The real story behind Chicago’s “Windy City” nickname

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August 8, 2020
the real story behind chicago's name

Chicago is most famously known as the “Windy City.” Why is it called that and is Chicago really windy? Let’s find some answers.

Chicago, Illinois is located at the intersection of several waterways which lead the area to become the site of travel and home to many indigenous Tribes such as the Hoocąk, Jiwere, Nutachi, Baxojem and many others.

Chicago’s first permanent, non-indigenous resident was Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a trader from Haiti who arrived in the 1770s. He is also known as the “Founder of Chicago.”

Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 and became an important transportation and trading center between the eastern and western United States. In fact, the Chicago Board of Trade, the first ever standardized exchange trade was established in the city in 1848. Additionally, today 50% of U.S. rail freight still continues to pass through Chicago.

The city is known for its lead in many sectors, such as public health, infrastructure and technology. This includes a park system, public sanitation facilities, public health reform laws, advancements in architectural engineering such as the skeletal steel construction, and building with modern construction materials. 

Chicago and the entertainment industry

Chicago is the third largest media market in the United States after New York City and Los Angeles. In fact, the city hosts major television network stations such as ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS. It is also the home to famous talk shows like “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Steve Harvey Show,” and “The Jerry Springer.”

In addition, Chicago is also the home multiple television shows like “Married…with Children,” “Kenan & Kel,” “Chicago Hope,” “Prison Break,” “The Good Wife,” “Shameless,” and “Mike and Molly.”

why is chicago so windy
River North loft for rent: 525 West Superior Street, #224

Where does “Windy City” come from

Is Chicago the windiest city in the U.S.? While your first thought may be that the city’s nickname came from its high wind speeds, you may be surprised to know that Chicago isn’t the windiest city in the United States. In fact, it only ranks 12th for the fastest average wind speed of 10.3 mph.

While Chicago may be a naturally breezy and windy area due to being on the shores of Lake Michigan, as of 2010, Boston, Massachusetts had the highest average annual wind speed of 12.3 mph. 

If Chicago isn’t the windiest place, where did the nickname even come from? There are a few versions to that answer.

In 1893, Charles A. Dana, an editor of the “New York Sun,” published an editorial calling Chicago a “windy city.” He did so in reference to the city’s full-of-hot air politicians who were advocating and wooing organizers to hold the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in the city instead of in New York.

While Dana may have popularized the nickname “Windy City,” there are a few editorials that have used that phrase predating Dana’s use. This includes a 1876 “Cincinnati Enquirer” article with the headline of “THAT WINDY CITY. Some of the Freaks of the Last Chicago Tornado.” Where the term Windy City was used to reference speakers who were full of wind.

what makes chicago so windy
West Loop luxury apartment rental: 914 West Hubbard Street, #203

Are there other Chicago nicknames?

Despite “Windy City” being the most popular nicknames for Chicago, the city has its fair share of other names. This includes “Chi-Town,” which is shortened from Chicago, and “Mud City,” because of how the city used to be a mudflat.

Lastly, another nickname for the city is “City of Big Shoulders” which comes from the fifth line of Carl Sandburg’s poem called “Chicago”. This line referenced the city being a key financial center for agricultural markets, its meat-processing industry, and railroad hub.

Chicago apartments for rent

If you’re looking to call the Windy City home, Localize has plenty of listings for rent. Here are just a few rentals on the market along with their insights so you can find your perfect home.

6 North Michigan Avenue, #1007

Space: 2 beds, 2 baths, 1,500 sqft

Neighborhood: The Loop

Price: $3,000

This 2 bed apartment is located within the historic michigan boulevard landmark district, one of the world’s most-recognized one-sided streets, and the location of many significant cultural institutions, clubs, hotels, and prestigious office buildings.

According to Localize, this space has 340 sqft more than similar properties in this neighborhood.

why is chicago called the windy city politics
6 North Michigan Avenue, #1007

525 West Superior Street, #224

Space: 2 beds, 2 baths, 1,100 sqft

Neighborhood: River North

Price: $2,850

This River North corner loft features 14 feet timber ceilings, exposed brick, oak hardwood floors, maple kitchen with black granite, and a large balcony.

According to Localize, while the space is in an area with slightly above average crime rates, there are plenty of nightclubs and restaurants nearby. There is also a new green riverfront park space coming soon.

Why is Chicago Called the "Windy City"?
525 West Superior Street, #224

950 North Michigan Avenue, #3904

Space: 2 beds, 4 baths

Neighborhood: Streeterville

Price: $5,600

This 2 bed space is located on Magnificent Mile and its former residence was renowned designer Michael Richman. The apartment features dark hardwood floors, wool premium carpet, expansive windows with views of Michigan Avenue and Chicago’s cityscape.

The building features 24 hour door staff, an indoor pool, fitness room, and sundeck.

when was chicago named the windy city
950 North Michigan Avenue, #3904

1555 North Dearborn Parkway, #18B

Space: studio, 1 bath, 450 sqft

Neighborhood: Gold Coast

Price: $1,500

This studio apartment is located in the Luxury Constellation Condominium in the Gold Coast area. It’s a north facing unit with views of the city, Lake Michigan, and Lincoln Park. The building features a 24 hour doorman and the space is near restaurants, bike trails, and Lake Shore Drive.

According to Localize, it is located in an area with below average crime rates and is near the Astor street landmark district.

why is chicago called the windy city
1555 North Dearborn Parkway, #18B

914 West Hubbard Street, #203

Space: 3 beds, 2 baths, 1,800 sqft

Neighborhood: West Loop

Price: $3,450

This luxury apartment is located in Fulton Market District boutique building. It features an expansive living/dining area with a fireplace, private balcony, hardwood floors, custom kitchen, and a king-sized en suite with a walk-in closet and luxury bath.

According to Localize, it is located in an area with average crime rates and there will be a new riverfront park space soon nearby.

the best apartments in chicago for rent
914 West Hubbard Street, #203

If the city has caught your eye, there are plenty of listings on the market for rent and sale.

Localize features all listings along with insights on the space and neighborhood so you can find your dream space.

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