You know we love horse races, you know about our deep-dish pizza, and, if you’re a bit older, you know that Al Bundy lives here. However, there are plenty of things you might not know about Chicago. Here are a few.
You would think that the Windy City is a reference to the cold air from Lake Michigan. Actually, there are several different explanations and this is just one of them. Some believe it is due to the fact that many politicians in Chicago were focused on profit more than on issues and had to boast their way into positions of power. Being boastful with little else to offer is a type of person colloquially known as a windbag. So, is it the cold wind from the northeast or the empty promises? We can’t say for sure.
Reportedly the only river that does so, the Chicago River flows backwards. No, it’s not some freaky national phenomenon at play here, but a fix to environmental and health issues. Chicago gets its drinking water from Lake Michigan, so having a river drain their sewage into their water source is not the best course of action. To remedy this, the good people of Chicago at the beginning of the 20th century reversed the flow towards the Gulf of Mexico. Interestingly enough, the river is also painted to commemorate certain events, like St Patrick’s Day.
Many museums of natural history have some remnants of the giant lizards of the past, but Chicago’s Field Museum trumps them all. Why? Because it is home to Sue, the world’s most complete T-Rex skeleton. The dinosaur was named after the person who discovered it, Sue Hendrickson.
The first recorded open heart surgery in the US was performed in Chicago in 1893. The surgery was performed on a patient with a stab wound. The doctor that performed the surgery was Daniel Hale Williams, an African-American at his own Provident Hospital. The surgery was a success. Incidentally, the reason for Provident Hospital’s existence was the fact that black people weren’t allowed to work in American hospitals.
Careful with the Drinks
If you know anything about Chicago’s history, it is probably related to bootleg alcohol, secret clubs, Al Capone, and prohibition in general. However, crime was not absent prior to this. Have you heard the old phrase “to slip someone a Mickey Finn”? It means to drug someone’s drink and it originated in Chicago around 1903. Michael “Mickey” Finn would spike the drinks of his patrons and rob them. In 1918, over 100 waiters were implicated in poisoning their customers with Mickey Finn powder, or emetic tartar, if they didn’t tip well. The powder caused dizziness, vomiting, depression, and death.
The phrase Mickey Finn made its way into the Oxford Dictionary in 1915. Though we use “spiking someone’s drink” these days, the term was so popular at one time that even Bugs Bunny once mentioned it in Hare Removal in 1946, where Elmer was trying to get him to drink some dangerous chemicals.