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25 Things You Might Not Know About Chicago

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The next time you’re in the Windy City, impress locals with this know-how.

1. The name Chicago comes from the Algonquin word “Chicagou” or “Shikaakwa,” which translates to “onion field” or “wild garlic.”

2. Planning a road trip? Route 66 starts in Chicago.

3. The Field Museum owns the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. Its name is Sue.

4. The Chicago River flows backwards.

5. In the late 19th century, the river was reversed to empty into the Mississippi River instead of Lake Michigan.

6. Chicagoans can’t resist messing around with their river. On St. Patrick’s Day, the Plumbers Union dyes it a bright shade of Irish green and every summer the Special Olympics holds a fundraiser where tens of thousands of rubber ducks race down the waterway.

7. In 1917, writers Ben Hecht and Maxwell Bodenheim hosted the shortest known debate in history. The topic? “Resolved: That People Who Attend Literary Debates are Imbeciles.”

8. Seeing a room full of people, Hecht argued, “The affirmative rests.” Bodenheim took to the podium and nodded. “You win,” he said.

9. Wrigley Field was originally named Weeghman Park. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

10. In 1927, Chicago bootlegger Al Capone made nearly $60 million selling illegal hooch.

11. Even before Capone’s activities, the city had a reputation for crime. In 1918, over 100 waiters were arrested for poisoning stingy tippers.

12. In the 1850s, the entire city was hydraulically raised several feet to fix a drainage problem.

13. Speaking of the underground, Enrico Fermi conducted the first sustained atomic fission reaction under the University of Chicago’s football field.

14. In 1930, the Twinkie was invented in Chicago.

15. Rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was swift and legendary—rubble and ash were pushed into the lake to make new neighborhoods.

16. Chicago banned pay toilets in 1973.

17. The World’s Fair (or Columbian Exposition) in 1893 saw its share of impressive feats and small oddities: A U.S. map made of pickles, a suspension bridge made of soap, and the first Ferris Wheel were just a few.

18. It’s also where Pabst won its famous blue ribbon.

19. When Bavarian Anton Feuchtwanger couldn’t convince fairgoers to eat his sausages, he served them in a bun. The hot dog was born.

20. A massive city of 200 buildings was created from the ground up for the World's Fair. It was meant to be temporary, however, and only two of the original structures remain.

21. You don’t take the subway in Chicago, you take the ‘L’—this is the name for the city’s rapid-transit rail system and is an abbreviated form of “el,” for “elevated.”

22. Tall-building construction was invented in Chicago and the city is known as the “Home of the Skyscraper.” It currently has four of the country’s ten tallest buildings.

23. Be careful parking in the Windy City. Leaving her car at O'Hare International Airport for a few years, Jennifer Fitzgerald received 678 tickets and was whacked with a $105,000 fine.

24. In 1902, an elephant named Alice at the Lincoln Park Zoo fell ill. The zookeepers gave her whiskey as a pick-me up. Unfortunately, it turned her into an alcoholic.

