On a recent trip to Chicago, I learned some fun facts about the Windy City that totally blew my mind (I’m so punny, I know). Since I have a weird talent for retaining useless information, below are 13 things you probably didn’t know about Chicago.
Chicago’s nickname, “The Windy City” has nothing to do with actual velocity. While most assume the wind gusts from Lake Michigan are responsible for the nickname, the term was actually coined in reference to Chicago’s windbag politicians. The nickname dates back to the 1800’s, and it’s origin lies in the metaphorical use “windy” for “talkative” or “boastful” referring to the hot air bellowing Chicago’s from politicians.
The Chicago river is the only river in the world that flows backwards. It used to flow normally, but in 1900 the Sanitary District of Chicago reversed the flow of the river so as to divert sewage away from Lake Michigan (the city’s water supply) and towards the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. (ew)
Not only does the Chicago river flow backwards, it also tends to change colors. Every Saint Patrick’s Day the Plumber’s Union dyes the river a bright shade of green. Also, on November 4th of this year, the city dyed the river blue in celebration of the Cubs winning the World Series.
Just a few of the many items created in Chicago include: spray paint (1949), Playboy (1953), the zipper (1851), the Ferris Wheel (1893), the Twinkie (1930), the vacuum cleaner (1868), the first skyscraper, the hot dog, and my personal favorite, deep dish pizza.
Chicago’s airports, O’hare and Midway, allow you to order drinks from airport bars and carry them around the terminal. Most of the bars serve beers in plastic cups so you can carry your drink around the airport or bring it to your gate. Wandering O’Hare with a beer in hand totally blew my mind.
Four states can be seen from the Skydeck of the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). The Willis Tower is the 8th tallest building in the world and the 2nd tallest building in the Western Hemisphere (it was the first until 2013 when a spire was added to the One World Trade Center building in New York).
Unlike most cities, Chicago’s rapid-transit rail system isn’t called a subway, it’s called “the L.” The ‘L’ is an abbreviation of “el,” for “elevated”
The first animal bought for the Lincoln Park Zoo was a bear cub, purchased for $10 in 1874. Ironically, shortly thereafter Chicago’s baseball team was named the cubs and the football team was named the bears. Coincidence?
In 1927, famous Chicago bootlegger and mobster, Al Capone made almost $60 million selling illegal hooch. During that time he controlled the sale of liquor to over 10,000 speakeasies. Al Capone’s headquarter was the Four Deuces Saloon (222 South Wabash), under which he was rumored to have a torture “dungeon”. He was finally caught and convicted in October 1931 for tax evasion rather than bootlegging or, you know, murder.
Pabst (PBR) won its first blue ribbon at Chicago’s 1893 World Fair. Additional products that debuted at that fair include: Cracker Jacks, Cream of Wheat, and Juicy Fruit Gum.
This year’s Cubs World Series Celebration was the 7th largest gathering in human history. The celebration on November 4th, 2016 attracted 5 million people.
Chicago’s Field Museum is home to the world’s largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. The fossil’s name is Sue (named after Sue Hendrickson who discovered the dinosaur near Faith, South Dakota in 1990).
Chicago is home to 15 miles of bathing beaches, 36 annual parades, 552 parks, more than 7,300 restaurants, over 200 theaters and almost 200 art galleries.
I’ve been to Chicago so many times, and my husband and his family are from there… and STILL most of this I didn’t know. Maybe I’ll quiz my husband with some of this… while he’s wrapped in his Bears blanket. lol
What fun facts!!!! I remember seeing that T-Rex skeleton when I was a kid (I was born in Champaign, IL). I may need to fly into Chicago just so that I can feel like I’m breaking the rules carrying a cocktail around!
Love Chicago! Spent a lot of time there growing up.
Awesome fun facts! I absolutely love Chicago! It’s one of my favorite cities. So full of culture, great shopping and FOOD!!!! Makes me want to book another trip out again soon.
Awesome fun facts! I absolutely love Chicago! It’s one of my favorite cities. So full of culture, great shopping and FOOD!!!!
What a fun set of facts! I love city trivia like this. And I did not know that about the river flowing backward. So interesting!
I didn’t know a lot of these! We are flying to Chicago on Saturday for my family’s annual Christmas party, and I look forward to breaking out some of this trivia. 🙂
BTW, Devil in the White City is an impressive and fascinating nonfiction story about a serial killer and the Chicago World Fair. I strongly recommend it if you haven’t read it!
I’ve never been to Chicago before, and this series of fun facts makes me want to visit ASAP! I’ll have to hold off until the summer though. Seems like that will be a better time for a visit. Don’t think I will be brave enough to visit the Willis Tower though — I’m so scared of heights!
I’ve only been to Chicago once, but I loved it! This is inspiring me to make another trip!
I didn’t know half of this, but felt super proud that I knew some of it. These are great conversation starters and a fantastic way to get people interested in visiting!
I’ve never been to Chicago and have always wanted to go. This post just makes me want to hop on a plane and go right. now. I really enjoyed reading all of these tidbits. I had no clue that so many items and products originated in Chicago or that you can see 4 states from the Willis Tower. 4 states!!! That’s wild! So I’ll be over here researching flights to Chicago now…
Great facts! I never knew about the . . . river trivia.
Kinda wish I could go back to not knowing.
But still, fun facts!
I honestly did not know a single fact, kind of embarrassing. I guess I need to add Chicago to my 2017 travel list.