The Chicago Fire. Mrs. O’Leary’s Barn. Fort Dearborn. Al Capone. We’re not going to talk about any of that here.
Instead, you’ll find chapters of Chicago history missing from most textbooks. We bring you stories from Chicago’s past that range from near-death pair-o-chute rides to rides on funeral train cars; forgotten zoos to abandoned hospitals; produce markets to telephone exchanges; asylums to sidewalks.
All of these stories started from questions you’ve asked and you’ve helped us report. There are enough of them that it’s worth recapping what we’ve learned about Chicago’s peculiar past — through the lens of residents’ own curiosity.
Curious City is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy your curiosities. You ask your questions about Chicago, the region and the people who live here, vote for your favorites, and together we discover answers. It’s your Curious City.
The audio playlist above begins with an hour-long special featuring questions that span from the 1800s to today. You’ll hear about Victorian-era sexuality, forgotten graves near an insane asylum, radioactive secrets, missiles that were a little too close to home, a long-gone amusement park, seedy motels and … doughnuts, of all things. Below, we follow up with videos that tell what happened to Union Park’s menagerie, what is was like to be a visitor at the 1893 World’s Fair and why residents on the city’s Northwest Side were afraid of Dunning Asylum for the Insane.
If you want to bring alive the history of Chicago, the region or its people ask your question right now! Otherwise, enjoy tales of local history — Curious City style!
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