10 Fascinating Facts About Chicago

This will make strolling through its streets even more awe-inspiring!

UNSPLASH Lance Anderson

If you haven’t explored Chicago yet, you’re missing out! Before you go, here are some incredible fun facts about the windy city that’ll make strolling through it’s streets even more awe-inspiring!

1. Think big

Chicago Skyline
PHOTO Mackenzie Diamond

Chicago is actually the third largest city in the United States, behind New York and Los Angeles. It has a population of about 2.7 million, and almost 45 million visitors visit the city each year.

2. What’s that smell?

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel
PHOTO Mackenzie Diamond

The city’s name comes from the Native American word “shikaakwa,” which means “striped skunk” or “smelly onion.” Wild onions grew abundantly by the river and thus gave the city it’s somewhat unglamourous name.

3. The not so windy city…

Millenium Park
PHOTO Mackenzie Diamond

Chicago’s most popular nickname is The Windy City, though the name isn’t as straightforward as you might think. While Chicago certainly is windy due to it being right on Lake Michigan, the nickname actually came from rival newspaper companies taking a stab at the local politicians, claiming they were full-of-hot-air.

4. Towering towers

The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It has 110 stories and four states can be seen from the Skydeck, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. It also has one of the fastest elevators in the world, going 1,600 feet per minute.

5. Don’t B-negative

Navy Pier

Dr. Bernard Fantus founded the first ever blood bank in the United States in 1937. It was organized at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital.

6. How impressive

Impressionists Art Institute of Chicago
PHOTO Mackenzie Diamond

The Art Institute of Chicago is home to the largest collection of impressionist paintings outside of Paris. You’ll find Monet’s “Irises” and one of Van Gogh’s self portraits, just to name a few.

6. Big head, little arms

The Field Museum in Chicago owns the world’s most complete and largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen discovered. It’s name is Sue and it is arguably the most famous fossil in the world.

8. Dog’gone good.

Along with deep dish pizza, one of Chicago’s staple foods is the hot dog. There are more than 2,000 hot dog stands in the city, which is more than the number of McDonald’s, Burger Kings, and Wendy’s in the city combined.

9. River reversal

Chicago River
PHOTO Mackenzie Diamond

The Chicago river is actually the one river in the world that flows backwards. Lake Michigan is where the city gets all their drinking water. In order to stop the city waste from flowing into Lake Michigan and contaminating their water, they reversed the flow of the river in 1850.

10. The locks are key

Lake Michigan
PHOTO Mackenzie Diamond

Due to the reversal of the river flow, water levels in the Chicago River are around 1-4 feet below lake level. Because of this, boats going in and out of the lake by river have to enter a lock system at the entrance to the lake. If you are headed into the lake it will slowly raise you up so you are at lake level, and if you are headed back into the river it will slowly raise you down to river level.

Mackenzie Diamond

Business Associate

Mackenzie is a Connecticut native who loves finding the next big adventure. She enjoys cooking, dogs, and relaxing on a beach with a great book. If you want her heart, you find it on top of the Duomo in Florence.

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