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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


Who’s Behind The CTA Holiday Train? Santa And The Elves!

The CTA Holiday Train started from humble beginnings. Then a holiday celebrity and his helpers turned it into a Chicago tradition.


How Did Indian Boundary Park Get Its Name?

Indian Boundary Park on the city’s far north side is a symbol of Chicago’s complicated history with Indigenous people. We’ll explore that history, and current efforts to correct past wrongs.


Two Tasty Treats For Thanksgiving Feasts

As you prepare to gather around the dinner table, Curious City brings you a couple of delicious food stories. First, we visit some Mexican bakeries around the city. Then, we go hunting for a long lost fried chicken recipe.


Spare Rooms And Shared Spaces; Migrants Scramble To Find Housing Ahead Of Winter

Thousands of newly arrived migrants are sleeping in tents or shelters in Chicago. But with winter approaching, some residents are offering space in their homes. Curious City takes a look at the small scale housing alternatives migrants are taking.


What Happened To Chicago’s Cuban Community?

Following the Cuban Revolution, many Cubans ended up settling in Chicago neighborhoods like Edgewater and Logan Square. Today, the community isn’t as visible as it is in places like Miami and New York City. We’ll look at what drew Cubans to Illinois and what sets Chicago’s Cuban community apart from others in the U.S.


Bar Culture on the Big and Small Screen: Curious City Live from Goose Island Barrelhouse

In October, Curious City teamed up with the Chicago Brewseum to talk about important bar scenes in film and television. The Brewseum’s Liz Garibay and writer Mark Caro join Curious City’s Jason Marck for some of the highlights of the evening that revolved around Chicago bars.


The Haunting Of East Pilsen

Curious City asked listeners for their paranormal experiences, and it turns out Chicago is pretty spooky. We explore the supernatural in one family’s home in Pilsen. Is that the sound of a house settling, or could it be spirits?


How Can We Keep Chicago And Our Basements Above Water?

Basements fill with stormwater and sewage when a big storm hits. Why is this happening, and what can be done to prevent it?


What’s It Like To Be a Rail Operator?

It takes a lot to drive a Chicago Transit Authority train. Since the pandemic, the job itself hasn’t changed, but challenges remain.


Putting on a Chicago race requires fees, permits and patience

Each year tens of thousands of people take part in 5ks, 10ks, marathons, half-marathons and more in Chicago. But how does one get permission? And what’s it like to navigate the process and work with the various city departments to put on an event like this? As we get ready for the 46th annual Chicago Marathon this weekend, Curious City talked to one race director who organizes ultramarathons to find out. And of course, as you might imagine, there’s just a little bit of bureaucracy involved.


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.