WBEZ | History http://www.wbez.org/tags/history Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago museum lifts lid on Egyptian mummy coffin http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-museum-lifts-lid-egyptian-mummy-coffin-111204 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP479914621551.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Not until the lid was off the wood coffin &mdash; exposing the 2,500-year-old mummified remains of a 14-year-old Egyptian boy &mdash; could J.P. Brown relax.</p><p>The conservator at Chicago&#39;s Field Museum and three other scientists had just employed specially created clamps as a cradle to raise the fragile coffin lid. Wearing blue surgical gloves, they lifted the contraption and delicately walked it to safe spot on a table in a humidity-controlled lab.</p><p>&quot;Sweet!&quot; Brown said after helping set the lid down, before later acknowledging the stress. &quot;Oh yeah, god, I was nervous.&quot;</p><p>The much-planned procedure Friday at the museum, revealing the burial mask and blackened toes of Minirdis, the son of a priest, will allow museum conservators to stabilize the mummy so it can travel in an upcoming exhibit.</p><p>&quot;Mummies: Images of the Afterlife&quot; is expected to premier in September at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, then travel to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in fall 2016.</p><p>The Field Museum has had the mummy since the 1920s, when the institution received it from the Chicago Historical Society. It&#39;s part of the museum&#39;s collection of 30 complete human mummies from Egypt.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s always a risk of damage,&quot; said Brown, who works in a lab filled with plastic-covered examination tables behind a large window that allows schoolchildren to watch him work. &quot;So we like to handle these things as little as possible.&quot;</p><p>Even before opening the coffin, the conservators knew some of what to expect. CT scans, which make X-ray images allowing scientists to see inside, showed the boy&#39;s feet were detached and partially unwrapped with his toes sticking out. His shroud and mask were torn and twisted sideways. Those also will be repaired.</p><p>Pieces of the coffin had previously gone missing, so the mummy had been exposed to the elements before. For that reason, Brown wasn&#39;t worried about the mummy scattering to dust when the lid came off &mdash; a notion familiar to moviegoers.</p><p>&quot;The last bit of &#39;Indiana Jones&#39; and all that &mdash; that&#39;s not going to happen,&quot; he reassured before the lid-raising began.</p><p>Walking around the opened coffin, Brown pointed and explained the significance of a particular marking, the colored resin on linen wrappings and the gilded gold on the mask. If Minirdis had lived, he would have been a priest like his father, Brown said.</p><p>Scientists don&#39;t know why he died so young.</p><p>&quot;The fascinating thing about any mummy is that it&#39;s survived as long as it has,&quot; Brown said. &quot;They&#39;re actually amazingly fragile.&quot;</p><p>This kind of work is always painstaking, with lots of pre-planning and tests to prevent the unexpected, said Molly Gleeson, who works with mummies as project conservator at Penn Museum&#39;s &quot;In the Artifact Lab: Conserving Egyptian Mummies&quot; exhibition in Philadelphia.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s nothing else like them,&quot; she said, noting that if something goes wrong, &quot;We can&#39;t put things back together exactly the way they were before.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 16:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-museum-lifts-lid-egyptian-mummy-coffin-111204 We ain't afraid of no (Chicago) ghosts! http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/we-aint-afraid-no-chicago-ghosts-111017 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/174477845&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><a href="https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&amp;ion=1&amp;espv=2&amp;ie=UTF-8#q=haunted%20chicago" target="_blank">Search &ldquo;haunted Chicago&rdquo; online</a> and you&rsquo;ll get a list of websites and articles, each clamoring to be your number one source for all things ghost related. The lists are long enough to occupy you for an eternity.</p><p>Which makes sense, given that Chicago <a href="http://chicago.curbed.com/archives/2012/10/29/map-haunted-places.php" target="_blank">has a reputation for being terribly haunted</a>. The city is the home of America&rsquo;s <a href="http://harpers.org/archive/1943/12/the-master-of-the-murder-castle/">first serial killer</a> (reference to &ldquo;murder castle&rdquo; included), as well as <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1916/10/the-devil-baby-at-hull-house/305428/" target="_blank">the cloven-hooved &ldquo;devil baby</a>.&rdquo; And, don&rsquo;t forget the swanky, downtown nightclub that once served as the morgue for victims of the <a href="http://www.eastlanddisaster.org/history/what-happened" target="_blank">Eastland disaster</a>.</p><p>Fibbed or fact-checked, these stories and dozens of others have been told and retold, spun into ghost-tour monologues and stamped into scary story books.</p><p>Well, we&rsquo;re taking our turn in re-spinning two of Chicago&rsquo;s spookiest stories, but this time in service to two <a href="https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.614491515325495.1073741829.207340619373922&amp;type=3" target="_blank">Curious Citizens</a>. The first wanted to meet the local specter who has (allegedly) been seen the most often. The second asked to find the location that ghost census-takers say is crawling with spirits.</p><p>To ease into this, let&rsquo;s consider what good can come out of a ghost story, especially if you&rsquo;re on the skeptical side. For this, we turn to folklorist Sue Eleuterio, who says these stories fulfill a number of psychological needs. Among them: Supernatural stories transform real-life dangers into ghoulish monsters. In theory these tales spook kids away from sneaking out after dark.</p><p>&ldquo;We know there are risks associated with certain behavior, so being out alone when it&rsquo;s dark, or you know, after a certain time, is dangerous, or can be dangerous,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Ghost stories can also make it safe for young people to experience uncomfortable emotions. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s something thrilling about being afraid, especially if it feels controlled,&rdquo; Eleuterio says. &ldquo;One of the things I love about folk culture is we still have that need. We have all those needs to be afraid, we have those needs to be reassured, we have those needs to be warned and protected.&rdquo;</p><p>With this in mind &mdash; and with help from an antique dealer and a couple of ghost experts &mdash; we pursue two ghost stories that answer our Curious Citizens&rsquo; questions. Along the way we learn how ghost tales can not just haunt us, they can help us, too.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Legitimate ghost?</span></p><p>For both questions we enlist the help of <a href="http://www.adamselzer.com" target="_blank">Adam Selzer</a>, the author of <em>The Ghosts of Chicago</em> and a local ghost tour guide. Selzer traces his interest in the supernatural back to his childhood, which was spent watching <em>Scooby Doo</em>. That detail, though, doesn&rsquo;t mean he&rsquo;s light when it comes to comparing legends to facts.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re interested in ghosts you deserve better,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You deserve proper backstories.&rdquo; For him, that translates into &ldquo;digging through old newspaper archives, old 19th century books, stuff from the property records, the legal archives occasionally, contacting relatives when possible.&rdquo;</p><p>Alright ... but for the record: Does our ghost expert believe in ghosts?</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve seen some strange stuff,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;but not necessarily anything that I would swear in front of a panel of scientists was really a dead person. But certainly some things that I can&rsquo;t explain.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/part 1 topper.jpg" title="Anna “Mary” Norkus, above, died on the night of her 13th birthday in 1927. Ursula Bielski holds that Norkus is the inspiration behind Resurrection Mary ghost story. (Image courtesy Ursula Bielski)" /></div><p><span style="text-align: center;">Ok. Onto our first question, which comes from Chicagoan Ben Albers, a self-described history buff and ghost enthusiast:</span></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Which is the most legitimate ghost story in Chicago?</em></p><p>And ... here&rsquo;s his caveat: He&rsquo;s looking for evidence. &ldquo;Anyone can make up a ghost story,&rdquo; Ben says. &ldquo;A new bar owner, in order to get publicity, they could say that Al Capone used to sit in that booth and eat his lasagna. It&rsquo;s just [that] you need the evidence to back it up in order for it to be legitimate.&rdquo;</p><p>Whew. Well, Ben meets Adam Selzer and producer Katie Klocksin at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois, a southwest suburb. Selzer explains that, for him, evidence &ldquo;is primarily first-hand accounts, actual stories of somebody seeing the ghost.&rdquo;</p><p>By this metric, the winner for most legitimate ghost story is that of Resurrection Mary, sightings of which began in the early 1930s. Selzer has encountered a few dozen first-hand accounts. &ldquo;So a few dozen is a lot more than we&rsquo;ve got of everything else, really,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>According to Selzer, Resurrection Mary sightings usually go like this. First, someone will be driving near Resurrection Cemetery &mdash; our ghost&rsquo;s namesake. Then, they&rsquo;ll see a girl. &ldquo;Now and then you&rsquo;ll hear a story of somebody dancing with her, but mostly it&rsquo;s just they see her by the side of the road crying,&rdquo; Selzer says. &ldquo;They offer her a ride home, and then she disappears outside of Resurrection Cemetery.&rdquo; Sometimes she&rsquo;ll jump out of the car near the cemetery, but &ldquo;usually they just look over at the passenger seat and find that she&rsquo;s gone.&rdquo;</p><p>The disappearing act happens one of two ways: Mary either gets out of the car the old fashioned way or ... she just vanishes. Selzer recalls a story from a man who believes he encountered Resurrection Mary when he was a high school student in the &lsquo;60s. The man thought he recognized a girl sitting by the side of the road crying, so he pulled over and offered her a ride. &ldquo;And when she looked up he saw that it wasn&rsquo;t the girl that he thought it was,&rdquo; Selzer says. Still, the driver still felt like he had to make good on his offer of a ride.</p><p>&ldquo;So she got into the car and just kind of pointed him down road. They were only about a block away from Resurrection Cemetery. Then, when he looked into passenger seat she was just gone,&rdquo; Selzer says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Was there really a Mary?</span></p><p>Ghost experts have tried to link the Resurrection Mary legend with actual people who died around the time the sightings began. One theory involves Mary Bregovy, a girl who died in a car accident in 1934, according to Adam Selzer. &ldquo;And we like to talk about her as a possible candidate,&rdquo; he says, &ldquo;mainly because she fits the template so well: died on coming home from a dance.&rdquo;</p><p>But Selzer notes that the Resurrection Mary sightings had already begun by the time Mary Bregovy died. Also, Resurrection Mary is usually described as a blonde, which Mary Bregovy was not. According to Selzer&rsquo;s research, there are 60 to 70 young Marys buried at Resurrection Cemetery, all having died during roughly the right time period to be candidates. &ldquo;And even then, we&rsquo;re really just making the broad assumption that it&rsquo;s actually a girl named Mary at all,&rdquo; Selzer says.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ressurection%20cemetery%20flickr%20pklza.jpg" style="float: right; height: 422px; width: 280px;" title="Resurrection Cemetery is the resting place of Resurrection Mary, Chicago's most legitimate ghost story. (Flickr/pkize)" />Another candidate for the Mary ghost is a girl named Anna Norkus. The case for this &ldquo;Mary&rdquo; is described by historian and author <a href="http://chicagohauntings.com/bio.html">Ursula Bielski</a> in her book <em>Chicago Haunts</em>. Bielski writes that Norkus began using Mary as her middle name because of her &ldquo;devotion to the Blessed Mother.&rdquo; Norkus did have blonde hair. Also, Norkus died in a car accident after going out dancing on the night of her 13th birthday on July 20, 1927.</p><p>In Bielski&rsquo;s account, Norkus was scheduled to be buried at St. Casimir Cemetery, near Resurrection. But there may have been a problem. Bielski cites fellow ghost lore researcher Frank Andrejasich, who noted that grave-digging in the 1920s was difficult manual labor and strikes were common. Andrejasich discovered a man named Mr. Churas, who was in charge of the gravediggers at the time Anna Norkus died. During strikes, Bielski writes, Churas would retrieve unburied bodies in wooden boxes and temporarily bury them at Resurrection until the strike ended. This practice was necessary, &ldquo;because of poor coffin construction and the lack of refrigeration,&rdquo; Bielski writes.</p><p>If grave diggers at St. Casimir were striking when Norkus was scheduled to be buried, her body may have been temporarily buried at Resurrection. &ldquo;If the strike dragged on, identification at the time of relocation could be gruesomely difficult,&rdquo; Bielski writes. She concludes: &ldquo;The result? A mislaid corpse and a most restless eternity, if only one is willing to believe.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Vanishing hitchhikers: a broader trend</span></p><p>Sue Eleuterio says folklorists consider Resurrection Mary a vanishing hitchhiker story, variants of which appear all around the world. &ldquo;There are legends in China, there are legends in Korea,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;As immigrants have come to the United States they&rsquo;ve often brought these legends with them.&rdquo;</p><p>For example, a vanishing hitchhiker story told in Northwest Indiana has elements of the traditional Mexican story of &ldquo;La Llorona,&rdquo; the weeping woman, she says.</p><p>While there&rsquo;s often discussion about whether or not urban legend style ghost stories are true, Eleuterio says &ldquo;what&rsquo;s more interesting to me is that it always has a pattern, and then there are variations in the pattern. ... A vanishing hitchhiker story is always going to have some aspects of a ghostly figure that appears, and then disappears,&rdquo; and the stories are always connected to a specific place.</p><p>Ursula Bielski suggests a psychological cause for some vanishing hitchhiker sightings, rather than restless ghosts. &ldquo;Night travel along cemeteries may encourage the unwitting creation of phantoms to inhabit these curiously and suddenly empty lengths of highway,&rdquo; she writes. &ldquo;The dreamlike state imposed by lonely late-night driving could be the culprit in so many of these cases.&rdquo;</p><p>Our questioner, Ben Albers, got this investigation started with his question about a legitimate ghost story. Adam Selzer&rsquo;s strongest evidence for Resurrection Mary is several dozen first-hand accounts.</p><p>How does this sound to Ben?</p><p>&ldquo;I think this is the most convincing case, just because there&rsquo;s been so many sightings of her and first-hand accounts,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;This is definitely the most convincing and legitimate ghost story I&rsquo;ve heard in Chicago, and I think your evidence backs it up.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/part%202%20topper.png" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;">Our next Curious Citizen with a penchant for the supernatural is Paul Vaccarello, who says he loves two things: being afraid, and being afraid during Halloween.