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10/21/05 12:00 PM ET

Houston, Chicago: Tale of two cities

Astros, White Sox as unique, different as their home bases

Chicago is the third-largest city in America.

Houston is fourth.

It means that representatives of two of the four largest cities in the country will meet in a World Series for the first time since 1981, when the Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 2 in population) defeated the New York Yankees (No. 1).

They may be new to this World Series business, but these are without question two humongous metropolitan slices of Americana. They are alike in many ways. They are polar opposites in many ways. Here is a tale of two World Series cities:

Chicago is the El Train.

Houston is the railroad that created a city, symbolized by the train that roars from beyond center field to left field at Minute Maid Park.

Chicago is the Sears Tower, once the tallest building in the world.

Houston is the Astrodome, once the "eighth wonder of the world."

Chicago is soul food, Chicago-style dogs, deep dish pizza and one of the birthplaces of the blues.

Houston is tamales, Tex-Mex, margaritas, seafood and one of the birthplaces of the blues. Chicago was Air Jordan.

Houston was Hakeem the Dream.

Chicago is the birthplace of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Houston is home to Rice University.

Chicago is "my kind of town," according to Frank Sinatra. It was "Sweet Home Chicago" to anyone who watched the "Blues Brothers," and the group Chicago had hit after hit.

"Houston means I'm one step closer to you," according to the Gatlin Brothers, but just one Internet search and you realize this city needs an anthem.

Chicago is the new home to Boeing, making it the area's largest company.

Houston is the home of Continental Airlines, which flies Boeing jets.

Chicago is lake-effect snow in the winter.

Houston is Gulf-effect humidity in the summer.

Chicago invented the zipper.

Houston is most appreciative.

Chicago is the Adler Planetarium, which was the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

Houston is the home of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which has controlled the flight of spacecraft pointed at places long watched at Adler.

Chicago is where a young man named Hugh Hefner started a publication called Playboy on South Harper Street in 1953.

Houston is where a young girl named Beyonce once practiced her songs on customers at her mother's Headliners Hair Salon on Bissonnet Street, before one day becoming a pop diva with Destiny's Child.

Chicago is mighty Sue, the largest T-Rex skeleton to be uncovered, and well known to visitors at the Field Museum.

Houston is Dinosaur Valley State Park, with its 45-foot fiberglass T-Rex that was originally built for the 1964 World's Fair in New York. It's 283 miles up the road in Glen Rose, Texas, but hey, it's a big state.

Chicago is Nancy Faust's organ music at White Sox games.

Houston is the loud, droning sound of bees at Astros games.

Chicago is Rush Street late at night, Michigan Avenue along the lakefront, and Western Avenue -- the longest street in the world. It's traffic on the Eisenhower or Kennedy.

Houston is a walk down Dallas Street, among one giant energy company after another. It's traffic on the Katy Freeway, and a loop around I-610.

Chicago is where Arthur Andersen once was the fifth largest of the Big Five accounting firms until it surrendered its Certified Public Accounting license in 2002 mainly because...

Houston is where Enron symbolized a tech-bubble era and imploded in a major corporate scandal that smashed a lot of nest eggs.

Chicago is another go-round on the Ferris wheel, the first of which made its debut in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exposition there.

Houston is another go-round on a bucking bull. It is home to one of the world's largest rodeos -- the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Chicago is usually too cold, but sometimes it is just right.

Houston is usually too hot, but sometimes it is just right.

Chicago is the location of the world's first atomic reaction -- at the University of Chicago.

Houston is the Texas Medical Center -- the largest medical center in the world.

Chicago was "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

Houston was "Urban Cowboy."

Chicago was the Great Fire.

Houston is a fire under every barbecue.

Chicago is a White Sox team that wears black and white.

Houston is an Astros team that has worn every color in the rainbow.

Chicago is the North.

Houston is the South.

Chicago is water: Lake Michigan.

Houston is oil.

Water and oil are about to mix in the World Series. There is a first time for everything, and Chicago and Houston are about to create another.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.