Chicago Election: A Look Back With Mayor Daley

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As voters in Chicago go to the polls to cast their ballots in the city's mayoral election, it's worth looking back at what went into remaking the city Rahm Emanuel will soon run. The strong frontrunner in the polls, Emanuel may even win 50 percent of the vote in today's primary contest and avoid a run-off, polls predict. Either way, his ascension to mayor's office is a near certainty.

Here's Atlantic Contributor James Warren on Mayor Richard M. Daley's recent "farewell speech to the Economic Club of Chicago":

Mr. Daley started by reading a well-crafted opening to a 1981 Chicago Tribune series, "City on the Brink," by an estimable reporter, R..C. Longworth:

"The City of Chicago has become an economic invalid. The condition may be permanent -- unless the people responsible for its economic future can reverse the long, steady and seemingly endless slide. Chicago is losing the industry that was its original reason for existing and has found nothing to replace it. Often, cities stricken in this way become irrelevant. Business moves away. So do the best young people. The population ages. The city becomes a backwater."

"That's not what happened," said Mr. Daley, detailing the city's history of reinvention, which makes relevant Mark Twain's 1883 comment that, "It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago -- she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them."

As Mr. Daley exits, Chicago is, by some ratings, the fifth or sixth most important city globally. Huge problems persist, including crumbling infrastructure, awful poverty and persistent segregation. But over all, it's been a remarkable run and partly explains why a White House chief of staff departed to seek an office in City Hall.

Read the full story at the Chicago News Cooperative.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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