by Mason Johnson

In 1977, Chicago had over three million people and was the second largest city in the U.S., bigger even than the rapidly growing Los Angeles.

Since then, we’ve lost a few hundred thousand people, L.A. has taken the #2 spot in the U.S. and our skyline has become a little more crowded.

As you’ll see in the 38-year-old tourism video recently uploaded to YouTube by the Chicago Film Archives, many things have changed in the past four decades — but many more great things have stayed the same.

At the beginning, the video establishes that Chicago is: new, exciting and fun.

While I’m not sure if we’d use those adjectives today to describe the Windy City, the tagline that persists throughout the video definitely still resonates: “Chicago is something you gotta see for yourself.”

Calling Chicago an “architectural gem,” the video highlights Chicago’s skyscrapers and design. While we no longer have the largest skyscraper in the world, I still think our architecture can go toe to toe with any other city in the U.S. It’s easy to forget when you live here, walking the streets with your head down and earbuds in your ears, but Chicago’s eclectic design is downright beautiful. Chicago is an assortment of shapes and colors, a representation of a dozen different decades and tastes, a collage of a city that has no right to exist, but somehow does.

Chicago skyline circa June 1974.  (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Chicago skyline circa June 1974. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

The video’s also happy to tout Chicago as having “the world’s most renowned museums.”

It’s a hefty claim, but then you hear the narrator list a few of the examples — The Field Museum, Art Institute, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and The Museum of Science and Industry — and something just sorta clicks.

Oh yeah, I thought. Our museums are pretty badass.

No, we don’t have discotheques anymore. There are fewer mustaches in 2015 and our hair isn’t quite as feathery as it was in the seventies, but Chicago still boasts an impressive number of gems worth appreciating.

“Chicago is all yours to discover, to explore — it’s whatever you want it to be. A quiet giant ablaze in light and color.”

Mason Johnson is a web content producer for CBS Chicago. You can find him on Twitter.


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