Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 03:32:40 EST


Subject: Windy City

"The answer, my friend,

Is blowin' in the wind.

The answer is blowin' in the wind."

Oh boy.

In the January 1997 COMMENTS ON ETYMOLOGY, I stated that Chicago's

nickname "the Windy City" derived from the Haymarket riots of the first week

of May 1886, and the biblical phrase "reap the wind, sow the whirlwind" as

cited in the LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL. This smashed the previous

theory--that "Windy City" derived from NEW YORK SUN editor Charles A. Dana's

remarks about Chicago's bid for the Columbian Exhibition, circa 1889--by three


It was baseball's city nicknames that inspired me. In THE SPORTING NEWS,

"Windy City" would be used in late 1886. Same thing, I believe, in THE

CLIPPER (a NY-based theatrical and sports weekly). The NEW YORK EVENING

TELEGRAM would call Chicago's White Stockings the "Windy City nine" as early

as May 1886--just a week after I'd spotted the "Windy City" citations in the

COURIER-JOURNAL (a very popular newspaper at the time, edited by the well-

known Col. Henry Watterson).

Everything was in line for the 6 May 1886 date for "Windy City." The

CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE didn't even bother to address "Windy City" until its

September 1886 editorial. PUCK, LIFE, and THE JUDGE--the three famous humor

magazines, and all based in New York City--constantly joked about Chicago, but

"Windy City" just wasn't there in early 1886. And these humor magazines

wouldn't pull punches!

Still, there was this SPORTING LIFE gap. The last NYPL issue before

April 1887 (where "Windy City" did appear) was 7 April 1886. Maybe "Windy

City" was in April 14, April 21, April 28, or May 5, 1886? I had gambled a

bit that "Windy City" would appear later in the gap, after the Haymarket


This is from SPORTING LIFE, 21 April 1886, pg. 5, col. 4:

THOSE seven left-handed Detroit sluggers will, no doubt, take a leaf from

the Chicago book when they size up that right field fence in the Windy City.


That September 1886 CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE article stated that "Windy

City" was used by the "village papers" of Detroit and New York. I certainly

checked out New York. This citation indicates that a Detroit newspaper was

using it, but I had gone to the Library of Congress specifically to check the

DETROIT FREE PRESS, and it was using "Garden City" for Chicago as late as

1887. Am I missing another Detroit paper or columnist?

SPORTING LIFE had other "Windy City" citations in 1886, but not from one

particular columnist and not of particular interest. The Chicago column was

titled "REMLAP'S LETTER" and did NOT use the nickname. This is from the

SPORTING LIFE of 2 June 1886, pg. 6, col. 6:


PETERSON, Milwaukee.--Cincinnati is the Queen City, Baltimore the

Monumental City, Brooklyn the City of Churches, Louisville the Falls City,

Detroit the City of the Straits, Pittsburg the Smoky City, Philadelphia the

Quaker City, New York Gotham, Chicago the Windy City, Boston the Hub,

Washington the City of Magnificent Distance, New Orleans the Crescent City.

Someone had to ask! It is interesting that Chicago is "the Windy City

and not "the Garden City" nor "the Lake City" at this early a date. For other


PARLOR CITY--Binghamton, NY (12 May 1886, pg. 5, col. 6)

SILVER CITY--Meriden, CT (12 May 1886, pg. 5, col. 5)

CITY OF CYCLONES--Kansas City, MO (19 May 1886, pg. 4, col. 6)

CITY OF HAMS--Cincinnati, OH (26 May 1886, pg. 5, col. 1)

BEANTOWN--Boston, MA (26 May 1886, pg. 5, col. 3)

FLOUR CITY--Rochester, NY (20 October 1886, pg. 5, col. 1).

A perhaps telling note about the COURIER-JOURNAL is in the SPORTING LIFE,

13 October 1886, pg. 5, col. 3:

THE Louisville _Courier-Journal_ is an unblushing thief. It recently

took an article on Latham's batting written by Mr. Chadwick and rehashed it as

an interview of one of its reporters with Jimmy Galvin.

So, what next?

I spent an 11-hour bus ride and a night in Oneonta to prove my own theory

wrong! I can just hide it. Nobody found that for 112 years. C'mon, nobody's

gonna know!


early 1886, with special attention to articles from Detroit and Detroit-

Chicago games. It'll probably be there, and then our answer--as with "the Big

Apple"--will be a sportswriter.