The catalogs of Sears, Roebuck, and Co., and Montgomery Ward were beloved icons of Americana. The catalogs reflected the power of companies to shape how people shopped and what they bought. The rise and fall of these mail order giants is intertwined with the history of Chicago and the rest of America.
In 1988, Danny Sotomayor faced what amounted to a death sentence: AIDS diagnosis. No cure, costly meds, and quick fatalities. At 29, he was terrified but chose to combat the crisis in his unique way — through spectacle.
Chicago, once "Candy Capital of the World," birthed iconic sweets like Cracker Jack, M&Ms, Snickers, and Lemon Heads. 100 local companies, including Wrigley, Mars, and Ferrara, made a third of US candy, employing 25,000. Immigrant contributions shaped this confectionary legacy.
Jane Addams was an activist ahead of her time. Within the walls of Hull House on the Near West Side, she led a social movement and amassed an army of women to demand change, pushing boundaries and breaking barriers along the way.
Richard J. Daley, aka The Boss, transformed Chicago as mayor (1955-1976). Facing white flight, he spearheaded city planning, creating the 1958 Plan for the Central City. His vision revitalized downtown but displaced 168,000 people by 1963, causing racial tensions.
Railroad titan George Pullman’s name was once synonymous with luxury, but when his success didn’t trickle down to his workers, a rebellion ensued. A group of Black workers found success through organizing, paving the way for a Black middle class and a civil rights movement.
From its earliest days, Chicago residents and businesses alike dumped their waste directly into the Chicago River, which flowed into Lake Michigan and contaminated the city’s drinking water. Chicago Stories explores the various methods tried to combat the problem, and one engineer’s bold solution.
In 1958, a tragic Catholic school fire at Our Lady of the Angels in the city’s Humboldt Park neighborhood took the lives of 92 children and 3 nuns. The fire at Our Lady of the Angels was an unimaginable tragedy that shook a parish and changed a community.
The episode follows “The Father of Gospel”, Thomas A. Dorsey, who wrote one of gospel’s early hits while coping with his grief over the death of his wife and child. It explores the roots of gospel from southern spirituals during slavery, through gospel’s early years.
This is the story of pride and heartbreak in a close-knit South Side community. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Chicago’s first and oldest Mexican-American parish, lost 12 young men in the Vietnam War during a brutal five-year period.
At the end of the 19th century, Chicago completely transformed the way Americans eat, and the Union Stockyards on the South Side were the center of that revolution. Experience the sights, sounds, and awful smells of the Union Stockyards and the complex of meat factories next to it, known as Packingtown.
You may not have heard of Albert Lasker, Eugene Kolkey, or Tom Burrell, but you most certainly know their creations. They’re Chicago’s Mad Men - the local executives who created iconic figures like the Marlboro Man, Charlie the Tuna, and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
Chicago Stories recalls two very different disasters that occurred in the heart of Chicago’s Loop 90 years apart: First, the deadliest building fire in U.S. history: the 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire.
As a woman once again occupies the fifth floor of City Hall, Chicago Stories remembers the city’s first female mayor. After pulling off one of Chicago’s greatest political upsets, Jane Byrne found herself caught between the political machine that shaped her and the reformers who elected her.
Chicago’s greatest cultural export just might be improvised theater — an art form that was devised by a woman named Viola Spolin — who wasn’t out for laughs.
There are few Chicago historical figures whose life and work speak to the current moment more than Ida B. Wells, the 19th century investigative journalist, civil rights leader, and passionate suffragist.
On October 10, 1871, Chicago awoke to an unrecognizable landscape: where 48 hours earlier there had been a vibrant city, now there was nothing but rubble stretched for miles on end.
Ida B. Wells, a Chicago Stories special, explores Ida B. Wells’ quest for justice.
Here are seven places to trace Ida B. Wells’ footsteps in Chicago.
Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses Ida B. Wells’ legacy in journalism.