[This post originally appeared on a previous version of OFF THE GRID Chicago on March 9, 2012.]

At the airport I overheard some out-of-towners chit chatting about the mile per hour winds that Chicago harvests which, to their knowledge, triggered the nickname ‘the Windy City.’ While I have witnessed some pretty extraordinary winds in the city of Chicago over the past few years, they are dead wrong about the windy city name origin.

Chicago was named ‘the Windy City’ due to the residents and political figures in the late 1800s and early 1900s who continuously blew ‘hot air’ or boasting about the city.  Particularly when we were vying for the opportunity to host the Worlds Fair many New Yorkers claimed that the Chicago politician’s contentions were ‘windy’ and arrogant. Apparently, editor of the New York Sun, Charles Dana coined the term ‘Windy City.’ Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr. is a known culprit of this proud mentality.

After conducting deeper research I found that the origin of the nickname is a much-disputed topic.  I grew up with the above theory. Call it hot air, but I still believe that Chicago is the greatest city in the nation!

Fun Fact #3: According to the National Climatic Data Center's list of annual average wind speeds, the windiest U.S. city is St. Paul Island, Kansas with an average speed of 16.9 mph.

Photo by Kevin Doellman.


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