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Windy City

chicagoWhy Is Chicago Called the Windy City? You would think that the answer to this question is simple. It seems logical for Chicago to be called the Windy City because of the strong winds blowing in it. However, the super popular nickname of the city could have other origins. Let’s take a closer look at the different possibilities.

The Different Versions

Does the nickname of Chicago really come from the local climate? The city is located between the Great Planes and the Great Lakes. This automatically makes it exposed to fairly strong winds. However, it does not have the highest wind speed in the United States. While the average wind speed in Chicago is 10.3 mph, it is 12.4 mph in Boston. The latest data shows Brockton, Massachusetts, to be the windiest city in the country with average wind speed of 14.3 mph.
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The Windy City nickname could have actually come from the weather, according to one of the less popular versions at present. In the second half of the 1800’s, the city was advertised as a summer resort offering a cool breeze coming from Lake Michigan. This is how Chicago gained reputation for offering cooler windy weather to those looking to escape the summer heat. In the late 19th century, the nickname was explained not only with the wind coming from the lake, but also with the tall buildings which apparently helped for the wind to be “sucked down into the streets”.

Another version is that the nickname of Chicago could have come from the rivalry with New York City for holding the World’s Fair in 1983. The people of the city and its politicians kept bragging about its dignities and eventually managed to woo the organizers of the fair in 1980. In an article in the New York Sun, the editor Charles Dana advised the readers not to trust the “nonsensical claims of that windy city” apparently referring to all the hype which had been created. This explanation has gained great popularity, but the nickname of the city appeared in the press much earlier.

The first-known newspaper mentioning of Chicago as the Windy City was made in 1876 in the Chicago Tribune in reference to a lacrosse game victory. The local team won against the team of Cincinnati. In this year, the nickname was regularly mentioned by both the Chicago Tribune and the Cincinnati Enquirer. It is thought that the great rivalry between the two cities in the meat production industry and in the field of sports resulted in Cincinnatians calling Chicago the windy city. They used this moniker to refer tothe aggressive and loud talking of their rivals.

The Actual Weather

Even though the origin of Chicago’s nickname remains a mystery, the city is popularly known and widely advertised as the Windy City. This nickname has been attributed by a variety of local attractions including restaurants and shops. The big question is whether it really gets very windy in the city.
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It gets pretty cold and quite windy in Chicago from late fall to early spring so it is best to visit somewhere between April and October. The summer months are the busiest because of the pleasant weather and the breeze coming from Lake Michigan. April, May and October are preferred by tourists who want to avoid the big crowds. The period from June to September isa great time to visit for those who want to enjoy the top local festivals and other major cultural events.

The weather is just one of the factors which you should take into account when planning your trip to Chicago. It is a great idea to book your travel tickets and accommodation in advance as the city gets a lot of business travelers as well as tourists during virtually any time of the year. You should definitely plan which attractions to visit. Some of the most popular options include Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, Brookfield Zoo, Millennium Park, Adler Planetarium, the local history museum and the lakefront trail. Some of the major annual events which you want to attend include the Jazz Festival, which is held in August, the International Film Festival and the Marathon which both take place in October.

Other Windy Cities

Chicago is not the only city around the globe which has got this nickname. Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is the windiest city in the world. It has average wind speed of 17.3 mph compared to 10.3 mph in Chicago. Furthermore, New Zealand’s capital has gale-force winds exceeding 46.6 mph 175 days per year on average.

Wellington holds the first place thanks to its location. It is located in south part of the Northern Island of New Zealand along the shore of Cook Strait, which runs between the North Island and the South Island. On both sides of the strait, the terrain is characterized by high mountains. As a result, the wind simply goes between them. The windy weather should not discourage you from visiting this wonderful city, however. During the spring and summer, Wellington is a great place for relaxing at the beach, going fishing, strolling around the gorgeous Botanic Gardens, visiting the local zoo and taking a short trip to the Mount Victoria lookout, which offers spectacular views. Just keep in mind that the spring is from September to the end of November while the summer is from December to the end of February.
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Rio Gallegos in Argentina is considered to be the second windiest city in the world following the capital of New Zealand. It average annual wind speed there is 16 mph. The summer months of January and February are the warmest and the most popular time to visit. Among the most popular attractions, you will find fly fishing, Cabo Virgenes beach with its penguins and the local museums which display local art and the paleontological artifacts found in the area.

If you are not afraid by weather extremes, you should definitely visit the windiest cities in the world as well as Chicago. There is a lot to see and do in any of these places. The best part is that you will get totally submersed in the unique local lifestyle.

3 Comments

  • Marion  says:

    The question “Why is Chicago called the windy city?” has no one definite answer. I like the less popular version of the origin of Chicago’s nickname, the one about advertising Chicago’s summer resort with pleasant breeze in summer. Sounds pretty realistic to me….)

  • Adeline  says:

    There are a few versions I heard of why is Chicago called windy city … Moreover, no one knows which one is real… Still, Chicago is really windy city, so let it be windy…)

  • Rhonda  says:

    It is really interesting, that everybody knows Chicago’s nickname, but no one knows why it’s called so. I heard at least three or four stories about this name’s origin…