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;">Little wonder, then, that he submitted this question to Curious City:</p><p><em>What&rsquo;s the most haunted place in Chicago?</em></p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;">But how the heck should you quantify &ldquo;most haunted&rdquo; in this case? Expert ghost guide Adam Selzer had offered up these options:</p><blockquote><p style="text-align: left;">A. The place with the most number of ghosts.</p><p style="text-align: left;">B. The place with the most frequently seen ghosts.</p><p style="text-align: left;">C. The place with the best quality of ghosts.</p><p style="text-align: left;">D. The place you&rsquo;re most likely to get sucked into the netherworld.</p><p style="text-align: left;">E. The place you&rsquo;re most likely to get possessed.</p></blockquote><p style="text-align: left;">With help from Paul, we settle with: &ldquo;<strong>A. the place with the most number of ghosts.</strong>&rdquo; That is, we settle for <em>quantity</em> over quality.</p><p style="text-align: left;">&ldquo;My goal is to see a ghost,&rdquo; Paul says. &ldquo;To experience something supernatural, you know? See something that I can&rsquo;t explain.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;The alley of death and mutilation&rsquo;</span></p><p style="text-align: left;">Luckily, Selzer knows just the spot for Paul to maximize his chances for otherworldly experiences &mdash; or at least hear accounts about them.</p><p style="text-align: left;">On the night of October&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.space.com/27358-total-lunar-eclipse-blood-moon-complete-coverage.html" target="_blank">blood moon</a>, we meet in front of the Oriental Theater on Chicago&rsquo;s Randolph Street. We then curve around the corner into an alley. There, we see a ghost segway tour. (That&rsquo;s right. Selzer says he&rsquo;s seen them before.) A guy takes out the trash. It kind of smells like pee. (Something Selzer says he&rsquo;s noticed many times.)</p><p style="text-align: left;">&ldquo;Right now we are in an alley that the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> once called the alley of death and mutilation,&rdquo; Selzer says, as he pulls out a news clipping to prove it. He scrolls through his iPad to show this:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/alley%20of%20death%20and%20mutilation%20chicago%20tribun.jpg" title="A Chicago Tribune illustration published December 31, 1903, the day after the Iroquois Theater fire, depicts the alley before the flames were extinguished. " /></div><p style="text-align: left;">Selzer tells us we are standing right in the spot this illustration depicts &mdash; just about where that lady on the bottom left is falling to her death.</p><p style="text-align: left;">The image depicts a tragedy that happened in this alley on December 30, 1903. The building, then known as the Iroquois Theater, had caught fire and 600 people perished inside the building and in this alley. (It&rsquo;s safest to say &ldquo;about 600 people&rdquo; died, as figures run between the high 590s and a tad over 600). The blaze was the deadliest single-building fire in United States history until the World Trade Center towers were destroyed in 2001. While the Iroquois Theater fire eventually led to monumental leaps in nation-wide fire code improvements, it also led to the reason why Adam Selzer says the alley behind the Oriental Theater is the most haunted spot in Chicago.</p><p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size:24px;">The Iroquois Theater: &lsquo;Absolutely fireproof!&rsquo;</span></p><p style="text-align: left;">The Iroquois Theater was built in the summer of 1903 and opened around Thanksgiving that same year. It had 1,600 seats, three main thoroughfares, and enough French-Renaissance architecture to rival the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuileries" target="_blank">Tuileries</a>. A program distributed on the day of the theater&rsquo;s opening boasted its &ldquo;many avenues for exit&rdquo; and called its interior the &ldquo;most majestic in this city or in this country.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: left;">On the day of the fire, the theater was packed beyond capacity. The crowd, mostly women and their children, had arrived to watch a matinee of a show named Mr. Bluebeard (If you&rsquo;re not familiar, this is a French folktale about a wealthy guy with a blue beard who murders his seven wives, and nearly kills his eighth. It was considered a children&rsquo;s Christmas show. This song,&nbsp;<em>Let Us Swear It By The Pale Moonlight, </em>was&nbsp;playing as the theater fire began to spread. <a name="song"></a>(Special thanks to <a href="http://bluepolicebox.com/">Andrew Edwards</a> for his performance of <a href="http://digital.library.ucla.edu/apam/librarian?VIEWPDF=NSO012003PDF">the sheet music</a>).&nbsp;<iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/174565688&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: left;"><a href="http://chicagology.com/PDF/IroquoisProgram.pdf" target="_blank">The show&rsquo;s playbills</a> advertised the theater as &ldquo;absolutely fireproof.&rdquo; At the time, this was an admirable (and profitable) attribute, considering the Great Chicago Fire just 32 years before.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/iroquis%20playbill%20screenshot.PNG" title="The playbills at the Iroquois Theater had advertised building as fireproof, even on the day a massive fire killed 600 people. (Image courtesy of chicagoalogy.com)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;"><p>And, as Selzer likes to say, most of the theater <em>was</em> fireproof. It&rsquo;s just the things inside it that were not.</p><p>He cites the theater&rsquo;s ornate wood trimming and hemp-stuffed seats as obvious examples of the theater&rsquo;s flammability. Selzer also points out that the asbestos fire curtain required of all theaters had, in this case, been blended with cotton and wood pulp.</p><p>The Iroquois Theater wasn&rsquo;t an anomaly in this. A lot of theaters at the time were just as flammable, says Judy Cooke, an antique dealer in Elkhart, Indiana. Years ago, while liquidating the estate of a descendant of William J. Davis, the Iroquois&rsquo; owner, she found a trunk full of documents that sparked her interest in learning more about the Iroquois tragedy.</p><p>One popular narrative, she says, is that Davis cut corners trying to open the Iroquois before the busy holiday season. She says there&rsquo;s truth in this, but there&rsquo;s more to the story, too.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t make any excuses for the man because he simply wasn&rsquo;t paying attention to details,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;But what is sad, and not ever communicated in books and newspapers is that that theater was his crowning achievement. He&rsquo;s a bit of a Horatio Algers story.&rdquo;</p><p>Davis came from modest means, Cooke says, and the Iroquois Theater was his chance to prove to the world what he could do. While she says Davis ultimately bears responsibility for that day&rsquo;s deaths, she adds that it&rsquo;s not enough to say the Iroquois was a death trap; instead, she prefers to say the theater experienced &ldquo;a perfect storm&rdquo; on the day of the fire. The circumstances included a flammable &ldquo;fire curtain,&rdquo; bad ventilation, as well as locked or unmarked fire exits. Cooke says the large presence of women and children in the crowd didn&rsquo;t help, either, because women wore floor-length skirts that prevented them from running or climbing over seats.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/theater panorama.png" title="The Iroquois Theater after the fire. (Photo courtesy Library of Congress)" /></div></div></div><p>In the alley behind the former Iroquois, Selzer can point to another detail, one just a few dozen yards above our heads. That&rsquo;s where the Iroquois&rsquo; single accessible fire escape used to be. Selzer says the fire escape couldn&rsquo;t hold all the people fleeing the theater that afternoon, so many, many people simply fell over the rails. Or ... they were shoved over them. In one account, the pile of bodies rose six feet high.</p><p>Like it or not, Selzer says the grim details pertain to Paul&rsquo;s question. Death by sudden and traumatic head or spine injury, he says, cause the dead to enter a spiritual no-man&rsquo;s-land.</p><p>&ldquo;Imagine you&rsquo;re getting shoved off a fire escape and what&rsquo;s going through your head the last split seconds before you hit the pavement,&rdquo; Selzer says. &ldquo;That kind of heightened state of emotion, some people say, is where ghosts come from &hellip;. the reeks and fumes of your puddled brain.&rdquo;</p><p>If you subscribe to this theory, it wouldn&rsquo;t surprise you to learn that several hundred ghosts roam the former Iroquois Theater and the &quot;alley of death and mutilation&quot; behind it.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Wouldn&rsquo;t <em>you</em> want to haunt them, too?</span></p><p>But there&rsquo;s another reason that makes this alley a candidate for the most haunted place in Chicago: Nobody was ever punished for cutting the corners that made the fire so deadly.</p><p>In the trials after the disaster, the jury recommended Davis&rsquo; arrest and the arrest of seven others &mdash; including the arc light operator, William McMullen (the fire was caused by this light shorting out, and the sparks igniting the closest curtain). Five of those men were charged with manslaughter for negligence, but none was convicted.</p><p>The only person to serve any jail time, Selzer says, was a man who stole a wristwatch off a corpse in the alley. And even by graverobbing standards, that&rsquo;s pretty basic.</p><p>&ldquo;Some of the first people inside of the building were not rescue workers or firefighters,&rdquo; Selzer says. &ldquo;They were people yanking necklaces off dead bodies&rsquo; necks, cutting off women&rsquo;s fingers because it was faster than shimmying the rings off.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ghouls.jpg" title="A newspaper clipping describes one event involving grave robbers after the fire. The newspaper refers to them as ghouls. (Image courtesy Judy Cooke)" /></div><p>The combination of traumatic death and lack of political accountability &mdash; especially on such an enormous scale &mdash; Selzer says, makes the alley a breeding ground for ghost stories. And there&rsquo;s one more factor to consider, too: lack of commemoration.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, ghost hunters don&rsquo;t agree on much,&rdquo; Selzer says. &ldquo;We all have our own theories about everything and think everybody else is a quack. ... But one thing that everyone seems to agree about is when there&rsquo;s some kind of lack of commemoration there do tend to be more ghost sighting there.&rdquo;</p><p>At least on the numbers of dead, he&rsquo;s got a point. Roughly twice as many people known to have died in the Great Chicago Fire died within 15 minutes during the fire at the Iroquois. Yet, there are only a handful of easy-to-miss monuments to the event.</p><p>Shortly after the fire, a memorial sculpture was dedicated to the victims and placed inside the Iroquois Hospital, which was demolished in 1951. The memorial then spent nine years in City Hall storage until it was moved to <a href="http://chicago-architecture-jyoti.blogspot.com/2011/09/city-hall-county-bldg-iroquois-memorial.html" target="_blank">its current location near the building&rsquo;s LaSalle Street entrance</a>.</p><p><a href="http://graveyards.com/IL/Cook/montrose/iroquois.html" target="_blank">A couple of cemeteries also have plaques or small monuments dedicated to the victims</a>. But you won&rsquo;t find anything about the fire in the spot where it occurred. Not even the Oriental Theater, built over the Iroquois&rsquo; grounds, bears any visible reminder of the tragedy.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Ghost story as &lsquo;a people&rsquo;s history&rsquo;</span></p><p>Simply put, the story of the Iroquois fire barely permeates the city&rsquo;s public memory unless, of course, you count the people showing up for ghost tours.</p><p>On that count, Selzer says <a href="http://www.mysteriouschicagoblog.com/2014/02/ghost-pic-in-alley.html" target="_blank">he&rsquo;s got some pretty weird photographs</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/alley%20ghost%20courtesy%20adam%20selzer.jpg" style="height: 372px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo courtesy Adam Selzer)" /></div><p>Above, the ghost of what Selzer says may be Nellie Reed, a trapeze artist who died in the fire, appears on the top right of the image &hellip; or it could always be a trick of the light.</p><p>&ldquo;I have occasionally been pretty freaked out here,&rdquo; Selzer says. Occasionally, he&rsquo;ll see a silhouette of a woman in a tutu that he can&rsquo;t explain, or strange, human-like shadows zipping across the walls.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/nellie%20reed%20funeral2.png" style="float: left; height: 401px; width: 300px;" title="Nellie Reed, a trapeze artist in a show at the Iroquois Theater, was the only cast member killed as a result of the fire. Figures similar to the one above sometimes appear in photos people take in the alley. (Image courtesy Judy Cooke)" />Paul, though, sees no ghosts during our visit evening to the alley. But, he says, that&rsquo;s okay.</p><p>&ldquo;When you think of a ghost story you don&rsquo;t really think of the actual events that occurred to cause this ghost story to happen,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;You normally just think: &lsquo;Oh, ghost! Cool!&rsquo; ... But hearing all these facts makes it a lot more real.&rdquo;</p><p>We turn to Selzer, to see whether the Iroquois fire is even really a ghost story at all.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have to exaggerate it too much,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Sometimes, it&rsquo;s the ghost stories that&rsquo;s all that&rsquo;s really keeping these stories alive.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">A postscript</span></p><p dir="ltr">After leaving the &lsquo;alley of death and mutilation,&rsquo; we thought we&rsquo;d see how Adam Selzer&rsquo;s insight into ghost storytelling and history sits with Judy Cooke, who, again, has researched the Iroquois fire. She feels ghost stories aren&rsquo;t enough to satisfy true historical curiosity, and she prefers a vertical route &mdash; diving deep into individual stories. So far, <a href="http://www.iroquoistheater.com/" target="_blank">she&rsquo;s researched and written nearly 300 accounts of people affected by the fire on her website</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I want every single person that was at that fire to have something said about them,&rdquo; Cooke says, referring to herself as a genealogical completist. &ldquo;If you start going into a deeper exploration per person, you turn up more information. You turn up family histories in the geneology.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">And many of the family histories she&rsquo;s excavated often don&rsquo;t align with newspaper stories or even coroners&rsquo; documents at the time of the fire. Many immigrants&rsquo; last names were misspelled, for example. She also found accounts in which people were documented as dead, but were very much alive. Conversely, she says some of the dead were left off the list of victims.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fbook%20page%20screenshot.PNG" title="A screenshot from Judy Cooke's facebook page, where she documents the stories of people affected by the Iroquois fire." /></p><p dir="ltr">And consider the perspective that ghost tours might leave out. Cooke mentions a particular detail that sticks in her mind. The son of Iroquois owner Will Davis wrote the following in his father&rsquo;s obituary: &ldquo;He never recovered after the fire.