A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 29, 2005
Windy City, 2006 Update: Encyclopedia of Chicago “Windy City” entry
Encyclopedia of Chicago (online): Windy City

OCLC WorldCat record
The Encyclopedia of Chicago
Author: James R Grossman; Ann Durkin Keating; Janice L Reiff; Michael P Conzen; Newberry Library.
Publisher: Chicago : University of Chicago Press, [2004] ©2004
Edition/Format: Print book : English
Summary:
"Developed by the Newberry Library with the cooperation of the Chicago Historical Society, The Encyclopedia of Chicago is the definitive historical reference on metropolitan Chicago. More than a decade in the making, the Encyclopedia brings together hundreds of historians, journalists, and experts on everything from airlines to Zoroastrians to explore all aspects of the rich world of Chicagoland, from its geological prehistory to the present."


The Encyclopedia of Chicago was a joint effort of the Newberry Library and the Chicago Historical Society, and it was published by the University of Chicago (2004). The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago went online in May 2005.

All three Chicago institutions are aware of my "Windy City" work of ten years' now, and that the "Windy City" entry was assigned to someone who took my (old!) work off the internet's "Straight Dope" website and column in the Chicago Reader.

It's now been ten years, and these Chicago institutions continue to use my old work without credit or compensation.


Grown Up Sarah
9.16.2005
The Windy City.
Everyone who thinks he or she is an expert on all things historical-Chicago just because he or she read Devil in the White City, please take note.

Chicago as "The Windy City" was not, I repeat not coined by a famous New York editor who was fed up with Chicago-as-location-for-World's-Fair promoters. I know it says that's the case in Devil in the White City and even in reputable sources, but that is wrong.

Just ask Barry Popik, who has found published uses of "Windy City" from around 15 years before anyone was even talking about having the Columbian Exposition. Even the newish Encyclopedia of Chicago isn't quite up to date. And what they do have, they apparently plagiarized from Popik.

Popik's earliest found use of "Windy City" is actually in a story about a tornado ("That Windy City. Some of the Freaks of the Last Chicago Tornado." Cincinnati Enquirer, p. 2, col. 4, May 9, 1876.). So doesn't that seem to lend a whole lot of credence to the "Windy City because it's windy" idea? Of course, it wasn't really that much windier here than in other cities...but since when has accuracy mattered in a nickname. And, of course, it could easily get popularized with a spin, a double meaning. According to Popik, and some others, "Windy City" probably became popular partly because it had this double meaning, both actual wind and windy boasts.

In any case, it had nothing to do with the Columbian Exposition. Nothing.

Popik's citations can be read in The Straight Dope, and more info can be had here, here, and here.

This is now old news, really, but apparently travels quite slowly.


Chicago Historical Society
Clark Street at North Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60614-6099

Douglas Greenberg
President and Director

July 25, 1996
Dear Mr. Popik:
Thank you very much for your letter of July 23, 1996 and for the fascinating information on the origins of "The Windy City." I've referred your letter to Ms. Rosemary Adams, who is the Chicago Historical Society's Director of Publications. I believer she will be in touch with you directly about the possiblity of publishing your piece. In the meantime, I wonder if you would mind if we referred media questions about the origins of "The Windy City" to you.

Once again, my deepest gratitude for your letter and for the fascinating information that accompanied it.

Sincerely,
Douglas Greenberg


Chicago Historical Society
Clark Street at North Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60614-6099

August 9, 1996
Dear Mr. Popik:
Thank you for submitting your manuscript on "The Windy City." I will review it within the next eight weeks and contact you concerning its suitability for Chicago History magazine.

Sincerely,
Rosemary K. Adamas
Director of Publications


Chicago Historical Society
Clark Street at North Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60614-6099

October 29, 1996
Dear Mr. Popik:
Thank you for your patience while I have been reviewing your submission concerning the origins of Chicago's nickname "The Windy City." Your impressive research has produced a fascinating piece of information. I am afraid, however, that the article is not suitable for Chicago History. We publish longer, analytical pieces that shed light on the development of the city and its residents.

