Chicago fact of the day

The average wind speed down Michigan Ave.: 10.4 mph

The average wind speed in Boston: 12.5 mph

The average wind speed in New York City: 12.2 mph

The Windy City, anyone?  It turns out the name was adopted in the 19th century to promote the city’s beaches.  That is from Discover magazine, March 2006 issue, back page.

Update: Wikipedia offers a different perspective on the origins of the name.  Read this tooThe trail also leads to my childhood chess-playing friend Barry Popik.


What about the variance? 12.5mph with a variance of 1mph is much more pleasant than 10.4mph with a variance of 10mph.

Yes I thought that the term "Windy City" refered to the politcians at the time the phrase was coined. Also the sample is not consistent...What is the comparable street in New York or Boston? Are you saying that if you take one wind sample on Michigan Ave that it represents all of Chicago? Where did they collect the data in Boston? In New York? How would you feel about this statement...State St. Chicago has an average of 14 inches of snow per year. New York receives 15 and Boston receives 18. Therefore I conclude that New York and Boston have higher snowfall totals per year.

Noel raised my point, but without addressing the relevance thereof. It was supposed to be a statistician, not an economist, who got blown into the Chicago River when trying to cross IBM Plaza in a wind averaging 10.4 mph.

I do admit, BTW, that this only happens when the Plaza ices over.

When I was in Chicago, people always said "it's not about the weather, it's about the politicians" -- but it was always said like a joke, the implication being of course it's about the weather, but it could just as easily be about the politicians.

By the way, there is a similar debate over the origin of the name "Chicago." Chicago boosters ( ) say it comes from an word meaning "strong" or "great" in some never-specified Indian language. However, it more likely comes from an Algonquian word meaning “onion field† ( ).

What I find amazing is that the very same word in Athabaskan means "place of high crime, lousy weather, and corrupt politicians." ;-)

I don't believe the numbers. Having lived in both Chicago and New York
it seems to me the former wins by a landslide, or at least a whoosh.
San Francisco is one of the windiest cities I know of.

When I moved to Cambridge, England, I was v amused at the absurd local claim that it's windy. It isn't, but it feels windy because cyclists notice the wind more. Perhaps rowing eights do too.

If one looks at the purported origin of the "it's the politicians" etymology, it is fairly transparently clear that Chicago was already well-known as the Windy City (presumably for reasons relating to weather) when the allusion to bombastic politicians was first made. The phrasing of the remark would make no sense if the expression hadn't already been current when it was made.

I'd point out that variance is well worth looking at, had several others not already done so. I will merely add, in my capacity as a resident, that variance in windspeed here does seem unusually high...certainly high enough to give rise to a nickname.

I'm glad there are data to back up my anecdotes about the freezing wind blowing across the Charles River on my morning walk to work. Chicago ain't got nothin' on Boston.

Boston, MA

You're all wrong-- Tooele, Utah is the REAL windy city. Every time Salt Lake City gets a big storm, Tooele (which is just over the Oquirrh Mountains to the west of SLC) gets horrendous south winds. Then the snow or rain all falls on SLC, leaving none for Tooele.

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