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The bottom line: Cooke finds it hard to believe any story she&rsquo;s read about people who died at the Iroquois &hellip; much less their ghost stories.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Before I was going to start believing in the spook, I&rsquo;d want to make sure that spook was even at the fire, you know?&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;That person might not have even died.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But she doesn&rsquo;t fault people like Selzer for keeping stories about the Iroquois Theater alive. She says she&rsquo;d just rather ask the ghosts herself.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">We&rsquo;ve got our answers. Who asked the questions?</span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/asker-%20Ben%20Albers%201.jpg" title="Question-asker Ben Albers at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois. (Photo courtesy Katie Klocksin)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Ben Albers</strong></span></p><p dir="ltr">For Ben Albers of Chicago&rsquo;s Buena Park neighborhood, history and ghosts are inextricably linked. He&rsquo;s not only interested in the spooky elements of ghost stories, but also &ldquo;the rich history behind&rdquo; these tales. After going on a ghost tour, Ben even did some of his own research into the intersection of local history and ghost legends. Which is not to say Ben doesn&rsquo;t want to see a ghost. He does.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I really want to experience one,&rdquo; he said &ldquo;but I never had the opportunity to go into the field and do it.&rdquo; He&rsquo;s heard creepy sounds, &ldquo;but I never really think that&rsquo;s a ghost. I never get real excited like: &lsquo;Oh, there&rsquo;s a ghost in my house, I need to investigate more.&rsquo;&rdquo; Before Ben, Adam Selzer and producer Katie Klocksin left Resurrection Cemetery, Klocksin asked what should be done if they would come across a hitchhiker. Should they give her a ride? Selzer replied, &ldquo;Absolutely,&rdquo; and Ben seconded</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Yeah. I agree one hundred percent,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;When you have your chance you&rsquo;ve got to take it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Paul%20Vaccarello%20-%20courtesy%20of%20Paul%20FOR%20WEB_0.jpg" style="float: left; height: 334px; width: 250px;" title="(Photo courtesy Paul Vaccarello) " /><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Paul Vaccarello</strong></span></p><p dir="ltr">You might remember Paul Vaccarello from<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/passing-through-chicagos-union-station-amish-transit-hub-110453"> another question he submitted to Curious City, the one about the Amish at Union Station</a>. We like to think Paul&rsquo;s satisfaction with our answer led him to a heightened state of curiosity when he asked us about Chicago&rsquo;s ghosts.</p><p dir="ltr">But, instead, Paul said asked about ghosts because ... he just happens to like Halloween (in fact, it&rsquo;s his favorite holiday). And that&rsquo;s one of the reasons he asked us this question about Chicago&rsquo;s most haunted spot. The other? He wanted affirmation he&rsquo;s sought all his life: proof of the <em>after</em>life.</p><p dir="ltr">While our investigation didn&rsquo;t quite convert Paul into a (ghost) believer, he said learning about the &ldquo;alley of death and mutilation&rdquo; from a historical perspective taught him something else: You don&rsquo;t have to believe in ghosts to believe in ghost stories.</p><p dir="ltr">Another takeaway? Scope out the fire exits next time you&rsquo;re at a matinee.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Katie Klocksin is an independent producer in Chicago. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/KatieKlocksin" target="_blank">@KatieKlocksin</a>. Logan Jaffe is Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/we-aint-afraid-no-chicago-ghosts-111017 Real estate and religion: The tale of Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/real-estate-and-religion-tale-seventeenth-church-christ-scientist-110980 <p><div>These days Wacker Drive rivals LaSalle as the epicenter of Chicago&rsquo;s financial district. The drive&rsquo;s high-rise office buildings tower over the Chicago River like walls of a canyon. But a break in the skyline at the intersection of Wabash and Wacker makes way for a building that is only five stories above street level.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The structure looks nothing like any of its rectilinear neighbors, which favor steel and glass. Instead, it resembles a concrete space ship with a round, white, windowless facade from the second story up. And, the building has nothing to do with financial power. As spelled out in enormous letters spanning its curved wall, it&rsquo;s the home of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist.</div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cs church wide.jpg" title="Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist sits on a corner of prime real estate at the intersection of Wabash Ave. and Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. Monica Schrager asked Curious City how the church has held on to the property for so long. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" /></div><p>This distinctive structure caught the eye of Monica Schrager, who works right across the street on the 10th floor of the old Jeweler Building. &ldquo;It has an interesting look,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s this small &lsquo;60s-style building that you never really see anyone coming in and out of in the middle of all these skyscrapers.&rdquo; Here&rsquo;s the question she asked us to look into:</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><em>I&rsquo;m curious about the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist that sits on the corner of Wabash and Wacker: how it came to have that prime real estate and how it&rsquo;s managed to hold on to that prime real estate for so long.</em></div></div><p>It turns out Monica has a nose for a great story. As we look into the church&rsquo;s history, we learn how the tenets of a distinctive faith were translated into concrete and steel by an idealistic, but non-believing architect. And, we follow a devoted congregation as it risked building in a once-abandoned portion of the city ... only to have that neighborhood bloom decades later.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Which faith are we talking about?</span></p><p>Not to be confused with Scientology, Christian Science is a branch of protestant Christianity. It was founded in Massachusetts in the late 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy, who taught that the material world is a temporary illusion, while the only reality is spiritual. This belief informs all aspects of Christian Science practice, including its most famous: devout Christian Scientists don&rsquo;t seek medical treatment. Eddy taught a form of spiritual healing that is inspired by Jesus&rsquo; own healings in the New Testament.</p><p>Mrs. Eddy also taught that God does not communicate by way of a few chosen figures, like preachers or popes. God, she said, communicates directly and equally with all of his followers, so Christian Science is a non-hierarchical, democratic faith. Each church elects readers who serve a short term before passing responsibility to another church member. As the congregation&rsquo;s current First Reader, Lois Carlson, states: &nbsp;&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have many big cheeses.&rdquo;</p><p>Like Quakers, Christian Scientists also emphasize the importance of individual testimonies; during Wednesday services, church-goers are encouraged to stand and share their personal experiences with Christian Science healing. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;To uplift a neighborhood&rsquo;</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s notable that the intersection of Wabash and Wacker has any church at all, since there are few standalone churches around downtown. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed many of them, and many more relocated to quieter residential areas. In 1907, an unknown author penned an op-ed piece for the <em>Chicago Daily Tribune </em>which reads: &ldquo;One of the changes most noticeable between old Chicago and new Chicago is the disappearance of the churches which used to surround the courthouse square or line Wabash or Michigan avenue.&rdquo; Later, the author notes &ldquo;Chicago has nothing downtown to express the spiritual life of its people.&rdquo;</p><p>So, when the Seventeenth Church was established downtown in 1924, it was a bit of an anomaly.</p><p>For decades the congregation rented several downtown venues including, at one point, Orchestra Hall. By the late 1940s, though, the congregation wanted a church of its own. Members remained committed to being downtown. In this, they bucked a trend of building Christian Science churches in outer neighborhoods such as Beverly, Uptown and Hyde Park. Current members of the Seventeenth Church don&rsquo;t have records that indicate why the congregation prefered downtown, though member Dave Hohle has a hypothesis. &ldquo;I think a church will uplift a neighborhood,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;And I think that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s happened here.&rdquo;</p><p>Today, it seems like the corner of Wabash and Wacker might be the perfect candidate. Not so, according to Hohle. &ldquo;It didn&rsquo;t really interest them because it wasn&rsquo;t very central,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It was just sort of over here on the river.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Carlson points out that Wacker Drive was not always a major thoroughfare. &ldquo;It used to be that Michigan Avenue was its own entity and the Loop was its own entity, and there was no sense of connecting the two,&rdquo; she says.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lot%202%20FOR%20WEB.png" title="" /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/duo3.png" title="Site of the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist before construction in the mid-1950s. (Photos courtesy Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist and Chuckman's Chicago Nostalgia) " /></div></div><p>Obviously the congregation <em>did </em>decide to buy that property, after almost a decade of searching. At the time, the corner contained nothing but a parking lot and a short, rundown building, which they later demolished to make way for their new church. When they finally made the purchase in 1955, Wacker Drive was just starting to develop.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Kindred spirits: A radical faith and a non-believing architect</span></p><p>Say Hohle is right and the Seventeenth Church congregation wished to uplift their future neighborhood. Surely, then, the church would need uplifting architecture. Over two years, the congregation considered 34 architects, including celebrity designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as an architect with Christian Science roots. In 1963 they settled on a Harry Weese.</p><p>You may not know Weese by name, but there&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;ve seen his work in Chicago: the Time Life building, the towering Metropolitan Correctional Center on Van Buren street, and several others. His resume stretches as far as Washington, D.C., where he designed a cavernous metro, famous for its waffled concrete ceilings. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tai%20flickr%20dc%20metro%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" style="margin: 5px;" title="Harry Weese, the architect who designed Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist building, also designed the Washington, D.C. metro stations. (Flickr/tai)" /></div><p>Weese had an impressive resume, but then again, so did his competitors and, interestingly, he was not a religious man. (In interviews the church asked each candidate about their religious affiliation. Weese responded, &ldquo;My father was Episcopalian, my mother Presbyterian, and I&rsquo;m an architect.&rdquo;)</p><p>According to Robert Bruegmann, the co-author of <em>The Architecture of Harry Weese</em>, the congregation was impressed by the architect&rsquo;s ambitious, post-war vision for American cities.</p><p>&ldquo;The suburbs had sapped a lot of the vitality of the city,&rdquo; Bruegmann says. &ldquo;A lot of the city architecture and infrastructure was old. The city was in a pretty bad state and Chicago was no exception.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Weese wanted to build a new, more humane city, so he sought contracts for large-scale urban works such as the DC Metro. But Weese also believed architects could revitalize cities by designing new, monumental public buildings. &ldquo;So for Harry, a chance to build a church in the center of the city where the churches had been fleeing for a hundred years was a real opportunity, and he really seized it with both hands,&rdquo; Bruegmann says.</p><p>It&rsquo;s simply conjecture (again, the congregation has no records of this), but we do know the Seventeenth Church congregation was impressed with the architect&rsquo;s plans, if not the architect himself. According to Dave Hohle, the church approved Weese&rsquo;s design on the first round, a rare occurrence in architecture circles. &ldquo;There were, like, no adjustments,&rdquo; Hohle says. &ldquo;It was presented and it was unanimously approved.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Faith translated into design</span></p><p>The congregation&rsquo;s first reader, Lois Carlson, says that Weese&rsquo;s radical building, completed in 1968, matches Christian Science&rsquo;s radical theology. &ldquo;I think what&#39;s so beautiful about this building is that it&rsquo;s so clearly an idea that matches the metaphysical substance of the Christian Science faith,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Specifically, Bruegmann says Weese knew that acoustics were critical to a democratic congregation that valued every voice. That led him to fashion the main auditorium of the church as a greek-style amphitheater, which is ideal for projecting sound. There are 800 seats, and each is within 54 feet of the room&rsquo;s center.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/inside%20church%20flickr%20dpyle%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="The Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist can hold up to 800 people, but a typical Sunday service is attended by about 40 people. (Flickr/dpyle)" /></div><p>Quite unusual for the time, Weese also worked with an audio engineer who created a system of hidden microphones and speakers so that members&rsquo; testimonies could be amplified. This audio system was so advanced it received a write-up in the Journal for the <a href="http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=1500">Society of Audio Engineers</a> in 1970.</p><p>A year after the church opened, it received a Distinguished Building Award from the American Institute of Architects. The AIA recognized the structure not just for its democratic design, but also for Weese&rsquo;s expert problem solving. To keep out the noises of a bustling city, the congregation did not want windows in the auditorium but, like most churches, they wanted space and light. So Weese built a tall, domed ceiling with an oculus-like skylight at the very top, which he called a lantern. To make sure the sunday school was equally well lit, Weese created a moat-like sunken garden around the church so that there could be windows into the basement levels. &nbsp;</p><p>Then of course, there is the building&rsquo;s eye-catching exterior. Bruegmann points out that the facade is modern but still achieves the kind of monumentality that Harry Weese admired in classical buildings. &ldquo;That dome that rounds that corner is one of the grandest urban gestures of virtually any city I know of,&rdquo; Bruegmann says.