Curious City

Chicago Public Media

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


Police accountability and the power of Chicago’s mayor

With the death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers, the people and mechanisms that hold cops accountable are in the spotlight once again. It’s something we talk about often here in Chicago. Later this month, city residents will be voting for mayor, and whoever wins that race will sit at the head of a large-and growing-police accountability system. We’ll take you in a deep dive into that system, and update you on how a years-long battle for more citizen involvement in that...


Is There A Way To Save Altgeld Gardens’ Memorial Wall?

The uncertain fate of a hand-lettered memorial wall in the Far South Side Altgeld Gardens community has Curious City digging into how such memorials and other valued local murals and artwork might be saved from destruction, even if they are not officially national landmarks.


Why once migratory geese are now permanent Chicago residents

Geese have the only flights in and out of Chicago that aren’t delayed. But seriously…we find out why the once-migratory Canada geese decided to make Chicago their permanent home, why these birds have become a nuisance, and what’s being done to keep their population in check.


The Avalon Regal Theater's Eclectic History And Troubled Future

The Avalon Regal Theater in South Shore has almost a century of cultural significance. Since 2003, it’s sat mostly empty. What will happen to it?


What’s it like to be a snow plow driver in Chicago?

A Chicago snow plow driver who’s been on the job for 40 years tells us what it’s like to keep the roads clear of snow and ice. Plus, we find out about the time Chicago made a Floridian class of kids thrilled when we shipped them a bunch of... our snow.


Fried Shrimp, Cricket and K Streets: The 2022 Holiday Grab Bag

We put all of the questions that you submitted in 2022 - nearly 700! - into a giant bag, and we’ve pulled a few out to answer all at once including Where to find the best Shrimp, the history of Cricket Hill, all the lettered streets west of Pulask, and more.


Two for the Winter Season

We revisit two questions from winters past: how the city breaks up the winter ice on the Chicago River, and in honor of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the history of Chicago’s Jewish migration throughout the city and beyond.


We look at the past-and present-of tree planting in Chicago

This week we dive into the history of tree planting in Chicago, find out why trees are so important to us and our city, and talk to people who are working to get trees planted in the neighborhoods that need them most.


Curious City Turns 10!

In the spirit of our show, and our inquisitive listeners, we decided to ask some about ourselves and Curious City’s humble beginnings, with founder Jennifer Brandel.


Chicago's Biodiversity, From Eastern Red Bats To Prickly Pear Cacti

We start in the Chicago loop, then head south to the Powderhorn Prairie and Marsh to discover the area's rich flora and fauna.


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.