There are few people who don’t know that Chicago is often referred to as the “Windy City.” People also know that former president Barrack Obama worked as a community organizer in Chicago and that the Sears Tower reigned as the tallest building in the United States for more than two decades. That, in itself, was an amazing feat being that those strong winds necessitated an amazing level of engineering to erect a building which could easily withstand the force of them. Now called the Willis Tower, this building no longer holds its former place of prominence, but people know all that! Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Chicago.
1. Chicago Holds the Record for the Shortest Debate in History
As Americans, we are often overwhelmed by public debates. This is never more evident than during the general election years, but even our high schools have debate teams. Could it be that we are a nation who simply likes to argue? Actually, Chicago holds the record for the shortest debate in history when a debate entitled “Resolved: That People Who Attend Literary Debates Are Imbeciles” lasted but two sentences. Writer Ben Hecht took the podium in 1917 and stated that “The affirmative rests.” His literary adversary, Maxwell Bodenheim, took the podium and while looking out at the packed audience declared, “You win.”
2. The Entire City Was Once Raised Several Feet
While we have an amazing level of technology at our disposal in the 21st century, can you imagine what it took in the 19th century to raise the entire city by several feet? This actually happened as the result of a drainage issue. In the 1850s, the entire city was hydraulically raised to correct the problem. What an amazing accomplishment for that point in history!
3. Record Speed in Rebuilding a City Leveled by Fire
If you ever wonder why sprinkler engineers are in such great demand in the windy city, think back to the fire that destroyed Chicago in 1871. The city was rebuilt in record time and the entire process became legendary. How did they do it in such a short amount of time? Why, they leveled it and pushed everything into the lake! Today that would be forbidden due to environmental issues, but back then, who knew?
4. Chicago Is the Home of the Hot Dog
During the World’s Fair in 1873, Anton Feuchtwanger couldn’t convince fairgoers to try his Bavarian sausages. How did he finally round up business? He placed them on buns and the American hot dog was born. Who would have thought that Chicago earned that honor as being the birthplace of the hot dog?
5. There Are 26 Miles of Beaches Open to the Public
Unless you’ve ever lived in Chicago, you wouldn’t know just how hot the summers can get. Many of the older apartment buildings still aren’t equipped with central heat and air and so the locals rely on going to the beach to cool them off on hotter days of the year. In actuality, there are an amazing 26 miles of beaches on the lake from which the public can swim. Although it doesn’t beat round-the-clock climate control at home, it makes for a good excuse to spend more time outdoors.
So, there you have five things which even people born and raised in Chicago might not know. Are you planning a trip to Chicago in the near future? Why not have a bit of fun asking the locals for details? You might be surprised at just how few of them will be able to answer or even know what you are talking about.