What Do You Call People From Chicago? Names, Nicknames & More

Chicago is one of the largest and most iconic cities in the United States. People from Chicago are famously proud of their city and cultural heritage. But what exactly do you call someone from Chicago? As it turns out, there are many different terms used to describe Chicago natives and residents.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: People from Chicago are most commonly referred to as Chicagoans. Other names include Chicagolanders, Chi-Towners, Second City Residents, Midwesterners, and Windy City Locals.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover:

– The most common names for Chicago residents

– Where these names and nicknames come from

– Regional differences in terminology

– Demographic variations and self-identification

– Historical context for Chicago’s evolving reputations

– How Chicagoans feel about their city nicknames

– Popular references in media and pop culture

– Other Illinois city demonyms for comparison

– The broader concept of civic identity and pride

Most Common Names for Chicago Residents


One of the most commonly used names for people from Chicago is “Chicagoans.” This term is widely recognized and accepted by both locals and outsiders. Chicagoans are proud of their city and often use this term to identify themselves.

It captures the sense of community and camaraderie that exists among the residents of the city.


Another popular term used to refer to people from Chicago is “Chicagolanders.” This term encompasses not only the city of Chicago but also the surrounding suburbs. It recognizes that the identity of Chicago residents extends beyond the city limits and includes those who live in the metropolitan area.


For a more informal and playful nickname, you might hear people refer to themselves as “Chi-Towners.” This term adds a touch of local flavor and reflects the unique slang and dialect that is often associated with the city. It is a term of endearment and camaraderie among the residents of Chicago.

Second City Residents

Chicago is often referred to as the “Second City” due to its historical ranking as the second most populous city in the United States. As a result, people from Chicago are sometimes called “Second City Residents.”

This term reflects the city’s rich history and the pride that Chicagoans have in their city’s accomplishments.


Chicago is located in the Midwest region of the United States, so it is not uncommon to hear people from Chicago being referred to as “Midwesterners.” This term acknowledges the cultural and geographical connections that Chicago shares with other cities in the Midwest.

It reflects the down-to-earth and friendly nature often associated with Midwesterners.

Windy City Locals

Chicago is famously known as the “Windy City,” and its residents are sometimes referred to as “Windy City Locals.” This nickname originated from the strong winds that blow off Lake Michigan and the city’s reputation for political hot air.

It is a lighthearted term that reflects the city’s unique character and sense of humor.

Origins and Meanings of Chicago’s Nicknames

Chicago, the vibrant and bustling city located in the heart of the Midwest, has earned itself a plethora of nicknames over the years. These monikers reflect various aspects of the city’s geography, architecture, culture, and even its notorious reputation.

From referencing its unique cityscape to highlighting its contributions to music and the arts, the nicknames bestowed upon Chicago offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history and character.

Based on geography and region

One of the most common nicknames associated with Chicago is “The Windy City.” Contrary to popular belief, this nickname does not originate from the city’s notoriously gusty weather. Instead, it is believed to have been coined as a metaphor to describe the city’s boastfulness and long-winded politicians during the late 19th century.

Another nickname tied to the city’s geography is “The Second City,” which refers to Chicago’s place as the second most populous city in the United States after New York City.

Referencing Chicago’s architecture and cityscape

Chicago is renowned for its impressive architectural landmarks, and some of its nicknames pay homage to this aspect of the city. “The City of Big Shoulders” is a nickname inspired by a line from Carl Sandburg’s poem, which describes Chicago as a hardworking city with broad shoulders capable of bearing heavy burdens.

Another nickname, “The Jewel of the Midwest,” alludes to the stunning skyline and architectural marvels that grace the cityscape.

Callouts to corruption and crime

While it may not be the most flattering nickname, Chicago has earned the label “The Windy City” in another context – as a nod to its history of political corruption. The city’s association with organized crime during the Prohibition era also led to the infamous nickname “Capone’s Playground,” referencing the notorious gangster Al Capone and his influence in the city.

Allusions to politics and civic character

Chicago’s vibrant political scene has inspired several nicknames that reflect its civic character. “The City that Works” highlights the city’s reputation for hard work and its strong work ethic. “The City of Neighborhoods” emphasizes the sense of community and diversity found within the distinct neighborhoods that make up the city.

Odes to Chicago’s cultural contributions

Chicago has long been a cultural hub, and its nicknames often celebrate its contributions to music, art, and literature. “The Blues Capital of the World” recognizes the city’s significant role in the development and popularization of blues music.

Similarly, “The City of Broad Shoulders” acknowledges the city’s rich literary history, with renowned authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Saul Bellow calling Chicago their home.

References to the city’s weather and climate

Chicago’s weather is notorious for its extremes, and some nicknames playfully acknowledge this fact. “Chiberia” is a humorous portmanteau that combines “Chicago” and “Siberia” to describe the city’s brutally cold winters.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, “The City of Big Sweat” pokes fun at the sweltering summers that often leave residents seeking relief from the heat.

Regional Differences in Terminology

When it comes to referring to the people from Chicago, there are various names and nicknames that are used. However, these terms can differ depending on the region and the context. Let’s take a closer look at how Chicagoans are called within the metro area, outside of Chicagoland, among Illinoisans, across the broader Midwest, and on the national stage.

