Now, the VOA Special English program, WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.
A nickname is a shortened version of a person's name. A nickname also can describe a person, place or thing. Many American cities have interesting nicknames. These can help establish an identity, spread pride among citizens and build unity.
Chicago, Illinois was once the second largest city in the United States. So, one of its nicknames is The Second City. Over the years, the population of Chicago has decreased. Today it is the third largest American city.
However, another nickname for Chicago is still true today. It is The Windy City. Chicago sits next to Lake Michigan, one of North America’s Great Lakes. Language expert Barry Popick says on his web site that Chicago was called a “windy city” because of the wind that blows off of Lake Michigan. In the eighteen sixties and seventies, Chicago was advertised as an ideal place to visit in the summer because of this cool wind.
But anyone who has ever lived in Chicago knows how cold that wind can be in winter. The wind travels down the streets between tall buildings in the center of the city.
Barry Popick says other cities in the central United States called Chicago a “windy city.” This meant that people in Chicago liked to brag or talk about how great their city was. They were full of wind or full of hot air. He says newspapers in Cincinnati, Ohio used this expression in the eighteen seventies.
Chicago was an important agricultural, industrial and transportation center for the country.
In nineteen sixteen, the city gained two more nicknames from a poem called “Chicago,” written by Carl Sandburg. Here is the first part of the poem:
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders.
Chicago was called Hog Butcher for the World because of its huge meat-processing industry. And, it was called The City of the Big Shoulders or City of Broad Shoulders because of its importance to the nation.
There are several songs about Chicago. “My Kind of Town” was made popular by Frank Sinatra in nineteen sixty-four.
This program was written by Shelley Gollust. I'm Faith Lapidus. You can find more WORDS AND THEIR STORIES at our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.