All of you who took a shot at last month’s Puzzler were on the right track. Nobody went for the obvious “winds off the Lake” choice. However, the winds that swirl over the flat land and Lake Michigan are persistent enough to lend credence to the wind theory. We are, though, only the 78th windiest city in the U.S.
But “windy” also means “talkative” and according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, our politicians were well-known for their long-windedness. The City’s boosterism and self-promotion in the late 19th century established Chicago’s reputation to this day.
There was another reason, however. And that was New York City. A review of the Chicago Sun-Times Metro Almanac reveals that Chicago and New York were vying to be the site of 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the competition became very intense. The Almanac reports that one Chicago newspaper said, “New York shouldn’t get the fair because it’s the ‘meanest city in America.’ ” The Almanac went on to add, “For its part, New York mostly treated Chicago like lint.”
At that time, Charles Dana, editor of the New York Sun, called Chicagoans self-promoting blowhards and told New Yorkers to “pay no attention to the nonsensical claims of that windy city. Its people could not hold a fair, even if they won it.”
Of course, Chicago did win it, and what’s more, presented one of the greatest World’s Fairs ever.