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Curious City

Chicago Public Media

Ask questions, vote and discover answers about Chicago, the region and its people. From WBEZ.

Ask questions, vote and discover answers about Chicago, the region and its people. From WBEZ.

Location:

Chicago, IL

Description:

Ask questions, vote and discover answers about Chicago, the region and its people. From WBEZ.

Language:

English

Contact:

848 East Grand Ave Navy Pier Chicago, Illinois 60611 888-789-7752


Episodes

Why The Sweet Steak Is The “Most Chicago” Sandwich

2/25/2021
Though little known on the North Side of Chicago, the sweet steak has been attracting long lines of fans to South Side eateries for 50 years now. The sandwich starts with a steamed bun, piled high with grilled onions, chopped ribeye steak, American cheese, sweet pepper relish, sliced tomatoes and hot peppers — all doused in a signature reddish sweet sauce. Curious City’s Monica Eng digs into the origins of the sandwich and what’s in store for the future. Hint: it has to do with walnuts.

Duration:00:57:52

To Chicago, With Love: What Do Transplants Love About The City?

2/18/2021
One Curious Citizen wanted to know what people who moved to Chicago love about the city. From fireflies to the way people walk, we hear what transplants say makes Chicago so special. Plus Curious City’s Monica Eng helps answer a question from another Chicagoan who's frustrated that the city’s playgrounds are still closed while so many other restrictions are easing up.

Duration:00:15:18

What’s Up With All Those Billboard Ads For Lawyers?

2/11/2021
Curious City took a road trip and counted almost a hundred billboard ads for lawyers along I-90/94 on the border between Illinois and Indiana. Audio producer Steven Jackson investigates why there’s so many of these billboards in this area, especially for personal injury attorneys. He shares insights from lawyers, marketers, and historians. (Features a cameo appearance from President Lyndon B. Johnson.)

Duration:00:25:34

From Plastic Bags To Hot Potatoes: Hacks For Staying Warm This Winter

2/4/2021
Chicago winters can be long and brutal. Curious City’s Monica Eng spoke with postal workers and other Chicagoans who spend a lot of time outdoors about how they dress for warmth during the winter. Also, we hear from a listener who asks what happens to the colorful landscaping along Michigan Avenue during the winter months.

Duration:00:14:14

Why You Should Skip Delivery Apps And Other Ways To Support Local Businesses

1/28/2021
A listener wanted to know some practical things he could do to support struggling businesses. Monica Eng shares tips from industry experts on how to support small businesses like bookstores and music venues. She also talks with chef Beverly Kim about how female restaurateurs in Chicago have been supporting one another during the pandemic.

Duration:00:14:50

Why You Should Skip Delivery Apps And Other Ways To Support Local Businesses

1/28/2021
A listener wanted to know some practical things he could do to support struggling businesses. Monica Eng shares tips from industry experts on how to support small businesses like bookstores and music venues. She also talks with chef Beverly Kim about how female restaurateurs in Chicago have been supporting one another during the pandemic.

Duration:00:12:56

Why Are There So Many Thai Restaurants In Chicago?

1/21/2021
This week we hear why Chicago has so many Thai restaurants and a renowned Thai chef offers up some tips for how to get the full experience of Thai cuisine. Hint: no chopsticks.

Duration:00:14:45

Did All Chicagoans Support The Civil War?

1/14/2021
In this week’s episode we revisit a question we first answered in 2018. What was Chicago’s response to the Civil War? Chicagoans support for the war was actually quite varied and changed as the war progressed. To answer the question we focus on the experience of Irish Americans and African-Americans and look at how the war went from popular to controversial in Chicago in just a few years.

Duration:00:16:23

Why The 1992 Loop Flood Is The Most Chicago Story Ever

1/7/2021
On April 13, 1992, Chicago was struck by a man-made natural disaster. The Great Chicago Flood of 1992 occurred completely underground and, fortunately, nobody was hurt — but several factors make it one of the most Chicago stories ever. In this episode from the archives, hear how clout, corruption, and construction without permits led to half the Loop being evacuated.

