Trees similar to Birch trees in appearance

We have a 44 year old birch 3-trunk clump in our front yard that is showing its age. Two of the 3 main trunks have vertical splits in them that run from close to ground level up to 8 - 10 feet. The leaves this year were full, but the splits in the trunks were deeper than they were last year, and I fear that next year we may not see as vigorous growth. We have been lucky and not had problems with birch borers like many folks in the Chicago suburbs, at least as far as I can tell. We spray annually for the borers as a precaution. I don't know what caused the splits.
My wife is set on having birches or something that looks similar if we have to replace the birch clump If we have to replace the clump, I would like to plant something that does not need annual spraying as we try to be as "green" as possible. I don't think Aspens will grow well in the Chicago suburbs as I have not seen any in any of the places we have looked at for replacement trees. The big box stores treat their trees so poorly that I would never buy from them unless I could buy the tree the same day it arived at the store. We don;t have any nurseries close buiy to just go and browse so I am hoping some folks here have some suggestions for similarly looking trees..
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On 10/11/2009 3:30 PM, hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:

Don't plant aspens or other species from the Populus genus (cottonwood, poplar). They sucker badly from the roots, are shallow rooted, brittle, clog sewer lines, and heave pavements. They are only good when planted in groves on large tracts of land.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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