Wednesday, August 02

The Debunker: Is the "Windy City" Named for Bloviating Chicago Politicians?

by Ken Jennings

On August 28, 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine, a Spanish admiral named Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted land in Florida. His men founded a settlement there which is still called St. Augustine, making it the oldest European-founded city in the United States. This August, we've asked Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings to cast his keen, cosmopolitan eye on American cities coast to coast, the better to debunk some misinformation about them that's as old as the hills, almost as old as St. Augustine itself.

The Debunker: Is the "Windy City" Named for Bloviating Chicago Politicians?

One of life's finest small joys is watching some would-be know-it-all correct someone about something—and get it wrong. For example, after hearing a reference to the windy lake weather of Chicago, a certain kind of pedant likes to insist that the "Windy City" nickname has nothing to do with climate, but is actually a reference to the endless talk of hot air-filled Chicago politicians. How smug they are, these people who know something you don't! (This column is exempt from this problem, of course. I'm in the debunking game not to feel better about myself, but for the noble goal of educating my fellow man.)

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