Duration:00:14:26

Here Are The Winners Of The 2020 Haiku Contest

12/31/2020
It’s the last day of 2020, which means we’re revealing the winners of our 2020 Haiku Contest. Plus, hear an interview from our friends at Reset, WBEZ’s daily talk show. In a multimedia project titled “The River Speaks,” a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago gives a unique personality to each of the six branches of the Chicago River.

Duration:00:24:20

A Different Perspective On Our Story About The Walnut Room

12/22/2020
In a response to our recent episode about the Walnut Room, listener Joyce Miller Bean shares her family’s experience of racism and discrimination when visiting Marshall Field’s in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Duration:00:15:52

What’s Up With All The Geese In Chicago?

12/17/2020
Maybe you find them annoying or maybe not, but one thing is certain: Chicago’s got a lot of geese. So this week we’re taking on your geese questions, from why they’re here to techniques for controlling their population.

Duration:00:12:30

How A Department Store Became Part Of Chicago’s Christmas Traditions

12/10/2020
From the Walnut Room restaurant to its window displays, Marshall Field’s figured out how to draw in the crowds during the holiday.

Duration:00:14:39

The Radical Existence Of Lucy Parsons, The ‘Goddess Of Anarchy’

12/3/2020
In this episode, reporter Arionne Nettles tells us the story of Lucy Parsons, a Chicago labor activist and anarchist known for her fiery speeches and dubbed “more dangerous than 1,000 rioters.” But who she was and what she fought for was complex — and just as complicated was her true identity.

Duration:00:20:30

A Most Unusual School Year: Part II

11/26/2020
In Part II of our special series on education during COVID-19, reporters Susie An and Kate McGee share stories of two high school juniors going through the college application process during remote learning and several college freshmen experiencing a strange first semester. Some of those college students are studying remotely from the homes where they grew up while others packed up and headed off to campus, only to face a quarantine. Then, we hear from Curious City question askers and...

Duration:00:20:16

A Most Unusual School Year: Part I

11/19/2020
We’ve spent the last couple of months reimagining the Curious City podcast and trying out some new ways to answer your questions. And now, the wait is over. We’re ready to let you hear what we’ve been up to. We’re still going to be answering your questions, but in this episode, we’re collaborating with our audience a little differently. Two WBEZ education reporters share how a family and a teacher are coping with remote learning.

Duration:00:22:44

Where Does Your Poop Go?

11/14/2020
In 2015, Satchel Lang was a curious five-year-old Chicagoan who didn’t want poop’s destiny to remain such a mystery. Now 11-years-old, we catch back up with Satchel and revisit the answer to Satchel’s question that reveals how poop and pee in the Chicago area get processed by an agency called the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Duration:00:12:36

What My Family’s Great Migration Story Reveals About Chicago Blues

11/7/2020
In the 20th century, millions of Black Americans who lived in southern states packed up and moved to northern cities — drawn by the promise of greater freedom and better jobs. Many headed to Chicago, and they brought a musical genre with deep African roots that reflected the realities of Black life: the blues. Reporter Arionne Nettles’ grandparents were among those who came to Chicago from the South, and when they established themselves in the city, they found success in the growing blues...

Duration:00:10:36

What Chicago’s Architectural Clues Reveal About How We Lived

10/31/2020
If you’ve lived in or visited an older home or apartment building in Chicago, like question asker Biz Knapp, chances are it has an odd door or some other quirky feature that seems out of place today. But the evolution of apartment layouts signifies more than just a change in style or materials — They also provide architectural clues about the way Chicagoans once lived. We revisit those clues in this episode from 2017. Then, we catch up with Evanston elementary drama teacher Michael...

Duration:00:17:13

Chicago Residents Say Rats Are A Problem, So What Is The Solution?

10/24/2020
We’re back on the rat beat! Through WBEZ’s Citizens’ Agenda project, Chicagoans expressed concerns about the large number of rats in their neighborhoods. So we walk you through what you, your neighbor and your elected officials can do to tackle Chicago’s rat problem. Later in the episode, hear from Chicago-based professional wrestler Colt Cabana, who wants to know your questions about the city’s wrestling history.

Duration:00:17:43