What do the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bears, the Bulls, and the Sears Tower all have in common? They’re all located in the Windy City! What are we talking about? Chicago, of course!

Chicago is the largest city in Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States with nearly 3 million residents. The greater “Chicagoland” metropolitan area has almost 10 million people!

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago has become an important international hub for business, industry, finance, trade, telecommunications, and transportation. In fact, Chicago’s largest airport, O’Hare International Airport, is the second-busiest airport in the world.

Chicago has become famous around the world for its sports teams, culture, and news media. It has also earned a variety of nicknames, including “Chi-town,” “Windy City,” “Second City,” and “City of Big Shoulders.”

The most popular of these nicknames is probably “Windy City.” But why is Chicago so windy? And is it the windiest city in the United States?

As far as being the windiest city, the answer is “no.” Brockton, Massachusetts, claims that title. Over time, three main responses have been put forth to explain this popular nickname.

First, Chicago sits along the shores of Lake Michigan. This makes it a naturally breezy area. However, when compared to other major cities, Chicago really isn’t significantly windier than any other U.S. city.

Some believe, though, that the city’s many skyscrapers create windy conditions at street level as wind gets sucked down toward the streets. Others point out that, in the 1870s, Chicago advertised itself as a perfect summer retreat because of the cool breezes from Lake Michigan.

A second explanation comes from Chicago’s longtime rivalry with Cincinnati, Ohio. In the 1860s and 1870s, Chicago and Cincinnati competed to be the best in the meatpacking trade. This business rivalry spilled over into a rivalry between the cities’ baseball teams. Cincinnati newspapers would often refer to Chicago as the “Windy City,” meaning that the people of Chicago were braggers and full of “hot air”.

One final explanation relates to the 1893 World’s Fair hosted by Chicago. Chicago won the right to host the fair over larger cities, such as New York, Saint Louis, and Washington, D.C. During the fight for the fair, some believe Charles Dana, editor of The New York Sun, called Chicago the “Windy City” because of the bold claims the city made that he believed they could not deliver upon.

64 Join the Discussion

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  1. Thoughts: I like how we got to see different places in Chicago. (Leslie) I noticed when I saw Lake Michigan, the beach from the air looked like a bull. (Luis) Is Chicago popular because of Michael Jordan? (Cristian)

    Connections: This reminds me of yesterday when I was watching ESPN films about Ben Wilson, a talented basketball player, from Chicago because the video and text highlighted Chicago. (Jake) This reminds me of when Isabel and I went to Chicago because we went up the Sears Tower and could look all the way down. I could also see Lake Michigan. (Briahna) This reminds me of the Easter Island Heads because both videos used time lapse. (Gabrielle)

    Predictions: What is an orchestra? (Shalize) Who was Oprah Winfrey? (Michelle) Who was Beethoven? (Andrew) How do you play Beethoven’s music? (Maria) What does it mean when people say “it’s music to my ears”? (Cristian)

    • Good morning, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Hess’ Class! We hope you had a terrific weekend! :)

      Leslie, Luis, and Cristian have noticed some very cool things about Chicago! From all the cool places to visit, to the view from Lake Michigan, to Michael Jordan’s championship history with the Bulls! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

      We enjoyed all the cool connections from Jake, Briahna, and Gabrielle! It’s so cool that you’ve all been WONDERing about Chicago on your own– some of you have even visited! We love the comparison between the Easter Island video and today’s Windy City video! Great work! :)

      Thank you for sharing all your awesome predictions, Shalize, Michelle, Andrew, Maria, and Cristian! We think you’re playing the right tune for tomorrow’s Wonder! :)

  2. Thoughts, Connections, Questions: We were so excited about this wonder, because all of the 5th graders in our school are going to Chicago in May! A lot of us thought that Chicago looked really busy: David- I didn’t know how busy Chicago was. Bryan- Chicago is very busy! Aaliyah- Chicago looks very busy. Cassie- A lot of people like riding in boats. Stephanie- I think they should call it the busy city instead of the windy city.

    Predictions: Ashleigh- What type of music do people like? Aaliyah- How is music made? Cassie- What is the least popular type of music? Bryan- Do you know what an orchestra is? Erica- What types of instruments do people play? Jovon- How many classical pieces are made? Stephanie- How are operas made?

