Playlist History


The White Rabbits at work on the World’s Columbian Exposition. Photo in the public domain

Chicago's Unsung, Pioneering Women

Even prominent female groundbreakers are rarely recognized – there are approximately 40 figurative statues of men in Chicago but only two of women – so what about equally important pioneers who have been forgotten, from activists to literary figures to businesswomen?
Jane Byrne at a 1979 WTTW mayoral forum

Chicago's First (And Only) Female Mayor

As Chicago prepares to elect its first female African American mayor, take a look back at Jane Byrne, the first woman to break the mayoral glass ceiling, standing up to the powerful Democratic machine in the process and winning in Chicago's biggest political upset.
Alderman Leon Despres in the Chicago City Council chamber

The Only Alderman Who Stood Up to Richard J. Daley

“[Leon] Despres has been told to shut up – in one form or another – more than any grown man in Chicago," Mike Royko once wrote. "Throughout his career, he has been in the forefront of just about every decent, worthwhile effort to improve life in this city."
A Pullman porter. Source: Library of Congress

How Pullman Porters Laid Groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement

While serving as a porter on a Pullman Palace car was one of the better jobs available to African American men, it still had its indignities. Frustrated that they did not share in the gains of their white colleagues, the porters formed the first successful black union in the country. 
Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke's Beginnings in Chicago

The "King of Soul" grew up in Bronzeville and cut his teeth performing in churches and on streets in the city, striving to be the next Nat "King" Cole, who had attended the same high school as Cooke. 
Mr. Hooper with Bert and Ernie. Image: Sesame Workshop

50 Years of 'Sesame Street' Are Being Added to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting

The collection includes iconic episodes that feature such moments as Ernie singing "Rubber Duckie, You're the One;" Kermit the Frog's "It's Not Easy Being Green;" Big Bird's reckoning with the death of a friend in "Farewell, Mr. Hooper;" and other classics.
Etta Moten Barnett singing "My Forgotten Man" in "Gold Diggers of 1933"

The Many Pioneering Lives of Etta Moten Barnett

She went from being a young mother from Texas to becoming one of the first black women to appear onscreen not as a stereotype and the first to sing at the White House. Gershwin wanted her for Porgy and Bess – and later she became a liasion to Africa and a Chicago cultural patron.
Baldwin Ice Cream factory

The Black- and Woman-Led Success of a Chicago Ice Cream Company

Baldwin Ice Cream began as a parlor opened by seven African American postal workers on the South Side and eventually grew to offering ice cream in major Midwestern grocery stores and at O'Hare, thanks in part to Jolyn Robichaux, its president for more than two decades.
A dry parade organized by the Women's Christian Temperance Union in Chicago in 1908. Photo: Charles R. Childs, Chicago Historical Society

The Century-Long Clash Between Chicago's Temperance Advocates and Beer Lovers

The year Chicago was incorporated also saw the founding of the city’s first temperance group and first brewery, and the two factions grew and clashed for the following decades, leaving their mark on the city and suburbs, until temperance briefly won out with the ratification of Prohibition 100 years ago.
Statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Photo: Getty Images

What Americans Get Wrong About North Korea

Bruce Cumings, a historian of modern Korea who often bucks conventional wisdom on North Korea, explains the U.S.'s role in North Korea's nuclearization, digs into how the dictatorship has lasted 70 years, and expresses cautious optimism about the future of U.S.-North Korea relations.
Houses along the 2500 block of West Morse Avenue, Chicago, IL

The Story of the Iconic Chicago Home

Chicago is renowned for its architecture, but a small-scale, domestic building unique to this city often goes unrecognized: the Chicago bungalow. The history of this style of house encompasses the story of Chicago's immigrants and infamous discrimination.
Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry

The Businessman Philanthropist You Haven't Heard of Who Shaped Chicago

Julius Rosenwald used the fortune he amassed leading Sears to found the Museum of Science and Industry, establish schools for rural African Americans and YMCAs across the country, support newly arrived Jewish immigrants, and more.
Edward Kemeys's Lions outside the Art Institute of Chicago, c. 1900. Photo: Art Institute of Chicago

The Story of the Art Institute's Iconic Lions

The Art Institute of Chicago's Michigan Avenue Beaux Arts home opened 125 years ago after being used for the 1893 World's Fair. But what about the museum's iconic bronze lions? What are their origins?
Encyclopedia Britannica

250 Years of the Encyclopaedia Britannica – And Chicago's Role in Its Success

The Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was first published 250 years ago, became a proud emblem of the American middle class during the 20th century in large part thanks to the efforts of Chicago institutions and people. 
Official portrait of George H. W. Bush, 41st president of the United States, c. 1989.

Remembering George H. W. Bush

George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States, died on Friday at the age of 94. Remember his legacy as a non-ideological contrast to his predecessor Ronald Reagan and as overseer of a number of significant foreign policy achievements.
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