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">If you build it they (might) come</span></p><p>When the Seventeenth Church triumphantly opened its doors in 1968, the congregation established something few other churches had attempted: a place of worship in Chicago&rsquo;s bustling downtown. The trouble is, membership didn&rsquo;t grow, at least not on the national level. &nbsp;According to sociologist Rodney Stark, the Christian Science movement&rsquo;s membership started to drop in the 1940s and, by the 1960s, was in serious decline.</p><p>So what happened? Stark suggests that early in the 20th century, Christian Science was the fastest-growing faith in the country, but there&rsquo;s a caveat. He believes Christian Science always <em>seemed </em>more successful than it actually was, mostly because members tended to be well off financially. &nbsp;Like the Seventeenth Church, other congregations had resources to establish and build new churches around the country, even after membership began to decline.</p><p>Another theory from Stark: Medical treatment was very crude at the time that Mary Baker Eddy founded Christian Science. &ldquo;We had no antibiotics,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Part of the time they really didn&rsquo;t have any anesthetics. Doctors were pretty untrained and a lot of them were butchers.&rdquo; &nbsp;By comparison, spiritual healing seemed like a strong alternative. Stark argues that interest in Christian Science decreased in the mid-1900s after Western medicine improved.</p><p>Lastly, Stark argues that the first generation of Christian Scientists didn&rsquo;t produce a second generation. From the beginning, Christian Scientists didn&rsquo;t have a lot of children so they had to rely on new converts to expand. Converting new members is often difficult compared to raising children within a faith.</p><p>We can see how this affected the Chicago area by reading <em>The Christian Science Journal</em>, which lists every Christian Science church around the world. The religion was popular in Chicago; over the span of 61 years Christian Scientists opened 23 churches across the city. After the 1950s, Chicago churches began to close. By the new millenium, 13 of the original 23 churches were gone. Today there are only six.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10th%20Church%201%20FOR%20WEB.jpg" title="The former site of Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist. (Flickr/Jamie Bernstein)" /></div><p>The remains of these closed churches are dotted all around Chicago. Some have been sold to congregations of other faiths. Thirteenth Church in Beverly has been converted into 16 loft condominiums. The abandoned 10th Church in Hyde Park was sold to a developer, but it&rsquo;s now in foreclosure and falling to pieces.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Holding onto your religion ... and property</span></p><p>So how did the Seventeenth Church hang on? This is the second part of Monica Schrager&rsquo;s question, and it&rsquo;s a good one, when you consider two things: The church now sits among prime real estate, and the congregation is modest in size.</p><p>In the 1980s Wacker Drive saw a major boom in office construction. Eventually Wacker replaced LaSalle as the center of Chicago&rsquo;s financial industry, with massive, glassy skyscrapers to show it. In 2013, <a href="http://s1156.photobucket.com/user/ksershon/media/2013USsMostExpensiveStreetsforOfficeSpace.jpg.html">Jones Lang and LaSalle listed Wacker Drive as the 20th-most expensive street for office space </a>in the country. Next door to the church, a hotel developer &nbsp;bought a narrow empty lot for 5 million dollars. (That&rsquo;s over one thousand dollars per square foot. The developer is now in the process of building a Hilton Garden Inn on that site.) Right next door to that, the historic motor club building was auctioned off in 2011 for 9.7 million. Word is, that building will soon be a hotel as well. &nbsp;</p><p>There may be a competitive real estate market raging outside the walls of Seventeenth Church but, believe it or not, the church says it&rsquo;s never gotten a serious offer from any kind of buyer. Still, Seventeenth Church is a big building, while the congregation is likely small.</p><p>Christian Science branch churches never publish their membership numbers because they don&rsquo;t want to be distracted by material measurements, so we can&rsquo;t know the exact size of the Seventeenth Church congregation. However, when I attend a recent church service, I count approximately 30 people in the 800-seat auditorium. Dave Hohle says that number is likely low, adding that perhaps forty or so attendees arrive for typical Sunday services.</p><p>If you think there&rsquo;s a mismatch between the building&rsquo;s stature and the size of the congregation, Lois Carlson notes the church was paid off in 1978, and members cover maintenance costs.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, even though we&rsquo;re a small congregation, we&rsquo;re an incredibly financially committed group,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>There&rsquo;s likely additional income. On occasion, the church receives a visit from a big movie studio. The Seventeenth Church amphitheater was the set for the &ldquo;choosing ceremony&rdquo; in the blockbuster film <em>Divergent</em>. The church&rsquo;s exterior played a cameo in <em>Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.</em> (In the film, the church was spared, while robots laid waste to the rest of downtown Chicago.) The church did receive income from those films but does not disclose the amount.</p><p>The congregation, regardless of costs, seems to be just as committed to downtown as it was when it first sought property in the 1940s. First and foremost, Lois Carlson says, the church can be a resource for what she calls &ldquo;hungry hearts that are looking for a deeper understanding for God.&rdquo; The church operates a reading room in the lobby six days a week. Carlson says tourists and curious passersby come into the reading room regularly. A small handful of people have become members this way. &ldquo;We just feel like we belong here because the need is so great,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>In keeping with that, the congregation regularly shares Harry Weese&rsquo;s architectural gem. They lend their auditorium to interfaith groups, and the local alderman conducts community meetings there. A couple times each month the church welcomes tour groups from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. In October, more than 4,000 visitors arrived as part of the Open House Chicago event.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Down the road?</span></p><p>For now, it seems like Seventeenth Church congregation wants to stay put, but what about over the next decade or two? Will it be able to sustain itself? Professor Bruegmann is concerned that the building might not survive if the congregation were to move or dissolve. In fact, many of Harry Weese&rsquo;s buildings have already met the wrecking ball. Bruegmann argues that buildings from the &lsquo;60s and &lsquo;70s are no longer new, but they are not yet considered historic.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s exactly at that moment when they&rsquo;re middle-aged buildings that they&rsquo;re most vulnerable,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Like Monica, he&rsquo;s very aware of the competitive real estate market on Wacker Drive. &ldquo;The economics of having such a small building on such a prominent, very expensive site are going to weigh so heavily in the balance,&rdquo; he worries. &ldquo;If the current congregation moved out, it would be extremely difficult to figure out what to do with a building like that and how you might save it.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mschrager.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Monica Schrager submitted our question about the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist (Photo courtesy of Monica Schrager)" />Monica Schrager was thrilled that our investigation made a connection between her current home &mdash; Chicago&rsquo;s Humboldt Park neighborhood &mdash; and Washington, D.C., area, where she grew up. The relevant detail? Architect Harry Weese designed the Seventeenth Church as well as the DC Metro!</p><p>Monica is a web developer by trade but her interest in architecture is responsible for her question about Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist.</p><p>&ldquo;I love the variety of architecture we have in the city, from Mies Van Der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Monica works right across the street from Seventeenth Church in the old Jeweler Building. She sees the church every day outside her office window and she&rsquo;s definitely rooting for the church to survive, especially now that she has seen the inside. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Just the whole combination of the lighting and the acoustics is kind of really neat,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You almost don&rsquo;t feel like you&rsquo;re in the middle of the city. It&rsquo;s an oasis of sorts.&rdquo;</p><p>Her bottom line? She thinks Wacker Drive needs an oasis more than it needs another skyscraper.</p><p><em>Ellen Mayer is the Curious City intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/ellenrebeccam">@ellenrebeccam</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/real-estate-and-religion-tale-seventeenth-church-christ-scientist-110980 How America's most plentiful bird disappeared http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/how-americas-most-plentiful-bird-disappeared-110725 <p><p>It is hard to imagine what a big part of American life the passenger pigeon once was. By some estimates it made up 25 to 40 percent of all the birds on the continent. The Native American Seneca tribe viewed the bird as a gift from the gods because they were so abundant. There are 13 towns named after them in Illinois alone. When Charles Dickens traveled to the states, we fed him passenger pigeon.</p><p>But in just a few decades the bird vanished. On the 100th anniversary of its extinction, I wanted to understand how a bird could go from being the most plentiful bird in North America to non-existence. So I met naturalist Joel Greenberg at his house just outside Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pigeon_Joel%20Greenberg.JPG" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="Author Joel Greenberg poses with his stuffed passenger pigeon, Heinrich. Greenberg is author of, “A Feathered River Across the Sky, The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction.” (WBEZ/Shannon Heffernan)" /></div><p>Greenberg is perhaps this species&rsquo; biggest fan. A stuffed bird named Heinrich sits on Greenberg&rsquo;s kitchen table and a bumper sticker on his car says &ldquo;ask me about my passenger pigeon.&rdquo; He authored the book, <a href="http://passengerpigeon.org/newbook.html"><em>A Feathered River Across The Sky, The Passenger Pigeon&rsquo;s Flight to Extinction</em>. </a></p><p>Greenberg must encounter a lot of misunderstandings, because he wants to make it absolutely clear that Heinrich is not the same kind of pigeon you see flying around the city, nor is he a carrier pigeon. Instead Heinrich has a shimmery pink breast, and bluish back. He is a pretty bird.</p><p>But what made this species really special&mdash;the thing I find almost incomprehensible&mdash;is the huge numbers of them that flew together.</p><p>It must have been an incredible sight to see millions of birds fly across the sky together. The famous naturalist <a href="http://www.audubon.org/john-james-audubon">John James Audubon</a> observed a group so big, it eclipsed the sun for 14 hours. Another naturalist, <a href="http://www.wilsonsociety.org/society/awilsoninfo.html">Alexander Wilson</a>, was on a river trip. Greenberg says Wilson pulled ashore to buy milk from a farmer and &ldquo;suddenly there was this huge roar, and the sky turned dark. He was terrified. He thought a tornado was coming and he looked at the farmer and said what do we do? And the farmer said, &#39;just the pigeons&#39;.&rdquo;</p><p>The birds did not just travel over forests and fields. They also flew over big cities like Chicago, turning buildings white with their poop.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pigeon_hunting.png" style="float: right; height: 249px; width: 300px;" title="" /></div><p>Greenberg recounts a famous story from Columbus, Ohio in the 1850s.</p><p>&ldquo;People reported being cold by the downdraft of the beating of hundreds of millions of wings,&quot; he said. &quot;And people who had never seen it before dropped to their knees in prayer thinking the end time was near.&rdquo;</p><p>The bird sounds like a nuisance. And it was. But it was also a source of food. Early settlers credit it with sustaining them until crops came. Like buffalo, the passenger pigeon was a symbol of America&rsquo;s abundance, a resource so big, we thought it couldn&rsquo;t run out. &ldquo;Sometimes they were so abundant they were worth nothing,&rdquo; Greenberg said. &ldquo;They were fed to hogs. One eyewitness account says they were used to fill potholes in the road.&rdquo;</p><p>So how does a species go from an estimated billions to non-existence?</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Killings</span></p><p>Humans hunted the passenger pigeon for many years and some of the methods were downright strange.</p><p>Greenberg says some people filled a clay pot with sulfur, set it on fire and placed it under nesting birds. The birds would topple out of the trees. Greenberg says one commenter observed this method was good for the ladies, because it didn&rsquo;t involve too much exertion or guns.</p><p>Some farmers in Ontario kept it more simple: when the birds flew over their fields, they just threw potatoes at them.</p><p>&ldquo;Now it&rsquo;s good to know they lost more potatoes than they got pigeons, but every so often a pigeon would fall and you&rsquo;d have most of a stew fall at your feet,&rdquo; Greenberg said.</p><p>The pigeons were also used in shooting tournaments. One trap, called a plunge shooter, would catapult live birds into the air. According to Greenberg, sometimes people blinded the pigeon, or ripped out feathers and put cayenne on their skin to make the bird fly in circles.</p><p>Chicago was a major center for shoots and Captain Bogardus, one of the most famous shooters, was from Illinois. He was said to have shot 500 birds in a single practice session, just to stay sharp.</p><p>But Greenberg says the real tipping point for the birds was the growth of two new technologies: the telegraph and the train.</p><p>The birds often nested in huge groups. The telegraph made it easy to spread word of the nesting locations and attracted big crowds of hunters&mdash;some working full time to track the bird. With the growth of railroads the meat could be shipped to city markets, where newly industrialized communities were hungry for cheap meat.</p><p>The birds flew so closely together that a single shot could kill multiple birds. But even more efficient were net traps. Hunters would attract birds using a live decoy&mdash;blinded and tied to a stool&mdash;hence the term stool pigeon.</p><p>&ldquo;With a single release of the net they could catch hundreds of birds, sometimes 1,200 or 1,300 at a time,&rdquo; Greenberg explained.</p><p>One newspaper from the time reported 7.2 million bird <span>carcasses</span> were shipped from a single nesting site, which gives you an idea of how plentiful they were. But Greenberg believes the bird usually laid only about one egg a year, and now those nestings were regularly disrupted. The massive killings caught up with them. People started to notice that it was harder to find the bird in the wild and eventually impossible.</p><p>&ldquo;People had so much trouble trying to wrap their minds around how it could disappear,&rdquo; Greenberg said.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pigeon_Food.JPG" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="A passenger pigeon could hold half a cup of acorns in their two-inch head at one time. The pigeon stored the food in a special compartment for digestion at a later time. (WBEZ/Shannon Heffernan)" /></div><p>They came up with all kinds of theories to explain why it wasn&rsquo;t human&rsquo;s fault, like that the birds moved to South America and changed their appearance.