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21 minutes | Oct 21, 2021
Chicago Is Where Black Cinema Took Root
Chicago was like Hollywood before Hollywood became the movie capital we know today. And Black directors were an important part of that early industry. In 1913 Willam Foster became the first Black director to make a film with an all Black cast. Yet most people have never heard of him. Reporter Arionne Nettles shares his story and the legacy he left behind.
37 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
The Pilsen Episode
Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood was first settled by Irish and German immigrants who were soon supplanted by a large influx of Czech immigrants. They gave the neighborhood its name but it’s known today for its Mexican and Mexican American population who first began moving in during the 50s and 60s. Pilsen continued to be a port of entry for decades and since then, many have fought to maintain the neighborhood’s identity, culture, and its community. In this episode we answer several questions about Pilsen’s history -- about the role murals have played in creating that sense of community, how the people rose up and came together to fight for a new high school, and how residents of Pilsen took a Chicago housing peculiarity and made it their own.
17 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
Three Buildings That Survived The Great Chicago Fire
The Great Chicago Fire, which lasted from October 8th to October 10th, 1871, destroyed most of Chicago from what is today Roosevelt Road up to Fullerton and from the Lake west to the Chicago River. Almost 100,000 Chicagoans lost their homes and several hundred lost their lives. And while the Chicago Water Tower has become an important symbol of what survived the destruction of the fire, it’s not the only building that made it through. Historian Paul Durica tells us about three other “survivors” and what happened to them decades later.
21 minutes | Sep 30, 2021
Lucy Parsons, The 'Goddess Of Anarchy'
Called "more dangerous than a thousand rioters" by the Chicago Police Department, Lucy Parsons was a radical socialist, a labor organizer, and a powerful orator who worked on behalf of people of color, women, and the homeless, she was
21 minutes | Sep 23, 2021
What’s The History Of Religious Exemptions To Vaccines?
While resistance to vaccine mandates goes back 200 years but state laws allowing for religious exemptions were rare until the 1960s. And faith leaders from the Pope to imams have pushed Americans to get vaccinated. So why do religious exemptions exist? Reporter Andrew Meriwether digs into the complicated history of religious exemptions.
16 minutes | Sep 16, 2021
Why Are The Cicadas So Loud And Chicago’s Livestock
The cicadas seem really loud this year around one listener’s home. But are they louder than usual? Are there more of them? Producer Jason Marck finds out the answers. Plus, can you really keep pigs, goats, chickens and other livestock in your backyard in Chicago?
16 minutes | Sep 9, 2021
The White Sox Logo And How The Chicago Bears Got Their Nickname
When a 22-year-old executive came up with the iconic White Sox logo, he probably never imagined it becoming a hip-hop fashion sensation. Nearly 27 years ago the White Sox debuted a look that would become iconic in pop culture. Producer Jesse Dukes traces its origins all the way back to 1948. And, ever wonder how the Chicago Bears, who don’t play near Midway Airport, ever got their nickname? Bears fan and reporter Araceli Gómez-Aldana tracks down the answer.
20 minutes | Sep 2, 2021
How Do Chicago’s Most Tenacious Weeds Grow?
Tenacious weeds like buckthorn, milkweed and goldenrod grow everywhere in Chicago from railroad tracks to sidewalk cracks. Reporter Natalie Dalea finds out how they’ve adapted to survive city life. Plus what happens to all the landscaping along the Mag Mile after the summer is over.
18 minutes | Aug 26, 2021
A Chicago Historian Tackles Your Questions About The City
Historian Dominic Pacyga shares his encyclopedic knowledge of Chicago history and answers questions about everything from breweries to slaughterhouses. Plus, reporter Monica Eng brings us a story from Ed Kramer, who, as an eighth grader in 1941 took a field trip with his class to visit the stockyards. Yep, Chicago school kids used to do that.
