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
  • "The Windy City" – Perhaps the best-known nickname for Chicago. There are several different theories on the origin of the nickname.[specify]
  • "Second City" – This was a derogatory nickname for the city used in a 1950s New Yorker article by A. J. Liebling, possibly alluding to its informal rivalry with New York City in the skyscraper building boom of the late 19th century and early 20th century. The phrase was later appropriated by a Chicago comedy troupe.[1] This nickname lost its technical meaning when Los Angeles passed Chicago to become the second-largest city in the United States in the 1980 Census.
  • "Chi-Town" or "Chitown" (/ˈtn/ CHAI-town to /ˈʃtn/ SHY-town) – Often used in CB slang as noted in the C.W. McCall song "Convoy".
  • 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 the Big Shoulders" – From Carl Sandburg's 1914 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.
  • "Chi-city" – Used by Kanye West in the song "Homecoming" and Common in the song "Chi-City"
  • "Chi-Congo" - This is a reference to the gang violence that takes place within the city limits as a reference to the war-torn region of Africa's Congo.
  • "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"
  • "City of Bullets" - Referring to the incredible amount of gun violence that exists in the city proper.
  • "City on the Make" – From "Chicago, City on the Make" (1951), a prose poem by Nelson Algren
  • "Great Commercial Tree" – From the State Anthem of Illinois
  • "Heart of America" – Chicago is one of the largest transportation centers in America and its location is near the center of the United States.
  • "My Kind of Town" – According to the song "My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen, words by Sammy Cahn, 1964) popularized by Frank Sinatra. (Originally from the film, Robin and the Seven Hoods, about a fictional popular Chicago gangster).
  • "Paris on the Prairie" – From the 1909 plan for the City of Chicago created by Daniel Burnham.
  • "Sweet Home" – From the Robert Johnson song Sweet Home Chicago.
  • "That Toddling Town" – According to the lyrics of the song "Chicago" (music and words by Fred Fisher, 1922) also popularized by Frank Sinatra (as well as Tony Bennett).
  • "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 City Beautiful" – A reference to the reform movement sparked by the World's Columbian Exposition,[3] used by Hawk Harrelson when the Chicago White Sox open a game at U.S. Cellular Field
  • "The City That Works" – According to former Mayor Richard J. Daley
  • "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.
  • "Chi-beria" – A play on Siberia, a nickname largely used during the 2014 North American Cold Wave.[4]
  • "The Cogs" – A play on words used to describe its emphasis on heavy industry and manufacturing, or the "cogs within cogs" of the city's notoriously corrupt bureaucracy. Also a play on the second syllable of Chicago: 'cags.
  • "Chi-raq" – Due to intense gang activity and the severe worsening of shooting incidents that followed the Roberts Supreme Court decision overturning Chicago's successful decades old handgun restrictions. Initially used in pop-culture and music, Chi-Raq is also the title of Spike Lee's film about black-on-black violence in the city. When it was announced, Chicago politicians objected to the title and requested Lee rename the film.[5]

See also[edit]

References[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. ^ Parker, Alex (January 5, 2014). "Chicago Extreme Cold: City Dubbed 'Chiberia' as Dangerous Weather Moves In", DNAinfo. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  5. ^ Moore, Natalie (April 29, 2015). "Troubled Chicago Neighborhood Wary Of Spike Lee's 'Chiraq'". NPR. Retrieved April 30, 2015.