Glossary of Chicago Terms

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IMPORTANT NOTE: The following terms, notes, names, phrases, expressions, colloquialisms, and references are in no way definitive interpretations nor should they be confused as official journalism or reportage. The Glossary is entirely a work of fiction and is meant to be read and enjoyed in the spirit of good humor.

The Glossary should be considered a "living" document that is continually being added to, edited, amended, and reworked.

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16-Inch - aka Slow Pitch, aka Softball.

Simultaneously known as 16-Inch or Slow Pitch, Softball is serious business and the most intense and competitive extracurricular sport in Chicago. Softball began here in 1887 but didn't become the no-glove 16-inch variety until the 1920's. The bigger and softer balls (giggle) became popular during the Great Depression because players weren't required to afford a glove. Almost every summer night you can find a game or join a league along the lake. Local hospitals are also able to easily tell when slow pitch season has started due to the significant rise in emergency room walk-ins with jammed or broken fingers. Broken fingers which are worn like a badge of honor.

20 Minutes

Forget traffic or any other potential complications, 20 minutes is the estimated travel time to get anywhere in Chicago. Whether it's the next block over or from Indiana to Wisconsin during rush hour, Chicagoans will be there in 20 minutes.

RELATED: "Just down the street."


Alderman/Alderwoman (Chicago) - aka The Little Mayors - aka The Vassals (as part of the greater Chicago Democratic Party Feudal System).

Aldermen/women are elected by popular vote every four years, on the last Tuesday in February. In the event that no candidate garners more than fifty percent of the vote, a run-off election is held on the first Tuesday in April. New terms begin at noon on the third Monday in May following the election.

Chicago elects 50 Aldermen/women from 50 wards, an extraordinary number as compared to most major American cities. For example, New York City has over three times Chicago's population but elects a similar number of 51 alderpersons. Los Angeles and Philadelphia each elect 15 alderpersons, comparatively.

A Chicago Alderman/Alderwoman has, historically, been one of the most unique city government political positions in the entire United States. In addition to its publicly outlined legislative duties (more can be found under "City Council"), Chicago's aldermen/women are generally given exceptional deference, called "aldermanic privilege" or "aldermanic prerogative", to control city decisions and services within their ward. This is an unwritten and informal practice that emerged in the early 20th century and gives aldermen/women control over zoning, licenses, permits, property-tax reductions, city contracts, and patronage jobs in their wards. It is often based on "understandings" among members or on "arrangements" with city administrators who find it expedient to routinely comply with aldermanic requests.

Using common sense, this obviously leads to corruption through the institution, and the Chicago City Council and its elected Aldermen/women are among the nation's most notoriously corrupt. In fact, the City Council has often been described as the epicenter of political corruption in town. For example, between 1973 and 2012, there were 100 different sitting members of the Council. Of that group of 100, there were 31 members convicted for official corruption, proving a conviction rate of nearly one-third. To reiterate, that's just those officially convicted. For larger example, an investigation after the 2013 election found that over half of Chicago Aldermen/women took illegal campaign contributions.


Bags - aka Cornhole.

Outside of Chicagoland, you're likely to know the game as "Cornhole." The game where you throw bean bags onto boards of wood with a hole in the middle from however many paces you and your friends decide while day drinking. Here in Chicagoland, it's rare to find it called "Cornhole" and you'll almost certainly hear it called "Bags."

Bang! Bang!

International travelers are well aware that Chicago's reputation as an old gang town precedes them. "Bang Bang" is a nickname for Chicago heard in many places around the globe. For example:

"Where are you from?"
"Oh...Bang! Bang!" Followed by a smile and finger guns.

Bean, The - aka Cloud Gate

Like the artist who created the sculpture, we initially hated "The Bean" as a nickname. It's not that the sculpture's actual name, "Cloud Gate," was any better (it's not). In all honesty, at first we didn't really like the sculpture at all. However, as with all things, time has a way of altering initial perspectives. And, like the Picasso in Daley Plaza, "The Bean" has grown on us and we now see it as kind of charming, in its own way. If anything, it makes for an easy landmark to meet a friend in Millenium Park.

Blagojevich - aka Rod Blagojevich, aka Governor Blagojevich, aka Blago.

Perhaps the most media hungry and attention seeking politician in Chicago and Illinois history. Trust us, that is really saying something. Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of public corruption after he attempted to solicit bribes to occupy the U.S. Senate seat vacated by then President-Elect Barack Obama. He was impeached by the Illinois legislature in 2009, later convicted, and ultimately sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. Despite his conviction, rather than be known as a criminal or political mastermind, he is largely remembered by locals as some combination of an overeager beaver and bumbling buffoon who was a product of the Chicago political machine and just practicing business as usual per the Chicago political machine's modus operandi.

After his pardon, his wife Patti's reputation solidified as positive. She stood by her man during his stint in the slammer and worked hard to get him released. For obvious reasons, such loyalty is a highly respected quality in Chicago.

Billy Goat Tavern - aka Billy Goat

The Billy Goat Tavern is a chain of taverns located in Chicago. It achieved fame primarily through newspaper columns by Mike Royko, a supposed curse on the Chicago Cubs, and the Olympia Cafe sketch on Saturday Night Live. Being situated between the offices of the Chicago Tribune and the old Chicago Sun-Times building led to the tavern's mention in several regular newspaper columns and was a regular hangout for city reporters.

The address is 430 N. Michigan Ave. on the Lower Level. Near the Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building, go to the west side of Michigan Ave. Look for a sign and walk down the stairs and it'll be there.

Bishop Ford (Freeway) - aka Interstate (I) 94, aka Illinois Route 394, aka Calumet Expressway.

Part of I-94 and separately Illinois Route 394 is the Bishop Ford Freeway. It starts at the southern terminus of the Dan Ryan Expressway and heads first southeast and then south through southern Chicago and into Chicago's southern suburbs, where it intersects with the western end of the Kingery Expressway and the eastern end of the Tri-State Tollway, then continues on further into the south suburbs before downgrading to a surface highway and eventually terminating into Dixie Highway (Illinois Route 1) south of Crete, Illinois. The portion of the Bishop Ford Freeway north of the interchange with the Kingery Expressway is signed as Interstate 94; south of that point it is signed as Illinois Route 394.

Blue Line (CTA) - aka West-Northwest Line, aka O'Hare Route

The Blue Line is physically the longest "L" route in the city but the 2nd busiest by weekday passengers. Like the Red Line, it contains 33 stations.

If coming/going to O'Hare airport, the Blue Line is the line you need to take.

The Blue Line runs 24/7/365.

Blues (Chicago Style)

The recipe for Chicago Blues is as follows: grab a guitar and sing as Charlotte Forten told you to sing, "with a full heart and troubled spirit." Best practices add a harp (harmonica). Technically, that's all you really need. After that, drums and bass are always welcome. A piano is similarly not required but a welcome addition.

You can find a Blues club in almost every Chicago neighborhood.

Blues Brothers, (The)

Arguably the greatest Chicago movie of all time. We would argue it is the greatest Chicago movie of all time but the John Hughes film fans are a strange bunch and we don't really want to deal with the backlash from them right now.


For as long as anyone can remember, the term "Boss" has referred to the true political power, the unofficial King(s) of Chicago which, due to its sheer size and domineering attitude toward the rest of the state, may as well include the whole State of Illinois and much of the surrounding states. The term stretches far back into the history of the city and, some say, even preceded the Chicago Outfit.

Many have tried for the title and failed. Only a few have truly worn the crown.

The current Boss is Michael Joseph Madigan.

Brown Line (CTA) - aka Ravenswood Line.

The third busiest route in the city, the Brown Line covers just over 11 miles of track from Albany Park to downtown.

The Brown Line operates on weekdays and Saturdays from 4am-1:30am, and on Sundays from 5am-1:30am.


A bungalow is a one-story, single family home found most everywhere in the city but notably in the northwest and southwest sides.


