Why is Chicago Called “The Windy City”?

Every state in the USA has some nicknames that typically emerge from the peculiar nature of the state such as Illinois is nicknamed “The Prairie State” because of the abundance of Prairie grass.

But why is Chicago called the windy city, is it just a metaphor or there is some real background of the being termed as Windy? These are the interesting questions that we are going to address in this post so stay with us.

Location of Chicago

Why is Chicago Called "The Windy City"?

Chicago is located in the northeast of Illinois state where it connects with the third largest Great Lake called Michigan Lake.

Honestly speaking, no one actually knows why is Chicago called the Windy City as there are some legendary stories associated with the name that makes it interesting to read. One of the reasons for being a windy city drive from its location closer to Michigan Lake which is a source of chilly breezes that blow in the city of Chicago.

However, Chicago does not come in the list of top 20 cities with the highest average wind speed. So the hypothesis of being the windy city on the basis of wind from Michigan Lake collapses because the top cities with the highest wind speed like Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, etc. do not border with any Great Lake.

So the mystery is still unsolved, why is Chicago called the windy city? To answer this question, we are going into history now.

History of The City with Some References  

History of The City with Some References  

The region on the bank of River Chicago and Lake Michigan was settled in 1780 by Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. The population of the city expanded gradually from 4,000 to 30,000 and eventually passed the milestone of 3 million in 1930. The reason behind its outstanding expansion was adopting new technology that was not only helpful in attracting people from other places but also created some rivalry with other cities like Cincinnati.

Chicago Rivalry with Cincinnati City 

Chicago Rivalry with Cincinnati City 

Back in 1870, a Cincinnati newspaper “Cincinnati Enquirer” used the phrase “windy city” for Chicago because a windy tornado hit the city.

The term was also used as a metaphorical jab to the citizens of Chicago as they had the habit of talking a lot. With time the second meaning lost its ground but the name stuck with the city.

Chicago Rivalry with New York City

Chicago Rivalry with New York City

In the 19th century, most of the journalists from New York City called Chicago Windy City because of its profit-driven politicians. Both of the city was a great rival to each other because both were large metropolitan cities in the United States.

So the nickname of Chicago is not that is suggested by the citizens but given by others that embraced over time.

Skyscraper Buildings

Skyscraper Buildings

Chicagoans engineers and architects didn’t think before building the tall buildings that wind sucked down the buildings and blew faster at the street. The lively breeze welcomes its visitors with a higher speed that compels them to hold their hats in hand.

Various Nicknames of Chicago

There are some other names that are associated with Chicago and some of them are given below.

Chi-Town: This comes from the first three letters of the city “CHI” and is pronounced as a shy town.

The City of Big Shoulders: The name is the drive from the poem of Carl Sandburg, “Chicago”. The Wonder City or The Convention City: Chicago has its own flag that has two color strips, blue and white with four size pointed stars. Each point of the star has its specific meaning so the two points on the third star represent these nicknames of the Chicago.

Other Reasons Chicago Known For 

Chicago also be pretty successful in the meat industry which help the city to earn the nickname “Hog Butcher for the World”. The city has iconic beaches, skyscrapers, and unique museums like the International Museum of Surgical Science.

Chicago also has delicious and diverse cuisines from different parts of the world from Japanese to Moroccan.


Why is Chicago called the windy city is the question that takes you into the history and progressive journey of the whole city with another metropolitan center of the USA.

Some say that the name came from the location and others claim it has a double meaning to represent a disaster and metaphorical jab to the citizens because of their habit to talk a lot. Whatever the reasons, the name still sticks with the city while the historical background just disappears completely.

Read Also: 15 Best Islands to Visit in 2023-2024

Ferona Jose

Ferona Jose is a passionate travel writer and blogger at Travelistia. She has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her writing focuses on cheap travel destinations, travel experiences, cultural insights, and travel hacks.


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