According to CNN.com, there are 7 things everyone should know about the Windy City.
1. The Food
Chicago is very food-centric, but it isn’t all hot dogs and pizza.
“Chicago is such a diverse city, and it’s a city of neighborhoods,” explained writer Britt Julious, a lifelong resident, “a city comprised of all different types of ethnicities, that we have so many specifically regional food traditions that that makes it a great place to be.
Julious also told CNN that most Chicagoans don’t actually like Chicago-style deep-dish pizza but other sources seem to disagree. One thing that they can all agree with is the fact that Cicago does have more than its fair share of hot dog stands:
Rule #1: Poppy seed bun. Always. No exceptions. Whatsoever.
Rule #2: No ketchup. Ever. No exceptions. Whatsoever.
“Even if you’re getting fries, you have to figure out your own way of getting ketchup,” said Julious.
2. Willis Tower? Does not compute! Does not compute!
It’ll always be the Sears Tower. Apparently, the 108-story, 1,451-foot skyscraper was officially renamed Willis Tower nearly five years ago. The second-tallest building in the U.S. , and the eighth-tallest freestanding structure in the world remains one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting over 1 million visitors to its observation deck annually.
Julious mentioned some other places whose new names will never quite sit right: “U.S. Cellular Field? No! That’s Comiskey Park. It will always be Comiskey Park. It’s so funny because I forget what the new names are. U.S. Cellular Field is an awful name.”
On a similar note, the public sculpture that everybody refers to as “The Bean” is actually called Cloud Gate.
“I had to think about what the actual name of it was,” Julious exclaimed.
Cloud Gate (also known as The Bean) in Milennium Park.
Cloud Gate is the official name of the sculpture, created by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, “but the only people I know who call it Cloud Gate are people who are not even from the state, really.”
Even though Chicago has an extensive public transportation system, it also has a very heavy car culture. The harsh winters, in turn, give way to a seasonal occurrence known as Dibs.
“Dibs happens in winter when it snows, which it does a lot in Chicago,” said Julious. “Because people oftentimes don’t have garages, they will shovel out the space around their cars (parked on the street) and shovel out a space for themselves and then they will put lawn chairs or tables or kids’ toys in the parking spot to call dibs on it.”
Julious has witnessed many Dibs-fueled arguments, ranging from ridiculous squabbles to nasty notes to all-out street fights.
“Some people don’t like Dibs at all,” she said, “so I’ve seen incidences where people will go up and down a block and collect all of the furniture that was put out on the street — and it’s usually things like lawn chairs.”
4. Chicago is ‘a city of neighborhoods’
Chicago is not a particularly glamorous city. In fact, there are very few buildings in the city that existed prior to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. For the most part, the buildings are under 115 years old.
“It’s very much a hardscrabble working-class union town,” said Julious, “so a lot of the traditions that make the city so great are based around that sort of culture.”
Pride in one’s neighborhood, from huge parks to lots of green space to beautiful waterfronts, sets Chicago apart from a lot of other cities.
“In other cities, neighborhoods have names,” said Julious, “but Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. So there’s neighborhood names and sub-neighborhood names. For example: Officially it’s Lake View, but there’s Lake View, there’s East Lake View, there’s Boystown, there’s Wrigleyville, there’s DePaul. People who are from here don’t always use the actual official names. Officially, I live in West Town, but I live in the East Village area of Ukrainian Village, and someone who’s from here is going to know what those terms are. As someone who’s lived here my whole life, 26 years, whenever I meet someone who doesn’t know what the East Village is, I know that they probably just moved here.”
5. The traditions
Yes, the Chicago River is dyed green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and yes, it’s very touristy, but by and large, Chicagoans enjoy the festivities.
The Chicago River is dyed green for the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
“It’s a really nice family event,” said Julious. “The things that locals tend to avoid are the South Side parade and the drunkenness that follows. … That will bring in a lot of 20-somethings who live in the suburbs. That’s the sort of thing that people tend to avoid, whereas the dyeing of the river happens around 9 o’clock in the morning, and it’s usually lots of families, and it’s very sweet and wholesome. I’ve been to it a couple of times. The events that Chicagoans tend to avoid are things like Taste of Chicago, that’s a bit of a hot mess.
6. Why Chicago is really called the Windy City
Theories abound, and one of them focuses on politics.
Even though Chicago is full of breezes off Lake Michigan, some people think the term Windy City refers to politicians’ pronouncements – blowing hot air.
Julious says many Chicagoans consider their city a bastion of classic big-city corruption.
“The thing about Chicago is that you know who you’re voting for but you don’t actually know if your vote counts,” said Julious, “and everyone runs under the assumption that everyone else is corrupt. … There’s the phrase ‘Chicago Works’ — Chicago ‘works’ in its own way.”
In other words, certain things get done and certain things never get done.
7. Don’t call it a sneaker
It’s been here for years, and it’s known as a gym shoe, thank you very much.
“Sneaker is a horrible name,” said Julious. “I hate it.”
Incidentally, the gym shoe is also the name of a unique but in-demand Chicago sandwich.
In addition, Chicagoans say “pop,” not “soda.” The train is called the El (which stands for elevated train), even if it’s underground, and a gangway is a passage similar to an alley that very narrowly separates two buildings or homes.