25. Chicago has 26 miles of public beaches that offer a refreshing respite from the summer heat.

All images courtesy of Thinkstock

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25 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Portland
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Sure, you know about the craft beer, the fancy coffee, and all those awesome food carts. Here are some nuggets about the Rose City maybe you might not have known. 1. Portland’s name was decided by a coin flip. 2. That’s because Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove wanted to name the area after their hometowns. (Had it gone the other way, it would be called “Boston.”) 3. The “Portland Penny” the two men flipped is still on display at the Oregon History Center. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_full_width","fid":"194109","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"417","title":"","width":"620"}}]]
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4. Lovejoy and Pettygrove were probably onto something with their decision to rename the city. Before their coin flip, the settlement was known simply as “The Clearing.” 5. Portland is one of two U.S. cities that has a dormant volcano—Mount Tabor—within its city limits. 6. Portland has more microbrews and brewpubs than any other U.S. city. 7. It also has the most movie theaters and restaurants per capita. 8. Don’t you dare try pumping your own gas there. It’s a $500 fine. 9. But there’s a good chance gas won’t be an issue. Portland has more bicyclists per capita than any other U.S. city. 10. Portland elected the city's first female mayor, Dorothy McCullough Lee, in 1949. 11. She banned pinball machines. 12. Portland is home to the world’s smallest park, Mill Ends Park. 13. It’s about two feet across, or 452 square inches 14. You’ll need an alarm clock like everybody else in Portland, because it’s illegal to own a rooster for “private use.” 15. The city lacks poetic nicknames. It’s been affectionately called “Puddletown” and “Stumptown.” [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_full_width","fid":"194111","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"417","title":"","width":"620"}}]]
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16. That’s because, in its early days, Portland grew so quickly that tree stumps were left in the middle of the roads. 17. They left some trees, however. The city’s Forest Park is the largest natural urban wilderness in the country. 18. Portland’s streets and sidewalks still feature horse rings—iron or brass installations anchored to provide a place for tethering your horse. 19. The first wiki website was created in Portland in 1994. 20. Portland’s first pro hockey team’s name? The fearsome “Rosebuds.” 21. Portland’s massive rose garden was built during World War I, just in case bombs destroyed all of Europe’s rosebushes. 22. Water fountains, called Benson Bubblers, were installed in front of pubs years ago to keep people from drinking during work hours. It saved many lumberjacks from tipsy ax accidents. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_full_width","fid":"194112","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"417","title":"","width":"620"}}]] 23. Speaking of pubs, Portland is one of the few places outside of France where it’s okay to take your dog inside a tavern. 24. Portland’s annual naked bike ride draws nearly 13,000 riders. 25. If any of that sounds strange, consider that the city’s unofficial slogan is “Keep Portland Weird.” But according to City Vitals Weirdness index, it ranks only eleventh.
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25 Things You Might Not Know About Atlanta
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Think you know everything about the City in a Forest?

1. Atlanta was originally named Terminus and Marthasville (the latter for Governor Wilson Lumpkin’s daughter.)

2. The city got its current name from railroad engineer J. Edgar Thompson. It’s thought to be a shortened version of “Atlantica-Pacifica.”

3. Your GPS might be confused if you punch in “Peachtree” as your destination. There are over 55 streets with the name.

4. And it's possible none of them are named for an actual peach tree. Historians suggest they're named after the Native American village of “Standing Pitch Tree.” The pronunciation corrupted over the years.

5. Atlanta was the only city in North American destroyed as an act of war. (General Sherman burnt it to the ground.)

6. Only 400 buildings survived.

7. That’s why the city’s symbol is a phoenix.

8. Lots of airports claim to be the world’s busiest. But Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport truly is the world’s busiest airport.

9. Why? Because Atlanta is a perfect location. It’s just a three hour flight from many major American cities.

10. The terminal is as big as 45 football fields!

11. Atlanta is Georgia’s fifth capital. Savannah, Augusta, Louisville, and Milledgeville boasted the title earlier.

12. The Georgia State Capitol building is gilded with 43 ounces of locally-mined gold.

13. The Continental Divide out west gets all the love, but Atlanta is home to the Eastern Continental Divide, which separates water draining into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

14. One of the largest Hindu temples outside of India is located in the Atlanta metro area.

15. It was once illegal to put an ice cream cone in your back pocket in Atlanta.

16. Atlanta also outlawed tying a giraffe to a telephone pole.

17. Want to ride your bike to Alabama? The Silver Comet Trail starting in Smyrna will get you there.

18. In 1996, Terry Hitchcock ran from Minneapolis to Atlanta in just 75 days. He covered over 2100 miles!

19. Stone Mountain outside Atlanta is one of the largest blocks of exposed granite in the world.

20. Stone Mountain’s etching of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis is the largest bas relief in the world, too!

21. Atlanta had some tough competition when it nabbed the 1996 Olympics hosting duty. The city beat out Athens, Toronto, Melbourne, Manchester, and Belgrade for the spot.

22. The fastest baseball game in history happened in Atlanta, when the Mobile Sea Gulls beat the Atlanta Crackers 2-1 in just 32 minutes.

23. Atlanta also played host to the greatest rout in football history—a 1916 contest in which Georgia Tech blew out tiny Cumberland College 222-0.

24. When pro football moved to Atlanta, the owners considered over 500 names. A schoolteacher came up with the Falcons nickname, a bird she endorsed because it was “proud and dignified, with great courage and fight.”

25. Why did Atlanta resident Margaret Mitchell write Gone with the Wind? Because an ankle injury kept her from walking and she was really, really bored.

All images courtesy of Getty Images 

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