Within the metro area

Within the metro area of Chicago, the most common term used to refer to the residents of the city is “Chicagoans.” This term is widely recognized and embraced by the locals themselves. It has become a symbol of pride and identity for those who call the Windy City their home.

Outside of Chicagoland

Outside of Chicagoland, the terminology used to refer to people from Chicago can vary. Some individuals may simply refer to them as “Chicagoans” as well, while others might use more specific terms such as “Chicagoans” or “Chicagoans.”

Among Illinoisans

Among Illinoisans, the term “Chicagoans” is commonly used to refer to the residents of the city. This term is often used to distinguish those from Chicago from those living in other parts of the state. It is a way of highlighting the unique identity and culture of the city.

Across the broader Midwest

Across the broader Midwest, people from Chicago are often referred to as “Chicagoans” as well. This term is widely recognized and understood in the region. It reflects the influence and significance of Chicago as a major city in the Midwest.

On the national stage

On the national stage, the term “Chicagoans” is also commonly used to refer to the residents of Chicago. This term is often used in media and public discourse to discuss issues and events related to the city. It has become a recognizable term across the country.

Demographic Variations

Chicago is a diverse city with a rich cultural heritage, and its residents, known as Chicagoans, come from various backgrounds. This diversity is reflected in the way people from Chicago identify themselves, the names they use, and the distinctions they make based on their neighborhoods.

Let’s explore some of the demographic variations in Chicago.

Self-identification by age

Chicagoans of different age groups may have different ways of identifying themselves. For example, older residents who have lived in Chicago their entire lives might refer to themselves simply as Chicagoans, emphasizing their deep-rooted connection to the city.

On the other hand, younger residents, especially those who have recently moved to the city, may identify more with their specific neighborhoods, such as being a “West Looper” or a “Wicker Parker.” This generational difference in self-identification adds to the vibrant tapestry of Chicago’s cultural identity.

Names used in ethnic communities

Chicago is known for its diverse ethnic communities, each with its own unique identity. People from these communities often use specific names to refer to themselves. For instance, members of the Polish community might call themselves “Polonia” or “Polish Americans,” while those from the Mexican community might identify as “Chicanos” or “Mexican Americans.”

These names not only reflect the heritage and pride of these communities but also serve as a way for individuals to connect with their cultural roots.

Distinctions based on neighborhoods

Chicago is made up of many distinct neighborhoods, each with its own character and personality. People from different neighborhoods often take pride in their local identity and may refer to themselves by the name of their neighborhood.

For example, those from Lincoln Park might proudly call themselves “Lincoln Parkers,” while residents of Hyde Park might identify as “Hyde Parkers.” These neighborhood distinctions not only foster a sense of community but also contribute to the city’s diverse and vibrant cultural fabric.

Understanding the demographic variations in Chicago can give us a deeper appreciation for the city’s cultural diversity. It reminds us that Chicago is not just a place but a collection of unique identities and experiences that come together to create a truly remarkable city.

History of Chicago’s Reputation

Chicago, also known as the “Windy City,” has a rich history that has shaped its reputation over the years. From its early days of industrialization to its current status as a vibrant metropolis, Chicago has seen it all.

Let’s take a closer look at some key events and periods that have contributed to the city’s reputation.

19th century industrialization

In the 19th century, Chicago quickly emerged as a major industrial center. Its strategic location, access to transportation, and abundance of natural resources attracted numerous businesses and immigrants seeking employment opportunities.

The city’s rapid growth and bustling factories earned it the nickname “Hog Butcher for the World” due to its thriving meatpacking industry. This era laid the foundation for Chicago’s reputation as a hardworking and industrious city.

Rise of political machines

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Chicago was notorious for its political machines. These powerful organizations, led by influential politicians such as Richard J. Daley, controlled the city’s politics and bureaucracy.

While they brought stability and growth to the city, they were also associated with corruption and patronage. The era of political machines cemented Chicago’s reputation as a city with a colorful political history.

Prohibition and organized crime

The Prohibition era in the 1920s and early 1930s saw Chicago become a hotbed of organized crime. Infamous gangsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger operated in the city, smuggling and selling illegal alcohol.

The city gained a notoriety for violence and lawlessness during this time, which contributed to its reputation as a city of mobsters and bootleggers.

Post-war economic and cultural boom

After World War II, Chicago experienced an economic and cultural boom. The city became a hub for manufacturing, finance, and trade, attracting businesses and professionals from all over the country. The construction of iconic skyscrapers like the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) showcased Chicago’s architectural prowess, while its vibrant arts scene, including the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Art Institute of Chicago, solidified its reputation as a cultural capital.

Contemporary civic rejuvenation

In recent years, Chicago has undergone a remarkable transformation, revitalizing its neighborhoods and investing in its infrastructure. The city has become a leader in green initiatives, with a focus on sustainability and environmental conservation.

Additionally, Chicago’s diverse culinary scene, world-class museums, and stunning lakefront have boosted its appeal as a tourist destination. This ongoing rejuvenation has further enhanced Chicago’s reputation as a vibrant and forward-thinking city.