</p><p>Greenberg says he worries he&rsquo;s seeing a similar reaction now.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a common human reaction that when confronted with an inconvenient truth to deny it,&quot; he said. &quot;You can see it today [with] climate change. If I own coal mines and want to put carbon into the air... climate change, could be bad, what do I do? Let&rsquo;s say there is no such thing.&rdquo;</p><p>It feels insensitive to ask, but it&rsquo;s hard not to wonder why the death of a species&mdash;no matter how fascinating&mdash;should matter to the general population.</p><p>Greenberg says other species have a right to exist, and it&rsquo;s immoral to prioritize their worth on human&rsquo;s needs alone. But he also says there completely selfish reasons to preserve a species.</p><p>He points to an analogy from Paul and Anne Ehrlich&rsquo;s book, <em>Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species</em>.</p><p>&ldquo;They give an analogy of an airplane and a rivet pops and the plane&rsquo;s fine,&quot; he said.&quot; But at some point enough rivets pop where the system starts to break down.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Beyond the Passenger Pigeon</span></p><p>The day after I meet Greenberg planes criss-cross Chicago for the Air and Water Show.</p><p>Like flocks of pigeons they fill the sky with a roar. You can even hear it inside the <a href="http://www.naturemuseum.org/">Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum</a> where I meet ecologist <a href="http://www.naturemuseum.org/about-us/senior-staff">Steve Sullivan. </a></p><p>&ldquo;This being the anniversary of the passenger pigeon we talk a lot about the pigeon,&quot; Sullivan said. &quot;But this story repeats itself again and again.&quot;</p><p>The museum has an exhibit called, &ldquo;Nature&#39;s Struggle: Survival and Extinction.&rdquo; The exhibit starts by showing what Illinois would have been like over a hundred years ago. Passenger pigeons fill the sky, but there are also more rattlesnakes, bears and beavers.</p><p>I ask Sullivan what animal is the passenger pigeon of today and he mentions monarch butterflies. Like the passenger pigeon, most of us think of it as common and plentiful. But because of a range of factors, including herbicides that kill their favorite food source of milkweed, the <a href="http://vertebrates.si.edu/birds/Martha/index.html">monarch&rsquo;s numbers are plummeting. </a></p><p>In the museum&rsquo;s butterfly conservation lab, Sullivan leaned over and pointed inside paper cups.</p><p>&ldquo;Oh look you can see a couple of caterpillars that are crawling up towards the top of their little enclosures,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>There are no monarchs today, instead they are raising silvery checkerspots. Eventually the museum will release these butterflies into the wild to help boost their population.</p><p>Sullivan says you can track conservation efforts like this one back to the passenger pigeon. Despite all the wild theories, many people ended up acknowledging that humans drove that extinction. It was a big moment in history, one of the first times the general public realized they could have a huge and permanent impact on nature. It launched a conservation movement and led to early environmental legislation.</p><p>That gives Sullivan hope. He says beavers, otters, and even white tailed deer were at one time extirpated (in other words, locally extinct). But once we realized the harm we could do, we used conservation efforts to bring such animals back.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pigeon_Martha.jpg" style="height: 528px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Martha, the last passenger pigeon. (Enno Meyer/Wikipedia Commons)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon</span></div><p>One of the reasons the passenger pigeon story was so motivating is because we actually knew about the very last bird.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s rare that we know with virtual certainty the hour and day that a species ceases to exist,&rdquo; Greenberg said.</p><p>That last bird&rsquo;s name was <a href="http://vertebrates.si.edu/birds/Martha/index.html">Martha. Unlike her ancestors, Martha didn&rsquo;t spend her days migrating across the country. The only time she ever flew was first class on a plane</a>.</p><p>She most likely came from a captive flock in Chicago&rsquo;s Hyde Park. It was the only group ever studied by scientists. If you&rsquo;ve seen a photo of a pigeon in captivity, it was probably one of them.</p><p>Martha was sent to the Cincinnati Zoo. As the species became more rare, huge prizes were offered to find the bird. But it was too late. Martha eventually became the last of her kind. As she grew older, she became slow and still. The zoo moved her perch lower, so she could reach it.</p><p>&ldquo;There is a story on weekends that big crowds would throw sand on her to get her to move,&rdquo; Greenberg said.</p><p>Martha died 100 years ago on September 1. The zoo froze her body in a 300-pound of block of ice and mailed her to the <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/martha-the-worlds-last-passenger-pigeon-67196038/?no-ist">Smithsonian. </a></p><p>Martha lived her last years alone. Pigeons were famous for traveling in gigantic groups, but John James Audubon remembers seeing one flying through the forest by itself. It moved quickly, darting through trees.</p><p>Audubon says it passed like a thought.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/how-americas-most-plentiful-bird-disappeared-110725 Cabbage War: West Ridge vs. Rogers Park http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nsU07hchILU?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/163030116&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We receive a good number of questions about Chicago neighborhoods: Among other things, we&rsquo;ve learned <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831" target="_blank">how their boundaries are formed</a>, how the city&rsquo;s roster of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/gulp-how-chicago-gobbled-its-neighbors-109583" target="_blank">neighborhoods grew through annexation</a>, and how the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538" target="_blank">ethnic composition of neighborhoods can sometimes change </a>surprisingly quickly.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648#laura" target="_blank">Laura Jones Macknin</a> of the Ravenswood neighborhood sent along one of the more puzzling queries along these lines. Laura had been working on a health-related survey project in several Chicago neighborhoods. For reporting purposes, her team needed to distinguish between West Ridge and Rogers Park, which are tucked into the northeast corner of the city.</p><p>As Laura researched the neighborhoods&rsquo; dividing line, she bumped into historical references to an altercation between the two areas &ndash; one with a vegetative flair. The issue took hold of her enough that she sent us this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What was behind the so-called Cabbage War in West Ridge and Rogers Park? I would like to know more because, you know ... Cabbage War.</em></p><p>Well, the Cabbage War had very little to do with cabbages per se. And though it&rsquo;s easy to dismiss such an oddly named conflict, this 19th century showdown involved something that neighborhoods and even entire cities continue to fight over today: parks and the taxes to create and maintain them.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Unfriendly neighbors</span></p><p>As West Ridge and Rogers Park evolved from being independent villages to neighborhoods of Chicago in the late 19th century, residents carried animosity towards one another. Rogers Park was urbane compared to the decidedly rural West Ridge, which grew a considerable amount of &ndash; you guessed it &ndash; cabbage. Rogers Parkers would hurl the &ldquo;Cabbage Heads&rdquo; epithet toward West Ridgers, and they prided themselves on the fact that they lived in a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; part of town where booze was outlawed. West Ridge, on the other hand, was home to several drinking establishments. The West Ridgers considered Rogers Parkers to be effete snobs, or &ldquo;silk stockings&rdquo; in the 19th century parlance.</p><p>This cultural divide persisted as things came to a head on the political front in 1896. The two areas (now Chicago neighborhoods) had proposed competing plans to create and fund parks. Notably, at this time, there was no unified Chicago Park District, and it was common for local communities to create separate parks authorities, which would sometimes compete for tax dollars. During the campaign to decide which parks plans would prevail, West Ridgers and Rogers Parkers exchanged harsh words and &mdash; in at least one case &mdash; deployed brutal tactics.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s stop the tale here. This is no <em>Game of Thrones</em> epic. Unlike that unfinished opus, the chronicle of Chicago&rsquo;s Cabbage War doesn&rsquo;t need umpteen books: You can get the gist (and all the drama) in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsU07hchILU&amp;list=UUkpMCLrDFxb1n74GOOw81-w" target="_blank">our short animated story</a>!</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="laura"></a>Now we have an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/question asker FOR WEB.png" style="height: 245px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="" /></p><p>Did you hear Laura Jones Macknin&rsquo;s voice at the top of our animated story? There&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;re actually familiar with it. Laura sent her question to us while working in a healthcare outreach program, <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2669689/">but she&rsquo;s also an actor</a>.</p><p>She&rsquo;s also performed voice work in local advertisements, including some for Central DuPage and Swedish Hospitals.</p><p>Laura wrote us early about her interest in the Cabbage War story. &ldquo;It&#39;s so odd and whimsical (Cabbages on poles! Cabbagehead slurs! Farmers vs. Northwestern!) that I wanted to know more about it,&rdquo; she wrote.</p><p>She also pressed us for a little <em>Game of Thrones</em> reenactment but, alas, the historical record might be a bit too scant to sustain a book or TV series.</p><p><em>Illustrator and reporter Simran Khosla can be followed&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/simkhosla" target="_blank">@simkhosla</a>. Sincere thanks to the <a href="http://rpwrhs.org/" target="_blank">Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society</a> for expertise, materials and interviews.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/cabbage-war-west-ridge-vs-rogers-park-110648 A shot of history: Ingredients of the Chicago speakeasy http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616 <p><p>Ask people around the world to play word association with &ldquo;Chicago,&rdquo; and you&rsquo;ll hear a few common responses. Modern architecture and bruising politics have nothing, it seems, on our Prohibition-era gangster reputation.</p><p>&ldquo;You go anywhere and it&rsquo;s Al Capone or Michael Jordan,&rdquo; says Liz Garibay, who runs the website <a href="http://www.talestavernsandtowns.com/" target="_blank">History on Tap</a>. &ldquo;In Chicago we have this love-hate relationship with gangsters. It&rsquo;s not the most pleasant side, but at the same time people love to talk about it.&rdquo;</p><p>To that end, Garibay says the bar owners around town with any connections to that era are happy to play it up. It&rsquo;s good for business.</p><p>Even modern bars are reappropriating that speakeasy vibe. Take <a href="http://theviolethour.com/" target="_blank">The Violet Hour</a>, a favorite spot of the recent University of Chicago alumna who asked our question.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the secrecy is interesting. There&rsquo;s something sort of cheekily illicit about [speakeasies] that I think is cool,&rdquo; says<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616#elena"> Elena Hadjimichael</a>, who was part of a student team that<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918" target="_blank"> tackled a Curious City question about Chicago&#39;s wholesale produce markets</a>. Her question for Curious City gets at what made the original original speakeasies successful:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What sorts of buildings housed speakeasy bars in Chicago during the Prohibition era? What made these buildings particularly well suited for speakeasies?</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to determine Chicago&rsquo;s ideal speakeasy building, since speakeasies came in almost as many varieties as there were speakeasies. (How many is that? It&rsquo;s hard to confirm an exact number, <a href="http://www.umich.edu/~eng217/student_projects/nkazmers/prohibition1.html" target="_blank">but probably thousands</a> &mdash; more than there are bars in the city today.) Illegal gatherings to drink in the back of a warehouse, a candy store or a backyard were all technically speakeasies. Still, a few common elements made it easy to get away with skirting this very unpopular law.</p><p>Here are a few things that most &mdash; if not all &mdash; Chicago speakeasies needed.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>1. Secrecy</strong></span></p><p>Speakeasies were common, but they still had to operate in the shadows, in the legal and sometimes literal sense. &ldquo;It was probably in a place where you could make a little noise and get away with it,&rdquo; says Craig Alton, who leads Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.gangstertour.com/" target="_blank">&quot;Untouchables&quot; gangster tour</a>. Some places boarded up their windows, or moved their saloons to back alleys. Gioco, an Italian restaurant in the South Loop, still has the back room where illegal booze was served to guests including Al Capone. The building, 1312 S. Wabash Ave., was a cold storage facility at the time. According to Alton, this made it easy to keep the beer cool. Thick vault doors prevented sound from escaping and tipping off authorities.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>2. A cover or front</strong></span></p><p>Sometimes being invisible from the street wasn&rsquo;t enough. To keep up appearances, a lot of speakeasies had legitimate businesses up front. Twin Anchors in Lincoln Park was across the street from a school (now the LaSalle Language Academy), so the adjacent building housed a school supplies store, as well as a shop selling soda and candy. The two buildings were eventually joined, and Mrs. Keefer&rsquo;s Schoolbook Store became Twin Anchor&rsquo;s kitchen. But between schoolbooks and Tante Lee&rsquo;s Soft Drinks (named after the tavern&rsquo;s original owner, Lee Tante), it was maybe the last place you&rsquo;d think to look for booze. &ldquo;Other than maybe putting in a church or a convent or something,&rdquo; says Paul Tuzi, one of Twin Anchor&rsquo;s owners, &ldquo;they probably couldn&rsquo;t have come up with anything more benign to hide the operation.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/alibi.jpg" style="height: 429px; width: 620px;" title="Bert Kelly’s Stables, 431 N. Rush St., was a famous jazz club and speakeasy. (Photo courtesy University of Chicago archives)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>3. Access</strong></span></p><p>While you didn&rsquo;t want law enforcement to find its way to your speakeasy, you needed it to be accessible for patrons and the back-of-house help that would load in your illegal alcohol. Subterranean networks helped &mdash; sewers or access lanes under the street &mdash; and in older parts of Chicago these were common. <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/uptown-greenmilljazz-bar-history-owner-bartender-musicians/Content?oid=12784766" target="_blank">The Green Mill benefitted from tunnels</a> connecting the bar to neighboring establishments of their Uptown block. Likewise in Pilsen (a neighborhood partially spared by the Great Chicago Fire), speakeasies used basement connections to a subterranean network of access tunnels hidden beneath the city&rsquo;s original street grid. According to Craig Alton, one former funeral home on the 700 block of West 18th Street hosted wakes, parties and other get-togethers downstairs after their services, serving alcohol they ran through the underground tunnels. We couldn&rsquo;t verify that particular story, but it&rsquo;s true that in older neighborhoods like Pilsen, Chicago at one point raised sidewalks off the city&rsquo;s swampy foundations to make space for sewers and other infrastructure that could have been useful for illicit transport.