    • Good morning to our Wonder Friends in Mrs. VanDusen’s Class! HOORAY for WONDERing about this breezy city today! :)

      What a fantastic connection to today’s Wonder– your awesome 5th graders will be heading to such a cool destination in May! We Wonder which method of transportation you will use? Will you travel by bus, train, air, boat, or even a car pool with lots of parents and adults helping? :)

      Thank you for all your awesome thoughts, connections and questions today! David, Bryan, Aaliyah, Cassie and Stephanie shared awesome comments about what they learned today. Chicago is a bustling city with lots to do– we like Stephanie’s idea for the new nickname: “The Busy City”! :)

      We listen to music of all kinds here at Wonderopolis, and we LOVE your predictions for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®! Thanks to Ashleigh, Aaliyah, Cassie, Bryan, Erica, Jovon, and Stephanie for sharing such creative guesses! We hope you’re having a marvelous Monday! We will see you tomorrow! :)

  3. I don’t think that Chicago should be the windy city. In Cheyenne (WY) there is always wind. But, then again, I haven’t ever been to Chicago.

    • You were correct about your windy guess, Wonder Friend Gabrianna– today’s Wonder is a windy one! :) We are so glad we learned something new about your hometown of Cheyenne, WY, too! Thanks for telling us about the weather there– we Wonder if it’s breezy all the time, or during certain seasons? :)

      We hope you will travel to Chicago in the future, we bet you’d enjoy visiting a new, Wonderful place! :)

  4. I thought that Chicago looks alot like NY. My class is going to Chicago this year and it is cool to get a look of Chicago. I’m in Mrs.Vandusen’s class too. I’m sick today and I just thought Chicago looks really cool. :) (that cheered me up :))

    • We hope you’re feeling better soon, Wonder Friend Michael! We are so glad you visited us today, even though you’re not feeling your best! We bet Mrs. Van Dusen and your Wonder classmates are looking forward to seeing you again soon!

      We love your comparison between Chicago and New York City– they are both amazing cities with lots to offer! It sounds like you’re in for a breezy treat when you head to Chicago with your class! There will be skyscrapers, culture, beautiful views to enjoy! How WONDERful! We’ll see you soon, Michael! :)

    • HOORAY, we are so happy to hear that you’ve learned something new about this busy Midwest city, Jaaron! We Wonder if you have visited Chicago in the past? Perhaps you’ll travel there in the future! :)

  5. No one in our class has visited Chicago. Chicago looks like a very big city with a lot of action. We connected to today’s wonder because several of us are basketball fans, and Michael Jordan played for the Chicago Bulls. Our city, Houston, also has a nickname, H-Town!

    • We bet the Windy City residents of Chicago would welcome you with open arms, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Kemp’s Class! We are glad you shared your awesome connections to today’s Wonder– from basketball superstar Michael Jordan to your very own city, Houston, TX! We bet the Chicago Bulls played the Houston Astros quite a few times while Michael Jordan was on the team! :)

      Thank you for visiting us today– we hope you will visit the Windy City in the future! We bet there is a lot of culture and Wonder to discover! :)

  6. Ooh Cool!!! :D In The Did You Know? It Said Windy Like 100 Times!!! :D

    I Wonder What’s Next?
    Tomorrow’s Wonder Of The Day Is Full Of Beautiful Music!!!!

    Hmm Maybe Some Kind Of Dancing And Music!!! :D

    Did You get My Nominated Wonder?

    • Hey Max, we are so excited you paid such close attention to detail in our Wonder today! Chicago sure is windy, and we learned about all the possible reasons it’s known as The Windy City! :) We love your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder… we think you’ve hit the right note!

      We are checking our nominated Wonders this week– thank you for checking! :)

    • Great point, Wonder Friend Jusin! Sometimes the wind depends on the location of the city– if there is a lake or river nearby, the city can be extra windy! Where is the windiest city you’ve visited? :)

    • WOW, what an awesome connection to today’s Wonder, Moira! We bet it was a WONDERful experience to perform at Navy Pier, and it’s our guess that you received lots of applause at the end of your performance! What a neat story! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment, Moira! :)

  7. Hey Wonderopolis, I’m moving to Chicago. I’ve been downtown, walked around and went to the beach. There is this small place in Chicago called Mario’s Italian Ice. I think it’s the best thing I had. If you have ever been there what was your experience like?

