Why Is Steubenville Ohio Called Little Chicago

Steubenville, Ohio, has a nickname that might make you think of a bustling metropolis far away from the Ohio Valley. People often call it “Little Chicago,” and there’s a cool story behind that name. It’s not because the city looks like Chicago – though it has its own beauty – but the nickname carries a piece of history from back in the day.

In the past, Steubenville was a happening spot with lots happening, just like the big city of Chicago. It was full of energy and really busy. This was a time when the factories were all go, go, go and jobs were everywhere. The city was booming and had a lot of connections to big cities far away.

But there’s another side to the nickname. It also came from some shady business that went on here, kind of like the things you hear about in old Chicago with gangsters and all. Steubenville had its share of tough guys and that life, which is also why some started calling it “Little Chicago.” Still, there’s more to this nickname than just busy streets or tough guys, and Steubenville’s got plenty of stories to tell.

Historical Connections with Chicago

Long ago, Steubenville and Chicago were linked by a secret network. This wasn’t just any network, but one run by gangsters during a time known as Prohibition. That’s when the government said no to making, selling, or drinking alcohol. People wanted their drinks, so gangsters made it happen, and Steubenville was a part of this.

These gangsters had a big plan and Steubenville was key. They would sneak alcohol from one place to the next. Think of it like a hidden trail from Chicago to Steubenville. This city was a secret stop where the booze would rest before moving on. Because of this, Steubenville got a taste of Chicago’s underworld.

Now, don’t think everyone in Steubenville was a gangster. Most folks were just normal people. But with gangsters around, the city changed. It got a rep for being tough, just like Chicago. People started talking and soon, calling Steubenville “Little Chicago” showed that Chicago-style action was happening right there.

But Steubenville wasn’t just copying Chicago. It started to grow its own way of doing things. Yes, there were gangsters, but there were also hardworking people building a strong community. They made their own mark, and “Little Chicago” turned into a name that showed Steubenville’s own strength and spirit.

Economic Similarities

Long ago, Steubenville was riding high on the wave of the steel industry. The city was like a magnet pulling in workers from all over, much like Chicago did during its boom times. When steel was king, both cities shared that vibe of growth and hope.

With lots of people came lots of action, and in Steubenville, there were clubs and spots that lit up the night. These places brought the jazz and fun that you’d also find in the clubs of Chicago. It wasn’t just the work that made Steubenville hum, but the after-work fun too.

Some big names from Chicago found their way to Steubenville as well. They would mix with the locals, and word got around that Steubenville was the place to be. That’s how the city’s reputation grew, and why some thought it was like a mini version of Chicago.

Another thing was the way people talked. Steubenville folks picked up slang and styles from Chicago visitors. Before long, the way they spoke was a mishmash of Ohio and Chicago, making the connection even stronger.

Even today, you can catch glimpses of this past. Some old buildings have that Chicago-style look, and every once in a while, you might hear a story or two that makes the city’s nickname seem just right.

So when you hear Steubenville called “Little Chicago”, remember it’s about the spirit of the city. It’s about how, once upon a time, this Ohio town had the hustle and heart that made it feel just a little like the Windy City.

Geographic Significance

Back in the day, gangsters from Chicago would sneak into Steubenville. It was a good spot for them to lay low. This link to Chicago’s underworld gave the town a bit of a wild reputation.

Steubenville had its own version of Chicago’s Prohibition-era bootlegging. Illegal booze ran through the city. This made the connection with Chicago feel even more real to the people living there.

Speak-easies popped up all over Steubenville. Hidden bars where you needed a secret word to get in, just like in Chicago. The air was thick with danger and excitement, and that’s what people remembered.

These stories about gangsters and speak-easies have been passed down. Kids and grandkids in Steubenville still whisper about the days when their city was like a little slice of Chicago.

Influx of Italian-American Population

Steubenville also got its nickname because it was busy like Chicago. Lots of people came to work in the factories and steel mills. The town was booming and so crowded, it reminded some folks of the big city life in Chicago.

Just like the Windy City, Steubenville became known for its tough attitude. People here worked hard and didn’t back down from a challenge. That spirit made the connection to Chicago even stronger in people’s minds.

Steubenville was a place where many different cultures mixed together, similar to Chicago. Italian, Greek, and other communities brought their traditions and food. This cultural melting pot added to the town’s charm and its Chicago-like vibe.

And just like Chicago has its famous blues music, Steubenville has a big love for jazz. This city was the hometown of Dean Martin, a superstar singer. His music helped make Steubenville cool, just like the jazz and blues made Chicago famous.

Mob Activity and Organized Crime Influence

Back in the day, Steubenville had some shady dealings that reminded people of Chicago’s gangster history. The city was in the spotlight for mob activities and organized crime influence. This was another reason why they started calling it Little Chicago.

Some bad guys tried to take control of businesses and even had a say in local politics. They used their power to get what they wanted, making people think of the crime bosses in Chicago. This gave Steubenville a tough reputation.

Gambling and illegal activities were part of life in Steubenville during this time. These things happened in Chicago too. That’s why when people talked about Steubenville, they felt it was very similar to Chicago’s rough side.

The influence of these mobsters could be seen all over town. Steubenville’s Little Chicago nickname stuck because of how these criminals acted like the bosses in the big city.

Prohibition Era Connections

Steubenville earned the name “Little Chicago” not just for the hard work and culture, but also for its history with mobsters. Back in the day, it was known that gangsters had some power in town.

Mobsters liked Steubenville because it was close to big cities but still small enough to control. They made money from illegal activities, like gambling and selling alcohol when it wasn’t allowed during Prohibition.

These mobsters set up spots in Steubenville where people could gamble or get a drink, even when it was against the law. These places were secret but lots of people knew about them.