Century of Progress, The - aka The Chicago World's Fair, aka A Century of Progress International Exposition, aka The Rainbow City.

Often confused with the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, the Century of Progress Exposition was another World's Fair held in Chicago from May in 1933 through November of 1933, and then May of 1934 through October in 1934. In both contrast and a nod to the previous White City of 1893, this fair billed itself as "The Rainbow City" and painted its buildings multi-colored.

Though smaller than the previous world famous fair, it was just as successful and reopened for a consecutive year. It was so successful, in fact, it was the first World's Fair to entirely pay for itself and did so by before the gates closed. No small feat in the middle of the Great Depression. The Century of Progress Exposition saw nearly 50 million visitors through its gates.

It is represented by one of the stars on Chicago's current flag.

Chad - aka Lincoln Park Chad.

Back in the olden times when the internet began to take off (also known as the 1990s), some blogs achieved local fame for coining the slang terms, Chad and Trixie. Chad described a single, white man in his twenties cruising the North Side (most commonly in Lincoln Park) in his leased BMW, the brand he's driven exclusively since his Dad first gave him one for his 16th birthday, in search of nothing too serious but almost always a wife material babe named Trixie. Chad and his fraternity brothers are most often graduates of a Big Ten University with a law or business degree.

Once married, Chad and Trixie return from whence they came to raise future Chad and Trixie's in the North Suburbs.

From the "Lincoln Park Chad Society." See also: the "Lincoln Park Trixie Society."


Chicagoland is an informal name referring to the Chicago Metropolitan Area. While we don't use Colonel Robert R. McCormick's 1926 conception of the hinterland at 200 miles out, here at the Chicago Journal we do use the considerably larger definition of the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area defined by the United States Census Bureau.

The U.S. Census Bureau considers Chicagoland to include the following:

  • Cook County (5,287,037)
  • DuPage County (932,541)
  • Lake County (IL) (712,567)
  • Will County (685,251)
  • Kane County (511,892)
  • Lake County (IN) (496,478)
  • McHenry County (320,961)
  • Kenosha County (WI) (165,382)
  • Porter County (IN) (165,017)
  • Kankakee County (113,449)
  • LaPorte County (IN) (111,467)
  • DeKalb County (107,333)
  • Kendall County (104,821)
  • Grundy County (48,421)
  • Jasper County (IN) (33,520)
  • Newton County (IN) (14,250)

We use this definition because this area represents the extent of the labor market pool for the entire region as defined by the United States Census Bureau. This area is also heavily tied together through its connection between significant rail and road transport lines as well as its commercial and industrial links.

If it were up to us, we'd also include Racine and Walworth Counties and Berrian County in Michigan, plus a couple more, but it's not up to us.

City Council (Chicago) - aka Common Council, aka The Mine Mine.

Originally established in 1837 as the Common Council, it was renamed the City Council in 1876 as the City Council and is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Chicago. At one point, when the wards were electing 2 Aldermen/women from each ward, the city had upwards of 70 Alderman/women. Since 1923, the Council has consisted of 50 Aldermen/women elected from 50 wards to serve four-year terms.

In addition to considering ordinances, orders, and resolutions whose subject matter includes code changes, utilities, taxes, and many other issues, they have the power to redraw boundaries, grant historic landmark status, and vote on all proposed loans, grants, bond issues, land acquisitions and sales, traffic control issues, mayoral appointees, and other financial appropriations. Naturally, it is one of the most corrupt political bodies in the United States.

The Council convenes often at its Chambers located in City Hall.


Political influence and power. Seen or unseen.

Comiskey Park - aka White Sox Park, aka The Cell, aka The G-Spot.

Comiskey Park stood as the home of the Chicago White Sox for 80 years. Located in the Armour Square neighborhood on the near-southwest side, the stadium was steeped in nearly a century of history and Chicago folklore. Sadly, it was demolished and replaced in 1991.

The replacement stadium was (and still kind of is) considered an architectural nightmare. Before renovations, the upper deck was spectacularly steep and even induced nosebleeds. Rest assured, much of the ugly has been fixed and improved itself to "okay" territory. Whenever we see the old plans of what was to be called Armour Park, though, we get a little misty eyed and upset that Jerry Reinsdorf missed something beautiful and that could have been.

As compared to Wrigley Field, it's easier to get to by car. Though they're working on it, White Sox attendance suffers because the neighborhood is not as developed an entertainment destination as their north side counterparts. But that makes tickets cheaper and easier to take a family to game. Plus, the food is better at Comiskey.

The new stadium originally continued with the name Comiskey Park until 2003, when the naming rights were sold to U.S. Cellular (thus the nickname, "The Cell). It remained under the U.S. Cellular Field until Guaranteed Rate bought the rights in 2016 (thus the nickname, "The G-Spot").

To us, no matter how many financial services companies Jerry Reisndorf offers the naming rights, the White Sox will always play at Comiskey Park.

Con-Con - aka The 1969 Illinois Constitutional Convention, aka The Illinois Constitution.

The aptly named "Con-Con" was a Constitutional Convention to rewrite and update the Illinois Constitution. At the time (1969), the Illinois Constitution had not been rewritten in 100 years and many felt the state needed a more modern taxing system, a better way to redistrict legislative districts, a legislature that met annually, and more power for the governor.

Why the "Con-Con" got its nickname should be obvious to all readers.

It is currently the 4th Illinois Constitution.

Couple, two, three - aka Cuppa Two Tree.

Most often heard in response to how many drinks a Chicagoan has had. It means "I don't know. A few. Maybe."

IMPORTANT NOTE: When we say "a few" that often is not limited to "three" and could mean substantially more.


D - aka th.

In Chicago, pretty much every expression of the made by the "th" sound can be replaced with the letter "d" sound.

For example: dese (these), dose (those), dem (them).

Da - aka The

Similar to the above entry, in Chicago, pretty much every expression of the article "the" can be replaced with "da."

Dan Ryan, The (Expressway) - aka Interstate (I) 90/94, aka Interstate (I) 57.

Part of I-90 and I-94, then separately I-57, the expressway runs south from the Circle Interchange (where it interchanges with the Kennedy and Eisenhower Expressways and with Ida B. Wells Drive) near the Chicago Loop, through the Circle Interchange where it interchanges with the Stevenson Expressway (Interstate 55), then past an interchange with the Chicago Skyway near 66th Street, to its southern terminus in south Chicago, where it interchanges with the Bishop Ford Freeway and continues southwest through south Chicago and the southern suburbs toward Champaign-Urbana. The Dan Ryan is signed as Interstate 94 until it interchanges with the Bishop Ford Freeway and Interstate 57; the Dan Ryan is then signed as the latter (although for the purposes of local traffic reports and conversation, the Dan Ryan is usually considered to end at the Interstate 57 interchange). The portion between the Circle Interchange and the junction with the Chicago Skyway is overlaid with Interstate 90.

Dan Ryan West Leg - aka Interstate (I) 57.

It runs from the junction of the Dan Ryan Expressway and Bishop Ford Freeway south-southwest to the southern suburbs. Known originally as the "Dan Ryan West Leg", the name has since dropped from common usage and "I-57" is universally used for traffic reporting. As such, it is the only freeway within the city of Chicago lacking a formal name. A 20-mile segment, from Wentworth to Sauk Trail has been designated as the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Trail but it is not a name to be used for navigation.

Deep-Dish - aka Pie.

The "who" part of the debate will probably never be settled. To the best of everyone's knowledge, the birthplace of deep dish pizza was at Unos (Pizzeria Uno). Lou Malnati later claimed it was his father, Rudy Malnati, who was the first to come up with the deep dish style while he was managing Pizzeria Uno and therefore Malnati's often lays claim to being the creators. Some in the Rosati family claim they use the same menu as Saverio Rosati when he opened his place in 1926, which includes the deep-dish style pizza, but this seems unlikely (the Rosati's also claim that Al Capone and the Untouchable Eliot Ness used to dine together at their spot, so take that claim with a grain of salt). Whoever is the true creator, it's become engrained into the culture of Chicago and remains a tourism staple.

