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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.




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What’s the History of the Medinah Temple and Its Original Owners?

Before it was a place to gamble or shop, the Medinah Temple was the longtime home to the Medinah Shriners, an organization shrouded in secrecy.


Who Enforces the Rules at Dog Parks?

It can be a tense situation when a dog bites another dog at the park. Who’s making sure it’s handled properly? No matter what kind of dog you have, there are a number of rules to follow at the dog park. But, who’s keeping it all in check?


The Fireside Bowl: An Unlikely Place For Punks Of All Ages

In the ‘90s, an old bowling alley hosted a few punk shows. For a little over a decade, it became the all-ages heart of Chicago’s punk and indie scene.


This Episode Is Garbage

Chicago collects thousands of tons of garbage each year. We answer some questions about garbage, and follow an all-women collection crew on the job.


Are the suburbs taking the “Little India” title away from Devon Avenue?

Devon Avenue in the West Ridge neighborhood has been the region’s top destination for South Asian restaurants, grocery stores, clothing, jewelry and more. But with more South Asian families settling in the suburbs, what does the future hold for the area known as “Little India”?


Traveling Parties: A Queer Chicago Culture Of Partying As Resistance

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 events today — and learned how queer Black organizers have been at the forefront of traveling parties in Chicago.


Soul Train: How Chicago birthed the “hippest trip in America”

For more than 3 decades, Soul Train brought the coolest music and dancers to TV sets across the country. It also featured the coolest host, Don Cornelius, who started the program in Chicago in a studio the size of a small living room at WCIU Channel 26. On the 53rd anniversary of Soul Train going national, we take you back to its earliest days, and see how it still looms large over local culture.


Is That A Lobster In The Chicago River?

It’s an invasive species that doesn’t seem harmful at first glance. But if they go unchecked, these little things can disrupt local ecologies.


When And Why did The West Ridge Neighborhood Become Such An Orthodox Jewish Enclave?

Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood has had a large, vibrant Jewish population since the late 1940’s. But at some point, the people living there became more and more religiously observant. We’ll find out when and why that change took place, and hear about the practices that make the community unique.


What Does "Chicagoland" Mean, And Where Did It Come From?

The origins of “Chicagoland” can be traced back to nearly 100 years ago. Back then, it encompassed an area that went beyond the suburbs.


Chicago’s Steak And Lemonade Combo, And Those Structures On The Lake

The beef sandwich and slushy drink combo are sold together all across the South and West sides of Chicago. Reporter Monica Eng tracks down the guy who put the two together. Then, she answers a question about what those mysterious structures out on Lake Michigan actually do.


The Whos And Whys Behind Chicago's So-Called Teen Takeovers

It's summertime in Chicago, and once again massive teen gatherings are making headlines. We find out who is organizing these large meetups and why they're happening.


Love It Or Hate It; Malört Is Chicago’s Drink

The bitter liquor has been around for about a century, but Malört’s rise to Chicago icon status is a more recent story.


Four Dances Invented in Chicago, Plus a Traditional One Chicagoans Keep Alive

We waltz with the musicians and dancers who popularized dances in Chicago, and we feel the beat with the people who keep La Danza Ateca alive in Pilsen.


What Happens To Unidentified Or Unclaimed Bodies in Cook County?

When someone dies in Cook County and there’s no one to identify or claim the body, a small army of people from the public and private sectors work to find out who the person is, if they have any relatives or friends, and ultimately give them a dignified burial.


Chi-Town Is A Pie Town, But We Search Out The Best Single-Slice Pizza In The City

A New York transplant loves everything about Chicago, but misses the easy access to a big slice of pizza on a paper plate. Our city’s tavern style and deep dish don’t lend themselves to the “slice to go” concept, but slice shops have gained traction over the last few years. We go on a hunt for the city’s best slice, and even get initiated into an underground pizza club.


Why Is The Only North American Baháʼí Temple In Wilmette?

The huge, gleaming Baháʼí House of Worship for North America definitely stands out from its suburban lakefront surroundings. It’s the oldest Baháʼí temple in the world, and it’s also known as the holiest. But why is it in Wilmette, Illinois? That answer involves a trip to the temple, a celebrity run-in, and some good old-fashioned research.


Chicago’s Infamous Dojo Wars Part 2: The Fall of Count Dante, the Deadliest Man Alive

In the 1960s, Chicago was becoming known as a center for Karate teaching and international tournaments, and the main person behind this movement was John Keehan. In the last of this two part series, we delve into Keehan’s devolution into a persona he created, Count Dante. He was at the center of Chicago’s “Dojo Wars,” which would end up taking a dark turn.


Chicago’s Infamous Dojo Wars, Part 1: The Rise of John Keehan, Karate Sensei

In the 1960s, Chicago was becoming known as a center for Karate teaching and international tournaments, and the main person behind this movement was John Keehan. He was a revered black belt instructor who was also often an instigator in Chicago’s “Dojo Wars,” a series of brawls and incidents between competing martial arts schools. In part one, we follow Keehan’s rise as a sensei, and his efforts to bring more violence to the art, both on and off the mats.


Move Over Mayor. Adios Aldermen. Regular Citizens Can Propose Laws In Chicago And We’ll Tell You How

Brandon Johnson was just sworn in as Chicago’s new mayor. Johnson was known as a union and community organizer who believes average people should have more say in how their government works. Which is why we thought this story from 2021 about how any citizen can introduce new laws here in Chicago was the perfect pairing to inauguration week.