"Windy City" is wrong 3rd time this year!!!
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Fri Apr 5 07:59:35 UTC 2002
"Windy City" is wrong in the Chicago Tribune again. That's the third time this year!
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Chicago Tribune; Chicago, Ill.; Mar 20, 2002; Evan Osnos, Tribune national correspondent;
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It is a value system that [Seth Lipsky] identifies in the legacy of Charles A. Dana, the 19th Century editor from whom Lipsky also takes the paper's name and logo. It was Dana who, tired of the city's boasting, coined the phrase "Windy City" to refer to Chicago. His Sun merged in 1950 with the New York World-Telegram.
Copyright © 2002 The Chicago Tribune
"WINDY CITY" HISTORY (long re-hash for newbies):
New York Sun editor Charles A. Dana didn't coin "Windy City."
I'll re-hash what's gone on the past six years for people not familiar with the story, but the rest of you (Chicago's Mike Salovesh? Chicago's Carl Weber? Everyone else?) can go on to the next message.
In 1994, I visited the Chicago Historical Society. I told a tour leader there that I'd solved "the Big Apple" and "the Great White Way," and that the latter was possibly influenced by Chicago's "White City." He suggested that I solve "Windy City."
Here's the myth: in 1889-1890, New York was competing with Chicago for the 1892 World's Fair. New York Sun editor Charles A. Dana said not to trust the claims of that "Windy City," they couldn't hold the fair even if they won the bid. Chicago did win the bid, and held the fair in 1893. It was a success. Charles A. Dana coined/popularized the term.
I checked the DICTIONARY OF AMERICANISMS, published about fifty years ago in Chicago. It has an 1887 "Windy City" citation. Right away, I knew the above was a myth!
Then I looked through newspapers and magazines of the period, mostly in NY and Chicago. I went through extensive periods of the NY humor magazines PUCK, LIFE, and JUDGE. I looked through articles about Chicago's baseball team in THE SPORTING NEWS and SPORTING LIFE. Key dates for me were the Chicago-held political conventions of 1884, and the Chicago Haymarket riots of May 1886.
In 1884, PUCK stated that Chicago's nickname was the "Garden City," but no one knew why. "Windy City" clearly would have been used in that story had it been common in 1884. By 1886, however, many papers used "Windy City." SPORTING LIFE used it in a list of city nicknames.
I found a few 1885 "Windy City" citations, but not many. One is on the Library of Congress's digital American Memory database (www.loc.gov). Anyone can check that out and see instantly that the Charles Dana "coinage" story is a myth. All the evidence showed that "Windy City" refers to the breeze off the lake.
I looked through the NEW YORK SUN (1884-1893) and found much Dana World's Fair promotion (1889-1890), but not the quote. It's possible that I missed it, though. Eventually, the newspaper will be digitally searchable.
I looked through many years of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. On September 11, 1886, page 4, col. 5 or 6, the Tribune mentions and explains "Windy City" for the first time. "Windy City" is an "awkward phrase" that "the village papers" of Michigan and New York are using to refer to Chicago's cool summer breezes. There it is in the Chicago Tribune--three years before Charles Dana ever wrote about Chicago's World's Fair chances.
I sent all my papers and a brief summary to the president of the Chicago Historical Society. He sent it to the editor of its CHICAGO HISTORY publication. I got a letter that they'd respond in eight weeks. Twelve weeks later, I got a short form letter rejection that my material was not right for CHICAGO HISTORY. No one had ever discussed it with me. No one had given me--a first-time author--a style sheet to follow. But most importantly, no one had questioned my facts. I just got a rejection. A few years later, the Chicago Historical Society put the Dana myth on its web site, where it still can be found today.
I highlighted the 1886 Chicago Tribune article and sent it to the Chicago Tribune. I got no response. Then, I sent it to the Chicago Tribune's Reader Representative. I got a form letter reply: the Tribune doesn't accept "unsolicited manuscripts."
This was in 1996, and my mother and father were both dying at the time, and I wanted at least one of the wonderful things I'd worked on (Big Apple, Windy City, New York Yankees, hot dog) to end with the least bit of success. I got the address of every alderman in Chicago. I sent out about 40 packages of why Chicago is called the "Windy City," and what could be done to end the myth. I got two "replies." Two packages came back "Return to Sender--Address Unknown."
"Windy City" was published that year in Gerald Cohen's COMMENTS ON ETYMOLOGY (Univ. of Missouri-Rolla), but an obscure scholarly publication clearly wouldn't be enough.
In 1999, the Chicago Tribune Magazine got "Windy City" wrong again. I wrote to the writer, a letter to the editor, and another letter to the Reader Representative. There was no reply, and no coreection was published. I asked Hillary Clinton to help me, and got back a form letter that made no sense. I asked Oprah Winfrey to help me; a year later, I got back a spam e-mail to buy Oprah products.
I walked in to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's Mayoral Action Center on Chambers Street, located in the offices of the old New York Sun. Mayor Giuliani had signed "Big Apple Corner" into law; my "Big Apple" work is on the city's web site without compensation or credit. I asked him to defend the reputation of the NY Sun editor, simply by sending a letter to the Chicago Tribune. Many weeks later, I got an e-mail reply: the Mayor would not help.
In 1999, Cecil Adams' syndicated column "The Straight Dope" told the story. In January 2001, this was mentioned in a profile about me in the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Anyone searching "windy city" and "dana" on Lexis/Nexis would find that! The myth would be over, no?
Later in 2001, the Chicago Tribune got "Windy City" wrong again. So I wrote to the editor and the Reader Representative again, and nothing happened again.
Then, in 2001, the Chicago Tribune got it wrong a _second_ time. When I wrote to the Reader Representative again, I was told to submit my evidence. I submitted my evidence, which included the 1886 Chicago Tribune article. The Reader Representative never responded to me again.
Then, in 2001, the Charles Dana myth got repeated a THIRD time. Then, a FOURTH time. About this time, I was begging anyone in Chicago to just shoot me in the head.
One 2001 Chicago Tribune article cited the Chicago Public Library as its source, so I wrote to the Chicago Public Library, where the Charles Dana myth is wrong two times on its web site. The CPL e-mailed back that it's clear that Dana didn't coin it (that web site would be changed), but it wasn't clear that Dana didn't popularize it (that web site would probably stay the same). As of 2002, nothing on the CPL web site has been changed, and it's _still_ all wrong.
Now, it's 2002. The Chicago Tribune gets it wrong one time, two times, three times...
WILL A MYTH EVER END?
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