CLOSE
ThinkStock
ThinkStock

Why is Chicago Called the "Windy City"?

ThinkStock
ThinkStock

Travelers to Chicago may experience the wind gusts that come off Lake Michigan, get tossed around a bit and think, “So this is why it’s called the Windy City.” The nickname, which dates back to the late 1870s, is deceiving: Chicago is literally a windy city, but that’s not what the phrase was intended to reference.

Talk to different people and you’ll get different answers, but most fingers point to Charles A. Dana, once the editor of the New York Sun—a paper published between 1833 and 1950—who wrote an editorial that said Chicago was windy because of its full-of-hot-air politicians. The Chicago Tribune even published a column in 2004, which they hold as the “definitive article on the term,” giving Dana credit. During the time of Dana’s proclamation, Chicago and New York were competing to host the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The Tribune’s column writes that the famous phrase comes from when Dana advocated against the “nonsensical claims of that windy city. Its people could not hold a world’s fair even if they won it.”

The problem with using Dana as a source is that no one has ever been able to find this legendary editorial. Not even a date of publication.

According to Barry Popik, a New York City parking-ticket judge by day and a word sleuth by night, he has found the true origins of the phrase. He came across an entry in a May 9, 1876 Cincinnati Enquirer article with the headline, “THAT WINDY CITY. Some of the Freaks of the Last Chicago Tornado.” Popik said the headline used innuendo to comment on the speakers who were full of wind and that there was a windstorm. This is the earliest found reference of Chicago being called the Windy City, predating Dana’s use of the phrase by a little more than a decade.

Still, both the Tribune and the Chicago Public Library stand by the fact that Dana popularized the term, even if he didn’t coin it.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
What Are Curlers Yelling About?
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Curling is a sport that prides itself on civility—in fact, one of its key tenets is known as the “Spirit of Curling,” a term that illustrates the respect that the athletes have for both their own teammates and their opponents. But if you’re one of the millions of people who get absorbed by the sport once every four years, you probably noticed one quirk that is decidedly uncivilized: the yelling.

Watch any curling match and you’ll hear skips—or captains—on both sides barking and shouting as the 42-pound stone rumbles down the ice. This isn’t trash talk; it’s strategy. And, of course, curlers have their own jargon, so while their screams won’t make a whole lot of sense to the uninitiated, they could decide whether or not a team will have a spot on the podium once these Olympics are over.

For instance, when you hear a skip shouting “Whoa!” it means he or she needs their teammates to stop sweeping. Shouting “Hard!” means the others need to start sweeping faster. If that’s still not getting the job done, yelling “Hurry hard!” will likely drive the point home: pick up the intensity and sweep with downward pressure. A "Clean!" yell means put a brush on the ice but apply no pressure. This will clear the ice so the stone can glide more easily.

There's no regulation for the shouts, though—curler Erika Brown says she shouts “Right off!” and “Whoa!” to get her teammates to stop sweeping. And when it's time for the team to start sweeping, you might hear "Yes!" or "Sweep!" or "Get on it!" The actual terminology isn't as important as how the phrase is shouted. Curling is a sport predicated on feel, and it’s often the volume and urgency in the skip’s voice (and what shade of red they’re turning) that’s the most important aspect of the shouting.

If you need any more reason to make curling your favorite winter sport, once all that yelling is over and a winner is declared, it's not uncommon for both teams to go out for a round of drinks afterwards (with the winners picking up the tab, obviously). Find out how you can pick up a brush and learn the ins and outs of curling with our beginner's guide.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
travel
Why You Should Never Take Your Shoes Off On an Airplane
iStock
iStock

What should be worn during takeoff?

Tony Luna:

If you are a frequent flyer, you may often notice that some passengers like to kick off their shoes the moment they've settled down into their seats.

As an ex-flight attendant, I'm here to tell you that it is a dangerous thing to do. Why?

Besides stinking up the whole cabin, footwear is essential during an airplane emergency, even though it is not part of the flight safety information.

During an emergency, all sorts of debris and unpleasant ground surfaces will block your way toward the exit, as well as outside the aircraft. If your feet aren't properly covered, you'll have a hard time making your way to safety.

Imagine destroying your bare feet as you run down the aisle covered with broken glass, fires, and metal shards. Kind of like John McClane in Die Hard, but worse. Ouch!

Bruce Willis stars in 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A mere couple of seconds delay during an emergency evacuation can be a matter of life and death, especially in an enclosed environment. Not to mention the entire aircraft will likely be engulfed in panic and chaos.

So, the next time you go on a plane trip, please keep your shoes on during takeoff, even if it is uncomfortable.

You can slip on a pair of bathroom slippers if you really need to let your toes breathe. They're pretty useless in a real emergency evacuation, but at least they're better than going barefoot.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios