Not much attention has been paid to the battle going on between Chicago and Los Angeles for the title of the second most populous city in the United States. For the information of recent high school graduates, New York City is first.

Until now, Chicago had felt secure in holding second place. But now it seems Los Angeles has edged up into that position by a meager 36,000 people.

It may not be a fair contest. In the past L.A. has been able to extend its city boundaries to any part of the state in which it could find water, thus capturing large hunks of land containing people. As a result, Los Angeles suffers from crooked borders, whereas Chicago suffers only from crooked politics.

Another cry of foul is sometimes heard: that the big California city might be counting its illegals. Chicago doesn't have illegals in significant num

bers, unless there are a lot from Mexico, Cuba, and Haiti who got there by mistake. Black Chicagoans are not illegals, regardless of the arguments of the Chicago City Council. They just don't happen to live on the lake front.

But it is no fault of black Chicagoans that the city has seen some dark days. It began its somewhat dubious reputation back when city engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River, thus pulling the plug, so to speak, on Lake Michigan. There are still some people in Milwaukee who insist it is only a matter of time before all the water in the Great Lakes runs down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico.

Not only has Chicago lost second place in population; according to the weather bureau it has lost first place in claiming to be the nation's windiest city. One might say that all around, Chicago has had the wind knocked out of it.

But the contest is far from over. Chicago may still come up a winner - people are beginning to notice that it has cleaner air than Los Angeles since the stockyards have moved.

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