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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.


Chicago, IL


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




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


Watch out, big grocery chains – co-ops are coming

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.


How Devon Avenue Became Chicago’s Little India

Devon Avenue has long been known as Little India, but the diverse West Ridge strip has become home for many and is still evolving today.


Lions and tigers and Chicagoans! How we all stay warm through Chicago winters

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.


We answer your questions about voting for judges

It’s election season. And Injustice Watch’s Maya Dukmasova joins us to answer your last-minute questions about that lengthy part of the ballot lots of voters avoid: judges.


The Haunting of Rainbow Road in Barrington, Illinois

A house on Rainbow Road in Barrington, Illinois is shrouded in mystery. Former residents say they’ll never return. Some locals say memories of the property still chill their blood. So, what really happened at 92 Rainbow Road?


Chicago’s Golden Age of Pro Wrestling

From carnival shows to the early days of television. In this week’s episode: How pro wrestling grew up in America and had a flashy, sporty heyday in Chicago.


Faith-based organizations often work together to support Chicago’s immigrants

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 newcomers to resettle are faith-based. On this week’s episode we take on a question about how faith-based groups approach this kind of work from a...


Coming out later in life

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 changed, many queer Americans still don’t have a safe space to come out. Curious City pulls this documentary out of the archives to recognize October...

Dunning Asylum A 'Tomb For The Living'

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 County Infirmary, later known as Chicago State Hospital but to most, simply “Dunning.”


How So Many Chicago Bars Got Old Style Signs

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 Fecile uncovers this mystery in this week’s episode.


Illinois is abuzz with bees, but their future is uncertain

A listener noticed her garden didn’t seem to have as many bees as usual buzzing about this summer. She wondered if the population in Illinois was on the decline. Curious City reporter Adriana Cardona- Maguigad finds out how the bees are doing and why experts are worried about the bees.


Chicago teens went to dance and find connection at Medusa’s

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.


Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain and Why the City’s Got So Many Alleys

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?


The Underground Railroad in Chicago and Illinois

Abolitionists in Chicago and Illinois helped freedom seekers reach Canada, and freedom.


What happened to Chicago's Japanese community?

Lakeview once had a thriving Japanese community, but it fell victim to a push for assimilation. As one Japanese-American puts it: “You had to basically be unseen.”


What happened to Chicago's Japanese neighborhood?

Lakeview once had a thriving Japanese community, but it fell victim to a push for assimilation. As one Japanese-American puts it: “You had to basically be unseen.”


Birdwatching Off The Beaten Path In Chicago

Tips and tricks for spotting and enjoying birds in Chicago, from far flung marshes, to one birder’s window.


How to Start a Community Garden in Chicago

Find out how the folks behind El Paseo Community Garden in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood changed a contaminated site into a space for neighbors to grow plants, keep bees, meditate, and congregate.


Chicago in 1910, and the City’s Long Rivalry with New York

A tourist to Chicago in 1910 might have gone to see hogs being butchered, sought illicit pleasure in Chicago’s vice district, or simply enjoyed the majesty of Lake Michigan. We virtually explore those sites, and then trace the long history of Chicago’s rivalry with New York City.


Florence Price and the Chicago Black Renaissance

As a classical composer and a Black woman, Florence Price blended African and European music into a new style of symphonic music.