Happy 175th Birthday Chicago! Some Chicago fun facts to celebrate its 175th!

Happy 175th Birthday Chicago!  Some Chicago fun facts to celebrate its 175th!

On March 4, 2012, Chicago turned 175 years old!

There is always debate on what makes one a true Chicagoan. Some believe that, along with current residence, you need to be born and raised in Chicago. I think that’s a little much. I am a Chicagoan. I’ve lived in Chicago for 16 years. Yes, I was born and raised in the suburbs, but when it came time for me to choose where to live, I chose Chicago’s northside. Although I haven’t paid off a politician, my 16 years of accumulated parking tickets grants me entry.

But as I have a cousin who is moving to the city today, I figured I’d post this friendly list of Chicagoan dos and don’ts. And some fun facts. Please feel free to agree/disagree and add your own:


DON’T call your home Chi-Town. Tourists and fresh new urbanites from Iowa and Michigan call Chicago, Chi-Town.

DO choose a team. You are either a Cubs fan or a Sox fan. You can’t be both. Choose one and accept the consequences of your choice.

DO know how to parallel park. If you have someone guide you into that lucky spot you find on your way to Wrigley Field, you’re from Schaumburg.

DO know the difference between hitting another car and a love tap while parking in tight spots.

DO know what the four stars in the Chicago flag represent.

DO know what the three white stripes on the flag represent.

DO know that in spite of the above, Chicago does have an east side.

DO know that Chicago’s nickname of The Windy City doesn’t refer to weather.

Know that the Great Chicago Fire was in 1871.

Know that the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) is the tallest building in the Western hemisphere and until 1997 was the tallest building in the world.

Know that the Ferris Wheel made its debut in Chicago at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

Know that the Green Mill was not only a hangout for Al Capone, but also served as an entrance to an underground tunnel system that hid alcohol and gangsters during Prohibition.

Know that the first self-sustained nuclear reaction was at the University of Chicago (1942).

Know what the Chicago Loop is.

Know that the Chicago River is dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Know that the Harold Washington Library is the world’s largest public library.

Know that Western Avenue is the world’s longest street**

[** This is wrong.  It is actually Chicago’s longest street.  Thanks to EJ Hickey and Jack for pointing this out. ]

Know that Chicago is the birthplace of the skyscraper and has the world’s finest architecture.

Know that historic “Route 66” begins in Chicago at Adams Street at the Art Institute.

Filed under: Chicagoist


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  • Great article but I have to take exception with one item.

    "Know that Western Avenue is the world’s longest street.”

    Not true. Longest street in the world is Yonge street in Ontario.

  • ejhickey is correct.

    In fact, Western Avenue isn't the longest street around here; Harlem Ave. goes from just north of Glenview Road to at least south of U.S. 30 (probably more). Western Avenue's only distinction is that it traverses the length of Chicago at its longest point. Harlem is 38.7 miles (at least in the described segment), Western from Howard (Asbury doesn't count) to Sibley in Harvey is 27.5 miles (both "walking" on Google Maps).

    The know parallel parking and love tap ones are inconsistent, and the love tap one controls. As my father put it a long time ago "I wondered why cars in Chicago were so beat up, but trying to park there, I know why."

    Probably the most important know would be "Know what percentage of that 175 years the Duchy of Chicago was ruled by the Daleys (25% just between the two alone) and other nonbelievers in term limits."

  • In reply to jack:

    I like the Daley percentage question-- I should put that up.

    I don't think knowing how to parallel park and having to rely upon love taps at times are inconsistent. I'd say generally (85-90% of the time) I get into spots without having to use the love tap. But I'll employ it when necessary. It is possible to get into a spot that is 20 feet long with a car that is 19.5 feet long. There is a distinct difference also between love tap (that really should not leave a mark), the hit and a full blown collision.

    I find it funny when I travel to see friends in Springfield and one in particular-- named Rod, not the former governor-- always says "what happened to your car?!" looking at all the dings I typically ignore. I say I live in Chicago and that I don't even notice it anymore.

  • WOW. I have to do some research. I do not know what the flag stands for here.

  • Thanks for the Western Avenue correction. I stand corrected. I will update it but note that EJHickey gets credit for the correction.

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    Western Avenue is the longest street in any one city. About 25 miles

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