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Origins of the Nickname “The Windy City”

Updated on February 19, 2008

Original Name of Chicago

Chicago has many nicknames, but its most famous and familiar is "The Windy City." Although, the exact origin for the name is unknown, it's speculated that the name cam from either Chicago's weather, World's Fair, politics, or its rivalry with Cincinnati.

The earliest known reference to the Windy City is from 1858 in a Chicago Tribune article, and the first known effort to stick the city of Chicago wit h the name is from 1876, involving Chicago's rivalry.

There's one myth that says that Charles Dana, a New York Sun editor, used the term "Windy City" when he was bidding for the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

Although both the Columbian Exposition and the rivalry between Chicago and Cincinnati have both ended, the nickname has stuck around.

In Regards to Chicago's Weather

Because of where the city is located- near Lake Michigan- it makes Chicago naturally just plain windy.

And, because after the fire of 1871, when the city was redesigned and rebuilt, the planners added new streets, which resulted in man- made wind tunnels. These tunnels are considered high- density areas that allow wind to move down the columns rows made by building placement, and just pick up speed as it moves down.

Albert Lea says that the term "windie" symbolizes that the people of Chicago were braggarts, and once pinned with the title the city was no long backed by claims but facts. But, that the actual term "windy city" is caused because of the increased wind force as it moves throughout the buildings.

In Regards to the World Fair

In 1933, Chicago was to hold the World Fair, or World's Columbian Exposition, and during that time the Chicago Tribune wrote "Chicago Dubbed Windy," so Charles Dana, a New York Sun editor, began to use the term "Windy City" when referencing Chicago.

In regards to Politics

Those who believe that the nickname of "The Windy City" comes from the political style in Chicago, which was once regarded as a "spectator sport." The term 'windy city' is though by some to be a jab towards the citys politicians who "blew a lot of wind."

In Regards to the Cincinatti Rivalry

Between the 1860s and the 1870's, Chicago and Cincinnati were rival cities. Because Cincinnati was in the meat- packing trade, called "Pokopolis", when Chicago basically became better than Cincinnati, they began to claim the same "Porkopolis" name.

Also, in regards to baseball, the two cities had very intense games. The Cincinnati Red Stockings was once the pride of baseball, so Chicago decided to start a baseball team and name it the White Stockings in hopes to defeat Cincinnati. In the recordings of the Cincinnati papers, they tended to reference Chicago as "Windy City" in their sports section.

The first known references of Chicago as the "Windy City" were in 1876 from (1) the Cincinnati Enquirer on May 9th, (2) the Cincinnati Enquirer on May 13th, and (3) the Chicago Tribune on July 2nd.

Cincinnati used the term, "Windy City," in regards to meaning full of bluster in Chicago.


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      atPat peach 6 years ago

      I love your city. I visit every time I have a chance. Sure hope you get the fast trsin started. I am getting to old to drive there.

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 7 years ago from Atlanta

      Well I have lived here pretty much my whole life born and raised. Chicago being called The Windy City has everything to do with the weather, and nothing to do with politics. We've all used the term expressed the uncertainty in the changing weather.

    • profile image

      Laura Long 9 years ago

      I've only visited Chicago one time. Let me tell you. It was fantastic. I love the downtown area, walking, eating & visiting the museums.

      Thanks, for all article.