    • Hey Emma! Thanks for sharing your super comment with us today– how exciting that you are moving to the Windy City! YIPPEE! It sounds like you’ve got the lay of the land, we bet Chicago will welcome you with open arms! Your description of Mario’s Italian Ice is making us hungry here at Wonderopolis! YUM! Some of us at Wonderopolis have visited the Windy City– and it was a grand time! We visited Navy Pier, rode the ferris wheel, and even stopped at Portillo’s to get an Italian Beef sandwich! The deep dish pizza is definitely a delightful treat, too! Thanks for visiting us and telling us all about your Chicago experience! :)

  8. I live in Chicago!!!!! Ha ha It is very windy also this is a great Monday suprise and when we see the Chicago Bears are playin’ we say were watchin’ Da Bears!! And we say Febuary not February. Also I like how we talk it sounds different and heavy. :-) :-) :-) “We tawk like dis”

    • Hunter, you’ve got us smiling today, as usual! We LOVE your city and we are so excited you shared your comment with us today! You did a super job of describing the WONDERful city of Chicago– you can cheer on the Chicago Bears, bundle up in the cold month of February (brrr!) and enjoy the beautiful views from all around the city! It’s so interesting to learn about different accents… you did a SUPER job of describing how Chicagoans talk! :)

    • WOHOO! We’re so excited that today’s Wonder celebrates your great city, Tomot! We Wonder if you have a favorite place to visit in Chicago? If a friend of yours was planning a trip to the city, where would recommend that he go? There’s so much to do in Chicago! :)

    • You are quite welcome, Wonder Friend Alix! It sounds like you’ve been having a great time at Wonderopolis today! What is your favorite part of today’s breezy Wonder! :)

    • Another great observation from Wonder Friend Hunter! We Wonder if anyone has ever told you that you have a Midwestern accent? :)

    • HOORAY! We’re so glad today’s Wonder is all about your super city, Matthew! Chicago is a very cool place, indeed! Do you have a favorite sports team? Do you root for the Chicago Cubs or the Chicago White Sox? :)

    • Hunter, you are a very knowledgeable Chicagoan! We are so glad you shared another awesome comment about Chicago… this great city has two airports! While Midway is a great way to get from place to place, O’Hare International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the country… right behind Atlanta! We Wonder if you have flown out of Midway or O’Hare? They are both great! :)

  9. Hi Wonderopolis,
    Sorry we haven’t responded in a while. We’ve been busy!
    We didn’t know that Chicago was called the Windy City. We think it’s because of the “bragging” they did. :) Chicago looks like a busy place. Do many people there have cars?

    Our predictions for tomorrow: orchestra, instruments, birds/bees/insects, royalty. We can wait to find out.

    The Pink Panthers

    • We’re glad you’re here today, PinkPanthers! It sounds like you’ve been very busy– thanks for coming back to say hello!

      HOORAY for learning something new today– we are glad we can all Wonder about Chicago together! We like your comment about why Chicago is called the Windy City– there’s always something to do there! However, lots of Chicagoans like to talk about how great their city is… so perhaps you’re correct about the bragging portion of today’s Wonder! We all enjoy talking about how WONDERful our cities and towns are, don’t we?! :)

      We hope you’ll do some research about how people in Chicago get from place to place. A lot of Chicagoans use public transportation, like the bus, the train, and the elevated public train called “The El”! :)

      Your predictions for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day® are sounding great! We think you’ve hit the right note…! :)

    • It sounds like your smack dab in the center of the Windy City, Jack! How very cool! If we were traveling to Chicago, what would you recommend? Should we see the bean at Millenium Park, taste some deep dish pizza, or see a show? What’s your favorite thing to do in Chicago? :)

    • We’re glad to hear it, Wonder Friend Jakob! It’s a good thing, too, because that is Chicago’s nickname! We Wonder if you have visited Chicago before, or plan to go in the future? :)

