You Were Never in Chicago

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Oct 25, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
4 Reviews

In 1952 the New Yorker published a three-part essay by A. J. Liebling in which he dubbed Chicago the "Second City." From garbage collection to the skyline, nothing escaped Liebling's withering gaze. Among the outraged responses from Chicago residents was one that Liebling described as the apotheosis of such criticism: a postcard that read, simply, "You were never in Chicago."

Neil Steinberg has lived in and around Chicago for more than three decades—ever since he left his hometown of Berea, Ohio, to attend Northwestern—yet he remains fascinated by the dynamics captured in Liebling's anecdote. In You Were Never in Chicago Steinberg weaves the story of his own coming-of-age as a young outsider who made his way into the inner circles and upper levels of Chicago journalism with a nuanced portrait of the city that would surprise even lifelong residents.

Steinberg takes readers through Chicago's vanishing industrial past and explores the city from the quaint skybridge between the towers of the Wrigley Building, to the depths of the vast Deep Tunnel system below the streets. He deftly explains the city's complex web of political favoritism and carefully profiles the characters he meets along the way, from greats of jazz and journalism to small-business owners just getting by. Throughout, Steinberg never loses the curiosity and close observation of an outsider, while thoughtfully considering how this perspective has shaped the city, and what it really means to belong. Intimate and layered, You Were Never in Chicago will be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of all Chicagoans, be they born in the city or forever transplanted.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - wealhtheowwylfing - LibraryThing

The tale of a reporter's time in modern Chicago, with nuggets of history about the city's birth and development. I loved the insider look into Chicago politics, but there's a strange amount of time spent defending the author's choices, not least in helping his brother get a job. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - readaholic12 - LibraryThing

Halfway through reading the free e-book from the Chicago University Press, I bought the hard cover version so I could hold it in my hand, enjoy the cover, gaze at it on my coffee table, and hand it to ... Read full review


Manus manum lavat
God I am in Chicago
A tolerance for rubes
Give her my regards
Your show of shows
Ill get you a judge
In the sleeping room
How long is it supposed to last ?
A byutafl day in the palka
You gave the money away?
A visit from the Angel Nacht
A lot of broken hearts
Driving with Ed McElroy
Gee ya think?
The city in fog

Annals of the paper tube trade

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

Neil Steinberg is a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, where he has been on staff since 1987. He is the author of seven books, including Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life and Hatless Jack: The President, the Fedora, and the History of American Style.

Bibliographic information