When people are paying the visit to the city of Chicago for the first time, they are usually thinking about where to go, what to buy, drink and eat and how to have the best time possible. Some of them have heard that the other name for Chicago is the Windy City but only a few of them really know why. To be perfectly honest with you, it is not completely clear where this nickname actually came from. Most people say that the origins come from the freezing breezes coming from the Lake Michigan.
These breezes tend to sweep through the streets of the city without any mercy. This could be the most obvious explanation even though there are other and various theories. Some people tend to believe that it is a joke about the politicians also known as the bloviating residents. They were deemed to be full of hot air by the citizens of other towns passing through Chicago.
The most popular theory about the nickname derives from the moment when Chicago was competing with New York which town will be hosting the 1893 World’s Fair, which Chicago won by the way, when New York news editor Charles Dana invited his readers to ignore the claims and nonsense coming from that windy city. This was probably the real reason why Chicago kept this nickname even today even though many dismiss this now, saying it is nothing more than a myth.
The nickname dates before the myth
Many etymologists took this phenomenon very seriously and dedicated years of their work to find the real reason and the origins hiding behind this nickname. The people of Chicago are now feeling proud of it just like New Yorkers are proud of the Big Apple. One etymologist, named Barry Popik, discovered an uncovered evidence that this nickname dates from 1870s. This directly negates the Dana myth. Furthermore, he also discovered that this was a literal reference to the windy weather in Chicago as well as a metaphorical jab aimed at the Chicago’s citizenry.
Funny thing is that even though many people would be lead to believe that this nickname reflects on the windy weather in Chicago, it is not the breeziest town in the country. It is not in the second or the third place for that matter as there are even three cities before it. San Francisco, New York and Boston all have higher wind speeds than Chicago. There is one more reference to this nickname and it dates from 1876 when a tornado swept through the city.
Some believe that this was the moment when the nickname was originated. Both Popik and others now strongly believe that the Windy City nickname probably started as a weather reference and it has taken on a double meaning as the city continued to develop. Still, no one can say for sure what the truth is. It was left for the people to decide what to make of the beautiful Windy City.