No, really, it’s just the actual wind

Today’s Red Eye has an article on “13 local myths and mysteries” and number two on their list is “Why is Chicago called the Windy City?”

There are two possible sources, according to Chicago greeter Jennifer Gordon.

“Some think that during the competition for the 1893 World Fair, which Chicago won, that it came down to Chicago and New York,” Gordon said. A New York editor, tired of hearing Chicago politicians brag, dubbed Chicago a “Windy City,” full of politicians with a lot of hot air.

Another school of thought attributes the slogan to a Cincinnati journalist in the 1860s who tired of Chicagoans bragging about their sports teams, Gordon said.

Another school of thought is that you could do actual research and discover the real answer: that it’s about the actual wind off the lake. For example, the September 11, 1886 (7 years before the World Fair) Chicago Tribune notes, “The name of ‘Windy City,’ which is sometimes used by village papers in New York and Michigan to designate Chicago, is intended as a tribute to the refreshing lake breezes of the great summer resort of the West…”.

Did I have to do some crazy digging to find this out? No, the top two results of a Google search for “chicago windy city” both contain the information. Could the original meaning have been shifted by later newspaper writers? I’ll bet you a dollar it was. But it’s a shame to see the Red Eye continuing to spread inaccurate information.

3 Comments so far

  1. Mr. Smith (unregistered) on September 27th, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

    Cecil does some heavy lifting here at The Straight Dope:

  2. jack (unregistered) on September 27th, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

    Is it any surprise the Red Eye would be wrong?! that has to be the worst, most poorly written, uninformative paper I have ever read. While I normally turn down the free copy offered at the el stop the last time I happened to page through an issue I counted 8 pages of actual news (and that included the 3 pages of sports.) suck it up and pay 50 cents for the tribune.

  3. Kristin (unregistered) on September 28th, 2006 @ 8:44 am

    Yet Chicago is really not any more windy than the average US city. The actualy “windiest” US city is Dodge City, Ks. Seems that, at the root, it’s mostly a marketing ploy.

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