Sin City, Bean Town, Motor City, The Big Apple, and The Big East are just a few of the nicknames cities have gotten over the years. Each one has a story to it, too. But let’s look at another American city.
Chicago actually has two major nicknames: The Windy City and The Second City. Anyone who has ever stood in downtown Chicago on the shore of Lake Michigan in the wintertime knows first hand where that nickname came from!
But how did it get named “The Second City”? There are actually two possible sources of the nickname. You can pick which one you prefer.
In 1890 Chicago was declared to be the second most populated urban area after New York City. Chicago held the honor until 1980 when Los Angeles passed it. But it was not until A. J. Liebling published his 1952 book “Chicago: The Second City” that the nickname took off and was embraced by the public. One can only imagine that that new gadget, TV, had something to do with the public’s use of the nickname.
The second possible source of the nickname dates back even further. A major part of Chicago’s history is that famous fire that took place in 1873. Everyone knows about the cow knocking over the lamp which started a fire that spread like, well, wildfire. Ultimately, Chicago burned down. There is no question that it is a horrible tale. But wait. In a mere short seventeen years (1890) Chicago was pronounced the second most populated urban area in America. The people of Chicago rebuilt their city! They build “The Second City”.
There is no one or right answer here. Which do you prefer?