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American Experience

Fly With Me: A Q&A with One of the First Black Flight Attendants for Delta Featured in a New Documentary

Meredith Francis

A new American Experience documentary, Fly With Me, tells the stories of the young women who became flight attendants who fought for workplace, gender, and racial equality. WTTW spoke to Casey Grant, who was among the first Black flight attendants for Delta Airlines and is featured in the documentary.

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

Daniel Hautzinger

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.

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

Daniel Hautzinger

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. 

The Woman Who Invented Monopoly (Sort of)

Daniel Hautzinger

The Illinoisan and Chicagoan Lizzie Magie invented a board game at the turn of the twentieth century as a teaching tool on behalf of anti-land ownership ideals. It later influenced Monopoly. Discover her story in an excerpt from a new American Experience documentary on Monopoly. 

Why America Is the Only Country That Embraced the Lie Detector—and Chicago’s Role in Its Rise

Daniel Hautzinger

The technology behind the lie detector is basic and available around the world, but only America has used it extensively over the decades, thanks in part to pioneering work in forensics in Chicago that attempted to address the city's notorious crime.

Some of PBS's Best Documentaries, According to 'Esquire'

Daniel Hautzinger

Esquire recently pointed out that, while Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and other streaming services have been making waves with documentaries over the past few years, PBS has been offering top-level documentaries for decades.

The Chicago Professor Who Chased Tornados

Daniel Hautzinger

Tetsuya Theodore Fujita developed a scale measuring the intensity of tornados and prevented airplane crashes by discovering microbursts. Fujita "was often met with skepticism in the beginning—until he was proven right," says a University of Chicago colleague and friend. 

PBS Announces Local Livestreaming and 2020 Shows

Daniel Hautzinger

PBS has announced a local livestreaming service in partnership with YouTube, as well as some exciting new shows coming in 2020, from WTTW's Prehistoric Road Trip to the five-part Asian Americans and a pair of new documentaries, about Rita Moreno and George W. Bush. 

Our Summer of Space Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Lunar Landing

Daniel Hautzinger

Fifty years ago, on July 20, 1969, humans landed on the moon for the first time. To celebrate that epochal achievement, we have a whole lineup of space-themed programming this summer. Get a preview of our new Summer of Space programming here!  

The Chinese Exclusion Act and Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

With the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned all Chinese immigration and naturalization, many Chinese immigrants began moving eastward to towns like Chicago, where they slowly cemented a presence despite the demographic restrictions of the Act. 

The Clash of Wealth and Labor in Chicago's Gilded Age

Daniel Hautzinger

Chicago epitomized the contradictions of late nineteenth century America, with its explosive growth and exorbitant wealth contrasting with abject squalor and a burgeoning labor movement. The two poles infamously came to a head several times in Chicago.

The Brazilian Explorer Who Saved Theodore Roosevelt's Life

Daniel Hautzinger

In 1913, Theodore Roosevelt set off on a journey down a river in the Amazonian jungle. The expedition was led in part by one of the little-known heroes of modern Brazil: the explorer and advocate for indigenous peoples Cândido Rondon.

The Atomic Age's Beginnings on a Squash Court in Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

75 years ago on December 2, scientists at the University of Chicago inaugurated the nuclear era by engineering the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Learn about the origins of nuclear power and the upsides and downsides of its future.

How World War I Transformed Chicago

Daniel Hautzinger

World War I helped trigger huge shifts in Chicago, with the rapid Americanization of Germans, an influx of African Americans, Mexicans, and single women, Prohibition, and more all occured or began because of developments during the Great War.

Buried History: Chicago’s Forgotten Cable Cars

Daniel Hautzinger

Chicago had the largest cable car system in the world, in terms of riders and equipment. The city's adoption of the new transit system sparked a nationwide boom in cable cars--but it lasted for less than 25 years.
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