Why is Chicago Called the Windy City?
Probably because of all those Bulls that ran around during the 90s.
Hi! I’m Joey, founder of Fun Fact Friyay, the newsletter for curious people. Bundle up — there’s a heavy wind in this issue.
This fun fact is presented to you by Craig Leener.
My introduction to Craig Leener's writing was through This Was Never About Basketball, the first book in his Zeke Archer basketball trilogy.
I was reading the book on a flight. Typically, my patience for reading on an airplane is limited to a chapter or two. I get too distracted by other people and sounds, or my eyes just feel strained as I hold my head at a weird angle to catch the book in the right light.
Yet with This Was Never About Basketball, I just kept going. I got lost in the story and the vibrant characters, and I wanted to see what came next. I finished the entire book on the plane. Surely that deserves a medal.
Whether you're a plane reader or not, you'll find something to enjoy in Craig's writing. These books also make a great holiday gift for young, intrepid readers who are fans of the game. Grab a copy of one or all four here.
Today’s fact: Chicago’s nickname is a nod to its residents being full of themselves.
This might be the closest to an opinion we ever get on Fun Fact Friyay, but it’s pretty regularly corroborated (and I find it funny), so let’s roll with it.
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I always thought the “Windy City” got its name from the frigid air you can find from roughly Halloween to Memorial Day.
I once remember a weather report saying if you were outside for more than 10 minutes with exposed skin, you’d get frostbite. I believe I wore eight layers that day, just to be safe.
As it turns out, the nickname comes from something completely different.
The Bean is maybe the most touristy thing you can do in Chicago, and it will never look as clear as it does in this picture. But it’s still a lovely time, just like this newsletter is.
In the mid-1800s, Chicago and Cincinnati were big rivals. Cincinnati had adopted the charming nickname of Porkopolis, but suddenly, Chicago was coming in with all kinds of meat, like a Civil War-era version of The Bear.
Cincinnati did not take kindly to this, and The Cincinnati Enquirer ran several headlines referencing the “Windy City.” Each headline criticized Chicago, including one about a tornado that impacted “some freaks.”
A New York Sun reporter named Charles A. Dana penned an editorial in 1889 about how Chicago was a long shot to host the 1892 World’s Fair compared to New York.
This editorial is often cited as another instance of the “Windy City” usage, though Dana doesn’t write those words at all, though he did imply it with terms like “brag and bluff” in reference to Chicagoans. The newspaper also wrote several headlines using “Windy City” in some capacity.
While Chicago does get some blustering winds (from both weather and people), it’s not even one of the ten windiest cities in the United States.
That honor belongs to Boston, Massachusetts, which features average wind speeds of up to 12.3 miles per hour. Chicago is 12th among U.S. cities, with an average wind speed of 10.3 miles per hour.
Of course, you’re still welcome to call Chicago the “Windy City,” but you could also mix it up with other nicknames, like “Chi-town,” “The Second City,” or, my personal favorite, “The City of Big Shoulders.”
That last one makes me want to have better posture as I’m typing this. Good thing we’re done for now.