Throughout its history, Chicago has earned various names and nicknames, reflecting its diverse and evolving identity. From the “Windy City” to the “Second City,” these monikers capture different aspects of the city’s character and serve as a testament to its rich history and ongoing growth.

Chicagoan Perspectives on City Nicknames

Pride in regional identity

Ask any Chicagoan what they call themselves, and you’ll likely get a variety of responses. From the classic “Chicagoan” to the more colloquial “Chi-towner,” residents of the Windy City take great pride in their regional identity.

The nickname “Chicagoan” has been widely embraced and is a symbol of the city’s rich history and cultural heritage. It represents a sense of belonging and community among its residents.

Embracing the spirit of Chicago

Another popular nickname for people from Chicago is “Chitown,” a term that reflects the vibrant and energetic spirit of the city. It’s a nickname that encapsulates the hustle and bustle of Chicago’s streets, the lively music scene, and the passion for sports that runs deep in the hearts of its residents.

“Chitowners” are known for their resilience, their love of deep-dish pizza, and their unwavering support for their beloved sports teams.

Calls to change negative associations

While many Chicagoans embrace the city’s nicknames, there are also calls to change the negative associations that some of these nicknames carry. Terms like “Chiraq” or “Killing Fields” have been used to describe the city, perpetuating a negative image of Chicago as a violent and dangerous place.

However, many residents argue that these nicknames do not accurately represent the city as a whole and are unfair generalizations. They believe in focusing on the positive aspects of Chicago and challenging the stereotypes.

Appreciating uniqueness of the city

One thing all Chicagoans can agree on is that their city is unique and deserves a nickname that reflects its character. From the iconic skyline to the beautiful Lake Michigan, Chicago has a charm that sets it apart from other cities.

Some residents affectionately refer to themselves as “Windy Citizens,” a playful nod to Chicago’s notoriously strong winds. Others simply refer to themselves as “Chicagoans” with a sense of pride and belonging.

Regardless of the nickname, one thing is certain – Chicagoans love their city and all that it represents.

Chicago in Pop Culture and Media

Chicago, with its rich history and vibrant culture, has become a popular setting for many movies and TV shows. The city’s iconic skyline, bustling streets, and unique neighborhoods make it an ideal backdrop for storytelling.

References to Chicago can be found in various genres, from action-packed crime dramas to heartwarming romantic comedies.

References in movies and TV

Chicago has been a recurring character in numerous films and television shows. Movies like “The Dark Knight,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” showcase the city’s landmarks and iconic locations, such as Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the Magnificent Mile.

TV series like “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.,” and “Shameless” have also gained popularity for their gritty portrayals of the city’s neighborhoods and the daily lives of its residents.

Depictions in literature

Chicago has inspired many authors to write about its unique atmosphere and diverse population. In literature, the city is often depicted as a character itself, with its own personality and quirks. Nelson Algren’s “The Man with the Golden Arm” explores the gritty underbelly of Chicago’s streets, while Stuart Dybek’s “The Coast of Chicago” showcases the beauty and complexity of its neighborhoods.

Integration into music and art

Chicago’s influence extends beyond the world of movies and literature; it has also made a significant impact on music and art. The city’s vibrant music scene, particularly in jazz and blues, has produced legendary artists like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and Etta James.

Chicago’s art galleries and museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, have also played a vital role in shaping the city’s cultural identity.

Allusions in news and journalism

Chicago’s rich history and current events often find their way into news and journalism. The city’s political landscape, architecture, and sports teams are frequently covered in various media outlets. From the historic election of Chicago’s first African American mayor, Harold Washington, to the construction of iconic skyscrapers like the Willis Tower, Chicago’s influence on news and journalism cannot be overstated.

Demonyms for Other Illinois Cities

Peorians, Springfielders, Rockforders

Just like Chicagoans, the residents of other cities in Illinois also have their own unique demonyms. For instance, people from Peoria are called Peorians, while those from the state capital, Springfield, are known as Springfielders. Similarly, residents of Rockford go by the name Rockforders.

Champaign-Urbanans, Bloomingtonians

Moving further south, we find the cities of Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington, each with their own distinct demonyms. In Champaign-Urbana, residents are referred to as Champaign-Urbanans, combining the names of both cities. On the other hand, Bloomingtonians are the proud inhabitants of Bloomington.

Quad Cities locals, Joliet residents

Heading west along the Illinois border, we encounter the Quad Cities, a group of four cities consisting of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline in Illinois. The residents of this area are commonly known as Quad Cities locals.

Additionally, people from Joliet, a city southwest of Chicago, are often referred to as Joliet residents.

It’s fascinating to see how each city in Illinois has its own unique demonym, showcasing the diverse cultures and identities of the state’s residents.


In summary, Chicago natives have many monikers, including Chicagoans, Chicagolanders, Second City residents, Midwesterners, and Windy City locals. These names highlight the diversity of identities and experiences in one of America’s greatest metropolises. While perceptions of Chicago continue to evolve, there’s no denying the immense civic pride felt by all those who call it home.

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