In case you haven't figured it out yet - I am originally from Northwest Indiana (Lake County, IN) 40 miles southeast of Chicago's Loop. Some (like kelscraggly :-) feel that although I grew up with Chicago radio and television that I should not consider myself a Chicagolander.
Well - I do. I grew up listening to WLS (on the AM with Larry Lujack).
I fought the traffic on I 80/94 - and if you aren't familar with the area: "Chicago traffic is really bad. Folks think Boston's is bad, but according to a ten year longitudinal study, Chicago's traffic is third worst in the country, trailing only LA's and NYC's." (taken from http://underscorebleach.net/jotsheet/2005/09/chicago-traffic-reports)
Even Wikipedia says Chicagoland is a real place http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicagoland and it even includes Wisconsin (who knew!)
As for the "Armpit of America" I am not the only person out there who believes that Gary should be labeled as such. DVD Talk posted a forum http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/printthread.php?t=381978&pp=40 related to the subject. Glad to see I am not the only one!