Newbie Nugget: Windy City

For nearly five miles yesterday my face and body were pummeled by strong, chilly winds. I had trouble (and still do) understanding why if I ran out and back from our apartment the wind would be in my face for the whole run.

So I did what any social media obsessed person might do in this situation and I took my question to Facebook. The answers I got, many citing Chicago's "Windy City" nickname, inspired today's newbie nugget.

Street Chicago - Windy City
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While Chicago is widely known today as the "Windy City," the nickname's origin has long been a subject of speculation.

Did you know... The nickname "Windy City" has both literal and metaphorical roots?

Those outside the city believe the nickname is based solely on the blustery conditions of Chicago. And with good reason. Between it's flat prairie landscape, proximity to Lake Michigan and towering, wind-tunnel creating skyscrapers, Chicago is indeed windy.

But I wasn't in Chicago for long before I began to hear and read about an alternate explanation. This one is much more widely recognized by both locals and Chicago history buffs and points toward a more metaphorical read of the word windy. Seems some in history have suggested that Chicagoans and most notably their politicians are windy, long winded or perhaps full of hot air.

Popular belief is that New York Sun editor Charles A. Dana popularized the moniker in the midst of the heated competition to host the 1893 World's Fair. However, this incredibly informative and convincing Chicago Tribune article suggests that Chicago was referred to as the Windy City years earlier. Journalist Nathan Bierma cites an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer on May 9, 1876. It's author called Chicago the Windy City both literally (there had just been a damaging wind storm) and disparagingly (sort of trash talking between local rivals).

If you've spent any time in Chicago there's no denying the literal interpretation of the nickname. I've often found myself horizontal from the waist down trying to run or even walk into a powerful head wind. Wind here is no. joke. But the metaphorical definition isn't so hard to accept either. In fact, I would argue that this blog is a perfect example of why I have fit in perfectly.

If you're a Chicagoan, have you heard both interpretations of the nickname?
If you aren't, does your city have a nickname with an interesting back story? Do tell.