List of nicknames for Chicago

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

  • "Mud City" – possibly the oldest nickname for the city, referring to the fact that the terrain of the city used to be a mud flat[1]
  • "Windy City" – origins of this famous moniker for the city are disputed; see Windy City (nickname).
  • "Chi-Town" (pronounced Shy-Town) – also used for the hockey teams Chi-Town Shooters and Chi-Town Shamrocks.[2]
  • "Second City" – by one possible etymology, this refers to the fact that Chicago had the second-largest metropolitan area in the United States from 1889 to 1984 (Los Angeles is now larger); it can also refer to the rebuilding of the city between the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893[3]
  • "City of (the) Big Shoulders" – taken from the fifth line of Carl Sandburg's poem "Chicago". Also sometimes said as "City of Broad Shoulders", sometimes referring to and describing the city as Grim, Stormy, Husky, and Brawling.[4]
  • "City by the Lake" – used as early as the 1890s[5]
  • "City in a Garden" – English translation of the Latin motto on the city seal: Urbs in Horto.
  • "The City that Works" – slogan from Richard J. Daley's tenure as mayor, describing Chicago as a blue-collar, hard-working city, which ran relatively smoothly[6]
  • "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 was once near the center of the United States.
  • "The Great American City" – taken from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Norman Mailer's book Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968): "Chicago is the great American city ... perhaps [the last] of the great American cities";[7] "the notion that Chicago is arguably the most quintessential American city"[8] was central to Robert J. Sampson's landmark research on communities, criminology, and urban sociology, Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect (2012)
  • "My Kind of Town" – from the song "My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)" (music by Jimmy Van Heusen, words by Sammy Cahn, 1964) which was popularized by Frank Sinatra in the film Robin and the Seven Hoods, about a fictional popular Chicago gangster.
  • "The Furry Capital of the World"[citation needed] - A name in which Chicago holds the largest furry convention in the world called Midwest FurFest.
  • "The City Beautiful" – reference to the eponymous reform movement sparked by the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893,[9] used by Hawk Harrelson when the Chicago White Sox open a game at U.S. Cellular Field
  • "Chi-beria" – a play on Siberia, a nickname largely used during the 2014 North American Cold Wave[10]
  • "Chiraq" – controversial combination of Chicago and Iraq to compare Chicago's high crime rates to the situation of war-torn Iraq; Spike Lee's 2015 film Chi-Raq uses it as the title.
  • "The 312" – a reference to the city's original area code under the North American Numbering Plan before the overlays of area code 773 and later area code 872.
  • "Century of the Progress" - a name given to the city of its progressional comebacks throughout its entire history.
  • "Chicagoland" - is one of the nicknames for Chicago that refers not only to Chicago but its metropolitan area as well. When speaking about the city of Chicago along with its surrounding suburbs, this is a suitable nickname to use.
  • "The Big Onion" - is one of the lesser known nicknames for Chicago. This nickname is similar to the nickname of "The Big Apple" for New York.
  • "The Jewel of the Midwest" - Often used to describe Chicago and its various tourist destinations.
  • "Hog Butcher for the World" - a name for Chicago because of its early days as the leader of the meat packing industry.
  • "Paris on the Prairie" - a name from Daniel Burnham's "Plan for Chicago".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ English, Thomas J. (2005). Paddy whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster. HarperCollins. pp. 73–74. ISBN 0-06-059002-5. The city had been built, inexplicably, in the middle of a mud flat, which necessitated raising portions of the downtown area on stilts above the sloshy earth, giving Chicago the first of many nicknames: Mud City.
  2. ^ McClure, Wendy (December 21, 2017). "Chicago is a City of Objectionable Nicknames". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on November 4, 2021. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  3. ^ "Chicago Name Origin".
  4. ^ Elie, Paul (June 16, 1996). "Admiring the City Of Broad Shoulders". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Seeger, Eugen. "Chicago, the Wonder City" (p. 384), G. Gregory Printing Company, Chicago, 1893
  6. ^ Adams, Cecil (2009) "What's the origin of 'The city that works'? Archived 2017-04-19 at the Wayback Machine"
  7. ^ Mailer, Norman (1968). "Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968" (p. 83) New American Library, New York, 1968
  8. ^ Sampson, Robert J. (2012). "Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect" (p. 77) University of Chicago Press, Chicago
  9. ^ Levy, John M. (2009) Contemporary Urban Planning.
  10. ^ Parker, Alex (January 5, 2014). "Chicago Extreme Cold: City Dubbed 'Chiberia' as Dangerous Weather Moves In" Archived 2015-06-22 at the Wayback Machine, DNAinfo. Retrieved January 23, 2016.