Here are quotes about Chicago, quotations by famous Chicagoans, and assorted remarks related to the history of the Windy City. For more history, see Chicago History.
I am going to St. Petersburg, Florida, tomorrow. Let the worthy citizens of Chicago get their liquor the best they can. I'm sick of the job -- it's a thankless one and full of grief. I've been spending the best years of my life as a public benefactor.
Al Capone, 1927
Germany was the cause of Hitler as much as Chicago is responsible for the Chicago Tribune.
Alexander Woollcott, 1943
This is no longer a slum neighborhood. I haven't heard of a Cubs fan being shot in a long time.
Anonymous Wrigley Field Neighbor, Chicago, IL
Hell has been described as a pocket edition of Chicago.
Ashley Montagu "The American Way Of Life," 1967
A lot of real Chicago lives in the neighborhood taverns. It is the mixed German and Irish and Polish gift to the city, a bit of the old country grafted into a strong new plant in the new.
Bill Granger, 1983
Hog butcher for the world,
Carl Sandburg, "Chicago," 1916
Here is the difference between Dante, Milton, and me. They wrote about hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years.
Carl Sandburg, 1961
Chicago, mistress of the lakes,
Charles Frederick White "To Chicago"
Could anything be more indicative of a slight but general insanity than the aspect of the crowd on the streets of Chicago?
Charles Horton Cooley "Human Nature and the Social Order," 1902
Chicago is unique. It is the only completely corrupt city in America.
Charles Merriam, unsuccessful mayoral candidate in 1911
Chicago has a strange metaphysical elegance of death about it.
Sharks are as tough as those football fans who take their shirts off during games in Chicago in January, only more intelligent.
Dave Barry "Sex and the Single Amoeba: What Every Teen Should Know"
In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a duty, but in Chicago it's a sport. In Chicago not only your vote counts, but all kinds of other votes--kids, dead folks, and so on.
Dick Gregory, Dick Gregory's Political Primer, 1972
Then stand to your glasses steady
Drinking song popularized by Chicago reporters at the Whitechapel Club, Chicago's informal version of Washington's Gridiron Club
A facade of skyscrapers facing a lake and behind the facade, every type of dubiousness.
I'm a little hoarse tonight. I've been living in Chicago for the past two months, and you know how it is, yelling for help on the way home every night. Things are so tough in Chicago that at Easter time, for bunnies the little kids use porcupines.
Fred Allen, Much Ado About Me, 1956
Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town.
Fred Fisher "Chicago," (1922)
I miss everything about Chicago, except January and February.
There was no need to inform us of the protocol involved. We were from Chicago and knew all about cement.
Groucho Marx, pressing his hands into the cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail.
H. L. Mencken
There's only one thing for Chicago to do, and that's to move to a better neighborhood.
I've reported murders, scandals, marriages, premieres and national political conventions. I've been amused, intrigued, outraged, enthralled and exasperated by Chicago. And I've come to love this American giant, viewing it as the most misunderstood, most underrated city in the world. There is none other quite like my City of Big Shoulders.
Irv Kupcinet, who began Kup's Column in 1941
Perhaps the most typically American place in America.
James Bryce, 1888
That's great advertising when you can turn Chicago into a city you'd want to spend more than three hours in.
Jerry Della Femina
The last copy of the Chicago Daily News I picked up had three crime stories on its front page. But by comparison to the gaudy days, this is small-time stuff. Chicago is as full of crooks as a saw with teeth, but the era when they ruled the city is gone forever.
John Gunther, Inside U.S.A, 1947
I don't have any great love for Chicago. What the hell, a childhood around Douglas Park isn't very memorable. I remember the street fights and how you were afraid to cross the bridge 'cause the Irish kid on the other side would beat your head in. I left Chicago a long time ago.
King of Swing Benny Goodman, 1976
Chicago -- a pompous Milwaukee.
Leonard Louis Levinson
Chicago will give you a chance. The sporting spirit is the spirit of Chicago.
Lincoln Steffens "The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens," 1931
First in violence, deepest in dirt, lawless, unlovely, ill-smelling, irreverent, new; an overgrown gawk of a -- village, the "tough" among cities, a spectacle for the nation.