Good luck with your work.

Sincerely,
Rosemary K. Adams
Director of Publications


Chicago Tribune
435 N. Madison Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 222-3232

June 3, 1997
Dear Mr. Popik:
Thank you for your recent letter and essay. I am sorry but we are unable to print unsolicited material in the Chicago Tribune.

Regards,
George Langford
(Reader Ombudsman. "Windy City" would be wrong in the Chicago Tribune about three times a year for the next eight years. The ombudsman would correct none of the errors -- ed.)

THE NEWBERRY LIBRARY
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL

February 6, 2006
Dear Mr. Popik:
I write in response to the email message you sent to me on January 22, 2006, regarding The Encyclopedia of Chicago. The project's managing editor, Douglas Knox, has communicated with you on these issues before, so doubtless you understand how our authors were chosen. As for the sources of our information, please note that we were not aware of your research until the entry was sent through our fact-checking process. We were able to verify the information for the entry in a publicly available source. Your research, available on the Web, helped lead us to an illustration and to some additional details, which were not central to the basic narrative of the entry.

As you must realize, the use of publicly available information pointed out by someone else does not constitute "plagiarism." Doubtless you also know that encyclopedias customarily do not carry footnotes. And, of course, there is no intellectual property in a fact. We have taken pains to assure that the Encyclopedia of Chicago does not reproduce or copy any text without proper attribution.

We consider this matter closed.

Yours sincerely,
David Spadafora
President

From: Cohen, Gerald Leonard
To:
Cc: ; ; ; ; ; ;
Sent: Sat, 28 May 2005 14:31:19 -0500
Subject: RE: Encyclopedia of Chicago's treatment of "Windy City"

Dear Sirs,
The proper references for any scholarly treatment of the origin of Chicago's sobriquet "The Windy City" are:

1) Barry Popik: "Coinage of 'The Windy City' is often incorrectly attributed to NYC editor Charles Dana, who - in the 1889-1890 competition for the 1893 World's Fair--allegedly spoke of Chicago's 'windy politicians.'" - in: Comments on Etymology, Dec. 2004, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 2-19.

2) Barry Popik: Another, 1880, attestation of 'windy city,' reinforcing my suggestion that Chicago's sobriquet originated in Cincinnati. Comments on Etymology, April 2005, vol. 34, no. 7, pp. 15-16

3) Nathan Bierma, "'WINDY CITY: Where did it come from?' in:
Chicago-Tribune, Dec. 7, 2004, Tempos section, pp. 1,5. -- (This article pays tribute to Barry Popik's work on the sobriquet.)

It may be too late to acknowledge Popik's research in the hard-copy of the Encyclopedia of Chicago, but anything online should include mention of his work. If you would like copies of his work or have any questions on this matter, please feel free to contact me.

Yours truly,
Gerald Cohen, Ph.D.
Professor of Russian and German
(research specialty: etymology, especially of British and American slang)
editor, Comments on Etymology
Department of Arts, Languages, and Philosophy,
University of Missouri-Rolla
Rolla, MO 65409
email:

> From:
> Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2005 1:37 PM
> To:
> Cc: ; ; ;
; Cohen, Gerald Leonard; ;

