Curious City is a news-gathering experiment housed at Chicago Public Media - WBEZ91.5fm. You ask your questions about Chicago/the region/the people who live here, vote for your favorites, and join us in tracking down the answers.

Here's where we'll be posting updates on stories in the works. Follow us to keep track of our progress and how you can help.

Check out our most recent stories on WBEZ.org or find answers posted here.

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Dear Lucretia,

Don’t look now but we’ve got an answer to your question! Check it out here:

http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/ohares-ghost-terminal-4-109632

Anybody who travels through O’Hare airport must wonder about the mysterious Terminal 4. Where is it? Did it ever exist? Is it a ghost????? It turns out loads of people have asked us about this phenomenon. So we investigated the subject in an episode from this past February. The short answer to your question is that Terminal 4 actually was built. Curious what happened to it? Listen to our story and let us know what you think.

Oh yeah, and if you ever have another question about Chicago, the region, or it’s people, please send it our way!


Love, Curious City

Get with the program!

If you’re feeling half as enthusiastic as Oprah, get with the program and, uh, subscribe to the (podcast) program. Here ‘tis: http://wbez.is/WbMZpz

We Got a Twitter Tip!

Dear Derek,

Great news, we have an answer for you! You can find it here:

http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/fountain-youth-schiller-woods-110099

There are some things about Chicago life that people seem to find universally curious. Because of that we often get repeat questions. When that’s the case, we like to let our curious citizens know. We answered your question in an episode from April of this year after two other listeners asked us the very same thing! If you’re still thirsty for an answer about that mysterious water pump, have a read or take a listen to our story. Or there’s even a video, if you prefer.

Let us know what you think. Did we satisfy your curiosity? Be sure to send us more questions whenever you think of them. We’re counting on it!

Best, Curious City

Archival photos of Chicago’s long-closed Uptown Theater, courtesy of the Theatre Historical Society of America.

We asked you to help imagine a second life for the theater, and you responded with dozens of ideas. Thanks for that! And do head over here to see our recent story on restoration ideas for the theater, all inspired by a question from a local architecture student. 

Monica Schrager works in Chicago’s Jeweler Building, just across Wacker Drive from the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist. She walks by the church every day and it definitely stands out. “It’s this small ‘60s-style building in the middle of a bunch of skyscrapers,” she says. From her office window she also gets a view of the building’s distinctive cupola, which most people don’t see.  

Monica noticed that there don’t seem to be many people coming and going at the church and she got curious. Here’s what she asked us:

How did the Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist get such prime real estate on Wabash and Wacker? Why has no one bought them out?

Monica moved to Chicago in 1991 and currently lives in Humboldt Park. She’s a web developer by trade but she’s also a big fan of architecture, which is one of the reasons she reached out to us.

“I love the variety of architecture we have in the city, from Mies Van Der Rohe to Frank Lloyd Wright,” she says.

Monica adds she’s also interested in the history of different organizations in Chicago and “how they’ve managed to get their hooks in.” She wonders whether this church has some “fighting and scrappiness” that’s allowed it to stay put.

Like cloud-watching but with architecture

The Christian Science Church (top) on Wacker Drive might seem like a totally wacky structure but the Harry Weese design makes a little more sense next to some of the architect’s other work, like the award winning DC Metro.

(Images by Javier Alaya and Veronica Olivotto via flickr)

This detailed building plan for the 17th Church of Christ, Scientist was published in the Chicago Tribune in 1966. What you see from Wacker Drive is only part of the story. The building’s interior extends down to lower Wacker and the auditorium seats over 800!

What to do with the Uptown Theater

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We’re in the process of answering this question from Fariha Wajid:

How can we repurpose the Uptown Theater to the maximum benefit for the community?
It’s a great question and we can’t answer it without your help. Do you have an idea for the future of Uptown Theater? Submit your idea here or check out the other submissions and upvote the ones you like.

Illinois struggles with debt and unpaid bills, while Indiana is sitting pretty with a surplus topping $2 billion. What’s behind the fiscal gap between these two neighbors?

Our Editor Shawn Allee is seen here with a bad case of the audio producer’s plague: headphone crumblitis: an affliction in which the outer layers of ear pads on Sony professional headphones flake off and stick.to.everything. Most often: skin.

Allee was last seen in the men’s bathroom on floor 3 furiously scrubbing the crumblitis shmutz from his neck, face, inner ears and psyche.   

Been following our progress on our story about the ubiquitous but ever-so-interesting Chicago two-flat apartment building? Well, reporter Chris Bentley and the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Jen Masengarb have capped things off with this explainer on how this humble building is deeply tied to the city’s working class.  

A couple summers ago, Cherelyn Riesmeyer took her kids to a Chicago beach. They had brought their new boogie boards along, which they’d purchased on a family vacation a few weeks earlier.

But when they leapt into Lake Michigan with their new beach toys, Cherelyn says, a lifeguard promptly told her kids that boogie boards weren’t allowed on Chicago beaches.

“[My kids] starting referring to the lifeguards as fun guards,” Cherelyn says.

Then, in January 2012, a local surfer was arrested for illegally surfing at Oak Street Beach. When Cherelyn heard the news, she says, she was in disbelief. But she also wanted answers, so she asked Curious City:

Why is surfing not allowed in Lake Michigan?

Turns out, surfing is allowed in Lake Michigan, but it wasn’t always, and even now it’s not allowed everywhere. Here’s how a compromise between local surfers and a wary park district made riding waves game on four beaches.

Photo: A local surfer watches the sun rise over 57th Street Beach. (Courtesy Todd Haugh/Surfrider Foundation).

Question Answered: What’s That Chocolate Smell?

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Dear Curious Citizens,

Maybe you’re getting off the brown line at Chicago or maybe you’re biking down Milwaukee and all of a sudden you smell this overwhelming scent of chocolate. It’s like someone’s baking the most delicious pan of brownies right under your nose. Maybe you’re curious where that smell comes from.

Plenty of our listeners are; we’ve received four questions about the smell since Curious City began. So we thought we’d answer all four questions at once. Or actually, we’ll let our colleagues do the talking. Click here for a Dynamic Range story about the Blommer Chocolate factory in Chicago’s West Loop and listen to Ira Glass explain why the factory actually smells less like chocolate than it used to. Happy listening (and smelling) and stay curious!

Love, Curious City

Photo by Ann Gordon (via Flickr)

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