Lincoln Steffens, "The Shame of the Cities," 1904
It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago-she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.
Mark Twain "Life On The Mississippi," 1883
We struck the home trail now, and in a few hours were in that astonishing Chicago--a city where they are always rubbing a lamp, and fetching up the genii, and contriving and achieving new impossibilities. It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago--she outgrows her prophecies faster than she can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.
Mark Twain "Life on the Mississippi," 1883
Satan (impatiently) to Newcomer: The trouble with you Chicago people is, that you think you are the best people down here; whereas you are merely the most numerous.
Mark Twain "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar," 1897
When you feel like tellin a feller to go to the devil -- tell him to go to Chicago -- it'll anser every purpose, and is perhaps, a leetle more expensive.
Mark Twain ("Snodgrass' Ride on the Railroad")
I like to go to Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see how many things there are in the world that I do not want.
Mother Mary Madeleva, My First Seventy Years, 1959
Loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose.
Chicago is an October sort of city even in spring.
Nelson Algren, Newsweek, August 13, 1984
There are almost no beautiful cities in America, though there are many beautiful parts of cities, and some sections that are glorious without being beautiful, like downtown Chicago. Cities are too big and too rich for beauty; they have outgrown themselves too many times.
Noel Perrin, Third Person Rural, 1983
Chicago was a town where nobody could forget how the money was made. It was picked up from floors still slippery with blood.
Norman Mailer, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, 1968
New York is one of the capitals of the world and Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic, San Francisco is a lady, Boston has become Urban Renewal, Philadelphia and Baltimore and Washington wink like dull diamonds in the smog of Eastern Megalopolis, and New Orleans is unremarkable past the French Quarter. Detroit is a one-trade town, Pittsburgh has lost its golden triangle, St. Louis has become the golden arch of the corporation, and nights in Kansas City close early. The oil depletion allowance makes Houston and Dallas naught but checkerboards for this sort of game. But Chicago is a great American city. Perhaps it is the last of the great American cities.
Norman Mailer, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, 1968
Chicago sounds rough to the maker of verse. One comfort we have -- Cincinnati sounds worse.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, January, 1880
My first day in Chicago, September 4, 1983. I set foot in this city, and just walking down the street, it was like roots, like the motherland. I knew I belonged here.
Your machinery is beautiful. Your society people have apologized to me for the envious ridicule with which your newspapers have referred to me. Your newspapers are comic but never amusing. Your Water Tower is a castellated monstrosity with pepperboxes stuck all over it. I am amazed that any people could so abuse Gothic art and make a structure not like a water tower but like a tower of a medieval castle. It should be torn down. It is a shame to spend so much money on buildings with such an unsatisfactory result. Your city looks positively dreary.
Oscar Wilde, February 13, 1882
Chicago is a city of contradictions, of private visions haphazardly overlaid and linked together. If the city was unhappy with itself yesterday-and invariably it was-it will reinvent itself today.
Pat Colander "A Metropolis of No Little Plans" NY Times 5 May 85
Anywhere in the world you hear a Chicago bluesman play, it's a Chicago sound born and bred.
Look at our Lords disciples. One denied Him; one doubted Him; one betrayed Him. If our Lord couldn't have perfection, how are you going to have it in city government?
Richard J. Daley
They have vilified me, they have crucified me; yes, they have even criticized me.
Richard J. Daley
I think that's how Chicago got started. A bunch of people in New York said, "Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west."
I have struck a city -- a real city -- and they call it Chicago. . . . I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages.
Rudyard Kipling, 1891
I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America.
No realistic, sane person goes around Chicago without protection.
Chicago is not the most corrupt American city. It's the most theatrically corrupt.
Studs Terkel, 1978
It's a 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes; it's dark and we're wearing sun glasses. Hit it!
The Blues Brothers
You walk out of the Amphitheatre after watching the Rolling Stones perform and suddenly the Chicago Stockyards smell clean and good by comparison.
In the twilight, it was a vision of power.
Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"
It's one of the most progressive cities in the world. Shooting is only a sideline.
Will Rogers, June 22, 1930
Gigantic, willful, young,
William Vaughn Moody "An Ode in Time of Hesitation," 1901