18 minutes | Aug 19, 2021
Chicago’s Fishing Industry And Some Stargazing Spots
Chicago once had a booming commercial fishing industry. Lawrence’s Fish and Shrimp is one of the last vestiges of that industry--serving up all kinds of fish that hasn't actually been caught in Lake Michigan. Reporter Jessica Pupovac finds out why that’s the case. Plus, producers Logan Jaffe and Jesse Dukes look for the best stargazing spots around Chicago. Turns out Lake Michigan offers one of them.
16 minutes | Aug 12, 2021
Chicago’s Steak And Lemonade Combo And Those Structures On The Lake
The beef sandwich and slushy drink combo are sold together all across the South and West sides of Chicago. Reporter Monica Eng tracks down the guy who put the two together. Then, she answers a question about what those mysterious structures out on Lake Michigan actually do.
14 minutes | Aug 5, 2021
The Union Workers Who Created Those Infamous Rat Balloons
Scabby the Rat is now common on picket lines around the world, but the balloon started right here in the Chicago area. This week on the show, we dig into the origins of the iconic union labor protest mascot. Plus, Monica learns why there are so many ice cream shops in Chicago with “La Michoacana” in their name — despite having different owners, offerings, and prices.
24 minutes | Jul 29, 2021
Paletas and Paleteros: The Art of the Cart
Paletero Victor Cruz says selling popsicles takes “patience.” Curious City learns the tricks of the trade.
18 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
Where Did Chicagoans Go To Drink During Prohibition?
This week on Curious City, we’re visiting the spots where Chicagoans would enjoy their beer and spirits during Prohibition.
17 minutes | Jul 15, 2021
Chicago’s Tornado-Proof Delusion
In 1967 a tornado hit the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn. It’s been a defining moment in the village’s history. Thirty three people were killed that day, 500 were injured. There was at least $40 million in damages in 1967 which, adjusted for inflation, would amount to more than $250 million today. More recently a tornado damaged more than 200 homes in suburban Chicago, including heavily populated Naperville. But despite their proximity to Chicago, lots of Chicagoans still believe a tornado won’t actually hit the city. In this episode we speak with survivors of the 67 tornado and bust some myths about why cities like Chicago aren’t immune to one of nature’s most violent storms.
14 minutes | Jul 8, 2021
How Clean Is The Water At Chicago’s Beaches?
It’s that time of the year where we can all finally hit the beach. But our listeners have a lot of questions about Chicago’s beaches. Like, how clean is the water? How much poop is in there? And why are some flotation devices banned? Curious City’s Monica Eng puts on her sun visor and a good deal of sunscreen and tracks down the answers.
11 minutes | Jul 1, 2021
What’s The Deal With ‘Midwest Nice?’
The common stereotype for Midwesterners is that we’re polite, friendly...and passive-aggressive. But is there any truth to that? Reporter Andrew Merriweather goes looking for the answer.
16 minutes | Jun 24, 2021
What’s Happening With Chicago’s Toxic Lead Service Lines?
Illinois passed a new law last month that sets a deadline for the state to replace all of its toxic lead service lines -- those pipes that deliver drinking water to our homes and park fountains. Curious City’s Monica Eng fills us in on how long it's going to take to get rid of all the lead lines.
26 minutes | Jun 17, 2021
A Gardener Pushes For Legislation To Help Extend The Growing Season
Last year we met Elmhurst gardener Nicole Virgil, who was fighting for the right to put up a hoop house in her garden. A hoop house is an inexpensive way to help extend the growing season. It protects the crops from the wind and snow and can keep the soil from freezing. Virgil took her fight all the way to the state legislature. Curious City’s Monica Eng tells us what happened next.
23 minutes | Jun 10, 2021
“Living In Gotham City.” How Some Musicians Survived A Shuttered Industry
As Illinois reopens, Chicago area artists Lori Lippitz of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, Lynne Jordan of Lynne Jordan and the Shivers, Juan Dies of Sones de Mexico and D2x reflect on what the last 15 months have been like, how the pandemic has shaped their music, and what they’re looking forward to as full capacity crowds come back.
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