Playlist Chicago Stories

Chicago Stories

Viola Spolin. Courtesy: Viola Spolin Estate

Exploring the Surprising Chicago Roots of Improv

Meredith Francis

Improv "was born out of a need to communicate with a new immigrant population, from a woman who loved theater," says the producer of our new upcoming documentary Inventing Improv: A Chicago Stories Special.
Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells' Lessons for Today

Daniel Hautzinger

The writer and producer of a new WTTW documentary about the groundbreaking civil rights activist, journalist, and suffragist discusses Wells' relevance today, at a moment when Wells is becoming more and more recognized for her work.
The Great Chicago Fire, Image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum

Revisiting the Great Chicago Fire 149 Years Later

Meredith Francis

The Great Chicago Fire: A Chicago Stories Special reveals new details with recreations and animation that bring the fire to life. Executive producer Dan Protess and producer and writer Peter Marks talked about their approach to telling the old story in a new way.
Ruth Page, photographed by Charlotte Fairchild, from an advertisement for Cantilever Shoes, 1922. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chicago-based Dancer Ruth Page's "Bewildering Array of Activities"

Daniel Hautzinger

Anna Pavlova, Irving Berlin, Serge Diaghilev, George Balanchine, Rudolf Nureyev: the choreographer and dancer Ruth Page worked with them all, plus brought Americana into ballet, built artistic institutions in her home base of Chicago, and choreographed over 100 ballets.
Fred Hampton. Image: Chicago Defender Archives, from WTTW's Dusable to Obama

The Killing of Fred Hampton

Daniel Hautzinger

50 years ago, the promising young Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was killed during a police raid. Hampton's organizing and the outcry after his death helped lead to the election of Harold Washington and Bobby Rush, who was a Panther at the time of the raid. 
James Henry Breasted

The Chicago Archaeologist Who Changed the Way We Study Civilization

Meredith Francis

In 1919, James Henry Breasted founded the Oriental Instiute with what was at the time "a radical idea," that scholars should look toward the ancient Middle East to understand western civilization. Now, 100 years later, OI is celebrating its past by looking toward its future.
Midway Airport Airfield

Looking Back At ‘The World’s Busiest Airport’

Meredith Francis

As both of Chicago's airports look toward the future of air travel, here's a look at the ups and downs of Midway's past. When it was the world's busiest airport, Chicagoans would flock to watch airplanes take off and land in the airfield.
Houses along the 2500 block of West Morse Avenue, Chicago, IL

The Story of the Iconic Chicago Home

Daniel Hautzinger

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

Daniel Hautzinger

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.
The Eastland Disaster on the Chicago River

Chicago's Deadliest Disaster

Daniel Hautzinger

One hundred and three years ago, on July 24, 1915, more than 800 people lost their lives in Chicago's deadliest tragedy, when a top-heavy boat rolled onto its side in the Chicago River only twenty feet from the shore. Watch an archival Chicago Stories episode about the Eastland Disaster.
Chicago's Union Stock Yards in 1947

When Chicago Was 'Hog Butcher to the World'

Daniel Hautzinger

A square mile of the city just upstream from downtown devoted to turning livestock into products that saw 18 million animals in a year at its peak: the Union Stock Yards are almost unimaginable now, but they once epitomized Chicago, and gave us the assembly line and refrigerated rail cars.
The Staple Singers

"Respect Yourself": The Power of The Staple Singers

Daniel Hautzinger

The Staple Singers combined the Delta blues of Pops Staples' birthplace with the gospel of his adopted home in Chicago to become international stars and civil rights activists. Hear Bob Dylan and Harry Belafonte reminisce on the Staples and learn their history before Mavis headlines the Chicago Blues Fest.
The Harlem Globetrotters

The Harlem (Actually Chicago) Globetrotters

Daniel Hautzinger

The name is deceiving: they're not from Harlem, and they definitely didn't travel the globe at first. The Harlem Globetrotters were founded in Chicago by five high school stars and a short Jewish man, and originally played in small town gyms outside the city.
Bessie Coleman

The First Female African American Pilot

Daniel Hautzinger

Only eighteen years after the Wright brothers' first flight, Bessie Coleman overcame both racism and sexism to become the first African American woman to earn a pilot's license, with the help of the Chicago Defender. But her high-flying career was cut tragically short. 
Marshall Field's Christmas Windows with Uncle Mistletoe

From the Archive: Marshall Field's Christmas Windows

Daniel Hautzinger

They have been a tradition in Chicago for over one hundred years, and seemingly everyone has fond memories of going to see them. See some of your favorite Christmas windows and learn how they're put together in this episode of Chicago Stories from 2000.
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