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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


Why Aren’t There Any Federal Indian Reservations In Illinois?

Unlike many states in the Midwest, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, Illinois doesn’t have any federally recognized Indian reservations. Yet all around the state, in the names of cities, rivers, streets and sports teams, there are reminders that we are living on land where Native Americans once farmed, traded and made their home. So why doesn’t Illinois have any reservations? The answer requires a look back at the region’s history beginning in the 1700s.


Jerk Food Finds a Home in Chicago

Even though the Jamaican population in Chicago is relatively small, the city is flush with restaurants serving jerk-style foods. Why are there so many? And what is authentic jerk cuisine?


The Life and Legacy of Alice Hamilton

Scientist Alice Hamilton’s investigations into toxins in Chicago’s factories led to some of the first workplace safety laws in the country. She was known for her “shoe leather” epidemiology, wearing out the soles of her shoes from all the trips she made to Chicago homes, factories and even saloons to figure out what was making people sick. Reporter Edie Rubinowitz has her story.


Two Southside families trace their roots back to Chicago’s earliest days

You’ve never heard of the Atkinsons or the Bernsteins. But these are two historic Chicago families and in big and small ways, they have left their mark on this city.


Honoring Black History in Chicago: The impact of Ida B. Wells on Politics and Cadillac Baby on the Blues

Reporter Arionne Nettles brings us two stories honoring Black History in Chicago: The legacy of Ida B. Wells who empowered Black people to claim political power here. And the tale of Cadillac Baby, Nettle’s grandfather, who helped establish and nourish the Blues industry in Chicago.


Car Window Tinting Laws are Complicated (and hard to enforce)

Curious City takes a look at the growing popularity of car window tinting in Illinois. We find out what the state law says about how dark automobile windows can be, who enforces these laws -- or not -- and why some people have safety concerns about them.


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.