Most locals will tell you that on a regular night they turn to the thin-crust "tavern style" pizza, popular in the Midwest. Compared to New York style pizza, which is traditionally cut into wedges/slices, Midwestern "tavern style" pizza features a thinner and more firm crust that is cut into squares. Locals will also admit that deep dish is often reserved for friends and family visitors from out of town. Shhh, don't tell anyone.

Deep Dish is baked in an iron skillet or a round, steel pan. Due to its thickness, it requires a long cooking time, up to 45 minutes. In order to compensate for this long cooking time, the ingredients are placed on the pizza "upside down," starting with the cheese and finishing with the sauce.


Winter in Chicago can be brutal. As it drags on, it can wear down even the heartiest of Chicagoans. That's why, here at the Chicago Journal, we're proud to support and encourage the time-honored tradition of Dibs.

After a snowstorm, Dibs is the territorial marking of a personally cleared streetside parking space while the person who cleared the space goes to retreive their vehicle. The cleared parking space may be marked by a variety of personal items but most often a lawn chair or kitchen table chair signifies it was cleared by an old local and it is highly suggested that the Dibs be respected...or else.

We don't have any first hand stories, but it's said that Chicago Police have an unwritten policy to take the side of the Dibs marker. Rumor or not, we believe this to be the just response.

While we do not condone any type of repercussions if the Dibs are not respected, don't say we didn't warn you.

"Sorry, Officer, we didn't see anything..."





Edens (Expressway) - aka Interstate (I) 94, aka (U.S.) Route 41.

Running south from the Cook County line (Lake-Cook Road) near Northbrook to its interchange with the Kennedy Expressway near Montrose. The Edens Spur (formally a part of the Tri-State Tollway) splits off near the north end to interchange with the mainline Tri-state. All of the Edens except for the small portion north of where the Edens Spur splits off, and all of the Edens Spur, is signed as Interstate 94; the northernmost section is signed as U.S. Route 41. North of the northern terminus U.S. 41 continues north into Lake County as Skokie Highway. U.S. 41 is overlaid on Interstate 94 from the junction with the Edens Spur to the Skokie Road exit in Wilmette.

Eisenhower (Expressway) - aka The Ike, aka Interstate (I) 290, aka Congress Expressway, aka Illinois Route 53.

Part of I-290, then separately as Illinois Route 53, it runs from Wells Street downtown almost due west to Chicago's western suburbs, interchanging with the Tri-State Tollway and the eastern terminus of the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (Interstate 88) near Hillside, Illinois, after which it turns northwest (as the "Eisenhower extension"). At the interchange with Interstate 90, it continues as Illinois Route 53 until eventually terminating at Lake Cook Road. Schaumburg. East of Wells Street, the route continues along the southern edge of the Loop as Ida B. Wells Drive to an intersection with Columbus Drive in Grant Park.

Emerald City, The - aka Lower Wacker Drive, aka Lower Wacker, aka the Lost World.

The Emerald City was a street nickname for Lower Wacker Drive, a subterranean highway running beneath downtown Chicago. Lower Wacker used to have green lighting and the nickname was an obvious nod to the Wizard of Oz.

Since they replaced the green lighting, it is presently sometimes referred to as "The Lost World."


Fair, The - aka World's Columbian Exposition, aka The World's Fair, aka The White City.

Organized to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's landfall in the New World, the World's Columbian Exposition was held from May through October in 1893 and became a defining moment in Chicago's history and the history of the United States as a whole. Its scale and grandeur far exceeded all other world's fairs, and it became a symbol of the emerging American Exceptionalism.

After a long bid process and location search, the Fair was held in Jackson Park, seven miles south of the Loop. The Fair would be attended by over 27 million people, the equivalent of 1/4 the population of the United States at the time. There were 46 countries, 34 states, and 4 territories that provided participating exhibits among many others from commercial enterprises.

Countless famous artists, scientists, religious and political leaders made their way to the Fair, and many of the foods, products, and technologies now considered classics and synonymous with our daily lives made their debut at this Fair. We urge you to look into all of them as there are too many to list here.

Though a great success, not all was perfect. Black Americans, freed from slavery a mere 28 years earlier and eager to show off their own talents and progress, still struggled for a seat at the table. Years before women would achieve the vote, Bertha Honoré Palmer of the famous Chicago hotel, the Palmer House, fought for women to have the same seat at this Fair. There was the famous serial killer, H.H. Holmes, operating outside the Fair. After many of the buildings were lost in a large fire.

Nonetheless, it's one of the most famous events in the history of Chicago. It is represented by one of the stars on Chicago's current flag.

Fire Department (Chicago) - aka CFD.

Behind the New York City Fire Department and Cal Fire, the Chicago Fire Department is the third largest municipal fire department in the United States.

The CFD receives over 500,000 emergency calls per year and sometimes up to 750,000 calls per year.

Fort Dearborn

The United States government acquired the land that would become Chicago in 1795 but it would not become strategically important until after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. That year, Captain John Whistler arrived in the region to build a fort named after Henry Dearborn, President Thomas Jefferson's Secretary of War.

The fort was built on the south bank of the Chicago River, approximately at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

As tensions with the tribes rose into the late summer of 1812, and after the British captured Fort Mackinac, the American forces stationed at the fort were ordered to and attempted to evacuate to Fort Wayne. They were attacked along the lakeshore by a large contingent from the Potawatomi tribe, many of whom were supposed to be a part of their escort in travel to Fort Wayne.

The attack became known as the Fort Dearborn Massacre, in which 36 men, two women, and 12 children were killed, with the other 28 men, seven women, and 6 children taken prisoner. The Potawatami then burned the original Fort Dearborn to the ground.

The repercussions of this massacre was significant, in that it convinced American leadership that the region and territory needed to be removed and cleared of tribes. The second Fort Dearborn was built in 1816. Ultimately, this path culminated with the Treaty of Chicago.

Fort Dearborn is represented by one of the stars on the Chicago's current flag.


We hesitated to include the frunchroom in the Glossary because, for some reason, everyone thinks it's just the silliest word and funniest thing and it's always on quirky Chicago lists and, quite frankly, we just don't get it.

A frunchroom is "front room" with a Chicago accent. In a Chicago bungalow, the living room/family room can almost always be found at the front of the house, closest to the street. Thus, the frunchroom.



Smaller than an alley, the gangway is the small space in between houses/buildings where a gang member often tries to run to escape/evade capture by the police.


To steal something.

Gaper - aka Gaper's Block, aka Gaping, aka Rubbernecking.

Many Chicagoans have called in late to work stuck in what's known as a Gaper's Block. A Gaper's Block is most often a traffic jam caused by a minor accident that everyone is slowing down to look at but is most often not worth all the frustration caused.

After a driver has been stuck in the jam for a long time, as they pass the minor accident they'll mutter something akin to, "...for cryin' out loud it was a damn gaper..." or "damn gapers..."

It is never the Chicagoan themselves who are the gapers, of course, it is everyone else on the road but them.


Entirely unique to Chicago, the term was popularized by former Chicago Bears head coach, Mike Ditka. A Grabowski is a high compliment often directed at new immigrants but really any resident of Chicago can be a Grabowski.

It means you're a tough son of a youknowwhat. That you're a hard working, no-nonsense type. It means honesty, grit, and determination. That you're the type of person who can thrive in a city like Chicago and are always welcome. The type that grins through the hard times to persevere and prevail.


Garage key.

Great Fire (The)

The famous Great Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871 on DeKoven Street in a barn owned by the O'Leary family. The flames raged for 36 hours and destroyed more than 18,000 structures. There were at least 300 dead and 300,000 residents, approximately one-third of the city, lost their homes.

