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Chicago: Why is it Called the “Windy City”?

“Oh I just came in from the Windy city, the Windy city is mighty pretty, but they ain’t got what we got…” If you recognize this line, you may have grown up, like me, in a musical, old western movie family. In this famous scene, Calamity Jane proceeds to tell the viewers, while clomping around on the top of a bar, why “Chicagee” (as she calls it) is worse than her home town of Deadwood.

In the same song she mentions frequently that Chicago is the “Windy City” but she never really explains why (probably because it wouldn’t fit in a song).

The Windy City Facts

Maybe you’ve always thought that the “Windy City” was named from the strong windy gusts that come from neighboring Lake Michigan; however, while this is true, this is not necessarily the origin of the nickname.

According to visitors and natives alike, the name actually comes from the fact that in the late 1800s throughout the early 1900s the politicians in the area were considered “braggarts” and untrustworthy.  However, unfortunately today, this version of the nickname would hold true for nearly every large city where politicians spread untruths and lies.

Additional rumors suggest that when the World Fair came to Chicago, the mayor bragged about the opportunity so much that many started calling it the “Windy City.”

Perhaps this is why Chicago is slowly gaining back its reputation and the actual breeziness of the city is becoming the prominent reason for the nickname once again.

The winds are felt most strongly in the downtown streets, in between the skyscraper buildings. The effects of the architectural prowess is, heavy gusts of wind that will knock your hat right off your head if you don’t keep a tight hold on it.

Why we Love & Hate the Wind

Anyone who has been to or lived in Chicago has felt the winds from Lake Michigan. Let’s take a closer look at why we love and hate these winds.

There are many reasons to love the wind, especially during the summer.  Summers in the Midwest are notorious for heat and humidity.  The north winds blowing down from Lake Michigan provide Chicago with a cool breeze that allow a quick getaway from the heat for natives and a nice vacation spot for visitors.

However, as you may know, wind can be quite destructive.  Winds can tear down trees, cause fires to spread, bring flash flooding, severe winter storms, and even create tornado like funnels that can rip apart entire cities. While many of these disasters do not occur on a regular basis in this city, they are a possibility that you should always prepare for when visiting and living in Chicago, or any other windy city.

If you are a Chicago-area resident, check out our storm damage restoration services.

By Heidi Rothert


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