List of nicknames for Chicago

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This article lists nicknames for the city of Chicago, Illinois.

Major nicknames[edit]

This newspaper article was published by the Cleveland Gazette in 1885
  • Chicagoland – A term for the city together with its surrounding suburbs. Sometimes the term encompasses the city and the nine counties around it.
  • "City of Broad Shoulders" or "City of the Big Shoulders" – From Carl Sandburg's 1916 poem, "Chicago":

"Hog butcher for the world,
Tool maker, stacker of wheat,
Player with railroads and the nation's freight handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the big shoulders."

Minor nicknames[edit]

  • "Beirut by the Lake" – From a Wall Street Journal article during the Council Wars of the 1980s.
  • "City by the Lake" – Used as early as the 1890s.[2]
  • "City in a Garden" – English translation of the Latin motto on the city seal: "Urbs in Horto"
  • "Heart of America" – Chicago is one of the largest transportation centers in America and its location is near the center of the United States.
  • "Paris on the Prairie" – From the 1909 plan for the City of Chicago created by Daniel Burnham.
  • "The Big Onion" – An homage to the original Native American name for the area (shikaakwa, which means "wild onion" in the Miami-Illinois language), in parallel with a popular New York nickname, "The Big Apple"
  • "The Black City" – a reference to the pre-1893 World's Fair Chicago (which site was called "The White City"); the phrase was prominently used in such media as The Devil in the White City
  • "The Chi" (pronounced "shy") – Short for the word 'Chicago'
  • "The Chill or Chi Ill" – Also used by rap musicians from the area (Chill as in Chicago Illinois)
  • "The Great State of Chicago" – Used ironically (by Chicagoans) and pejoratively (by the rest of Illinois). A reference to the great political, cultural, social and ideological divide between the metropolis that is Chicago and the rest of the mostly agricultural State of Illinois.
  • "The Jewel of the Midwest" – Often used to describe Chicago and its various tourist destinations.
  • "The Third Coast" – As a reference to its long Lake Michigan shoreline. In that vein, it is used to describe the city's draw on people relocating to Chicago. It is a play on the traditional idea that people are drawn from land-locked states to coastal states.
  • "The Cogs" - A play on words used to describe its emphasis on heavy industry and manufacturing.
  • "Chi-raq" – Due to extreme gang activity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maudelyne Ihejirika (December 18, 1989). "First-rate reunion for Second City". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  2. ^ Seeger, Eugen. "Chicago, the Wonder City" (p. 384) G. Gregory Printing Company, 1893 – Chicago
  3. ^ Levy, John M. (2009) Contemporary Urban Planning.
  4. ^