Folklore tells that it was Mrs. O'Leary's cow that knocked over a lantern but that's never been confirmed. Subsequent investigations revealed a variety of possible causes far more compelling, and the seemingly most probable cause of the fire was a group of men doing some late night gambling in the barn and one of the boys knocked over the lantern. But that, too, has never been officially confirmed.

Regardless, out of the ashes the city rebuilt. City planners were wise enough to design the grid system still in place today, and many point to the Great Fire as one of the reasons Chicago became a world class architectural destination.

It remains one of the most famous and possibly the most famous historical events in the history of the city and its significance looms ever present to the story and development of Chicago.

The Great Fire is represented by one of the stars on the Chicago's current flag.

Green Line (CTA)

At almost 21 miles, the Green Line is the third longest in the city but some parts of it have the oldest sections of track in the city, dating back to 1892. Don't worry, they've barely updated it since then.

The Green Line operates weekdays from 4am-1am, and weekends from 5am-1am.

Gretchen Whitmer - aka Governor Whitmer, aka Governor Cruella de Vil.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is the current Governor of the state of Michigan.

Guy - aka My guy, aka I gotta guy.

Ultimately, a Chicagoans "guy" can be male or female. Regardless, they are highly trusted, highly respected, highly skilled, and it's a high recommendation for any services rendered.

Gym Shoes - aka Sneakers, aka Trainers, aka Tennis Shoes.

Self explanatory, these are the shoes you wear to the gym. Most elsewhere calls them sneakers.


Hall (The)

City Hall.

Hawk (The) - aka Hawkins.

The Hawk is a nickname for a particularly cold wind that stings the face in the deep winter months. Long popular in African American Vernacular English to describe a cold, winter wind, the first references to the term "Hawkins" in the United States comes out of Chester, Pennsylvania.

"Hawkins is coming," is another colloquialism to indicate it's about to get very cold and you have to get home and get settled in.

The tall architecture of the city can create a wind tunnel effect that can amplify the bite of the air that is most notable when turning a corner into the direction of the wind.

"Hawkins got us" is another way to acknowledge a uniquely cold and windy day. The first reference in Chicago appeared in the Chicago Defender on October 20, 1936: "And these cold mornings are on us — in other words 'Hawkins' has got us."

'Hawk' is also the nickname for Hall of Fame Outfielder, Andre Dawson. Dawson who played for the Chicago Cubs from 1987-1992 in which he won the 1987 NL MVP Award.

'Hawk' is also the nickname for Ken Harrelson, who was most widely known for his 33-year tenure as a broadcast announcer for the Chicago White Sox.

Holy Cow!

It's usage in American slang as an exclamation of surprise dates to at least 1905, and its first use in baseball goes back to at least 1913. However, due to famous broadcaster and Chicago legend Harry Caray's prolific use, the phrase is now almost exclusively associated with Chicago baseball tradition.

(Chicago Style) Hot Dog - aka Red Hot, aka Chicago Red Hot, aka Chicago Dog.

Chicago's love affair with the hot dog (aka Red Hot) began at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. As anyone who follows us knows, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition was the greatest of all World's Fairs and, therefore, the Chicago Style Hot Dog is the greatest of all the hot dogs in the world. It's simple, really.

But the Chicago Style Hot Dog did not become a true staple in the city's culture until the Great Depression, where street cart style hot dog vendors offered this meal along Maxwell Street for a nickel. A cheap, quick, and damn good meal, it was bound to become a favorite of the midwestern Chicagoan's sensibilities.

Today, hot dog stands are everywhere.

In fact, although a Chicago hot dog stand may offer many other items, Chicago has more hot dog restaurants than McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King restaurants combined. That statistic is made more impressive considering McDonald's is the world's largest restaurant chain and has been headquartered in the Chicago region since the 1950's.

Our home style uses the diner lingo "dragged through the garden" to describe its many toppings.

The canonical Chicago Style Hot Dog recipe follows below.


  • Vienna Beef All-Beef Frank
  • S. Rosen's Mary Ann Brand Poppyseed Buns
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Sweet Green Pickle Relish
  • Chopped White Onions
  • Tomato Wedges/Slices
  • Pickle Spear
  • Sport Peppers
  • Dash of Celery Salt

NOTE: While the canonical recipe does include Vienna Beef All-Beef Franks and S. Rosen's Mary Ann Brand Poppyseed Buns, any brand of all-beef franks and poppyseed buns are acceptable and will not be frowned upon while in the city. Similarly, the definitive cooking recipe and the canonical assembly instructions calls for a boiling cooking method and steamed buns, a charcoal grilled hot dog is not frowned upon and even has it's own name, "char-dogs".

Cooking Instructions:

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Place hot dog(s) in water and cook 5 minutes or until done.
  • Remove hot dog(s) and set aside.
  • Place a steamer basket into the pot and steam the hot dog bun 2 minutes or until warm.

Assembly Instructions (to be done in order):

  • Place hot dog in the bun.
  • Apply yellow mustard in a zig-zag pattern.
  • Cover in sweet green pickle relish.
  • Sprinkle chopped white onions.
  • Tomato wedges are to be nestled between the hot dog and the top of the bun.
  • Place the pickle spear between the hot dog and the bottom of the bun.
  • Top with the sport peppers and dash of celery salt.

The reader may note that there is a particular condiment missing from this list?

Ketchup is forbidden on a Chicago Style Hot Dog. May God have mercy on the tourist who requests it.

Hunnert - aka Hundred.

A faster way to say the "Hundred" without the pesky "dr" sound slowing you down. You will most often hear this when discussing an address, which is likely when it will be at its most confusing. For example, "40 Hunnert North Halsted," actually means 4000 N Halsted.


I mean, I've got this thing...and it's fucking golden...

A famous quote that emerged from the FBI wire taps of former Governor Rod Blagojevich (see: Blago), the more juvenile young men and women of Chicago have been known to use it in conversation and as a descriptor for certain things. It's often paired with the follow up quote from the wire tap, "...and I'm just not givin' it up for fuckin' nothin'..."



A self-explanatory insult preferred in this town to its alternatives. Often heard while driving.

Jane Addams Memorial (Tollway) - aka Interstate (I) 90, aka NorthWest Tollway.

Runs from its complex interchange with the Kennedy Expressway and the Tri-State Tollway through the northwest suburbs towards Rockford.

Jazz (Chicago Style)

Traditionally, Chicago style jazz generally has a greater emphasis on individual solos and more elaborate arrangements than their counterparts. Obviously, as with all things jazz, this is not always the case and any type of rules are far from set in stone.

J.B. Pritzker - aka Governor Pritzker, aka Baby Pritzker.

J.B. Pritzker is the current Governor of the state of Illinois. Mr. Pritzker's family made their substantial fortune primarily through the founding and expansion of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation. The Pritzker Family has been counted among America's wealthiest families for decades.


"Did you eat?"


If someone calls you, Joe, don't get offended. Even if they know your name, it's just a generic nickname that some Chicagoans may use. Like "man," "dude," "bro," or any other similar lingo.


Kennedy (Expressway) - aka Interstate (I) 90/94, aka NorthWest Expressway.

Runs from O'Hare International Airport east and south to downtown Chicago. It interchanges with the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway and the Tri-State Tollway near Cumberland Avenue on the city's far northwest side (not far from its western terminus at O'Hare), with the Edens Expressway near Montrose Avenue on the city's near northwest side, and with the Dan Ryan and Eisenhower Expressways and with Ida B. Wells Drive at its southern terminus downtown at the Circle Interchange near the Chicago Loop. The portion from O'Hare to the interchange with Northwest Highway and the Tri-State is Interstate 190; the remainder is signed as Interstate 90. Interstate 94 is overlaid on Interstate 90 from the junction with the Edens south to the southern terminus of the expressway.

Kim Foxx

Kim Foxx is the current Cook County State's Attorney. She manages the nation's second largest prosecutor's office and oversees an office of approximately 800 attorneys and 1,500 employees.

