Stories by Erica Gunderson

Ask Geoffrey: What’s With the Out-of-Order Presidents?

(Ken Lund / Flickr)

Geoffrey Baer investigates why the Loop’s streets honoring presidents don’t honor the order of their terms, returns to a North Side bridge to nowhere, and relates the sad story of the “radium girls” of Ottawa, Illinois.

I’ll Have What She’s Having: Shared Plates, Experiences Can Lead to Love

(Simon_sees / Wikimedia Commons)

A University of Chicago Booth School of Business professor talks about how your romantic relationships can affect your decision-making.

Viewer Feedback: ‘We’ve Earned this Negative Attention’

Viewers weighed in on our story about a study looking at the root causes of gun violence. Hear the details when we read feedback from our website and social media accounts.

Bold, Blunt and Black ‘Bird of the Iron Feather’ Sings

In 1970, the first black soap opera on television was produced in Chicago right here in the WTTW studios. “Bird of the Iron Feather” told sharp-edged tales of the black urban experience that still resonate nearly 50 years later. 

Ask Geoffrey: Why Did Norwood Park Nix the Grid?

Norwood Park Hotel (Courtesy of Norwood Park Historical Society)

Navigating the Norwood Park neighborhood can be gnarly. Geoffrey Baer is here with all the twists and turns in this Northwest Side enclave’s history in this week’s edition of Ask Geoffrey.

Viewer Feedback: ‘Birds Have Got to Toughen Up’

Our story about feral cats killing huge numbers of birds generated quite a bit of debate.

Doomsday Clock Moves 30 Seconds Closer to Midnight

(NASA)

Is rhetoric edging us closer to doomsday? Last week, the Doomsday Clock edged 30 seconds closer to midnight, putting the world two and a half symbolic minutes away from global annihilation. 

Viewer Feedback: ‘The Ban Is Unacceptable’

Viewers weigh in on President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees.

Ask Geoffrey: What Happened to Chicago Burger Chain Wimpy’s?

A viewer wonders what became of a Chicago burger chain that borrowed its name from a cartoon moocher. Geoffrey Baer serves up some hamburger history.

Back to That Same Old Place: Sweet Home Chicago

Chicago and Illinois lost residents faster than any other state or major U.S. city in the last few years. But some are returning. (From left: Araceli Arroyo / Flickr; © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons)

For the last couple of years, the news about Chicago has rarely been upbeat. Thus it comes as little surprise that both Chicago and Illinois lost residents faster than any other major U.S. city or state in the last few years. But sometimes, they come back.

Viewer Feedback: ‘Is This Guy Kidding? Chicago is Rudderless’

Viewers sound off on our interview with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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 an exhibit at the Century of Progress and opens the door to the Evanston History Center.

Dese, Dose and Dibs: the Midwest’s Weird Word World

How do you pronounce “Chicago”? Meet the author of a new book about how to speak Midwestern.

6 Illinois Democrats Skipping Out On Swearing-In

At Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday as the 45th president of the United States, some of Illinois’ congressional representatives will be most noticeable for their absence.

Viewer Feedback: How Can the Police Have a Chance?

Viewers spoke up about our conversation with Dean Angelo, the president of the Chicago police union.

Ask Geoffrey: What Was a Manure Monger?

Before automobiles, Chicago basically ran on horsepower. Find out how the city kept its streets free of manure in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

The Trump Bump: Stocks on the Rise Despite Post-Election Fears

We talk with experts about which stocks will win and lose in a Trump administration.

Viewer Feedback: ‘There Is No Going Back’

We heard from you about the Chicago Police Department’s struggle with low morale. 

Viewer Feedback: ‘Put the Blame Where it Belongs’

Our story about Pritzker Elementary School’s lack of a librarian drew strong opinions on both sides, and our story on social media and violence prompted your remarks. 

2 Chicago Doctors Test ‘You Are What You Eat’ Adage

We learn about two Chicago studies showing that following a few basic nutrition principles can keep your brain agile and your heart strong.

Ask Geoffrey: What’s the History of Asylum Place?

Geoffrey Baer investigates the history of Asylum Place, the explosive story behind a 1930s manhole cover and what happened to a magical Chicago restaurant chain in this encore edition of “Ask Geoffrey.”

Chicago Filmmaker’s ‘State of Eugenics’ a Look at Forced Sterilization

Chicago filmmaker Dawn Sinclair Shapiro (Chicago Tonight)

A new documentary by Chicago filmmaker Dawn Sinclair Shapiro looks at the history of North Carolina’s eugenics program and how modern-day lawmakers sought state compensation for survivors.

Ask Geoffrey: What’s the History of the Telenews Theater on State Street?

In the 1940s, a theater in the Loop was providing nightly news updates, and a professional cyclist was cleaning up with his Chicago chain of dry cleaning stores. Geoffrey Baer raises the curtain on these local history stories in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

Ask Geoffrey: Which Came First, Eisenhower or Old Main Post Office?

Old Main Post Office (Brianbobcat / Wikimedia Commons)

The Eisenhower Expressway runs beneath the Old Main Post Office, causing one viewer to wonder which came first. Geoffrey Baer delves into the history of these interlinked landmarks in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

How ‘Santa Claus’ Saved Christmas in Chicago

For Chicago’s municipal workers, the Christmas of 1904 was shaping up to be a sorry one indeed. The city was so broke it couldn’t pay municipal employees. But three days before Christmas, Santa Claus himself emerged from City Hall to save the workers’ Christmas. Well – kind of.