Stories by Erica Gunderson

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to the Everleigh Sisters

We raise a glass to a pair of sisters who made a fortune as brothel owners in the City of Big Shoulders with a ladylike drink.

Ask Geoffrey: Was There a Panda at Lincoln Park Zoo?

Geoffrey Baer solves the mystery of a viewer’s “vague memory” from the 1940s, revisits the Century of Progress and opens the door to the Evanston History Center in this encore edition of “Ask Geoffrey.”

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to Alice Peurala

For decades, the steel industry forged Chicago’s industrial spine. Now, we forge a no-nonsense drink for the no-nonsense lady who brought the titans of steel to their knees.

Looking for a New Hobby? Just Axe

A Portage Park range takes a whack at bringing axe-throwing to Chicago.

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to Marion Mahony Griffin

We raise a glass to one of the first female architects in the U.S. with a rum-based sipper that creates beauty from the sour, the bitter and the strange.

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to Myrtle Bachelder

We toast the analytical chemist and former South Side resident by switching up the elements of a classic Manhattan.

Ask Geoffrey: What Are Your Favorite Chicago ‘Firsts’?

Chicago might be called the Second City, but we can lay claim to a few big historical firsts. Geoffrey Baer shares his favorite firsts in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to Frances Glessner Lee

Try our smoky twist on the classic bloody mary in honor of a crime scene pioneer who trained police detectives with her gruesome dioramas.

1930s, ‘40s Films Uncovered at Historic Rogers Park Church

Still image from 1947 film footage of St. Paul’s Church by-the-Lake uncovered by Jeff Nichols.

After finding the first known moving images of the 1915 Eastland disaster, a UIC graduate student uncovers a treasure trove of vintage films about a neighborhood church and its congregants.

Ask Geoffrey: Lyric Opera’s Marquee Mystery

Geoffrey Baer drops the curtain on an opera house mystery in this week’s encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to Clara Lipman

We salute the sparkling stage presence of a turn-of-the-century star with a cocktail made with Prosecco, limoncello and summer fruit.

Ask Geoffrey: What Happened to the Hamilton Statue?

What happened to the Alexander Hamilton statue in Lincoln Park? Geoffrey Baer tells his story.

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to Cora Strayer

Unless you run in nerdy history circles, chances are you’ve never heard of Cora Strayer, private detective. Belly up to the bar for a history lesson—with a spirited twist.

Ask Geoffrey: White Castle Inspired by Chicago Water Tower?

Was the design of White Castle restaurants based on a Chicago landmark? Geoffrey Baer has the answers you crave.

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to Gwendolyn Brooks

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet would have celebrated her 100th birthday this week. We take some poetic license ourselves with the Jazz June, a gin-based cocktail with a spring of fragrant lavender. 

Historical Happy Hour: A Toast to Bertha Palmer

Chicago loves its history as much as its hooch, so we’re back for another round of cocktails that celebrate Chicago’s finest – or most infamous, and we’re kicking the series off with the undisputed queen of Chicago society.

Large-as-Life Dinosaurs Frighten and Fascinate at ‘Jurassic World’

(Courtesy of The Field Museum)

A new exhibit aims to be an immersive experience that brings the 2015 movie and its gigantic reptilian stars to life. 

Ask Geoffrey: Lyric Opera’s Marquee Mystery

Geoffrey Baer drops the curtain on an opera house mystery in this week’s edition of Ask Geoffrey.

More to Love: Polyamory in the Real World

Is monogamy the gold standard for romantic relationships, or is more better?

Tips for Terrific Tomatoes, from Soil Prep to Staking

Plump, sun-ripened tomatoes are indisputably the crown jewel of home vegetable gardens, and a successful tomato crop means giving them the best start possible. The Organic Gardener Jeanne Nolan shares her tomato tips.

Viewer Feedback: ‘The Greatest Museums In This Country Are Free’

A new pricing structure at the Shedd Aquarium gets viewers talking.

Sweaters and Other Strange Ephemera of Chicago’s 1970s Street Gangs

In the early days of their existence, Chicago’s street gangs developed some unique conventions that, ironically, helped law enforcement track them down. We took a look at the history of Chicago’s gang sweaters.

Viewer Feedback: ‘Treating Chickens as Inanimate Objects’ Not Good

Our story about a chicken-rental company gets viewers clucking.

Ask Geoffrey: How Do You Make the Popular Downscope Cocktail?

For decades, a cocktail called the Downscope was served up at Skipper’s Marina on the Calumet River. Its recipe was a closely guarded secret, until now. Geoffrey Baer tells us what's up with the Downscope in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

Viewer Feedback: ‘Bigoted Comments Are Protected Free Speech’

Hear what viewers had to say about our discussion of whether or not hate crimes are on the rise.