She was born and raised in the former Cabrini-Green housing project on the city's North Side. Her profile raised nationally after her political recusal but not actual recusal from the now infamous Jussie Smollett case.

Her prosecutorial discretion

Kingery Expressway - aka Interstate (I) 80, aka Interstate (I) 94, aka (U.S.) Route 6.

Located entirely in Lansing, Illinois, this is a three-mile-long expressway from the interchange with the Bishop Ford Freeway and the Tri-State Tollway to the Illinois/Indiana border.

Kingery Highway - aka Illinois Route 83.

Not to be confused with the Kingery Expressway, from Devon Avenue in Elk Grove, the Kingery Highway (Illinois Route 83) heads south 18 miles to just south of the Des Plains River-Sanitary Canal-Illinois and Michigan Canal corridor. It is a multi-lane divided limited access road with portions grade separated, the longest being 5 miles from 22nd Street in Oakbrook to 63rd Street in Willowbrook.



The "L" is Chicago's rapid transit system serving the city and some of its closest suburbs.

Rarely on time and seemingly always underfunded, it's operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), which is not to be confused with the band. East Coasters generally give themselves away when they spell out the sound, "El", when referring to the train system. They also give themselves away when they call it "the Subway". No one calls it the Subway here. It's just the "L". Even the parts that are underground and are, for all intents and purposes, a Subway, it is not called the Subway. It is the "L".

The CTA uses colors to note the different lines. They are:

Red Line
Orange Line
Yellow Line
Green Line
Blue Line
Purple Line
Brown Line
Pink Line

Here is a link to the current "L" map:

Lake, The - aka Lake Michigan

People who've never been to the city or have never seen one of the Great Lakes are incapable of comprehending and do not quite understand exactly what is meant by a Great Lake. It's not their fault, of course, they may think they've seen a big lake before but they have never seen a "Sweetwater Sea" as the Great Lakes are also called.

Lake Michigan is the second-largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third-largest by surface area. Locals often laugh at confused new visitors when they first see and realize Chicago could almost be described as a seaside town because they may have never seen a freshwater body that large (insert "Yo Momma" joke here).

The Lake is big. The Lake is romantic. The Lake is the center of recreation in the city. The Lake is ever present. The Lake is truly great. It provides the drinking water to most of the Chicago area. At the very least, it's an easy way for the directionally challenged to know which way is East.

Despite our differences, we have no doubt that if there's one thing the residents can agree on socially, politically, and culturally, and one thing the residents would go to war for and to protect, it'd be the Lake.

Lake Shore Drive - aka LSD, aka The Drive, aka (U.S.) Route 41.

A major highway running along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Hayes Drive (63rd Street) in southern Chicago to the intersection of Hollywood Avenue and Sheridan Road in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood. For most of its length, Lake Shore Drive is signed as U.S. Route 41.

Portions of Lake Shore Drive were constructed as a "true" expressway, with a few interchanges in addition to a number of at-grade intersections, especially near downtown. Nonetheless, "LSD" (as it is often referred) is a major arterial with a great deal of cultural as well as transportation significance to Chicagoans.

While some lament that, if Lake Shore Drive were not there, the city would have easier access to the lakefront and, particularly in the summer time, could have more facilities dedicated to shoreline recreation and entertainment, there is simply no denying that it continues to be one of the world's best drives through an urban metropolis/environment.

Loop, The - aka Downtown.

Back in 1803, the United States Army erected Fort Dearborn in the area that became the Loop. Since then, it has grown to become the 2nd largest commercial business district in the United States, after Midtown Manhattan.

The Loop community area is bounded on the north and west by the Chicago River, on the east by Lake Michigan, and on the south by Roosevelt Road.

Lick(s) - aka Hit a lick

To rob or burglarize someone or something. Generally not well thought-out, but taking an advantage of an "opportunity" to make money the quick and easy way (i.e. theft). Most commonly heard in convenience store or liquor store robberies or burglaries.

Where does the term come from? Imagine someone has some ice cream and you want to know what it tastes like.

Lori Lightfoot - aka Mayor Lightfoot, aka Aunt Lori, aka Ma Anand Lori.

Lori Lightfoot is the current Mayor of the City of Chicago.


Malört - aka Jeppson's Malort, aka Moth Herb, aka The Chicago Handshake (a shot of Malort followed by an Old Style beer).

Malört was originally introduced to the city in the 1930's by Swedish Scanian immigrant, Carl Jeppson, who made this bäsk style of spiced liquor at home and began selling it door-to-door in his neighborhood. Legend has it that Carl smoked so much that he'd dulled his taste buds so bad he couldn't taste other liquors and he had to keep making his home-brew flavor stronger and stronger. Malört has been described as tasting "like pencil shavings and heartbreak", "like swallowing a burnt condom filled with gasoline," and "like taking a bite out of a grapefruit and then drinking a shot of gasoline." However you want to describe it, in some Chicago communities it has slowly become a brutal tradition and a "rite of passage." If someone offers you a shot, our best advice is to take it like a champ and make a friend. me under the clock. - aka Marshall Field's Clock

At 111 N. State St sits Macy's department store, but you won't find any true Chicagoan referring to it as "Macy's." It's either "Marshall Field's" or "Field's."

It may be apocryphal, but the story goes that Marshall Field noticed people were using his store to meet. In order to "make it easier for shoppers" to gather (and an opportunity for a new store/city symbol) he had the first clock erected at the intersection of State and Washington in 1897. He added the second clock at State and Randolph in 1904.

PRO-TIP for tourists: the clock at State and Washington provides the best spot for a picture with the Chicago Theatre sign in the background.

Michael Jordan - aka Air, aka MJ, aka The Greatest Basketball Player of All Time.

Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T. and it's not up for debate. Some place him amongst the greatest American athletes of the 20th Century with the likes of Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali and we would be some of those people.

We would list all of his career accomplishments here but there are plenty of other places you can look that up. He nearly single-handedly defeated the Monstars, for crying out loud. It's reasonable to assume that almost every single person in the Chicagoland region has a story about MJ and, we don't really have to say it, he's a legend here.

Our best advice is do not gamble with him. Not because he's a particularly good gambler, but because he has more money than you and he's absolutely obsessed with winning. He will keep spending his money and forcing you to gamble until you lose.

Michael Joseph Madigan - aka Mike Madigan, aka Madigan, aka Boss Madigan, aka The Velvet Hammer.

wew, much time ya got?


Navy Pier

One of Chicago's most famous and most visited attractions, Navy Pier encompasses over 50 acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions, exhibition facilities.

Originally called Municipal Pier, it was renamed in 1927 to honor navy veterans of World War I.

There are many ways to get to the Pier and we encourage you to visit the following link for guidance:

Never let a good crisis go to waste...

A now infamous utterance from former White House Chief of Staff and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It has taken on a life of its own and is referenced and invoked often.


O'Hare Spur - aka Kennedy Spur, aka Interstate (I) 190.

A three-mile spur from the complex interchange with the Kennedy Expressway and the Jane Addams and Tri-State Tollways into O'Hare International Airport; locally known in traffic reporting as the "O'Hare Spur".

Obama, Barack - aka Obama, aka Barry O, aka 44.

The 44th President of the United States. While not technically a Chicago native, he spent enough time in Chicago that Chicagoans have claimed the city as his home, whether he likes it or not.

...on a mission from God.

Another entry into the quotes Hall of Fame from - SEE: Blues Brothers, The.

Most often used in reference to a daunting, seemingly impossible task that, to anyone else, may seem ridiculous but to the speaker is the most important and highest spiritual calling one can be doing at the said time.

For example, it's late and you and your friends are starving and you absolutely must physically get a burrito from your favorite Mexican place. To any who asks you may righteously reply, "We're on a mission from God..."

Though "We're..." at the beginning is the official quote, "I" at the forefront is also accepted usage in Chicago.

Oprah - aka Oprah Winfrey, aka "O", aka Harpo.