> Subject: Encyclopedia of Chicago plagiarizes "Windy City"
>
> Don Michael Randel
> President of the University
> Administration Building
> 5801 South Ellis Avenue
> (773) 702-8001
> ...
> Gregory A. Jackson
> Vice President and Chief Information Officer
> Administration Building
> 5801 South Ellis Avenue
> (773) 702-2828
> ...
> Henry S. Webber
> Vice President for Community and Government Affairs
> Administration Building
> 5801 South Ellis Avenue
> (773) 702-3627
> ..
> Kineret S. Jaffe
> Secretary of the Board of Trustees
> Administration Building
> 5801 South Ellis Avenue
> (773) 702-2305
> ...
> ...
> To the University of Chicago:
> ...
> Does the University of Chicago support plagiarism?
> ...
> If a person solved "the Windy City," and the University of Chicago is
publishing an Encyclopedia of Chicago (2004), and if that Encyclopedia of
Chicago goes online (May 2005), is it OK to plagiarize a writer's old work?
> ...
> What I've been through for ten years is horrible, but I assume that the
University of Chicago supports and endorses slipshod work on the history of
Chicago.
> ...
> In 1992, Gerald Cohen (University of Missouri-Rolla) and I solved "the Big
Apple." In 1997, I dedicated "Big Apple Corner" after it was signed into law by
the mayor. See my popular, free website, http://www.barrypopik.com.
> ...
> In 1994, I saw the final days of the Chicago Historical Society's exhibit on
the 1893 World's Fair. The tour guide there said to me that he'd heard that
"Windy City" comes from New York Sun editor Charles Dana's comments about the
fair, that the "Windy City" wouldn't be able to hold the fair, even if it won
the bid. These comments were allegedly made in 1890. I told the CPL tour guide
that I'd research the issue.
> ...
> The first thing that I did was to check the Dictionary of Americanisms and the
Dictionary of American English, published over 50 years ago by a small, obscure
publisher called the University of Chicago. And there was an 1887 "windy city"
from the Louisville Courier-Journal! No one looked!
> ...
> I found "windy city" in a nickname list in 1886's Sporting Life magazine. I
also found a "windy city" explanation on the editorial page of the September 11,
1886 Chicago Tribune.> I found an earlier Louisville citation and an 1885
citation in online Ohio archives. I looked through the New York Sun extensively,
but "windy city" wasn't there!
> ...
> The first thing that I did was to give my work to the Chicago Historical
Society. I waited half a year, then received about two lines from the Chicago
History editor that this was not the sort of thing they publish. The Charles
Dana theory would later appear on the CHS website.
> ...
> Professor Gerald Cohen dropped my "Windy City" papers off (it had been
published in his Comments on Etymology) at the Newberry Library.
> ...
> I told the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Public Library about the Charles
Dana myth, but in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003, no one
would listen to me. My work would appear in the Chicago Reader's "The Straight
Dope" and be circulated widely on the internet.
> ...
> The "Windy City" entry in the Encyclopedia of Chicago was assigned to someone
who had no business writing it. In the 2003 letter (attached below), it was
admitted by Managing Editor Douglas Knox that my work had basically been "used"
without credit or compensation. The Encyclopedia's "Windy City" entry didn't
mention the Charles Dana myth at all. It used my 1885 citation in an
illustration, then used my 1886 Louisville citation.
> ...
> In 2003, I responded to Douglas Knox that, indeed, I had come up with even
better work. It is now clear that "Windy City" comes from Cincinnati, in
particular the Cincinnati Enquirer. I had found a May 1876 citation. The newly
digitized Chicago Tribune now also shows a month-later 1876 "windy city"
citation, also from the Cincinnati Enquirer. My Cincinnati explanation was
finally published in the Chicago Tribune in December 2004.
> ...
> Must the University of Chicago publish a Chicago Encyclopedia, put it online,
and plagiarize my old work? This is miserable treatment not only for me, but for
Chicago as well.
> ...
> Here's the first thing you must do. The University of Chicago, and the Chicago
Historical Society, and the Newberry Library, and the Chicago Public Library
have all got to approach the mayor or someone in Chicago government. And you've
got to say, look, we apologized to a dead cow for the Chicago Fire. We've got to