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/drawings-at-gioco.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gioco.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Top: Drawings on the wall at Gioco, an Italian restaurant in Chicago's west loop. Bottom: The back room at Gioco. The space hosted a speakeasy during prohibition, using its thick safe doors to shield the windowless back room from foot traffic on Wabash Avenue. The building was a cold storage facility during that time, so it was easy to keep the beer cool. (Photo by Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><strong style="font-size: 22px;">4. Connections</strong></div></div><p>Running a successful speakeasy was impossible without connections. Bar owners relied on a network of people to transport alcohol, pay off cops and bounce unruly patrons, among other things. That often involved the mob, but it didn&rsquo;t have to. As long as you were somewhat discreet and had a person who brought in regular shipments of alcohol, you could run a speakeasy. <a href="http://www.twinanchorsribs.com/" target="_blank">Twin Anchors</a> was so named because the owner during Prohibition, Captain Herb Eldean, was a harbor master at Chicago&rsquo;s Monroe Harbor. &ldquo;He had more access than most people would have to the possibility of acquiring liquor coming down from Canada into the port here,&rdquo; says co-owner Paul Tuzi.</p><p>That Great Lakes connection was critical to sustaining under-the-table taverns all over the city, according to <a href="http://www.talestavernsandtowns.com/" target="_blank">History on Tap</a>&rsquo;s Liz Garibay. &ldquo;Location, location, location. It&rsquo;s the whole reason Chicago is even here,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;The fact that we had access to a couple of waterways, and we&rsquo;re so close to Canada, was helpful.&rdquo;</p><p>Some tavern owners didn&rsquo;t have to look across the border for a reliable source of alcohol. Schaller&rsquo;s Pump in Bridgeport is considered by many to be the oldest bar in Chicago still serving drinks. Now it&rsquo;s flanked by parking lots and gravel, but during the early 20th century its neighbor was the South Side Brewing Company. Prohibition forced the brewery to boost production of low-alcohol &ldquo;near beer,&rdquo; but barrels of its more potent products found their way into Schaller&rsquo;s Pump.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/236180239/A-Mixologist-s-Guide-to-a-Chicago-Speakeasy" target="_blank">(Check out our mixologist&#39;s guide to a Chicago speakeasy).</a></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>5. Emergency precautions</strong></span></p><p>Even if you had a good cover and had paid off the right people, it didn&rsquo;t hurt to have a backup plan. At Schaller&rsquo;s Pump, there&rsquo;s still a peephole looking south from the bar area. That came in handy when patrons and barkeepers needed to keep an eye out for unwelcome visitors. Twin Anchors had a half-size door installed in the back of the saloon so drinkers could escape in a hurry, but Tuzi says he has no evidence the bar was ever raided. (Though he did use it to escape inclement weather outside when he was still living in the building above the bar.)</p><p>While secrecy and good connections were probably the most critical parts of any successful Chicago speakeasy, some bar owners added their own innovations. Simon&rsquo;s in Andersonville has a bank teller&rsquo;s window tucked under the stairs. &ldquo;In that day if you took your check to the hardware store or the butcher shop or the shoemaker,&rdquo; says owner Scott Martin, those people would cash your check for you, but would take a percentage of your check for the risk of cashing it, much like a currency exchange does today.&rdquo; So Swedish immigrant and World War I veteran Simon Lundberg installed a bullet-proof bank teller&rsquo;s window (in what today is storage space), offering to cash checks free of charge. He also advertised free sandwiches on Fridays. &ldquo;So you would get a free belly full of food and get all of your hard-earned money, which you&rsquo;d oblige by gettin&rsquo; a beer and a whisky.&rdquo; Of course, it rarely stopped at just one drink.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/twin anchors.jpg" title="Paul Tuzi, one of the owners of Lincoln Park's Twin Anchors Restaurant &amp; Tavern, shows off a half-size door at the back of the bar, which he says was installed during prohibition to enable quick escapes. (Photo by Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>That entrepreneurial spirit seems to fit with Simon&rsquo;s history. The bar began when Lundberg noticed the patrons of his cafe spiking their drinks with whisky, so once he&rsquo;d made enough money from legitimate business, the Swedish immigrant bought the building next door and turned its basement into the NN Club &mdash; the &ldquo;No Name&rdquo; Club or maybe the &ldquo;No Norwegians&rdquo; Club, jokes current owner Scott Martin. A spare and cramped basement now used to store liquor for Simon&rsquo;s bar, the N.N. Club still has its original hand-painted sign. Decorative Swedish wall painting known as rosemaling peeks out from behind racks of liquor bottles.</p><p>After prohibition, Lundberg brought his drinking club upstairs. Simon&rsquo;s Tavern still has its original 1933 mahogany bar, and the bank teller door lined with 12-gauge steel and three panes of bullet-proof glass. Now people cash their checks elsewhere, of course, but they still oblige themselves a beer and whisky. Or several.</p><p>&ldquo;My mother and her sisters used to have come every other Friday night to get my grandfather out of here,&rdquo; says Martin.</p><p>A faithful clientele creates a powerful profit motive &mdash; one worth skirting the law and going through all that trouble for.</p><p>So to answer Elena Hadjimichael&rsquo;s question about what buildings housed speakeasies, and what made them well-suited to be speakeasies, let&rsquo;s recap: Speakeasies need secrecy or privacy; they often used a cover or front to keep up appearances; and they needed access to shipments of alcohol.<a name="elena"></a></p><p>It&rsquo;s not the building itself that made a successful speakeasy, so much as its management and business savvy. And that much about running a bar hasn&rsquo;t changed &mdash; even if modern speakeasies, like the ones that inspired Elena&rsquo;s question, don&rsquo;t have to worry about hiding the booze.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elena%20photo.jpg" style="height: 289px; width: 190px; float: left;" title="" /><span style="font-size:22px;">We&rsquo;ve got an answer. Who asked the question?</span></p><p>Our question about speakeasies comes from someone who has only been able to legally drink for two years. Elena Hadjimichael graduated in early June from the University of Chicago, where she majored in international studies. Now she&rsquo;s off to New York University, where she&rsquo;ll study law. But before she skipped town, Elena wanted to learn about the history of Chicago&rsquo;s prohibition-era watering holes.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my favorite bars in Chicago is The Violet Hour, which is kind of in the speakeasy style,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;So I was interested in what more original speakeasies might have been like in Chicago.&rdquo; Another &ldquo;modern speakeasy&rdquo; that comes to mind, she says, is <a href="http://nymag.com/listings/bar/angels_share/" target="_blank">Angel&rsquo;s Share</a> in New York&rsquo;s East Village. It&rsquo;s an exclusive whisky bar cached behind a Japanese restaurant.</p><p>Elena grew up in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. She spent three years in Paris before coming to Chicago. She also happens to be a member of the University of Chicago team that tackled a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/history-and-mystery-behind-chicago%E2%80%99s-produce-market-107918" target="_blank">Curious City question about Chicago&rsquo;s wholesale produce markets</a>.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a reporter for <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City</a> and a <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">freelance journalist</a>. Follow him at cabentley.com and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/236180239/A-Mixologist-s-Guide-to-a-Chicago-Speakeasy" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/speakeasy%20graphic%204.jpg" style="height: 906px; width: 620px;" title="" /></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/shot-history-ingredients-chicago-speakeasy-110616 Cycling through World War I http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-07-31/cycling-through-world-war-i-110586 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/WWI-18.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WBEZ reporter Alex Keefe took a cycling trip through prominent sites from World War I.</p></p> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 11:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-07-31/cycling-through-world-war-i-110586 The tale of Chicago's tattoo holdout http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-chicagos-tattoo-holdout-110185 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dAa8i2XoKQc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/149565713&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: The podcast episode available above includes two stories. The first story explains <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/jackpot-chicagos-hold-pinball-industry-and-artistry-110175">Chicago&rsquo;s fascinating role in pinball industry and imagery.</a> The story about Chicago&rsquo;s history of tattooing begins at 8 minutes, 45 seconds. Enjoy!</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to avoid Chicago&rsquo;s tattoo culture. Getting ink &mdash; from simple line-drawings to Asian dragons &mdash; has practically become a rite of passage, and tattoo parlors have become staples of the area&rsquo;s street corners, not unlike barber shops and nail salons.</p><p>Which is why it&rsquo;s so hard to believe that for a single, nearly ten-year stretch, there was only one legal tattoo shop in Chicago. That&rsquo;s right. Just <em>one</em>.</p><p>Dan Zajac, from Highland, Ind., couldn&rsquo;t believe it either, and he asked to hear more about the lone shop that had stood its ground:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Strange as this may now seem, from the mid-1960&#39;s through the early 1970&#39;s Chicago had one &mdash; just one &mdash; legal tattoo parlor. How did this happen to be the case?</em></p><p>To get answers we tracked down people intimately familiar with Chicago&rsquo;s tattoo history. From them, we learned how a lone tattoo shop withstood age-restriction laws, angry sailors, and a mass exodus of tattoo talent ... only to emerge as a single (albeit important) shop in a large field of competitors.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Our sources</span></p><p>Our principal sources &mdash; Chicago-based tattoo artists Dale Grande and Nick Colella &mdash; are familiar with the operation alluded to in Dan Zajac&rsquo;s question: <a href="http://chicagotattoo.com/home.html" target="_blank">Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co.</a>, which these days is located at 1017 W. Belmont Ave. Its former status as the only game in town is broadcast loudly and clearly by neon signs out front.</p><p>Dale Grande lived the history involved in our question, as he&rsquo;s owned or co-owned Chicago Tattoo since 1973.</p><p>Nick Colella worked at Grande&rsquo;s shop for about 20 years before opening his own, <a href="http://greatlakestattoo.com/" target="_blank">Great Lakes Tattoo</a>, in 2013. The walls at Colella&rsquo;s shop are festooned with Chicago tattoo memorabilia in hall-of-fame fashion, arranged in glass cases like vintage shrines. It&rsquo;s safe to say he&rsquo;s Chicago&rsquo;s unofficial tattoo historian, and much of it involves Chicago Tattoo.</p><p>Both Grande and Colella helped with <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAa8i2XoKQc" target="_blank">our video</a>, but the interview segments below provide even more insight.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Tats and two histories</span></p><blockquote><p><strong>Nick Colella:</strong> There are two histories to Chicago tattooing. The first part is from the late 1800s until tattooing went underground in Chicago in the 1950s and 60s.</p></blockquote><p><strong>How the Chicago tattoo scene looked in the 1930s.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Nick Colella:</strong> South State Street had been this honky tonk area. It was all burlesque strip joints and diners and arcades. And in the arcades were the tattoo shops.</p><p>All this was supposedly run by the mob, so every square inch was used for stuff. &nbsp;If there was a hallway underneath the stairwell, you could put a tattooer there.</p></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tats%20shop%20in%20Chicago%20%28R.%20Johnastone%29.jpg" title="State Street's tattoo shops mainly catered to sailors in the Great Lakes area. (Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella). " /></div><p><strong>The <a href="http://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrmw/installations/ns_great_lakes.html">Naval Station Great Lakes</a> lies 40 miles north of Chicago. Young sailors would make their way downtown.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:</strong> &nbsp;So, they would come to the city to party, get tattooed and go back to the base. And they are all 18 to 20-something years old. And it was a sailor&rsquo;s tradition to get tattooed.</p><p><strong>Nick Colella:</strong> The sailors would get tattooed on their arms. On State Street you&#39;d actually pick [a tattoo] off the wall then go tell the arcade manager what you wanted to pay for it &mdash; a couple bucks &mdash; then get a ticket and get [your tattoo] done. There were so many sailors and people down there, so there were hundreds of tattooers in and out over the years.</p></blockquote><p><strong>In 1963 the state of Illinois raised the legal age to get a tattoo from 18 to 21.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:</strong>&nbsp;New York City had a spout of hepatitis that they claim came from some tattoo shops. Chicago [sic] saw this and decided to raise the legal age law [to get a tattoo] from 18 years old to 21 years old.</p><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>I always heard it was about cleaning up State Street. The state realized, you know, this is downtown. There&rsquo;s money here to be made in real estate. They didn&rsquo;t want strip clubs or tattoo shops there.</blockquote><p><strong>The legal changes forced customers to seek tattoos elsewhere.</strong></p><blockquote><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CLIFF SHOP FOR WEB 2.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Cliff Raven's tattoo shop before it incorporated in 1973. It was the only shop in Chicago. (Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella)" /><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>That 18 to 21 change didn&#39;t allow those tattooers to tattoo any sailors anymore, so that business was gone. They all left Chicago and went west, east or south. Chicago became a ghost town for tattooing because you couldn&#39;t make any money off these sailors anymore.</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>Eventually, Cliff &mdash; Cliff Raven &mdash; who had Cliff Raven Studio, was the only one in the city.