit.”  In those better times, I used to use Detroit and Chicago as the opposite edges of the municipal continuum.  Despite several eras of “renaissance” in Detroit, it still remains a forlorn political and civic environment. 

Unfortunately, Chicago has slipped to the Motor City side of that continuum.  It is a City I no longer recognize.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Frank dtetson

    Larry seems to be waxing poetic as of late in memory of fond memories. The story seems to be a repeat of both his life and his résumé. But not much on what’s happening in Chicago beyond the bad stuff, with no Larry thoughts to how to make it good stuff. He’s kind of a downer.

    I agree with Larry that Chicago was a great place. I remember one of my first visits, sitting in the cab and commenting, how nice and clean everything was, only to get an earful as a cabbie lamented, the taxis that allowed it to be so clean. Didn’t matter to me, I liked it. I would walk the miracle Mile around midnight after a fantastic meal, without a care in the world or any fears. Of course, I would do the same on 42nd St. in New York in the 90s, and most people would speak of it in the same terms that Larry, speaks now of Chicago. But 42nd St. came back, and so will Chicago.

    In my life, I’ve lived in almost every major city on the East Coast from Washington to Boston. If I didn’t live there, I’ve visited often. Each city ebbs and flows, comes and goes. There is always more danger in the city, if for no other reason, there’s more people.

    Just to you’re afraid to walk the miracle mile would be equivalent to saying I can’t go down 42nd St. in New York in the early 90’s. I did it and my 65-year-old mother did it on her own, against my wishes… I will say that.

    But that’s just me and there’s no doubt that Larry is 100% correct in saying Chicago is out of control and people are fleeing in mass after this as his business. But, in my opinion, Chicago is far from dead. It ain’t dead, it’s only sleeping. Its not like the motor city, there is still much in Chicago to bring it back to life. Thank God the mayor is gone. She sucked.

    I did get a bit of chuckle at Larry highlighting Chicago’s famous beaches. He wisely did not mention the water temperature. I don’t know anyone going to Chicago for a swim… I’m also a Lake Erie man, and we would laugh at a Chicago beach. Will let them have their Windy City, but when I was growing up, the streets of downtown Buffalo would have ropes, allowing them to keep people from flying away. But we give Chicago that one. We’ll take the snow award.

    So another repeat, another recap of the old résumé, but the fact that Chicago sucks today strikes at the soul of the city that I believe will be redeemed.

    It will come back, I would bet on that.

    • Frank stetson

      That’s high taxes made it clean, not taxis (except for the taxes they paid)

  2. Donald Gervais

    Chicago was my favorite city in America for many years. The democrats have finally destroyed another great city.
    I do not care to ever go back to Chicago. The pure evil of Marxism has taken another American treasure down the tubes.

  3. frank stetson

    Oye —- do you really think all the bad in America is just Democrats? Why can’t people work together to make things better.

    The current Republican Party is busted. The last guy who followed Trump just got 14 years and they want 25 for Rhodes. All total, the 1/6/2021 Republican Insurrection at the Capitol has netted hundreds of years of Prison time just for listening to Donald J. Trump’s lies. And many convicted have said just that.

    The problem is not just Democrats; it’s America.

  4. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson …. More distraction and stupidity. This commentary has nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the decline of Chicago as a truly great city. As a matter of fact, Chicago has been under Democrat rule for almost 100 years. So, who is the blame for the segregation and all that goes with it … the high crime …. the high taxes … and the exodus of residents an businesses? Democrats. There are no Republicans in positions of authority. And yet you try to peddle it as a bipartisan problem. That is just bias based on ignorance. And check out the many other cities in trouble … Detroit, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, etc., etc., etc.. All Democrat controlled with Democrat left-wing policies. Frank … stop embarrassing yourself with your Democrat cheerleader mind set. Face the FACTS!!

  5. Frank

    All I said is we are all in this together.

