Brush up on your Chicago slang so yous can talk like a local.
Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park, which looks like a giant reflective bean.
Pronounced “SHAI-town,” not “CHAI-town,” this is an abbreviation for Chicago.
Replacement for “the,” as in “da Bears.”
A contentious wintertime tradition whereby if you dig your car out from a parking spot in the street, you call “dibs" on the spot by blocking it off with a lounge chair, crate, bucket or other random possession. Violators of the dibs contract have returned to find their cars keyed, encased in ice from a garden-hose dousing and worse. The pro-dibs and anti-dibs argument rages on every year, but violate it at your own risk.
The Eisenhower (aka “The Ike”)
Interstate 290, which was officially renamed the Eisenhower Expressway in 1964.
Fly the W
On the occasion of a Chicago Cubs victory, the scoreboard operators at Wrigley Field fly a white flag emblazoned with a blue W to indicate a win, a tradition which now can be seen outside many homes across the city.
The front room of a bungalow-style house looking out onto the street.
Popularized by famed Bears coach Mike Ditka, who used the term to describe his players, a group of hard-working, blue-collar types.
Officially called 875 North Michigan Avenue since 2018, this 100-story skyscraper was formerly the John Hancock Center and maintains its shortened nickname to this day.
Interstates 90/94 between downtown and O'Hare, officially known as The John F. Kennedy Expressway.
The L (aka “The El”)
Short for “elevated,” referring to the city’s CTA public transit system, which is indeed elevated in parts but also underground and at street level in some areas.
Lake Michigan, which is always to the East no matter where you are within the city.
The city’s central business district, so named for the elevated train that Loops around its borders.
Lake Shore Drive, the city’s scenic lakeside thoroughfare, which runs from north to south along Lake Michigan.
Any sweetened carbonated beverage, such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, etc. Referred to as soda elsewhere.
The Chicago River, which runs through the heart of the city’s downtown.
With Chicago’s neat grid system of streets that run north-south and east-west, the occasional diagonal road cuts through, resulting in an intersection of six corners; while the intersection of North, Damen and Milwaukee in Bucktown/Wicker Park is the trendiest, the namesake Six Corners is at Milwaukee, Irving Park and Cicero.
Sixteen-inch softball, a popular summertime sports league (often co-ed) that uses a ball 16 inches in diameter (often called a “smush ball”), which doesn’t travel as far or fast as a standard 12-inch ball, and no gloves.
The Sears Tower
Opened in 1973 as the world’s tallest building, this 1,451-foot-tall skyscraper (still Chicago’s tallest) has been officially called the Willis Tower since 2009, but no true Chicagoan would even think of calling it anything but its original name.
Interstate 55, which is officially named the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway after the state’s former governor.
A Chicago residential building consisting of two apartments, one on each floor, often with a front porch and bay window on the ground-floor unit.
Plural of “you,” as in “What are yous up to after da game?”
Photography by: Photo by tunart/istock