</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>Cliff Raven was a guy who got into tattooing in the late 50s and early 60s by a guy named Phil Sparrow, who had a major standalone shop on State Street. When tattooing went underground in Chicago, Phil briefly had a shop on Larrabee Street then went to Milwaukee [Wisconsin].</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>When everybody left, Cliff stayed because he was a Chicago man. He was a great person, talked to everyone, knew a little bit about everything. He had a B.A. from Indiana University. He was one of the great artists &mdash; I mean real artists &mdash; who got into the art of tattooing at that time.</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>I think Cliff stayed because he learned here and knew people involved in not just the tattoo scene. He was involved in leather and stuff. It was his home and he knew what he wanted.</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>He was the first openly gay tattooer, too. He was pretty big in the gay community at that time. He was part owner for a couple of bath houses &hellip;</blockquote><blockquote><strong>Nick Colella:&nbsp;</strong>That&rsquo;s why he set up shop where he did [W. Belmont Ave]. Boystown, you know?</blockquote><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CLIFF WEB.jpg" style="height: 357px; width: 350px;" title="(Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella)" /></div><p><strong>Cliff Raven&rsquo;s art changed Dale Grande&rsquo;s life.</strong></p><blockquote><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>The first time you stepped into the shop you could see the art on the walls was so much better [than other tattoo art at the time]. I think I was about 20 years old at the time and I said, &ldquo;I gotta get a tattoo here.&rdquo; So I did.<p>While I was getting the two pieces from Cliff I asked him: &ldquo;How do you get into this business? Mind if I hang around &hellip; be a gopher or something?&rdquo;</p><p>He goes, &ldquo;Sure, why not.&rdquo; I don&rsquo;t think he thought I was serious, but I started coming in after work nearly every day.</p></blockquote><p><strong>That was Spring of 1973. By fall of the same year, Cliff and his business partner at the time, Buddy McFall, had offered Dale Grande partial ownership. The shop&rsquo;s name changed from Cliff Raven Studio to Chicago Tattoo Co., Inc.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:</strong>&nbsp;I vividly remember the day were talking about it. I said, &ldquo;What about Chicago Tattoo? That says it all.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s the name.</p><p>At that time the tattoo industry was very closed-mouth, but we would come to work and there&rsquo;d be a line already waiting for us to open the door. Something you&rsquo;d expect being the only shop in the city. &nbsp;</p><p>It was crazy. We&rsquo;d get all these artists stopping in from all over the country just to see Cliff and talk to him. I would just sit there in awe and watch and listen and meet all these artists. It was really uncanny. It was great.</p></blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP790331060.jpg" style="width: 325px; height: 350px;" title="Dale Grande, left, working at Chicago Tattoo. (Archival photo courtesy Nick Colella)" /></p><p><strong>By the late 1970s, Chicago Tattoo had attracted many new artists. Some opened their own tattoo shops in Chicago.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:</strong>&nbsp;When these shops started opening, first thing I would do was hop in the car and drive down there to see what was going on. And hopefully I didn&rsquo;t see anything; it was just a rumor. It was always a bad feeling when someone opened up then.</p><p>There was lots of good, stiff competition. You just gotta stay better. And we did; we stayed better &hellip; I wish those days were back again because now you&rsquo;ve got something like 200 shops in and around the city.</p></blockquote><p><strong>Cliff Raven, who operated during the industry&rsquo;s lowpoint in Chicago, left an indelible mark on the local industry.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Nick Colella:</strong>&nbsp;The tattooing landscape would not be anything without Cliff and Dale and Chicago Tattoo. People who are tattooing now don&rsquo;t know where it all started from. They don&rsquo;t know that there was a core group of people who are monumental in this city&rsquo;s tattooing history.</p><p>A lot of tattooers now take it for granted that these guys were the only tattooers in town. They think &ldquo;Oh! They got all the business, that&rsquo;s great!&rdquo; &hellip; but they also got all the flak in town; all the b.s. They were those few guys going to work every day tattooing when it wasn&rsquo;t cool, when it wasn&rsquo;t on TV. They just did it because they had a drive to tattoo.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s why I keep this history alive - because no one else does. You go to Chicago History Museum and look up early photos of State Street and they only have three images, but I have the originals of them.</p><p>Chicago wants to put that area of history under the rug so bad. The city&rsquo;s always changing, but you have this history here that&rsquo;s important &hellip; to some people.</p></blockquote><p><strong>Cliff Raven left Chicago to open a new tattoo shop in California in 1977. Raven invited Dale Grande to join him.</strong></p><blockquote><p><strong>Dale Grande:&nbsp;</strong>It didn&#39;t feel right. I&rsquo;ve been here for all of my adult life. And I&rsquo;m still here. And we&rsquo;re still operating. We&rsquo;re still Chicago Tattoo. I just try to let others know that we&rsquo;re still around.</p></blockquote><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Capture.JPG" style="height: 285px; width: 500px;" title="Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co. is located at 1017 W. Belmont Ave. (Logan Jaffe/WBEZ)" /></p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Our question comes from: Dan Zajac</span></p><p>Dan Zajac is a lawyer who lives in Highland, Ind. He had known about Cliff Raven and Chicago Tattoo for a while, he says, but couldn&rsquo;t put his finger on why the shop was ever the only one in Chicago. He had even done his own research on the topic.</p><p>&ldquo;At least half the books in any public library on the subject of tattoos have Cliff Raven in the index,&rdquo; Dan wrote in an email. &ldquo;Many of the tattoo artists in various parts of the country (except the younger ones) seem to claim that they had studied under Cliff.&rdquo;</p><p>While we invited Dan to come along with us to investigate his question, he was only reachable by email. But he did let us know there&rsquo;s a reason why he&rsquo;s on the hunt for answers. A personal reason: Chicago&rsquo;s legendary tattoo artist was his uncle, Cliff Raven.</p><p><em>Logan Jaffe is Curious City&rsquo;s multimedia producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/loganjaffe" target="_blank">@loganjaffe</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 14 May 2014 19:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tale-chicagos-tattoo-holdout-110185 Jackpot! Chicago's hold on pinball industry and artistry http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/jackpot-chicagos-hold-pinball-industry-and-artistry-110175 <p><p>Ever since Kevin Schramer started playing pinball in the 1970&#39;s, he noticed that many machines listed their manufacturing addresses in the Chicago region. The addresses have kept him wondering for decades, so when he learned about Curious City, he just had to ask:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Why was the Chicago area home to all the major pinball manufacturers during the heyday of pinball?</em></p><p>After digging into relevant history books, interviewing industry experts, and emptying plenty of change into the area&rsquo;s <a href="#map">remaining pinball machines</a>, we can firmly say that Kevin&rsquo;s on to something: From the modern pinball industry&rsquo;s Depression-era beginnings, to its modest market presence today, Chicago has been pinball&rsquo;s center of gravity. (The <a href="http://www.ipdb.org/search.pl">Internet Pinball Database</a> lists 554 top-rated pinball machines and at least 98 percent of them were made in the region.) But the answer as to <em>why </em>involves an interplay of history, geography and art.</p><p><strong>Insert coin: Gottlieb and Williams</strong></p><p>To say Chicago was the hub of the pinball industry isn&rsquo;t to say that the game was invented in the Windy City. Historians trace early pinball machines to a centuries-old French billiard game called <em>bagatelle</em>, while the modern coin-operated pinball industry got its start in the early 1930s. During the Great Depression, many people were &ldquo;out of work, looking for inexpensive entertainment for a penny,&rdquo; explains pinball historian Roger Sharpe. Enterprising tinkerers and businessmen began to fill that need with simple countertop games.</p><p>In these early days, many of the industry&rsquo;s key players were travelling businessmen such as David Gottlieb, whose machine <em>Baffle Ball</em> was one of pinball&rsquo;s first big hits. <em>Baffle Ball</em> was a simple game. There were no flippers, lights, or bells; you just pulled the plunger back and hoped that the ball bounced into the right hole. Gottlieb moved throughout the Midwest to sell his machines, but his operation was based in Chicago.</p><p>Many of pinball&#39;s now-familiar qualities, such as replays and tilt mechanisms, were considered whiz-bang when they were first developed by engineer Harry Williams in the 1930&rsquo;s. Williams got his start in California, pranking his business partners by adding electricity to his machines and connecting the games to telephones; in some cases, the right shot would make the phone ring. Once the ringing machines proved to draw more money than their silent counterparts, machines with sound-making elements became the norm. While Williams tried working from California for a while, he eventually decided that he would need Chicago&#39;s competitive edge if he wanted to make a name for himself in the pinball industry.</p><p>&quot;It took too long for his games to get to the East Coast and by the time it got to the East Coast other people had already knocked it off,&quot; says Sharpe.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/baffle ball resized and tweaked.jpeg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Baffle Ball and Ballywho were two of pinball’s earliest successes. The machines were flipper-less, but brought in a stream of pennies anyway. (Flickr/Rob Dicaterino)" />Chicago had a lot to offer the budding industry. Raw materials were widely available, including lumber and wiring, as well as steel from nearby Gary, Ind. The city&#39;s large immigrant population became the basis of the factories&#39; work force. Once the machines were finished, the city&#39;s railroads made them easy to distribute across the country, and Lake Michigan&#39;s ports allowed the machines to be sent around the world as pinball found a market overseas. David Gottlieb and Harry Williams founded some of the industry&rsquo;s most successful companies in Chicago, and named the firms after themselves.</p><p><strong>Multiball! Artistry in the industry&rsquo;s heyday</strong></p><p>Through the decades, the pinball industry had its highs and lows. From the 1940s through most of the 1970s pinball was officially banned as illegal gambling in many of the nation&rsquo;s big cities, including New York City and Chicago. (Roger Sharpe, our historical guide, played <a href="http://gizmodo.com/how-one-perfect-shot-saved-pinball-from-being-illegal-1154267979">an instrumental role in overturning the bans</a> with a skill shot that became the stuff of pinball legend.) Although the bans were lightly enforced, they kept the industry from achieving its full potential. Then, in the mid-1970s, the bans were lifted, and The Who&rsquo;s pinball rock opera <em>Tommy </em>was made into a major motion picture. At this point, pinball found a place in the mainstream culture, and the industry entered into a full-blown heyday.</p><p>As the industry thrived, the graphic artists who designed the backglasses and the playfields developed a detail-rich pinball aesthetic. While Chicago has many important cultural contributions, it has a unique monopoly on pinball art. The art blended the bawdy imagery of <em>Playboy </em>magazine (based in Chicago at the time) with the garish colors of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/laugh-your-troubles-away-105619">Riverview amusement park</a>; before it was closed in 1967, Riverview had shared the same neighborhood as many pinball manufacturers.</p><p>Even Chicago&rsquo;s weather made it on to some machines. Greg Freres, celebrated pinball artist, worked on the <em>Harlem Globetrotters</em> machine during the notorious winter of 1979 &mdash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637#misery">one of the city&rsquo;s worst</a>. Freres included a splotch of white paint next to Lake Michigan in honor of Chicago&rsquo;s snow on the Globetrotters&rsquo; globe.<a name="presentation"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="true" frameborder="0" height="367" mozallowfullscreen="true" scrolling="no" src="https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/15JGIGwSQW2F_J4759VDr3g6QyXrNWBNbVrTyoW21rxI/embed?start=false&amp;loop=false&amp;delayms=3000" webkitallowfullscreen="true" width="620"></iframe></p><p>While the industry lost some ground to video game machines through the 80s, it continued to be successful. The most popular pinball machine of all time, for example, was <em>The Addam&rsquo;s Family</em>; it wasn&rsquo;t released until 1992.</p><p>By the close of the decade, however, pinball was in a verifiable slump. WMS, the corporate successor to the company founded by desinger Harry Williams, lost $4 million on its pinball division in 1998 alone. The company gave its pinball team one last shot to reinvigorate pinball. The team developed <em>Pinball 2000</em>, a hybrid of video games and pinball featuring holographic aliens. Despite the machine&rsquo;s relative success and a promo video complete with kooky narration from Chicago radio legend Ken Nordine, the corporate bosses at WMS shut down their pinball division to focus on growing profits in the slot machine industry. By the dawn of the 21st century, only one manufacturer of pinball machines remained in Chicago, and the world.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/UUSzSHNEv2g?rel=0" width="480"></iframe></p><p><strong>Extra game? Pinball Perseveres</strong></p><p>But pinball didn&rsquo;t end there. That last company, Stern Pinball, continues to develop and manufacture pinball machines in west suburban Melrose Park. (A New Jersey-based company just released a <em>Wizard of Oz</em> pinball machine, but Stern is the only company that regularly releases new machines and distributes them widely.) Company CEO Gary Stern has been in the pinball industry since he was a small child accompanying his father, a business partner of Harry Williams, on factory visits. While the access to materials, labor, and distribution that made Chicago an ideal location for pinball&rsquo;s beginnings remain, Stern says another element is keeping the surviving industry here.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re here, because we&rsquo;re here,&rdquo; Stern puts it plainly. That is, a community of pinball designers, engineers, and specialists live in the Chicago area, and many of them remain dedicated to the pinball craft.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Gary Stern resized.jpeg" style="height: 188px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="Stern Pinball CEO Gary Stern poses with question-asker Kevin Schramer and some of his company’s machines. Stern has worked in the pinball industry for more than 50 years. (WBEZ/Mickey Capper)" />Jim Shird is one of those specialists working at Stern. He has designed the wiring in pinball machines since the 1990s and has been playing pinball since he was a kid, when he would win free pizzas every week from a local pizza place&rsquo;s pinball competition.