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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.




For Street Artist Joos, All The City's A Gallery

Around Chicago, there are ribbons of paint on utility boxes that look like little doodles. But there’s much more to these paint splotches. The street artist and graffiti writer behind this and much larger work says painting has been a lifesaver.


Chicago's Key Role In The Creation Of Black History Month

This week, hear about historian Carter G. Woodson’s important Chicago ties, and how he came up with the idea for a “Negro History Week,” which later turned into the Black History Month we celebrate today.


What Was The American Negro Exposition Of 1940?

Fed up with how Black Americans were portrayed at world’s fairs, Black organizers created the “first real Negro World’s Fair” in Chicago in 1940. As Arionne Nettles reports, this exposition paved the way for Black institutions. Nettles’ debut book, "We Are The Culture: Black Chicago’s Influence on Everything," is out on April 16, 2024.


Chicago Is Where Black Cinema Took Root

In 1913 Chicagoan William Foster became the first Black director to make a film with an all Black cast. Yet most people have never heard of him. Join Arionne Nettles as she tells Foster's story, the story of Black filmmaking in Chicago, when our city was the pre-Hollywood movie capital of the world. It's the first of 3 Curious City podcasts in a row celebrating Black History Month 2024!


What’s The Impact Of Storefront Churches On A Community?

Storefront churches have been around since the early 1900s when African-Americans migrated up north from the South. Many are in operation in South and West side neighborhoods like Austin. We talk to residents about the impact these churches have on the community.


Bumper-to-Bumper With Some Questions About Chicago Traffic

There’s never a shortage of complaints about Chicago traffic, but experts swear it could be worse. We investigate the science behind lane closures and red lights, and then take a look at the chaos of creating a traffic report.


What It’s Like To Drive A Snow Plow

There’s a lot that goes into keeping the city streets clear of ice and snow. A snowplow driver shows us the ropes. And did you know Chicago used to ship out its plowed snow? We’ll revisit a story one joyful Floridian will never forget.


The Curious City Team Answers Five Wintery Questions

The weather outside is frightful, but our answers to 5 Chicago winter-related questions are delightful.


The History Of The Walnut Room And Why It’s Not Nostalgic For Everyone

The Walnut Room in the Macy’s department store downtown has been a longstanding holiday tradition in Chicago. While it is a source of Christmas nostalgia for many, it brings back painful memories of discrimination for others.


Are News Boxes A Thing Of The Past?

You’ll only see news boxes for free publications around today, but those papers are important for many people.


The First Black-Owned And Operated Airport Was In Robbins

The Chicago area played a key role in Black aviation in the early 1900s. The founders of the first Black-owned airport learned to fly in Chicago and went on to teach thousands of others.


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.