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Chicago: The Windy City
Question: Why is Chicago called the Windy City? Is it the windiest city in America?
Answer: Actually, the reason Chicago (my birthplace) is called the Windy City may have nothing to do with the weather or perhaps may be due to its windiness as a tourism attraction.
For years, I had believed that the nickname Windy City fell on Chicago due to its behaviour during the bidding for the World's Fair of 1893.
The bidding was fierce and New York was one of the rivals. The New York Sun editor Charles Dana wrote about Chicago's bid lobbying: "Don't pay attention to the nonsensical claims of that windy city. Its people could not build a world"s fair even if they won it." (Source: Chicago Days, by Chicago Tribune staff)
This is the most popular origin of the title. However, recently, I have received a email from Barry Popik who says that Chicago was called The Windy City in newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune as early as 1885. Popik goes on to claim that the nickname was self-imposed in an attempt to promote Chicago as a summer tourism destination, in reference to its refreshing lake breezes. Here is the quote:
"The name of 'Windy City,' which is sometimes used by village papers in New York and Michigan to designate Chicago, is intended as a tribute to the refreshing lake breezes of the great summer resort of the West, but is an awkward and rather ill-chosen expression and is doubtless misunderstood."
According to the Chicago Public Library, the name came from East Coast detractors who objected to the loud and windy boosterism of those promoting Chicago as an excellent place to invest.
Perhaps, the name is enhanced by the fact that many of Chicago's main streets run west-east, thus channelling the often brisk winds from off Lake Michigan through the urban canyon.
For more on the story, see Naming the Windy City in our Weather People and History section.
As to the windiest cities in the United States.
Chicago's average wind speeds -- 10.4 mph (16.7 km/h) -- are no greater than several other major American cities. For example, Boston has an average wind speed of 12.5 mph (20.1 km/h), and tops the list for the windiest large US city while New York City's Kennedy Airport averages 12.2 mph (19.6 km/h).
Chicago is about middle of the pack for annual average wind speed for major US cities:
According to a list produced by the US National Climatic Data Center of the 10 windiest cities in the USA, Dodge City, Kansas is the windiest city: 14.0 mph (22.5 km/h).
The two windiest places with meteorological records in the contiguous United States are:
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