Stories by Erica Gunderson

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.

More Than Words: American Writers Museum Opens This Week

A new chapter in Chicago’s cultural offerings begins this week.

Hop Dreams: Lagunitas Looks to Global Future for Craft Beer

Brew news with Lagunitas Brewing Company founder Tony Magee.

Ask Geoffrey: A ‘Pipe Dream’ of the 1893 World’s Fair

Geoffrey Baer explores an eccentric architect’s wacky proposal for the World’s Fair.

Looking for a New Hobby? Just Axe

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

Viewer Feedback: ‘Teaching Math Successfully is Hard'

Viewers summed up their thoughts about math after our talk with "Beyond Infinity" author Eugenia Cheng.

Ask Geoffrey: Who’s Holding Up This Southeast Side Building?

Since about 1915, a 7-foot-tall stone man has been shouldering a heavy burden on the corner of a Southeast Side building — more than hundred years without a break! But there’s some debate as to exactly who he is.

West Side Factory Aims to Beat the Pants Off Apparel Industry

Dearborn Denim and Apparel (Chicago Tonight)

We visit a small company in Garfield Park that is hoping to revive the Chicago apparel industry with a combination of American materials and immigrant know-how. 

Viewer Feedback: ‘Rauner is to Illinois What Trump is to the Country’

Viewers respond to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s statements on the state of Illinois’ finances.

Chicago Teens Ponder Big Questions in Graphic Novel ‘No Small Plans’

In a new graphic novel from the Chicago Architecture Foundation, teens – past, present and future – traipse through Chicago neighborhoods to ponder some big questions, such as: What makes a community?

Ask Geoffrey: Is North-South Divide Between Baseball Fans Real?

(Credit from left: SecretName101 / Wikimedia Commons; Geoff Livingston / Flickr)

Many believe there is a fault line that divides Chicago, pitting brother against brother in a long-standing crosstown rivalry. But a viewer wonders if that historic boundary is a myth.

Viewer Feedback: ‘I Want No Part of Being Annexed To Chicago’

Author Ted McClelland’s idea of annexing suburbs to Chicago to boost the city’s population had viewers talking.

Cavalia’s Epic ‘Odysseo’ Gallops onto Chicago’s Lakefront

A big show is brewing under the big top, with a cast and crew of more than 200 – plus 65 horses. We go behind the scenes of “Odysseo.”