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Unlike other cities and towns in the Midwest, food co-ops never really caught on in Chicago. But with grocery chain mega mergers and the sky-high price of food, there's been a big uptick in interest for co-ops. We'll tell you the history behind co-ops, take you inside some that are already operating and tell you about several that are in the works.…
 
We've been experiencing some warm days in and around Chicago. But winter is coming. This week, we've got a couple of classic Curious City stories about staying warm. One features folks who work outside during the bitter Chicago winters, the other features some furry friends from the Lincoln Park Zoo.…
 
For decades, Chicago has received a steady stream of refugees who have made the city home after escaping war and political conflict. They have come from countries like Bosnia, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently, several thousand asylum seekers came to the city on buses from Texas. Many of the institutions and organizations helping these new…
 
Former WBEZ host Tony Sarabia produced an audio documentary titled “Unlocking The Closet'' back in 2000. Tony, who came out later in life, wanted to share the stories of others who’d also finally felt ready to take this step. The documentary recounts the coming out stories of queer people who grew up in the 1950s and early ‘60s. While a lot has cha…
 
For a long time, Chicagoans were scared of Dunning. The very name “Dunning” gave them chills. People were afraid they would end up in that place. Today, the Chicago neighborhood, out on the city’s Far Northwest Side, looks like a middle-class suburb. You’d never know there was once an asylum there. On this episode we revisit the history of the Cook…
 
You’ve likely seen these signs hanging outside bars in Chicago. Pale yellow, almost white with the red-white-and-blue Old Style logo in thebig top square with a bottom partition that reads “Bottles and Cans,” “Cold Beer,” “Cerveza Fria” or even “Package Liquor”. Well there’s a reason so many of those signs still light up Chicago bars. Reporter John…
 
Medusa’s was “like a community center for weirdos and freaks and everybody else in between,” say some Chicagoans who went there as teens in the 1980s and ’90s. In this week’s episode Axios Chicago reporter Monica Eng finds out how the club got started, what it was like to hang out there and why, despite its popularity, it closed its doors in 1992.…
 
Growing up, one listener heard tales about how an engineer was hidden inside Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain in order to make sure the water spouts out each day. This week we go inside the innards of the fountain to see how it works and learn the history behind it. Plus, we get the answer to the question: Why does Chicago have so many alleys?…
 
Our Deputy head of Legal Services, Mary MacGregor, joins us to discuss the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017, three years after it came into law in England and Wales. For more information on guardianships, visit: https://www.gov.uk/manage-missing-persons-finances Disclaimer: Our podcast content is not official legal advice and all details are…
 
The history of traveling queer parties in Chicago is rooted in exclusion and racism. This week, we spoke with Pat McCombs and Vera Washington — longtime organizers of Executive Sweet, a traveling party focused on Black lesbians that got its start in the 1980s. We also talked with Tori and Jae Rice of smallWORLD Collective, a group that organizes ev…
 
Each year tens of thousands of people take part in 5ks, 10ks, half-marathons and all kinds of walking and running events in Chicago. But how does one get permission? And what’s it like to navigate the process and work with the various city departments to put on an event like this? Curious City talked to one race director who organizes ultramarathon…
 
Two sure signs of spring in the Chicago area are end-of-year band concerts at schools, and plants beginning to grow. This week we revisit a couple of stories from the archives on that theme. First, tenacious weeds like buckthorn, milkweed and goldenrod grow everywhere in Chicago from railroad tracks to sidewalk cracks. We find out how they survive …
 
Editor's note: This episode has been updated with new statements from Judge Matthew Coghlan. Every election, after breezing through their choices for governor, president, senators, and state reps, Cook County voters face the longest part of the ballot: Circuit Court judges. Though the candidates running for judge may be the most obscure, judges are…
 
For more than a century, Chicago’s Polish community has celebrated Polish unity and identity at the annual Polish Constitution Day Parade. This year, the parade has a new theme and anti-war message. Curious City’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad tells us the history of the parade and what it has meant to the Polish diaspora in the Chicago area…
 
A listener thought she’d noticed a change in Chicago’s crow population. And she was right. Twenty two years ago, the crow population of Illinois was at an all-time high. But just a few years later, half of the birds were dead. The crows were hit by a deadly virus. And it’s one that humans are susceptible to as well. So where was this virus coming f…
 
Sometimes, when Mike Ervin sees other wheelchair users about to board the bus or enter a train station in Chicago, he wants to catch up to them and say, “You’re welcome”. Because 30 years ago, much of the accessibility that people with disabilities encounter in public transportation today — lifts on buses, elevators at train train stations — didn’t…
 
Geographically, Chicago is smack in the middle of the Midwest. But not everyone seems to think that’s enough to make us “real” Midwesterners. Is being a Midwesterner about where you are on a map, or about state of mind? We found that people’s answer to this question says a lot about how they view Midwestern identity and the growing urban-rural divi…
 
This season 800 students will be a part of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’s programs. They’ll come from across the state of Illinois but also from Indiana, Michigan and even Iowa. Nearly every member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played in a youth orchestra. Producer Jason Marck finds out about the joys and pressures of being an elite you…
 
Students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds may go to the same high school, but this doesn’t guarantee they won’t cling to stereotypes about one another. That became painfully clear a few months ago when a student at Chicago’s Lincoln Park High School made a video asking classmates what race they wouldn’t date and why. Most of the answers…
 
Chicago’s streets are covered in asphalt and the city pays out a lot of money to drivers whose cars have been damaged by the poor condition of our roads. So why does Chicago use a material like asphalt, which requires so much repair, to pave its streets? And is there any recourse when your car gets damaged from hitting a pothole? Find out in this w…
 
The Free Theater was an ensemble group that put on non-traditional, avant-garde theatrical productions in Chicago from 1968 to 1974. Like its name suggests, the shows were free and no auditions were required. Productions took on the politics of the time. Curious City reporter Adriana Cardona-Maguigad digs into the group’s history and looks at what …
 
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