A media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer, and philanthropist, she is the once and future Queen of Chicago celebrities. Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Show almost single-handedly kept Chicago culturally relevant in the media landscape for upwards of 25 years.

We don't dare dream of criticizing a single thing she's ever done because our friend's suburban mothers will find us and cut us. Plus, we met her once and she was lovely.

Orange Line (CTA) - aka Midway Route.

The Orange Line serves 13 miles through the Southwest Side.

If coming/going to Midway International Airport, you want to be on the Orange Line.

The Orange Line operates on weekdays from 3:30am-1:25, Saturdays from 4am-1:30am and Sundays from 4:30am-1:25am.

Outfit, The - aka The Organization, aka Chicago Outfit, aka Chicago Family, aka Chicago Mafia, aka Chicago Mob.

Countless words have been written and innumerable stories have been told about the Outfit and its history in the region, so we won't go into too much detail here. At its peak, it was estimated to be the number 2 criminal organization in the country and some would argue it reached number 1, at least for a time. Today (in 2020), many believe it's a shadow of its former self. After the late last century crackdown on the east coast and greater mafia as a whole, and the FBI's "Operation Family Secrets" here in Chicago toward the beginning of this century, that opinion is difficult to dispute.

That being said, no one knows the true size of the Outfit as it exists these days and anyone who asserts otherwise likely doesn't know what they're talking about. The Chicago Office of the FBI has been so inundated and pre-occupied with other random Chicago gang violence and the significant South American drug cartel's push into the region that resources just haven't been there to monitor much of the Outfit's latest activity.

No doubt, they continue to have a solid foundation from which to draw new recruits and, more importantly, despite some historically high-profile members and associates, the Outfit has always been far more tight-lipped than its "colleagues" elsewhere in the country. After Capone and those in his immediate circle, leadership has always tried to take a more blend-in approach to "business" and they notoriously try to minimize communications as best they can. In the modern era, due to both law enforcement capabilities and media saturation, they have taken this behavior to its extreme.

Further, technological progress has changed everything about society and the criminal element is no different. The wisest of the wise guys have largely adapted, accordingly. At a glance, in similarity to the Japanese Yakuza, much of the day-to-day operations of the Outfit could even be considered somewhat legitimate. While there are still some in the lower levels that attempt to maintain rackets that would seem criminally traditional, so to speak, like everyone else they've largely moved online and into business practices like insurance fraud (notably, Medicare/Medicaid and Worker's Comp) and construction contracting involving bid scams, etc., to name a few. Make no mistake, the Outfit is still around and maintains a presence in the Chicago region, even if many of its members have moved out to the suburbs and the "old neighborhood" is mostly where the old-timers like to go to reminisce about the "good ol' days."

As far as we know, it's now the only group outside of the Five Families that continues to hold a seat on the Commission.

Overcoat - aka Chicago Overcoat.

A coffin or casket.




Pink Line (CTA) - aka The Silver Line, aka The Douglas Branch.

Beginning operation in 2006, the Pink Line is the newest line on the CTA "L" system, covering just over 11 miles of track.

The city originally wanted to call it the Silver Line, but area schoolchildren liked the Pink Line better. The former Douglas Branch from the Blue Line was absorbed into the Pink Line when it opened.

The Pink Line operates on weekdays from 4am-2am, and on weekends from 5am-2am.

Point de Sable, Jean Baptiste - aka The Founder.

While various traders and explorers had been traveling through the area for many years, Jean Baptiste Point de Sable was the first non-indigenous settler at the site of what would become Chicago. While he went unrecognized for nearly a century and a half, when the property bill of sale to a man named Jean La Lime, an agent for William Burnett of Canada, was found in Detroit in 1913, his recognition began to slowly grow and he is now considered by most to be the Founder of what would become Chicago.

While the exact date he arrived at the site is not known, it's generally accepted he lived on the north bank of the Chicago river for about 17 years before selling to the Scot-Irish settler, John Kinzie. First hand accounts of explorers on their way to the Chicago portage indicate he was a wealthy, educated, and successful black trader. The bill of sale to John Kinzie included a house, two barns, a horse drawn mill, a bakehouse, a poultry house, a dairy, and a smokehouse. The house was a 22-by-40-foot (6.7 m × 12.2 m) log cabin.

He was nearly prosecuted by the British for sympathizing with the United States but was successfully defended by his contemporaries as a "man of good character".

A school, museum, harbor, park, and bridge have been named in his honor.

His settlement site is located in Pioneer Court.

Police Department (Chicago) - aka CPD, aka The Biggest Gang in the City.

The CPD is the second largest municipal police department in the United States and one of the oldest modern police departments in the world. It has over 12,000 officers and an additional 2,000 employees.

Pop - aka Soda.

Where other areas of the country may ask for a soda, it's "Pop" in Chicago.

Prairie (Chicago)

A Chicago Prairie (within the city limits and urban environment) most often means a vacant lot in the neighborhood. Particularly if overgrown with weeds, the kids are told to imagine they're playing in the prairie grass.

For example, "let's go play stick in the prairie," is an invite to play baseball in a vacant lot.

Purple Line (CTA) - aka The Purple Express, aka Evanston Express.

At less than 4 miles on the north side, the Purple Line is the shortest line on the system. However, during weekday rush hour, it extends another 10 miles into downtown.

The Purple Line operates Mondays to Thursdays from 4:25am-1:30am, Fridays from 4:30am-2:10am, Saturdays from 5:05am-2:15am, and Sundays from 6:05am-1:45am.

The Purple Line Express operates rush hour service to the Loop on weekday mornings only from 5:15am to 9:20am (Northbound) and from 5:55am to 10:05am (Southbound). On weekday evenings, service resumes from 2:25pm-6:25pm (Southbound) and from 3:05pm-7:05pm (Northbound).


Quenneville, Joel - aka Coach Q, aka Q.

The 2nd winningest coach in NHL history, 3-time Champion in Chicago, his record speaks for itself. He is on the Mount Rushmore of Chicago sports mustaches.


Reagan, The (Tollway) - aka Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway, aka Interstate (I) 88, aka East-West Tollway.

It runs from a complex interchange with the Eisenhower Expressway and the Tri-State Tollway west to another complex interchange with Interstate 355. Then it heads through the western suburbs into north-central Illinois.

Red Line (CTA) - aka North-South Line, aka Howard–Dan Ryan Line.

The busiest line in the "L" system, the Red Line runs 26 miles through 33 stations and serves many of the city's biggest attractions. If you've been on an "L" in Chicago, there's a good chance it was the Red Line.

The Red Line runs 24/7/365.

Republican Party Leadership (Illinois)


Richie - aka Mayor Richard M. Daley, aka Quiet Boy.

Richard M. Daley, son of the former Mayor Richard J. Daley (Boss Daley), was the 56th and longest serving Mayor of Chicago when he declined to run for a seventh term (technically his sixth full four-year term, since he won a two-year term after Mayor Washington died in office of a heart attack). He served as Mayor for 22 years, longer than that of his father.


Sears Tower - aka Willis Tower.

For 25 years, it held the title of the Tallest Office Building in the world. It was a monument to the glory of Sears, Roebuck, & Co., which at one time was the largest retailer in the world. And although the Sears retailer is a shadow of its former self due to drastic changes in technology and the competitive retail landscape, the Tower remains. Today, it still boasts the highest observation deck in the United States, keeping its place as a popular destination for tourists to the city.

In a certain sense, we kinda feel bad for the London-based insurance broker, Willis Group Holdings, who obtained the naming rights to the Sears Tower when they moved in summer of 2009. At best, its attempts to rename the building has only breeded resentment among longtime Chicagoans. Just as the store on State Street will forever be Marshall Field's rather than Macy's, the Willis Tower will likely forever be the Sears Tower.

Second City, The

To be honest, here at the Chicago Journal we hate the nickname, the Second City. Begrudgingly, we have to admit that it is a genuine nickname that has been around since at least the early 1950s.

