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Playlist History


The "Architect" of Conservatism in America is the Subject of a New 'American Masters'

The Incomparable Mr. Buckley examines the life of William F. Buckley, Jr. with an eye toward the rise of the conservatism he espoused and how it was eclipsed – how we got to our present moment. We spoke to the filmmaker. 

Nine Pioneering Chicago Women Politicians

Chicago has produced some remarkable politicians over the decades, including women who broke ground at the city, state, and national levels. Amongst them are the first Black woman U.S. Senator, the third woman elected to the U.S. Congress, and the first woman mayor of a large U.S. city.

The References to State History in Sufjan Stevens’ 'Illinois' Album, Explained

Thanks to the recent stage adaptation at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, we're revisiting Sufjan Stevens' Illinois album and its many, many references to state history.

The American Nazi-Sympathizing Group That Drew Tens of Thousands of Members Before World War II

A new American Experience documentary examines the German American Bund, a Fascist group that drew a surprising amount of support as well as attention in the 1930s, including in Chicago.

The Ultimate DIY: A Century Ago, You Could Buy Everything You Needed to Build an Entire Home from a Sears Catalog

Between 1908 and 1942, Chicago-based Sears, Roebuck, and Co. sold kits in its mail order catalogs that allowed people to build their own homes.

A Q&A with the Producers of a New Documentary on Comiskey Park's Infamous Disco Demolition Night

A new American Experience documentary examines the rise of disco and Comiskey Park's infamous Disco Demolition Night, which turned into a riot. We spoke to the filmmakers about disco and the seventies. 

A Q&A with the Producers of a New Documentary about the Reversal of the Chicago River

A new season of WTTW's Chicago Stories that airs this fall includes a documentary on the reversal of the Chicago River. We spoke to the producers of the film about what new things there are to learn, and why it's relevant. 

Revisiting a Superstar-Packed Predecessor to Chicago's Jazz Festival

The Chicago Jazz Festival has been bringing outstanding musicians to the lakefront for over forty years, but before it, in 1965, DownBeat magazine hosted a festival at Soldier Field with the likes of John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Muddy Waters.

An Interview with the Director of a Documentary on Northern Ireland's Troubles

The five-part Once Upon a Time in Northern Ireland tells the personal stories of people who lived through the decades-long sectarian conflict known as The Troubles in Northern Ireland. "The underlying ambition or agenda for the series was always to try and build empathy," says the director. 

On This Day in Chicago History: MLK Visits the Century of Negro Progress Exhibition

Sixty years ago today, Martin Luther King, Jr. visited a Century of Negro Progress Exhibition in Chicago. The event celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and featured a stage show by Duke Ellington.

On This Day in 1915, The SS Eastland Capsized on the Chicago River

Revist the 1915 Eastland Disaster, which took 844 lives when the steamship tipped over onto its side before leaving the dock on the Chicago River.

On This Day in Chicago History: Soldier Field Hosts the First-Ever Special Olympics

Chicago hosted the inaugural Special Olympics at Soldier Field on July 20, 1968. Take a look back at the event’s history.

The Many Colorful Uses of Medinah Temple, Soon to Be a Casino, Over the Years

The Moorish Revival building in River North was initially built for the Shriners, but has seen a circus, demolition threats, the Dalai Lama, an early MLK Day celebration, a Bloomingdale's, and more over its more than century of existence. 

A Look Back at an Important House Music DJ as the Chicago House Music Festival Hits

Chicago native Steve "Silk" Hurley helped bring the Chicago-born genre of dance music known as house to the UK. House music's history is increasingly being recognized, with a landmark and the Chicago House Music Festival.

As Chicago Prepares for the NASCAR Race, Take a Look Back at This Old Wooden Race Track in Maywood

The upcoming NASCAR race in downtown Chicago might feel like a brand-new experience for much of the city, but it’s certainly not the first time the Chicago area has hosted an auto race.