Sunday, June 14, 2009


The name of the third largest city in the United States comes from an Ojibwa word (the exact word varies by the source) that means either stripped skunk, the skunk place, or skunk cabbage. Many Chicagoans prefer to believe the source word meant onion patch.

But Chicago was built on swampy land and it is possible the word that became Chicago in English originally meant Smelly Place. Certainly, the Chicago Stockyard of the last century earned that moniker.
The people of Chicago, a city of over three million souls, live under an encircling and overpowering smell. At breakfast, at luncheon, at dinner: while working and, playing; awake and asleep; Chicago's millions inhale penetrating smells from the mountains of dung and offal in its great stockyards. The greater the smells the stockyards make, the greater their contributions to Chicago. ~ Ralph Borsodi, This Ugly Civilization, 1929

Chicago Stockyards, 1947


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