Due to too many factors to list and requiring a conversation over many, many drinks, the city has seen many changes, and is no longer ranked second to New York in almost every category you can imagine, as it was through most of its existence. As they are want to do to any part of America west of the Hudson River, some east coasters began to play on that derisively and indicate it was cultural as well as demographic and economic.

Oh well. In our opinion, Chicago is second to none.

It is also the name of one of the most famous comedy troupes in the world, located in the Old Town neighborhood at the intersection of North Avenue and Wells Streets. Second City alumni are a veritable "Who's Who" of American/Canadian comedy since it made its debut in 1959. Quite frankly, the list is so impressive there are simply too many to list.


In Chicago, a "set" is a way to describe a smaller division or unit of a larger, local gang. A subset.

The easiest way to think of it is to use military terminology. A set is often as small as a military Team, Squad, or Platoon, and sometimes as large as a Company. The likelihood of a set being as large as a Battalion is very rare and hasn't really been seen since the earlier days of modern Chicago gangs, before they were broken up and left largely leaderless.

For example, high-profile arrests have been made recently of members of a Chicago gang set that called themselves O-Block. This set primarily controlled an area of the city from 63rd to 66th and Calumet to King.

There used to be a much greater organizational heirarchy to Chicago gangs but, today, they are often working largely independent of each other and lack coherent structure and organization.

To provide an example of how it used to work, decades ago, the members of O-Block would have been a part of a south side network that's a part of a much larger gang called the Black Disciples. The Black Disciples gang is not to be confused with the Gangster Disciples, an entirely different large gang (one of the largest in the country). However, the Black Disciples and the Gangster Disciples are affiliated with each other as the two gangs are part of the even larger assembly called the Folk Nation. The Folk Nation was formed back in the late '70s by Larry Hoover, the former leader of the Gangster Disciples (some say he still is). The Folk Nation's primary rivals are the People Nation.

It's not really like that anymore. Kinda, but not really. The gangs are very fractured in Chicago right now, even those that use the traditional names of the larger gangs, there's little loyalty, trust, or respect between them.


A show refers to almost any visual entertainment medium. Chicagoans don't "go to the movies", they "go to a show". They do not go to a play or a musical in a theatre, they go to a show. They do not go to a comedy club, they go to a show. They do not go to a concert, they go to a show.

It is possible you will find some locals who will delineate what type of show they are going to see, most often in reference to a comedy performance. For example, they will say something akin to, "Hey you guys want to go to the comedy show?"

Skyway (Chicago) - aka **Interstate (I) 90.

The skyway angles off from the Dan Ryan Expressway near 66th Street and heads southeast toward Indiana. Whether or not the Skyway is part of Interstate 90 is a matter of some debate. The eastern end of the Skyway ends with toll bridge over the Little Calumet River and (incidentally) the Indiana state line; on the other side of the state line the Skyway ends at the western terminus of the Indiana Toll Road.


Stolen goods.

Soldier Field

Named as a memorial to U.S. soldiers who had died in combat, Soldier Field is far and away the oldest stadium in the NFL. Opened in 1924, it has been home to the Chicago Bears since 1971.

At one time, it was capable of seating over 100,000 people. Today, it's capacity seats 61,500 people.

In 2001, the stadium underwent a controversial renovation and that's an understatement. Soldier Field had been a part of the Chicago landscape for so long and hosted so many different events along the lake that it would have been impossible to make everyone happy. That being said, Soldier Field is now, quite literally, a shell of its former self. Aside from the exterior facade, virtually nothing of the original exists and it has been heavily criticized by locals and non-locals alike. As a result of that renovation, it was delisted from the National Historic Landmark.

To get to Soldier Field by train, take the Red, Orange, or Green Line to the Roosevelt Stop and walk east toward the lake. Personal vehicle parking is plentiful.

State & Madison

Way back on September 1, 1909, the city of Chicago had the foresight to drop its confusing duplicate names and numbering system based on the Chicago River, and switched to a grid system that grew from the original townsite plan laid out by the original surveyor, James Thompson. Since then, all addresses in the city number outward from the baseline intersection of State Street (North-South) and Madison Street (East-West)

With very few exceptions, house numbers are generally assigned at the rate of 800 to a mile. Individual house numbers are normally assigned at the rate of one per 20 feet of frontage. As a result, the last two digits of house numbers generally go only as high as 67 before the next block number is reached. Higher house numbers are found on diagonal streets and have sometimes been assigned by request.

The blocks are counted out by hundreds. For example, "about twelve hundred north on Western" or "around twenty-four hundred west on Division" both describe the intersection of Western Avenue (2400 W) and Division Street (1200 N).

South of Madison Street most of the east-west streets are simply numbered. The street numbering is aligned with the house numbering, so that 95th Street is exactly 9500 South. "Half-block" east-west thoroughfares in this area are numbered and called places; 95th Place would lie just south of and parallel to 95th Street, and just north of 96th Street.

Every four blocks (half-mile) is a major secondary street. While not always the case, Division Street (1200 N) is less important than either Chicago Avenue (800 N) or North Avenue (1600 N), for example.

Even-numbered addresses are found on the north and west sides of a street, and odd numbers are found on the south and east sides, irrespective of the streets' position relative to the corner of State and Madison.

While not every suburban town follows this system, the grid layout does extend far out into the more rural regions of the Chicago area. This includes the six "collar" counties of DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will, where most of the region uses this system that begins at State & Madison. Even much of Northwest Indiana bases their numbering off this system.

For a more rural county example, 32W000 in DuPage County is 32 miles west of State Street. A number of 38000 in Lake County would be 38 miles north of Madison Street, and is normally used without the direction letter. One small note, in these counties, unlike Chicago, numbering is 1,000 numbers to the mile. So in DuPage County 32 1⁄2 miles west is 32W500.

Stevenson (Expressway) - aka Interstate (I) 55.

From its northern terminus with Lake Shore Drive, the Stevenson runs southwest where it interchanges with the Dan Ryan before heading to the south and southwestern neighborhoods of Chicago. The Stevenson then continues past Chicago Midway International Airport and out of Chicago. After leaving Chicago it intersects with the Tri-State Tollway and the Veterans Memorial Tollway, and then heads southwest out of the Chicago area toward Joliet (where it intersects Interstate 80) and on into central Illinois.


Taste, The - aka The Taste of Chicago.

The Taste is the shortened colloquial descriptor for the world's largest food festival, the Taste of Chicago, held annually in July. Most locals will grumble it's overpriced and underwhelming, but that's mostly because they wish they could visit every vendor and try every offering.

The Taste has spawned countless imitation food festivals in cities and towns across the country.

Teacher's Union (Chicago) - aka CTU.

The CTU has nearly 27,000 members and politically moves like a school of fish. The irony is not lost. We originally had a lot more to say but we hit backspace and deleted all of it quickly because we don't want them to hold our kids hostage if they think we would dare question them.

The Lord works in mysterious ways...

Inspired by faith and the Holy Scripture of Chicago from the Gospel of John Landis and Dan Aykroyd, SEE: Blues Brothers, The.

There's always next year...

Prior to the 2016 World Series win, the Chicago Cubs were the notorious "lovable losers." Due to their 108 year championship drought, "there's always next year...", became a well worn phrase through the generations and, depending on how bad the team was, you could hear it state quite early in the season. In essence, it meant that although the fan could tell that the season was over and the team wouldn't win it all this year, they would be back next year full of optimism and hope to be dashed away again.

Since the 2016 Championship, the phrase has taken on new life in other areas. Cubs fans now use it in a tongue in cheek and inside joking with other Cubs fans when seeing something or someone they love not do well at something but know they'll support them/it all the same.

Tri-State (Tollway) - aka Interstate (I) 41, aka Interstate (I) 80, aka Interstate (I) 94, aka Interstate (I) 294, aka (U.S.) Route 41.

