Why is Chicago called “the Windy City”?

There are a lot of cities around the world that complain (or celebrate) windy conditions, but only Chicago is known as “the Windy City”? So where does that nickname come from?

In all honesty, no one knows for sure where this famous nickname comes from. One of the obvious sources is the chilly breezes that blow in from Lake Michigan.

But other legends and urban myths point to an entirely different meaning of the word wind. Some say that the city got its nickname back in the 19th century due to political reasons. There were lots of political conventions held in Chicago and the politicians tended to be long-winded and hence the nickname. After all, no one likes a windbag who’s just full of hot air! Others claim the nickname appeared after a tornado passed through Chicago in the late 19th century; an article that reported on it was titled “That Windy City”. Although these two possible sources for Chicago’s nickname sound super interesting, most now consider them to be little more than urban legends.

No matter where Chicago’s nickname comes from, it’s so popular and well-known that it’s enough for someone to say “I’m from the Windy City” and an American will know exactly what city they’re talking about.

But here’s a fun fact. Although it holds the nickname of “the Windy City”, Chicago isn’t actually the windiest city in the U.S. Data shows that cities like San Francisco, Boston, and New York are on average windier than Chicago, which actually ranks 12th!

chilly – cold
convention – a large meeting of people who come to one place to discuss and share views usually over a span of several days
long-winded – using too many words in speaking or writing
windbag – a person who talks too much
to be full of hot air – to talk in a way that sounds important but doesn’t really mean much

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