    • You’re quite right, Wonder Friend Lurquin96! Chicago is windy AND chilly during the winter– it’s important to bundle up to stay warm! :) It sounds like you have visited the Windy City before… what is your favorite thing to do in Chicago? :)

  10. The windy city is Chicago home of the Chicago Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, White Sox and Cubs but the reason why Chicago is called the windy city is because of the politics that were in Chicago was that they were always bragging about their votes the had and one person said that the politics were windy and they were in a city so the people of Chicago called it the windy city and I’ve been there a lot but I live south from Chicago and town I live that is just a mile for me to get to the outskirts of Chicago.

    • We’re so glad you have shared so much Chicago history with us today, Wonder Friend Tony! Many believe that the politics in Chicago helped the city bear the nickname it wears today– the Windy City! :)

      It sounds like you’re not too far from the great Midwest city– do you have a favorite thing to do or place to visit in Chicago? :)

  11. Aloha Wonderopolis!
    Thank you for teaching us about Chicago, Illinois. Our new Mystery Skype friends are from Chicago so we learned a lot about the city! We liked the supersized silver jelly bean! Many of us thought it was New York because of the lights and big towering buildings. We wish we could hop on a plane and visit the windy city!
    Allison wonders if tomorrow’s Wonder will be about American Idol???

    • Aloha, Mrs. Thomas’s Tigers! We are so glad you visited us today to Wonder about a cool Midwestern city– Chicago! It sounds like you’ve got some very cool (and technologically advanced) connections to Chicago already– we think it’s super that you’re Skyping with friends from the Windy City! :)

      We hope you are all able to visit the fun, breezy and beautiful city that is Chicago! Perhaps you can even visit your Skype friends when you’re there! Thanks for telling us about your favorite parts of today’s Wonder! We hope it didn’t blow you away! :)

      We think you’re close, Wonder Friend Allison– tomorrow’s Wonder will definitely hit the right note! :)

  12. I live just outside Chicago it isn’t really windy in summer or fall just spring and winter so I think we are called the windy city because of the World’s Fair. People I know do talk like other people were saying. Some people I know pronounce it “Chicauwgo” not Chicago.

    • Hi Nickk, thank you for sharing your awesome comment about the Windy City! We are glad to hear that you have been comparing and contrasting the different seasons in Chicago; it’s especially windy (and chilly) during the winter! BRRRR! We like your idea about Chicago’s nickname and where it came from– the World’s Fair was a huge event that took place in the city– lots of cool ideas came out of that fair! We hope you have a SUPER day, and you stay warm in sweet home CHICAUWGO! :)

  13. I live in Anoka I think it’s kind of windy there not so much! It’s cold there. Once we had straight winds. It was very bad I went out there and it blew me 20 ft I was scared! Have you ever been in straight winds? My sister (rockstarlove) says she has been in very bad winds like me she, she says it was scary a tree fell over on to our camper! So, now it’s like dented we still have it my peers that live around me think it’s cool! We still have the tree on it, it was an oak tree we play on it and climb on it i think it is ok there it took down my play ground I still like a tree as my play ground!

    • We hope you’re staying warm in Anoka, Wonder Friend Rockstar! :) It sounds like those winds are pretty brutal! We are glad you are all okay and it sounds like you’ve made a something cool out of a tree falling– a makeshift playground! Good work, Rockstar, you’re using your creativity! :)

  14. I think this was a great wonder! I’ve never been to Chicago and I would like to some day, so thank you for this! I’ll keep this in mind the next time I visit! :)

    • We bet you’ll have a great time in Chicago, Wonder Friend Brenna! Thanks for telling us about what you learned and where you plan to go in the future! We look forward to WONDERing with you again soon! :)

  15. I’m going to Chicago soon! Also, so you know, Seattle, my home town is also a windy city lol. And a cloudy, rainy, and AWESOME city :) :P :D

    • We hope you have a great time in Chicago, Wonder Friend ACT! :) Seattle is a very windy place, too– we love your description of that beautiful city: cloudy, rainy and awesome! How true! Safe travels, ACT! :)

  16. Hi Wonderopolis,
    I did not know the windy city is Chicago!
    I thought that I was there right now!
    I am going there next weekend,