Because of these activities, sometimes Steubenville felt a little dangerous, kind of like Chicago. Stories say that some gangsters from Chicago even visited Steubenville to join in on the action.

Even though those days are gone, the nickname “Little Chicago” reminds people of the time when mobsters were around in Steubenville.

Notable Crime Figures

Steubenville’s past with the mob gave it a reputation that sticks around. The city was once a hotspot for organized crime, which left a mark on its history. This link to Chicago’s infamous crime scene is part of why Steubenville is called “Little Chicago.”

The influence of organized crime shaped the way Steubenville grew. Money from illegal operations flowed into the city, which affected the local economy and politics. Big decisions sometimes had the shadow of the mob behind them.

A lot of people in town knew who the powerful mobsters were. They were involved in the community, but not everyone was happy about it. Some folks wanted a peaceful town, but with the mob around, that was tough.

Youth and families heard stories and knew about the mob’s influence. This was a big deal because it changed how they saw their own city. They knew their hometown had a wild side, much like the big city of Chicago.

Today, when people talk about Steubenville as “Little Chicago,” it’s a way to remember the city’s past. The mob is a big part of Steubenville’s history and why it got such a big nickname.

Law Enforcement and Legal Battles

Back in the day, Steubenville had speakeasies and gambling spots. These were places people went to have fun, but they were against the law. The mob used to run these places and made a lot of money from them.

Big parties and events in Steubenville sometimes had mobsters there. They would show up in fancy clothes and flashy cars. Their style made Steubenville feel like a smaller version of Chicago.

Even the police and politicians in Steubenville were sometimes friends with mobsters. This made it hard to know who was really in charge. People said that the mob had the city under its thumb, just like in Chicago.

Steubenville got its nickname from all of this activity. The city was busy, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way. But these busy times were a lot like the bustling city of Chicago, which is why people started calling it “Little Chicago.”

The stories of Steubenville’s past are still shared today. When people talk about “Little Chicago,” they remember the excitement and danger that used to be part of everyday life.

If you want to learn more about Steubenville’s history, you can visit local museums or check out books from the library. The Jefferson County Historical Association is a great place to start.

Cultural Impact and Modern References

Nowadays, when you hear “Little Chicago,” you might think of movies or TV shows with gangsters. Steubenville has that kind of cool history that makes people curious about the old days.

Musicians and artists from Steubenville have used the city’s history in their work. It’s like they take a page from the past and make it new again.

Local festivals often include tales of Steubenville’s Little Chicago days. People come to these events to get a taste of what life was like back then.

Restaurants and shops in Steubenville might have names or decorations that remind you of the 1920s and 1930s. They do this to celebrate the city’s unique past.

Even some school projects look into why Steubenville was called Little Chicago. Students find out about the city’s big personality and how it got noticed.

When folks around the Ohio Valley talk about Steubenville, they often mention Little Chicago. It’s a way for people to connect over shared stories and local pride.

There’s even a website that tells the story of Steubenville’s Little Chicago era. You can take an online tour and see old photos at the Historic Fort Steuben website.

Little Chicago isn’t just a nickname; it’s part of Steubenville’s identity. It reminds residents and visitors that the city has a story worth telling.

Media Portrayals

Steubenville, Ohio, is known as “Little Chicago” not just because of its history, but also because of its culture. This nickname hints at a time when the city had a lot of energy and big personalities.

Films and books often mention Steubenville when they talk about cities with a rich past. They use it as an example of a place that was once filled with jazz music and lively streets.

Today, Steubenville celebrates this part of its history with festivals. One event that brings a lot of people to the city is the Dean Martin Festival. Dean Martin was a famous singer and actor, and he was born in Steubenville.

At the festival, people enjoy music and remember the old days. They celebrate stars like Dean Martin who came from their city. It’s a fun way for people to connect with Steubenville’s past.

Even though it’s quieter now, Steubenville still has that “Little Chicago” spirit. It shows in the way people in the city love music, art, and community events. These things help keep the city’s history alive.

Local Festivities and Tourism

Many say Steubenville got its nickname from the busy factories that used to line the Ohio River, much like Chicago’s bustling industries. The city was a hub for jobs, making it full of life.

Another reason is its geography. Steubenville sits by the river, which was a major way to move goods back then. Chicago also grew because of its location by the water.

Some folks think the “Little Chicago” name is also because of crime that happened long ago. Big gangs in Chicago made headlines, and Steubenville had its own trouble with crime at one time.

Now, when people call Steubenville “Little Chicago,” they often think of that tough, spirited attitude. Even young people in Steubenville know about the nickname and what it means about their home’s past.

Schools in Steubenville teach kids about the city’s history, including why it’s compared to Chicago. Students learn about the work, the people, and the music that shaped their city.

On the streets of Steubenville, you might see old buildings that remind you of this nickname. Some look like they could be in Chicago, with their tall, strong designs. They make it easy to imagine the city’s lively past.

Steubenville’s nickname tells a story. It’s about the jobs, the river, and even the hard times. But most of all, it’s about how a small Ohio city can share a big part of America’s history, just like Chicago.


Steubenville’s nickname, “Little Chicago,” is a peek into the city’s soul. It shows us how history touches our today.

Visitors may not see the bustling factories anymore, but the spirit of those days is still around. The tall, old buildings and the tales people share keep the nickname alive.

It’s not just about what happened long ago. The name “Little Chicago” makes folks proud. They remember the hard work and community that built Steubenville, much like Chicago.

The nickname also brings lessons for the future. It reminds us that cities can grow and change, just like Steubenville did, while keeping their unique stories.

Maybe when you hear “Little Chicago,” you’ll think of Steubenville. You’ll think of the Ohio River, the factories, and the people who have made this city what it is today.