apologize to New York Sun editor Charles A. Dana, because he didn't coin or
popularize "the Windy City." You must do this not because Charles A. Dana is
going to sue Chicago for defamation, because Charles A. Dana is dead. You must
do this because it's the right thing.
> ...
> And maybe somewhere, sometime, the mayor of Chicago will recognize that I am a
great friend of your city, for many years, and you'll give me a penny, and I'll
goddamn fly out there and pick it up that penny, for all my troubles.
> ...
> Or the University of Chicago can ignore everything that I say and support the
plagiarism of my old work. It's up to you.
> ...
> Very truly yours,
> ...
> Barry Popik
> [Address supplied - ed.]
> http://www.barrypopik.com
> ...
> ...
> ...
> http://encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/6.html
> ...
> ...
> ...
> http://nbierma.com/language/column/windy/windy.htm
> ...
> ...
> ...
> http://magazine.uchicago.edu/UChiBLOGo/04_september/09-24-04.shtml
> Judging from the wealth of nicknames boasted by the Windy City (others include
the Wild Onion, the City of Big Shoulders, and the City in a Garden), describing
the Big Chi is a big challenge> -> one answered this fall by the University of
Chicago Press with a very big book. The Encyclopedia of Chicago, edited by U of
C history lecturer James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, AM> '> 79, PhD> '> 84,
and UCLA professor Janice L. Reiff, offers 21 critical essays, 56 original maps,
and 1,400 entries from abolitionism to Zoroastrians.
>
> The 1,000-plus page volume also covers a few of the city> '> s choicest
monikers. > "> Chicago,> "> for example, comes from an American Indian word
meaning > "> striped skunk,> "> a term that also refers to the pungent wild
onions that grew along the eponymous Chicago River. > "> Windy City,> "> on the
other hand, was coined by Midwesterners in the late 1800s to deride the famously
long-winded local politicians and other vocal boosters who touted the charms of
the soon-to-be Second City (another insult, this from A. J. Liebling New Yorker
articles). Both Windy City and Second City, the encyclopedia notes, have since
been adopted with pride.
>
> ...
> ...
> http://www.dailysouthtown.com/index/MOdsliv.html
>
> The recently unveiled online version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago puts a
vast amount of knowledge at computer users' fingertips
>
>
> Monday, May 23, 2005
>
> By Dan Caterinicchia
> The Associated Press
> _____
>
> In two Native American dialects, Chicago means "striped skunk."
>
> The nickname Windy City? It wasn't really about the wind, it came from an
allusion to Chicago's blowhard boosters and politicians.
>
> It's all there in the pages of The Encyclopedia of Chicago, a 1,100-page tome
published by the Newberry Library.
>
> This month, that knowledge went online for free, making Chicago only the
second major U.S. city after Cleveland with an extensive Internet encyclopedia
dedicated to its history.
>
> ...
> ...
> Subj: Re: Fwd: "Windy City" in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHICAGO HISTORY
> Date: 4/7/2003 4:52:56 PM Eastern Standard Time
>
>
>
> Dear Mr. Popik,
>
>
>
> Thanks for your interest in the Encyclopedia of Chicago History. We are
> essentially done with the preparation of the A-Z entries for the Encyclopedia.
> Our entry entitled "Windy City" was assigned and completed several years ago,
> and our editors are satisfied with its contents.
>
>
>
> No one here was aware of your work when the entry was assigned, but had that
> not been the case, you certainly would have been a likely person to approach.
>
>
>
> I believe your work may be the basis for a reference in our entry to a nearly
> use of the term "Windy City" in 1885. The online discussions that I find to
> your research cite an 1885 _Cleveland Gazette_ headline. I'm almost reluctant
> to ask if you have since uncovered anything earlier, because we are far enough
> into the end stages of preparation that our counterparts at the University of
> Chicago Press will be ready to give us grief for considering modifications.
> But if you have earlier citations, we would of course prefer to include to the
> best information we can.
>
>
>
> Best wishes in all your researches,
>
>
>
> Douglas Knox
> Managing Editor
> Encyclopedia of Chicago History
> The Newberry Library
> 60 West Walton Street
> Chicago, IL 60610
> (312) 255-3642
Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesWindy City, Second City, Chi-Town (Chicago nicknames) • Sunday, May 29, 2005 • Permalink