The Rundown: Fewer migrants are in Chicago shelters

Plus, a West Side couple celebrates their love at a White Castle. Here’s what you need to know today.

Inn of Chicago
The Inn of Chicago, one of the city's largest migrant shelters. K’Von Jackson for WBEZ
Inn of Chicago
The Inn of Chicago, one of the city's largest migrant shelters. K’Von Jackson for WBEZ

The Rundown: Fewer migrants are in Chicago shelters

Plus, a West Side couple celebrates their love at a White Castle. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! NPR explained the origins of the holiday (spoiler: The story is darker than you may think). Here’s what else you need to know today.

1. The number of migrants in Chicago shelters is at the lowest point in months

Fewer than 13,000 migrants are staying in the city’s shelters, down from an early-January peak of 15,000 migrants.

Of 28 shelters active at the end of January, 13 have seen at least a 10% decrease in migrants, including a temporary shelter at the Harold Washington Library, which had more than 100 people staying there throughout January but closed last week.

The decrease comes as the number of migrants arriving in the city slowed significantly this month, Michael Loria reports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

As of Tuesday, only one migrant was staying at O’Hare Airport, another 10 were at police stations and three were at the city’s “landing zone,” the Sun-Times reports.

Migrants who have reached a 60-day limit will need to leave the city’s shelters by mid-March — though they will be allowed to reapply. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. The Addison Red Line platform could be widened to help with overcrowding during Cubs games and concerts

CTA officials also say they want to add more accessible entrances and exits at the station and lengthen the platform to accommodate 10-car trains, Block Club Chicago reports.

Though the CTA may need to purchase nearby land to have room to make the needed renovations, officials told Block Club they would try to “minimize property acquisition.”

“Any acquisition needs will be identified after additional engineering and environmental work is complete,” the CTA said in a statement to Block Club. “That work will be conducted after the current planning study is complete and is still several years away.”

These changes would be part of the already underway Red and Purple Modernization Project. Similar overhauls are also being planned for the Sheridan, Loyola and Howard Red Line stations as part of the same project. [Block Club]

3. A new crude oil and natural gas pipeline could be built under the Great Lakes

Midwest tribal leaders are challenging a pipeline that pumps a million gallons of oil daily beneath a gap between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco writes for WBEZ.

The tribal leaders say the Line 5 pipeline is a threat to the Great Lakes. The pipeline, owned by Canadian energy company Enbridge, has already spilled more than a million gallons of oil since the first recorded leak in 1968. Now Enbridge wants to start over and reroute Line 5 into a plan called the Great Lakes Tunnel Project.

Opponents have filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago, and environmentalists are appealing to state and federal agencies to stop the proposed pipeline and tunnel.

In a statement to WBEZ, Enbridge called the pipeline an “economic and energy lifeline for Canada and the U.S.” [WBEZ]

4. How often do religious dating apps help users find love?

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about dating apps. The matchmaking sites can help religious people find others who share their values — but that experience isn’t universal, my colleague Adora Namigadde reports for WBEZ.

While some users strictly adhere to the tenets of their religions, others feel more of a cultural connection to their faith. The spectrum of belief even within a particular faith tradition can make using dating apps complicated.

But the apps can also help people find what they’re looking for.

Muzz, a “Muslim marriage app,” offers privacy settings, modesty options and the ability to have a chaperone screen dates. These tailored features helped give the app legitimacy among some Muslim users. [WBEZ]

5. A West Side couple celebrated their love like royalty — at a White Castle

Tiffany Brooks-Lawrence and her husband of 20 years, Michael Lawrence, had their first date at a White Castle on the West Side in 1998. This past weekend, Brooks-Lawrence celebrated her bridal shower at the restaurant chain in Berwyn, Emmanuel Camarillo reports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The couple had White Castle cheeseburger sliders on their first date as teenagers 25 years ago, and they got married and had children just a few years later.

But because they married young, Brooks-Lawrence told the Sun-Times, they weren’t in a financial position to have their dream wedding. The couple plans to renew their vows for their 20th wedding anniversary in April and finally have that grand event with friends and family.

For their bridal shower, their party transformed the Berwyn White Castle into a white-linen banquet hall.

“It was a true testament of our love and our commitment to each other,” Brooks-Lawrence told the Sun-Times. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Multiple people were injured after shots were fired during the Super Bowl victory parade in Kansas City, Mo. [AP]

  • The CDC may soon drop its COVID isolation guidance. [NPR]

  • Illegal border crossings from Mexico dropped sharply after a record-high December. [AP]

  • An Oklahoma radio station is now playing Beyonce’s new country song after an outcry from fans. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Local restaurants are partnering with the Field Museum to showcase what might sound like an unusual ingredient: blood.

The “Blood Appetit” partnership runs Feb. 19 through March 8 and “seeks to raise awareness of blood’s role in food and demystify the sometimes-maligned ingredient known more for its perceived fear factor than as a source of nourishment,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Though what is thought of as American cuisine doesn’t often feature blood, the ingredient is actually used around the world as a thickener, coloring agent and flavor enhancer, said Maggie Holcomb, the Field Museum’s marketing and advertising director.

Some of the dishes diners can expect during “Blood Appetit” include blood sausage sliders from Frontier, chocolate cake from Mott Street and morcilla (blood sausage) tacos at Taqueria Chingon. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Tell me something good …

What are your favorite old-school Chicago diners?

P.M. Furlong says:

“Since the first time I entered Bucktown’s Club Lucky, 1824 West Wabansia Avenue, about 20 years ago, I’ve loved it. The food is very good, but the best reason to go there is the old-time, neighborhood, Italian eatery feel of the place. It reminds me of the restaurant in The Godfather in which Michael Corleone assassinates Sollozzo and Capt. McCluskey, without the spiffily dressed waiters.”

Feel free to email us, and your response might make it in the newsletter this week.