    And you can blame us for all of America’s ills but your party is broken as Trumpians have proven

    And then you call me the distractor while listing a bunch of non topic cities for distraction.

    I am not stupid, you are. Nah nah nah…. No you. Not me, you.

    Grow up.

    • larry Horist

      Frank Stetson … Not sure if you are intellectually dishonest or a moron, but you are definitely one or the other. The topic was the problems of a Democrat-run cities, so the other examples are relevant and on topic. I never blamed Democrats for ALL of America’s problems. Another Stetson lie. And you make me laugh when you say “Grow up” after your previous childish insult. Okay, you are not stupid, but you are not very smart or intellectually honest when it comes to politics. Too much spleen and not enough brain. Rather then honest and intelligent dialogue, you prefer constant criticism — an ankle biter.

      • Frank stetson

        You really do need to grow up, old man.

        All I said is we all all in this together. Not sure why the hissy fit. Not enough fiber?

        The topic was Chicago. They wrote one for you: “Chicago:: Whorist no longer our clown of spanked”

        He’s, in his own words, a dishonest moronic childish, brainless ankle biter who can’t speak any issues beyond decades-old regurgitations.

        Let us know if you wish to get back on point. Or you can continue to demean me with your little demeaning names, and catcalling. I expected a greater maturity.

  6. Tom

    I did much of my naval electronics training in Building 421 in North Chicago. I only wen to inner Chicago once or twice in the early to mid 70’s, it was fun, clean, and nice people as both Larry and Frank recall. And actually I had a trip there in the mid 90’s but that was to Peoria, not Chicago per se’. But I did enjoy the L train and a cubs game and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with Harry! It was a lot of fun even though the seats were horribly uncomforable. These were the days when Chicago still had a rule of no night games, no lighting that traced back to someone’s will who I think donated the land for the park. So I agree with Larry and Frank, Chicago was a fun town.

    I think the problems in Chicago are bipartisan. First of all, Chicago did have a GOP mayor from 1907 to 1911, and then again from 1915 to 1923, and from 1927 to 1931. See ** During this time, in 1929, it was a GOP mayor when the S. VAlentines Day Massacre, one of America’s first mass shooting occured! Hear what their website says, when it says, “From 1924 to 1930, the city of Chicago gained a widespread reputation for lawlessness and violence. Not coincidentally, this phenomenon coincided with the reign of chief crime lord Al “Scarface” Capone, who took over from his boss Johnny Torrio in 1925.” So here is a very good example of both parties contributing to corruption and mass shootings. Read at **. And during all of these dates, and after, racism that Larry speaks about was alive and well. It was so alive and well, that the Democrats focused on it in their messaging and began a strong dynasty by 1931 when the general population of Chicago had its sickening fill of the GOP cronyism going on. And then the Dems took over and instituted their century of cronyism. This I got from a Chicago historical website. And it remains a city with probably one of the highest marks in cronyism and crony capitalism, corruption, and dark money flow. So Chicago may have been your darling angel, but when you were growing up what you did not realize was that your darling angel did not have any underwear on! Same with my hometown of Reading Pa. When the Mob was defeated by Bobby Kennedy, it left a big vacuum that was filled by corruption. My angel did not have underwear on either – so I understand your frustration!

    Larry, I am sorry that your love and angel, Chicago, is now a centerfold (little musical humor from the song from J Geils, * for cronyism and crony capitalism, corruption, horrific violence, fear, and dark money flow. This song I am sure can only scratch the surface of how bad you feel. And I am sorry to you for this.

    Larry, this independent/unaffiliated voter agrees with your sentiments and feelings over what your angel has become. She is naked now, and its not pretty. I am sorry for you. But Frank is correct, she will find her royal golden, purple, and scarlot clothes again one day! Even the Cubs finally won one! All things are possible.

