Ask ChicagoNow: Why is Chicago called the Second City?

Ask ChicagoNow: Why is Chicago called the Second City?

ChicagoNow is a group of bloggers from all sorts of different backgrounds. One thing that helps tie them all together? Chicago.

With so much collective experience with the city, we’ve decided to put that knowledge to use by posing some of the oldest and most popular questions about Chicago to the group.

Why is Chicago called the Second City?

“Chicago long was considered a poor second to NYC in terms of culture and the life of the mind – the stage, music, art, restaurants, the fourth estate – until we rose and conquered, with the likes of The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, a world-class symphony, fine opera and ballet, world-class museums, fine music venues of all genres and ground-breaking chefs like the late Charlie Trotter. And the Tribune and Sun-Times always were top-drawer, at least in terms of the myriad of fine writers who graced their newsrooms through the years.” — Michelle Babicz, Planet Michelle

“Because it only takes a second to realize that Chicago is the best city in the U.S.” — Carole Kuhrt Brewer, Show Me Chicago

“I think this can be interpreted a number of ways but I like to think it’s a reference to the fact that the city of Chicago as it currently stands is the second Chicago as it was rebuilt after the fire of 1871.” — MBA Mom

“In spite of the hot air-filled politicians with bloated egos that cause us to be known as “The Windy City,” Chicago as a whole is quite humble. It’s a Midwestern thing. Anyway, we gave ourselves the moniker “The Second City” because although we are the greatest city in the world, we are comfortable in our skin and wanted to let those with thinner skin (looking at you NYC) feel good about themselves by being number one.” — Jessica Gardner, Little Merry Sunshine

“Chicago used to have the second largest population in the USA.” — Michael Messinger, Mysteries of Life

“Because New Yorkers are always trying to find a way to take a jab at us.” — Nicolle Neulist, Picks & Ponderings

“Because New Yorkers are jealous.” — Bob Schneider, Politics Now

“Chicago is considered the Second City, even though it’s the third largest. Why? Because no one really consider Los Angeles a city.” — Angela Soriano, less than perfect

“Originally because Chicago was second largest in population from the 1890s until roughly the 1950s or 1960s when population declined, fueled by thousands moving to the growing suburbs, and the growth of Los Angeles, pushed it down to #3. A.J. Liebling’s book Chicago: The Second City in 1952 kind of sealed the moniker.” — Floyd Sullivan, Waiting4Cubs

If you have a question about Chicago that you want answered, email it to Think you have the answer to the above question? Let us know in the comments below.

Lead image via Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

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