Here is the first in a series of examinations into urban legends related to newspapers and whether they are true or false.
NEWSPAPER URBAN LEGEND: Chicago was first dubbed “the windy city” as a reference to how much they talked.
It’s not so much of an occurrence nowadays, but years ago, it was quite common for newspapers from different cities to rile each other up by writing negative things about each other. These little “wars” helped drive circulation, as it became a matter of city pride for people to read in THEIR local paper about how stupid the people were in those OTHER cities. This would especially pick up when there was a debate over where to hold a major event. In the early 1890s, one such event was the 1893 World’s Fair, which was set to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christoper Columbus “discovering” America. It was a big to do to get the Fair for your city, and there was a big rivalry between the New York newspapers and the Chicago newspapers over who should get the Fair.
One newspaper editor in particular, Charles Dana, of the New York Sun, was very much hated in Chicago for all the nasty things he said about the city. One of these things, allegedly, is that Chicago should be called the “Windy City,” not for the winds off of Lake Michigan, but because they TALKED so darn much!
“The Windy City,” of course, remains the practically official nickname for Chicago. But did the name really come about from an insult?
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