    Bye wonderopolis

    • HOORAY, you’re going to have a WONDERful time visiting the Windy City, Miguel! We Wonder if you have an idea of what you’ll do while you’re in Chicago? Are you visiting anyone, or traveling with your family? :)

  17. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I learned that Chicago is called the Windy city. Also in the video it showed the bean and I went to the Bean before. Also I learned that “Windy City” means that a lot of people are braggers and full of hot air at that city and that Windy cicty doesn’t mean it’s the windiest city Also have you ever been to the bean? Did you know the Sears Tower is now named Willis Tower. Do you live in Chicago? Have you ever been to the top of the Willis Tower? I have once been to Navy Pier and saw boats sailing. Have you? I have been to Chicago 3 times. I also learned that Chicago has the second busiest airport.

    • Way to go, Mrs. Stemmet’s 3rd Grade! We are so happy that you are WONDERing with us today! :)

      Way to go – you’ve shared so many WONDERful things about your newfound information about the Windy City of Chicago! We hope you have the opportunity to visit the Windy City again and check out all the amazing architecture! Some of us here at Wonderopolis have visited Chicago and have flown in and out of O’Hare Airport, that very busy airport! :)

      Thanks for sharing your comment, Logan! :)

  18. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Chicago is very different from Yorkville or Plano. One reason it’s very different is Chicago has very tall buildings called sky scrapers. Yorkville or Plano does have some tall buildings but not many. One comparison is they are both cities with lot’s of history. A contrast is Chicago is one of the biggest cities ever. It is mostly because of the big airport (O’Hare Airport). All of the sky scrapers, the big sports teams and the news tehre One thing I learned is they call Chicago the “Windy City” because they think Chicago people are braggers and full of “hot air”. I don’t think they are though. I also learned that Chicago is the windy city. I would have never guessed that because I don’t think it’s very windy there One thing I think is cool is that there are about 4 sports teams there. Finally I wonder who built the Sears Tower and why he/she built it. That is wht I learned and wonder about Chicago?


    • Hi Ava, you did a WONDERful job of comparing the city of Chicago to Yorkville or Plano! We have really enjoyed reading your comment and WONDERing with you today. We hope you can visit the Windy City in the future and you’ll be able to check out all the great things the city has to offer! :)

    • Thanks for joining us today to WONDER about the Windy City, Wonder Friend Simon. The busiest airports do keep changing, but when this Wonder was written, O’Hare International Airport was the second-busiest airport in the world. We hope you WONDER with us again soon! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Where is the Windy City?
  • How did Chicago get the nickname the “Windy City”?
  • What other nicknames does Chicago have?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Ready to explore Chicago in greater depth? Grab a few friends or family members and check out one of more of the following fun activities:

  • How far is Chicago from where you live? If you live in Chicago, this will be a very short and easy activity! If not, then grab a map or jump online to use an Internet atlas. Find your city or town and then locate Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. Calculate how far it is between your home and Chicago. How long would it take to drive there? What about taking a train? How about a flight? If you were to drive, what roads would you take? Can you plot out a route that gets you to Chicago as quickly as possible?
  • Have you ever been to Chicago? If not, now’s the time to go! If you can’t talk a friend or family member into taking you to Chicago, though, you can experience some of the sights and sounds of Chicago online. Check out the links below to learn more about some of the famous sights in Chicago:
  • Up for a challenge? Pretend you work for a tourism business responsible for promoting Chicago. Can you create a brochure that will entice potential visitors to make Chicago their next vacation destination? You’ll need to do some research to discover the best attractions Chicago has to offer. Once you have a list of sites and attractions that will appeal to a wide variety of people, organize all of your information into a brochure. You’ll need to include pictures and text that explains why potential visitors would want to come to Chicago. When you’re finished, share your completed brochure with friends and family members. Do they want to go to Chicago? If so, you’ve succeeded!

Still Wondering

Check out National Geographic Education’s The Chicago Fire of 1871 and the ‘Great Rebuilding’ article on the 140th anniversary of the Chicago Fire to learn more about city planning and the “Great Rebuilding.”

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is full of beautiful music!

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