    I think it only logical and safe to assume that policies by the Democratic mayors have not helped Chicago as they intended, and now they may even be in denial from what have seen in Lightfoot. But there is another glaringly large piece of this puzzle that must be acknowledged. Just as Dem failed policies are obvious, so to is the lack of superior messaging on the part of GOP that has allowed the city to remain heavily Democratic, corruption to continue, people to move out just like Detroit – until the poor are the majority. To this independent/unaffiliated voter what you are seeing is a predictable result of cronyism, corruption, expanding poverty, one party rule, and other party with no message that inspires the masses to change parties like they did in 1931. So it is a two party fault and it resides now with the leadership as well as the inept messengers of the minority party. This is all a problem of not working together despite your resume of best efforts. Even Jesus Christ and his teaching took 300 years to overcome the Roman system of pagan gods. Keep the faith, and have faith in the one who can transform the mind!

    • Frank stetson

      J Geils band… so we’re at a small outside venue at American university, watching J Geils doing a little whamma JAMA man. Remember “take out your false teeth mama, I wanna suck on your gums.” Amazingly, still gross. Suddenly, we hear from the stage, “if you find the finger, please pass it forward. We don’t have much time, if you find the finger.… sorry, you brought it back.

      Hey, Chicago is great, now it sucks, often there’s an ebb and flow of things, and this time it is most certainly the Democrats fault. However, people do need to work together if they want to make this better. There’s plenty of foundation left in Chicago for a rebirth. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to go there. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to walk the miracle mile. I’ve always question about going under the El, but having lived around New York City, I don’t like to go under any tracks or even the Whitehurst in DC.

      My favorite place in Chicago is the corner room Highup in the Sofitel, one side, facing the river, the other side, kind of facing the lake. Nothing better than watching a big thunder bumper coming in from that room. Are used to have to jump some guard rails, but then it was off to the Navy pier, yeah, I love to do tourist when I’m in another town. Like Tom, I did a lot of my work in the suburbs. I think those were terrible. But the city was great. We used to hold meetings at the airport in one of the rooms because we could fly people in from all over the country. Chicago is still centrally located. Afterwords, we would grab the train and head into town. Really helped us keep expenses down rather than flying everyone to our headquarters. Not to mention getting us out of headquarters.

      I hope the new mayor can do a better job. It’s pretty hard to do worse.

      • Frank stetson

        Oh yeah, I think fireworks used to be on Tuesday night fired from barges on the lake. Most excellent.

        • Tom

          Yes I agree, plenty of foundation to build upon. But both parties are going to have to work together. Yes, I enjoyed my visits there. You are correct, it is very centrally located. Darn shame to see what has happened to it but its unfair to blame it totally on Dems when the other party has not invested in Chicago and seems missing in action. GOP seems to have surrendered Chicago was my point. But there will be a day when the people will get tired of what has been happening and will be more willing to listen to a new message. I never saw J Geils in person but I bet it was fun! Rock on!

          • larry Horist

            Tom … You say both parties are going to have to work together. Nice sentiment … BUT, you have to HAVE two parties to work together. That is not the case in Chicago or most of the other one-party Democrat major cities. Ass was the case in the south, it took people election Republicans to bring about change. Republicans are not in the game in the big cities. Chicago has the largest city council in the nation (50 members) and not one Republican — all machine Democrats. You say the GOP surrendered in Chicago. No. The Party was co-opted and crushed by an authoritarian regime..

    • larry Horist

      Tom … I cannot believe that you actually went back 100 years in an effort to link today’s conditions in Chicago to the GOP. That is absurd. The last Chicago Mayor — Big Bill Thompson — was corrupt, but he also was not a racist. His policies were supportive of black civil rights. Know you history — but do not misapply it to the present. Despite your and Frank’s Pollyanna view, I do not think there is much hope for Chicago in the foreseeable future — and not with this new mayor. He is cutting back on actually policing in favor of the social work approach to crime. That has failed everywhere — Seattle, Portland, etc.

