Where Does Chicago Rank in Its Love For St. Patrick’s Day?

Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

St. Patrick’s Day is this Friday, so IllinoisBet is taking a timeout from March Madness and Illinois sports betting coverage to see where Chicago ranks among the many American cities that will cap off the work week with a toast to the Irish.

And while it’s no surprise to see Boston top a list of the cities with the most St. Paddy’s spirit, believe it or not, the Windy City ranks second.

The percentage of Chicagoans with Irish ancestry, hovering around 8%, ranks below the national average of about 10%. Overall, there are four times as many Americans of Irish descent – 32 million total – than there are people living in Ireland and Northern Ireland combined.

But even if the Chicago Irish community accounts for only a small portion of that figure, the city’s legendary St. Patrick’s Day festivities make it one of the most exciting locations to celebrate the “Feast of St. Patrick.”

In determining our rankings of American cities with the most St. Patrick’s Day spirit, we used Google Trends to determine the search volume of terms like “St. Patrick’s Day” and “St. Patrick’s Day Events” in each major metropolitan area in America. Then we averaged the ranking across the terms.

We also averaged out the rankings from World Population Review’s research on the “Cities With Highest Percentage Of Irish Ancestry” from 2023.

Here’s the complete list, with the Second City indeed coming in second:

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Cities With The Most St. Patrick's Spirit

1Boston, MA
2Chicago, IL
3Pittsburgh, PA
T4Philadelphia, PA
T4Buffalo, NY
6New Orleans, LA
7Baltimore, MD
8Kansas City, MO
9New York, NY
10Louisville, KY
T11Seattle, WA
T11Cleveland, OH
13Savannah, GA
14Portland, OR
15San Francisco, CA

Chicago Loves St. Patrick’s Day

As you celebrate this year’s St. Patrick’s Day on Friday, we have the Illinois sportsbooks promo codes you’ll want to use to bet on that night’s Bulls game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, March Madness action and more.

There’s no doubt that Chicago’s famous green river is a big reason it charts so highly in our rankings.

Since 1962, the city has used vegetable dye to turn the downtown Chicago River green as a way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

The practice has a great origin story.

The Story of Chicago’s Green River

In the early 1900s, the river began turning green all on its own, for all the wrong reasons. As a prominent turn-of-the-century hub of industry, Chicago had a big pollution problem, and that problem was seeping into the river.

A major effort to clean up the waterway began in the mid-1950s, led by the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union, who would pour trace amounts of green dye down city drains to locate the leaky pipes contaminating the river. 

It’s a fairly common practice in the world of plumbing, even today, but it inspired an idea in union president Stephen Bailey. A few years later, he convinced former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley to dye the entire river green for St. Paddy’s Day.

The dye itself is actually an orange powder that turns green as it dissolves. The exact “recipe” is a secret privy only to a select few in the Plumbers Union, and it takes five hours to dump enough in the river to turn it green. The total weight of the dye used is around 50 pounds.

Dye comes in handy to turn your beer green Friday.

And don’t forget, IllinoisBet is your source for information on Illinois sports betting apps.


Jeff Parker is an entertainment writer for IllinoisBet.com. A writer for film, television and the internet, Jeff is a life long movie buff, with an actual Masters Degree in Popular Culture. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he works full time as documentary filmmaker and producer.

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