Stories by Erica Gunderson

Ask Geoffrey: What’s the Plan for Lake Calumet?

Lake Calumet (Tom Kort /

Lake Calumet has changed shape and purpose many times over the years. Geoffrey Baer takes a look at its past and future in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

Wildlife Meets City Life in New WTTW Web Series ‘Urban Nature’

A new WTTW web series peeks into pockets of nature in cities across the country.

Students Give Schurz Food Science Lab a Green Thumbs Up

Visit a Northwest Side high school where a food science lab is growing the next generation of urban farmers.

Preservation Chicago Names City’s 7 Most Endangered Structures of 2017

This year, the group’s annual list of endangered structures sounds the alarm on not just buildings, but also public art. 

Viewer Feedback: ‘What Do You Need Ketchup For?’

It was tough to keep up with all of your comments on ketchup after last week’s Ask Geoffrey segment asking why Chicagoans skip the red stuff on their hot dogs.

Ask Geoffrey: Why No Ketchup on Hot Dogs, Chicago?

Geoffrey Baer explores why hot dogs and ketchup don’t mix in Chicago.

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: ‘A Change is Needed!’

We share some of your reactions to our 4th Ward aldermanic forum.

Ask Geoffrey: The Warrior Walls of General Jones Armory

The walls of a South Side armory tell the history of warriors throughout the ages. Geoffrey Baer shares that story and more in this week’s Ask Geoffrey.

Viewer Feedback: ‘No Human Being Is Illegal’

Viewers had a lot to say about our report on immigration raids carried out in Chicago and around the nation last week.

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.

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


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.