      • Tom

        I agree Larry, hope looks grim for Chicago in the near term, and that may be the next 50 years. I went back to check your 100 years of democratic mayor statements. Actually it is 92 years but that’s close enough for me. In a past post of yours, I cited several historical documents that reveal why the GOP was ousted in Chicago. Much of it had to do with disillusioned blacks tired of GOP broken promises, and a system where they could not win or even get an inch ahead.. And in October of 1929 all of Chicago, including those that had businesses and survived on mob money, also got to see how the GOP handles crime, mass shooting. This all had a negative impression on the Black population struggling to survive. So the Dems seized on the message of hope and captured the city. And it has been theirs ever since despite the same history of unfulfilled promises. GOP unfulfilled promises and poor messaging was the gateway to what you claim as 100 years of Dem rule and chaos. Therefore, the history is relevant , then, and is relevant now. GOP still has poor messaging and low funding performance in Chicago, otherwise they would be the party in power. You say the GOP Party was co-opted and crushed by an authoritarian regime.. This seems to indicate that the will of the people had nothing to do with Dems staying in power. But the people are the ones that vote, and they collectively caste their ballot more for Dems.

        Chicago Tribune, Jan 19, 2023 states:

        In his two winning campaigns to become Illinois’ chief executive, billionaire Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the nation’s wealthiest politician, has spent $350 million, including more than $167 million to defeat Republican Darren Bailey by nearly 13 percentage points in November, according to newly released state and federal campaign records.

        Bailey, a former state senator from downstate Xenia, spent $17.6 million on his campaign. Most of that was spent before he won the June 28 Republican primary election, with only $6 million spent between then and his loss to Pritzker in the general election, records show.

        So, Dem spent $167M, GOP spent $6M. Ratio is approximately 27.83 to 1 in favor of the Dems. If this does not look like GOP retreat by lack of investment, then what does??? The message the GOP is sending is that they do not consider Chicago worthy of their investment, and that Chicago is an investment risk. You may be correct about the big bad Dem machine, I do not know much about it, but I do know stats. And the stats say Dems are investing and getting the message out! And that is what wins elections!

        See full article at **

        Declaration: I am independent of Frank and develop my own thoughts. My thoughts in this blog are an extension of my thoughts from your previous blog on this Chicago topic for which I cited historical documents.

  7. Darren

    Good article Larry, it make the readers think about their own experiences.
    As I live in California, I can relate to how things have changed and not for the better.
    I would like to say time has been the enemy, but then everywhere in the country should
    have gone down hill and that is just not the case.

    • Frank stetson


      Let me see if I got this, democratic areas are going down while Republican areas are getting shot up.

      Pretty good summary?

      Have a good rest of Sunday folks I am OOH 😉

      • Frank stetson

        Hey Abbot, look, another right wing extremist is the next good guy with a gun gone bad. Only ate that this time. Wanna bet he voted for Trump and is Republican?

        Why worry about Biden’s Sudan withdrawal when we kill each other faster than an Afghan pullout. ANTIFA never killed like this.

        Yup, Dems ruined Chicago with gun controls, and Republican states like Texas have already racked up two mass shootings in 2023. Under Abbot, the Republicans, and in non-democratic cities and towns are looking to set a US State record.

        It’s probably a mental health issue from being forced to live in a country with Democrats.

        I’m just glad that Abbot is only busing immigrants out of his state. Hopefully he can keep most of the citizens there. Republicans like this are dangerous.

        All wicked sarcasm aside, fact is, we are all in this together and if we don’t pull together like a team, we’re going to see more of the shit every day. Especially where elephants roam.

        • Tom

          Something is very wrong. 127 days into 2023 and there have been 197 mass shooting events. Seems like Aerosmith is correct, “We’re Living on the Edge! But edge of what??? Revelations predicts this kind of lawlessness that governments are powerless to stop.

          Ref: **