</p><p>Pinball&rsquo;s popularity has diminished to the point where it&rsquo;s most visible in the shadowy corners of dive bars. But still, Shird remains optimistic. These days, when he finishes work at Stern, he heads straight to <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Logan+Hardware+Arcade+Bar/@41.92504,-87.688184,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x70e42de27f7ec47f">Logan Arcade</a>, one of Chicago&rsquo;s many new arcade bars, to maintain (and play) the bar&rsquo;s pinball collection.</p><p>He is, after all, a pinball person and he gets to spend his life with pinball machines.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyday is different, everyday is interesting, everyday is an adventure, and everyday is fun,&rdquo; Shird says with a smile. &ldquo;I get to play pinball everyday.&rdquo;<a name="map"></a></p><p><iframe height="480" src="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/1/embed?mid=zo79HXq-4bn0.kCzXX8JiSVjA" width="640"></iframe></p><p><em>(Want to play pinball? This map includes all Chicago area venues with 3 or more pinball machines. More information is available at <a href="http://pinballmap.com/chicago">PinballMap.com</a>.)</em></p><p><strong>Our question comes from: Kevin Schramer</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kevin resize.jpeg" style="width: 225px; height: 300px; float: right;" title="Kevin Schramer plays his pinball machines with his family. Kevin’s question began this investigation. (WBEZ/Mickey Capper)" /></p><p>This story about Chicago pinball begins with our &ldquo;Player 1,&rdquo; Kevin Schramer. Kevin says he&rsquo;s loved the colors and sounds of pinball since he was a kid in the 1970s. He first saw pinball at Funway, a family entertainment center &nbsp;in west suburban Batavia.</p><p>&ldquo;If you had a pocket full of quarters you were all set,&rdquo; Kevin remembers.</p><p>Today, Kevin no longer needs quarters; he has a row of four vintage pinball machines in the dining room of his home in Winfield, Ill. His family plays the machines too, and he is currently in the midst of an extended battle with his sons over his machines&#39; high scores.</p><p><em>Mickey Capper is a freelance audio producer. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/FMcapper">@FMcapper</a></em></p></p> Tue, 13 May 2014 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/jackpot-chicagos-hold-pinball-industry-and-artistry-110175 Illinois' red light on Sunday car sales http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/illinois-red-light-sunday-car-sales-110136 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/148403096&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Judging by how many transportation-related <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/archive" target="_blank">questions Curious City receives</a>, we denizens of the Chicago region are obsessed with getting around and will ask about any <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-why-ban-pickups-lake-shore-drive-where-can-they-park-104631" target="_blank">stumbling blocks</a> &mdash; legal or otherwise &mdash; that threaten to get in our way.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/illinois-red-light-sunday-car-sales-110136#julischatz">Juli Schatz</a> of South Elgin is just one fan who&rsquo;s stepped forward with a puzzler related to mobility. Here&rsquo;s the gist of what she wants to know: &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>When did the state of Illinois begin its ban on Sunday car sales, and why?</em></p><p>The short answer? Turns out, auto dealers in Illinois have kept their doors closed on Sundays for more than three decades &mdash; from a law passed in 1982, to be specific. The state legislature sided with a group of dealers who argued that having a mandatory day off allowed employees to be with their families and practice their faith, without worrying that their competitors were open and could steal a sale.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s an excerpt of the <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K5-106" target="_blank">law </a>Illinois still follows today:</p><blockquote><p><em><span style="font-size:12px;">(625 ILCS 5/5-106) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 5-106)</span></em></p><p><em><span style="font-size:12px;">Sec. 5-106. No person may keep open, operate, or assist in keeping open or operating any established or additional place of business for the purpose of buying, selling, bartering, exchanging, or leasing for a period of 1 year or more, or offering for sale, barter, exchange, or lease for a period of 1 year or more, any motor vehicle, whether new or used, on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday; ...</span></em></p></blockquote><p>But this story about Sunday car sales goes back even further than the 1980s; Illinois has had this debate since the 1950s, with similar arguments for and against being deployed each time &mdash; including the issue&rsquo;s resurrection today.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Chapter 1: Prairie State car law, in the shade of blue</span></p><p>The state&rsquo;s Sunday auto sales ban is one of many state-level blue laws, which &mdash; as a category &mdash; prohibit certain secular activities on Sundays. It&#39;s a bent the Prairie State apparently shares with several neighbors: Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri also prohibit selling motor vehicles on Sundays. Wisconsin prohibits a dealer from selling on Sundays, unless the operator holds that the Sabbath occurs between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday.</p><p>Illinois&#39; own ban first made its way through the legislature in 1951. Dealers wanted to allow a day off, but any single dealership couldn&rsquo;t close its doors while competitors stayed open. Legislators agreed to a mandatory day off and passed a bill to make it happen, but the story got complicated as soon as the bill hit Governor Adlai Stevenson&rsquo;s desk.</p><p>Stevenson&rsquo;s Attorney General, Ivan A. Elliott, encouraged the governor to veto the bill, saying it likely violated the Illinois Constitution &ldquo;as an interference with the right of an individual to pursue any trade or occupation which is not injurious to the public or a menace to the safety or welfare of society.&rdquo;</p><p>Stevenson heeded the AG&rsquo;s word, and vetoed Senate Bill 504.</p><p>&ldquo;If such a restriction on Sunday trade is sound for automobiles, why should it not be extended to newspapers, groceries, ice cream cones and other harmless commercial transactions?&rdquo; Stevenson wrote in a veto message. &ldquo;Carried to its logical extreme, any business group with sufficient influence in the legislature can dictate the hours of business of its competitors. And if hours, why not prices?&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A short Chapter 2, and complicated Chapter 3</span></p><p>A nearly identical bill followed a similar path in 1957. House Bill 946 survived both houses, only to be defeated at the hand of Governor William Stratton days after passage.</p><p>The legislature made another attempt in 1961, only this time Governor Otto Kerner signed Senate Bill 597, making it a crime for any person to sell, barter or exchange any new or used motor vehicle on the day &ldquo;commonly called Sunday.&rdquo;</p><p>But some car dealers weren&rsquo;t jazzed about their new schedules. Employees at Courtesy Motor Sales in Chicago had been able to choose any day of the week they wished for their day off, but many of them chose to work on Sundays because they made almost twice as much as they did any other day of the week. Twenty percent of Courtesy&rsquo;s annual sales in 1960 were made on Sundays.</p><p>So Courtesy employees filed an injunction in Cook County Circuit Court that ended up before the Illinois Supreme Court. The salesmen and their lawyers argued the law was unconstitutional, as it singled out one specific group of sellers.</p><p>Attorney Joe Roddy was a senior in law school at the time, working as a law clerk for the State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office. As the State&rsquo;s Attorney was responsible for defending the statute, Roddy helped write the briefs. He also penned an article for the Chicago-Kent Law review about the case.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a huge deal,&rdquo; Roddy recalls. &ldquo;I remember a lot of publicity. Because you know, car dealerships, everybody buys a car &mdash; even in the 60s &mdash; and the car dealers wanted to be open on Sundays. So it attracted a lot of publicity because they didn&rsquo;t single out any other industry at that time.&rdquo;<a name="lawshistory"></a></p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that the law was unconstitutional, and the debate died down for a bit.<a name="timeline"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">TIMELINE: The law&#39;s history</span></strong></span></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="650" src="http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdFd5Wllad2gzaWZpQnlGTGwxQzZNY0E&amp;font=Bevan-PotanoSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;height=650" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Blue (law) since 1982</span></p><p>In the 1980s, car dealers across the state wrote state lawmakers, arguing that a mandatory day off would protect the livelihood of sellers and would provide needed time for family or faith. A new bill banning sales on Sundays made its way through the legislature, with major support coming from trade organizations that represent car dealerships.</p><p>But the measure also had opponents.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it comes with some amazement that a bill like this would come before us. We have heard time and time again from the business community that they would like less regulation by the state, and less mandates,&rdquo; Senator Don Totten argued on the Senate floor at the time. &ldquo;I think this runs contrary to our system of free enterprise.&rdquo;</p><p>The bill ended up making it way through both houses, leaving Governor Jim Thompson with a tough decision.</p><p>&ldquo;Look, I&rsquo;m not a big fan of blue laws,&rdquo; Thompson now says. &ldquo;I think commerce should be open and free.&rdquo;</p><p>And because of that, Thompson says, he did go back and forth on this one.</p><p>&ldquo;It was not a simple decision,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It was more a complex decision, but I guess what impressed me was the unanimity of the opinion [of] the dealer and the employee group. And the notion that if people &mdash; in order to protect their livelihood &mdash; had to work 7 days a week, that was a pretty tough proposition, especially people with families.&rdquo;</p><p>Thompson ended up signing the bill on July 13, 1982, but the law wasn&rsquo;t implemented until April 1984, when the state&rsquo;s Supreme Court ruled the ban was constitutional. The state has enforced a six-day sales week for dealers around Illinois ever since.</p><p><span style="font-size: 22px;">Ice cream cones and planned purchases</span></p><p>Fast forward to early 2014. It turns out that our question from Juli Schatz question is timely. Much to the dismay of many Illinois car dealers, Republican State Senator Jim Oberweis introduced a bill at the end of 2013 that would allow all dealers to open their doors on Sundays, should they want to.</p><p>Oberweis made the argument that his plan wouldn&rsquo;t <em>force</em> dealerships to do anything. Having government decide when businesses can and can&rsquo;t be open, he says, amounts to too much regulation.</p><p>&ldquo;I believe it is wrong for government to tell a business when they can be open and when they cannot be open. That&rsquo;s what they do in Russia, not in the United States,&rdquo; Oberweis says. &ldquo;And it becomes even worse when we learn that this is an industry supported effort. They decided they don&rsquo;t want to be open themselves, and then they attempt to use government to prohibit competition on those days. That is just fundamentally wrong in my opinion.&rdquo;</p><p>Oberweis says the bill likely won&rsquo;t go anywhere in 2014, as too few Senate Democrats are on board with repealing the ban.</p><p>Dave Sloan, President of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, says the bill&rsquo;s also likely to fail because both consumers and dealers are happy with the current law. The CATA has been a long-time supporter of the Sunday closing law, and Sloan says he was surprised to see Oberweis&rsquo; bill come up in the first place. In his 20 years at the CATA, including their work running the Chicago Auto Show, he says he&rsquo;s never heard a single complaint from a consumer over not being able to shop on Sundays.</p><p>&ldquo;If the purchase of a car was an impulse buy, like if you were buying an ice cream cone from one of Mr. Oberweis&rsquo; ice cream stores, that might make a difference. But it&rsquo;s a planned purchase,&rdquo; Sloan says. &ldquo;So if you have the opportunity to keep costs lower, and the consumer isn&rsquo;t inconvenienced by that, well, then everyone wins.&rdquo;</p><p>Sloan says a six-day work week helps dealers attract high-caliber employees; he argues it&rsquo;s hard to find full-time salesmen who will commit to working on commission when the dealership is open seven days a week.</p><p>As time goes on, and technology advances, so too do auto sales, according to Pete Sander, president of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association. He says compared to decades past, many more vehicles are financed during the purchase process. Since banks aren&rsquo;t open on Sundays either, he says, closing a sale becomes difficult, if not impossible. &nbsp;</p><p>And Sander says now that both dealers and manufacturers have websites available 24/7, the average customer only visits a dealership lot an average of one and a half times before purchasing a vehicle. Five years ago, the average customer would visit a sales lot five times.</p><p>&ldquo;By the time they get to the dealer on Saturday, they pretty much know what they want, and whether the dealer has what they want. It&rsquo;s just a matter of negotiating the price of the trade-in, and negotiating the price of the car,&rdquo; Sander says. &ldquo;So it&rsquo;s not like the old going from dealer to dealer to find the right car in the color and model you want, and kicking the tires as we used to do in the old days.<a name="julischatz"></a></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a much different commercial transaction now.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Our question comes from: Juli Schatz</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JuliBW.jpg" style="float: left; height: 205px; width: 150px;" title="Juli Schatz, who asked why Illinois banned Sunday car sales. (Photo courtesy Juli Schatz)" />Our look at Illinois&rsquo; ban on Sunday car sales comes courtesy of South Elgin resident Juli Schatz, who says she can&rsquo;t quite put her finger on when, exactly, this seed of curiosity about Illinois&rsquo; ban on Sunday cars was first planted.</p><p>It likely happened, she says, decades ago when her dad helped her shop for a car. Schatz&rsquo;s dad worked five days a week, so he was only free to kick tires or test-drive on weekends. She thought it was strange that Sunday sales were off the table.</p><p>&ldquo;I asked [my dad] and he had no idea why, and that was long before the Internet or anything,&rdquo; Schatz recalled. &ldquo;We actually asked a couple of car dealers while we were shopping for my new used car, and they had no idea.&rdquo;</p><p>Schatz says she&rsquo;s been curious about it ever since. Years later, she worked in ad sales for several newspapers, including the <em>Naperville Sun</em>, and she had car dealerships as some of her customers.</p><p>&ldquo;Same thing,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;Nobody really knew. And some of these dealers had been in business for quite a while and they said, &lsquo;You know, it&rsquo;s just always been that way.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ Reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 05 May 2014 17:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/illinois-red-light-sunday-car-sales-110136