<p>I am currently studying art history in London, England, and will be applying to doctoral programmes in the US this Winter. I am particularly interested in German photography, and have identified several schools with faculty who have done research in this area:</p>
<p>Not being an American, I wondered if anyone had any strong views about which of these places would be best to study vis-a-vis quality of life - of course I would love to be in NYC, but what about Chicago? The midwest conjours up slightly worrying images of a provincial dustbowl.... (only kidding). And is Princeton grad school really as peculiar as some posts on this website make it sound? Also, does anyone have any suggestions about other places which might be worth applying to?</p>
<p>Chicago is a great city. It's really 'America.' But a breath of fresh air for anyone who has spent too much time on the East Coast--myself for example. Ignore the 'midwest' stigma. Hyde Park, however, is not for everyone. Much better than being stuck in say, New Haven, but basically a very quiet academic neighborhood bordered by some of the worst ghettos in the country. U of C is the most interdisciplinary of the schools you mentioned. Kind of a cultish place. Don't know what your worry about Princeton is. If I was at Princeton I don't think I'd worry about being at Princeton--ha! I have heard that undergrads are the real focus, but I really wouldn't worry. At Oxbridge the grads are TRULY second class citizens. NYU and Columbia have traditionally been tops for Art History, but are not what they once were. Chicago has a very exciting intellectual climate. It does attract some oddball types though. Kind of a cultish atmosphere. Overall you probably can't go wrong at any of the places you mentioned. Have you looked at UCLA or Berkeley?</p>
<p>Chicago is indeed a very cosmopolitan city -- the central area (Loop) is like a small version of New York; great architecture, lots of culture, ethnic areas. The weather is colder than NY -- really cold in winter; really humid and hot in summer. U of C is not in a great area and is fairly quiet, compared, say, to Columbia or NYU, which are bustling. (NYU has no campus -- it is in Greenwich Village -- couldn't be livelier). NY has the best art museums around (though the Art Institute in Chicago is a great museum, too).
For quality of life, look at UC Berkeley (TJ Clark teaches there, among others).
Of all these places, NY is most like London -- it has a subway, for one thing, which, like the Tube, means that there is easy transportation day and night and lots of people around into the late hours. Chicago also has public transportation, but no subway to U of C. Berkeley shuts down in the evenings; you'd need a car.</p>