The Tri-State Tollway, which bears the I-294 designation and separately the I-94 designation, only enters Chicago at one point: its interchange with the Kennedy Expressway and North-West Tollway on the far northwest side. Otherwise, the Tri-State circumvents the city of Chicago entirely, running entirely through the suburbs from its northern terminus near the Wisconsin border to its southern terminus at the interchange with the Bishop Ford Freeway and the western end of the Kingery Expressway. North of the junction with the Edens Spur the Tri-State is signed as Interstate 94; south of this it is signed as Interstate 294, and the southern part of that is overlaid by Interstate 80 (which continues east past the eastern terminus of Interstate 294 as the Kingery Expressway and on into Indiana).

Trixie - aka Lincoln Park Trixie.

Back in the olden times when the internet began to take off (also known as the 1990s), some blogs achieved local fame for coining the slang terms, Chad and Trixie. Trixie described a single, white woman in her twenties cruising the North Side (most commonly in Lincoln Park) in her VW Jetta or Passat, in search of a husband. Most often this potential husband was a banker, day trader, or anyone making at least a six figure income named Chad, Todd, or any similar variation. Trixie is most often a sorority girl graduate of a Big Ten University with a major in marketing or communications but this is not always the case.

Once married, Chad and Trixie return from whence they came to raise future Chad and Trixie's in the North Suburbs.

From the "Lincoln Park Trixie Society." See also: the "Lincoln Park Chad Society."


Back in the day, it was a Thompson submachine gun. Now it's a reference to any type of gun violence that plagues neighborhoods of the city and continues to write newscopy. For example, "the kids are banging out copy on their typewriters this weekend," means that the city is experiencing a large increase in gun/gang violence that weekend.


United Center - aka The UC, aka The Madhouse on Madison, aka The House of Air.

A joint venture and 50/50 partnership between the Chicago Bulls Basketball and and Chicago Blackawks Hockey franchises, the United Center opened in 1994 as a replacement for the beloved Chicago Stadium. It has a seating capacity of 19,717 for Hockey, a seating capaciy of 20,917 for basketball, and a seating capacity up to 23,500 for concerts.

Contrary to the renovations at Soldier Field and the new Comiskey Park, the United Center's design as replacement to Chicago Stadium has been largely received positively. Howeever, it helps that it was built and saw initial success during Michael Jordan's dynastic reign and further dynastic success with the Blackhawks during the 2010s decade. The lesson here being everybody loves a winner.

Unmitigated Gall - aka Poppy Rush, aka Bobby Redenbacher.

When a grave injustice has been done to you that would be impossible to be believed if you had not seen it with your own eyes, such as eating Bobby Rush's popcorn without asking him first...


Eliot Ness was a famous law enforcement agent known for his efforts to bring down Al Capone. Ness organized and lead a team of agents who the press, specifically Charles Schwarz at the Chicago Daily News, began calling "the Untouchables" due to their incorruptible commitment to law enforcement.

As a result, untouchable has become a high compliment in Chicago meaning a type of incorruptible person with a resolute nature, strong resolve, and commitment to a task.


Veterans Memorial (Tollway) - aka Interstate (I) 355, aka North-South Tollway.

It runs from an interchange with Interstate 290 through the western suburbs to a complex interchange with Interstate 88 before continuing south to the redone interchange with Interstate 55, its former southern terminus. Then it continues on 11 miles of new tollway to its southern terminus at Interstate 80.

Viagra Triangle

Just north of downtown lies the Gold Coast, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the nation.

While some would extend the Viagra Triangle to the north to include the Rush/Division stretch of bars and nightclubs, most locals consider the outlined map of the Triangle to be the area west of N Rush Street, east of N State Street, and north of E Chicago Avenue. And most would consider its central hub to be Mariano Park, between Rush, State, Bellevue, and Cedar Streets.

The area has been notoriously stereotyped as a place where “older” men with money hang out and pursue younger women and older women who've undergone every procedure trying to look younger. The place for the city's wealthiest to see and be seen. Though this behavior has become more subtle and subdued than it used to be, it still most definitely exists most nights of the week.


Way, The (Chicago) - aka The Way, aka The Chicago Way.

To escalate tactics to an uncomfortable level in order to win.

  • or -

Alternatively, whenever describing or outlining an unwritten rule of political and cultural life in the political of longtime Chicagoans.

Taken from the movie, The Untouchables, when Sean Connery's character Jim Malone advises KEvin Costner's character Eliot Ness, "You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way!"

Wear the Jacket

Take the blame.

Wet - aka Wet Beef.

Italian Beef is particularly popular in Chicago. Ordered "wet" is a request it be dipped it in the meat juice.

Wilson Coefficient - aka Willie Wilson Political Stunt, aka Elect Willie Wilson...or don' money anyway...

The Wilson Coefficient is an extraordinarily difficult probability equation in political science, requiring extremely high-level mathematics and understanding of theoretical physics, that has baffled some of the field's brightest minds. For years, it was believed that once Wilson and his staff had decided on a stunt (normally a simple giveaway of free cash), the equation required 4 variables for accuracy in predicting success:

  • $(X)'s willing to spend per vote
  • $(X)'s of expected free advertising from local media
  • (X) expected amount of people that will be pissed off due to stunt
  • (X) maximum amount of people that could potentially be pissed off before Willie Wilson's genial reputation was damaged

Recent discoveries have indicated that there are possibly at least two more as yet unknown variables required. Variables that may first need entirely new equations of their own to produce accurate results. They include but may not be limited to:

  • (X) value representing what the hell is Willie thinking?
  • (X) value representing what the hell voters are thinking?

If true, those two additional values present far greater challenges and are likely to require a supercomputer which has not yet been invented. However, there is a potential third additional variable that has been proposed that could minimize the daunting expectations of the above two variables, and that is:

  • (X) value representing how much those around Willie Wilson and in the community are willing to take advantage of his generosity

Leading experts remain hard at work trying to find the solution.

Wrigley Field - aka The Friendly Confines, aka Wrigleyland

Wrigley Field first opened in 1914 as home of the Chicago Whales in the Federal League. When that league folded in 1916, owner Charles Weeghman bought the National League Chicago Cubs, moving them from the West Side to his new ballpark at Clark and Addison Streets. Following the purchase of the team by William Wrigley, Jr., in 1920, the park became Wrigley Field in 1926.

Generation after generation has made the pilgrimage to Wrigley Field each summer to take part in the great American pastimes of baseball, hot dogs, heckling, and excessive day drinking of overpriced beer, followed by going home with questionable strangers or vomiting on dance floors and passing out in gutters. It's a magical place.

After Cubs franchise owners, the Ricketts family, bought up the surrounding neighborhood and removed most of what would traditionally fall under Bleacher Bum culture and turned it into a sterile, plasticky, "family friendly," fake feeling imitation of its former self, kind of like how the modern day Vegas Strip could be described, the editors of the Chicago Journal began referring to Wrigley and the immediate surroundings as "Wrigleyland", in obvious reference to Disneyland, the original home to a Disney-fied recreation of Main Street, U.S.A.

That being said, there's no denying something about the place and its surroundings remains. The residential neighborhood only adds to the ambience and there's no denying that, as you approach its gates, you can't help but feel nostalgic for some sort of bygone era. There's no denying that walking through the old concourse and out to your seats, the ivy covered walls in the outfield, the old scoreboard, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the 7th Inning, and the realization that Americans have been doing the same in your seat for well over a century conjures an almost religious sentiment and an afternoon at Wrigley Field becomes almost like visiting a Cathedral to the American experience.

You can find the largest beer garden in the city at 1060 West Addison Street or by taking the 'L' Red Line to the Addison stop.



Yellow Line (CTA) - aka The Skokie Swift.

The Yellow Line only covers a little under 5 miles of track and connects Evanston to Skokie.

The Yellow Line operates between 4:45am-11:15pm on weekdays, and 6:15am-11:15pm on weekends and holidays.


"You would have..."


The Chicago plural form of "you." Grammatically, it doesn't really make sense.