Stories by Patty Wetli

An abandoned rail spur on 59th Street is inching toward becoming the elevated Englewood Nature Trail. Pictured in 2020. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The $20M Check Is in the Mail. Federal Funds Coming to Englewood Nature Trail

Federal officials popped into Chicago Friday to celebrate the awarding of a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the Englewood Nature Trail.

Tens of thousands of riders participate in the annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade. (Chicagoland Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade / Facebook)

Ho, Ho, Vroom. The 45th Annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade Will Roll Through Chicago Sunday

Tens of thousands of bikers will vroom through Chicago Sunday during the 45th annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Parade.

Aerial image of the distal end of a lava flow from Mauna Loa's Northeast Rift Zone the morning of Nov. 30, 2022. (USGS / K. Mulliken)

This Week in Nature: Here’s What Made Us Think, And Laugh, From Volcanic Eruptions to Bears’ Ongoing War on Christmas

Every Friday, we’ll be rounding up some of the articles, videos, photos and social media posts that have caught our attention on the topics of climate change, the environment, wildlife, conservation and weather. 

(WTTW News)

Chicago Winter Parking Ban Takes Effect Thursday. What To Know Before You’re Towed

Starting Dec. 1, Chicago’s overnight parking ban takes effect on 107 miles of streets, snow or no snow, from 3-7 a.m. daily through April 1.

A northern long-eared bat showing signs of white-nose syndrome. Found in LaSalle County, Ill., in 2013, during a research expedition by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. (University of Illinois / Steve Taylor)

Northern Long-Eared Bat, an Illinois Native, Is Newest Addition to U.S. Endangered Species List. Can It Be Saved?

Despite habitat strongholds in places like Illinois, white-nose syndrome continues to decimate the population.

The deadly white-nose syndrome is threatening the northern long-eared bat — one of Illinois’ 13 native bats — with extinction. The race is on to find a cure and protect what’s left of the population.

Promontory Point, on the south lakefront, is beloved for its natural aesthetic, designed by noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell in 1937. (Preservation Chicago / Eric Allix Rogers)

Promontory Point Supporters Push for Hearing in Front of Chicago Landmark Commission

Preservationists are pushing for Promontory Point to be granted Chicago landmark status. Will their case be heard?

Sandhill cranes. (ladymacbeth / Pixabay)

Have You Heard? Sandhill Cranes Passing Over Chicago in Near Record Numbers

Sandhill crane migration is reaching its peak. For those who've wondered whether there are more of the birds this year than in the past, the answer appears to be yes.

The annual “Christmas Around the World” exhibit at Museum of Science and Industry. (Credit: Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago)

Chicago 2022 Holiday Events Guide: Lights! Markets! Action!

Between indoor, outdoor and drive-thru options for light displays, it's safe to say this holiday season will be bright. We've also rounded up a baker's dozen of holiday markets. 

The proposed sale of the abandoned Damen Silos is drawing opposition from environmental and community groups. (WTTW News)

Friends of the Chicago River, Openlands and Others Join Chorus Calling on Pritzker To Halt Damen Silos Sale

“Any riverfront improvement opportunity should be part of a master plan that recognizes the Chicago River system as the wondrous natural resource it is rather than the uncared for alleyway it used to be,” said Friends of the Chicago River.

The original Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. (Eric James Walsh)

Christkindlmarket Is Back, Time To Get Your Gluhwein on Chicago. Here’s What’s New in 2022

One of Chicago’s most beloved holiday traditions — the German-style Christkindlmarket — kicks off this weekend, and it’s bigger than ever, with a new location in Aurora.

Naomi Davis, founder and CEO of Blacks in Green, at the Mamie Till-Mobley Forgiveness Garden in West Woodlawn. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Naomi Davis Asks Woodlawn To Put Its Faith in G.O.D.: Garden-Oriented Development

Davis, founder of Blacks in Green, envisions Woodlawn teeming with biodiversity, resilient in the face of climate change and capable of supporting a local workforce employed in green business such as horticulture or composting. 

Bishop Louis Henry Ford and neighborhood children with the cupola of the Clarke House as the building was moved in 1977. (Courtesy of the Saint Paul Church of God in Christ archives)

Chicago’s Oldest House Was Once Hoisted Over the Green Line. The Latest Change: It Has a New Name

The Clarke House, built in 1836, is now the Clarke-Ford House to reflect the stewardship of Bishop Louis Henry and Margaret Ford, who rescued the building for posterity.

(Courtesy Riot Fest)

Large Events — Looking at You, Riot Fest — Now Require Approval of Park District Board of Commissioners

On Wednesday, commissioners unanimously approved an amendment to the Park District’s code that gives members of the board the final say on permits for large-scale events held in the city's parks.  

(WTTW News)

The Check Is in the Mail, And Being Stolen. Chicago Police Warn of Recent Thefts, Check 'Washing'

The Chicago Police Department has issued a community alert following several reports of checks stolen from U.S. postal boxes.

The first snow of 2022 followed record high temps. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Winter Weather Advisory Tuesday, Days After Record High Temps: Yep, Chicago Weather in a Nutshell

A winter weather advisory went into effect Tuesday morning for much of the Chicago region, a far cry from last week's balmy 70-degree temperatures.

Katrina Quint, director of horticulture at Lincoln Park Zoo, stands in the shadow of the zoo's oldest inhabitant, a bur oak that's 250-300 years old. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Lincoln Park Zoo’s Oldest Resident Has Been Hiding in Plain Sight for About 300 Years. Its Days Are Now Numbered.

A bur oak has towered over the zoo’s south lawn, opposite the primate house, since before there even was a zoo. It even predates the founding of the United States of America. 

Food scraps can be composted into nutrients for soil. (herb007 / Pixabay)

Chicago Announces Compost Pilot Program That Draws on Expertise of City’s Community Gardens

Six community gardens will test the logistics of a compost program that could be expanded if it proves successful and scaleable.

The latest rendering of the Obama Presidential Center tower. (Courtesy of Obama Foundation)

Work Suspended After Noose Discovered at Obama Center Construction Site

Construction firm Lakeside Alliance is offering a $100,000 reward to help find whoever committed the “act of hate.”

(Linus Schutz / Pixabay)

Chicago Hits Record-Tying High Temp Thursday. But Winter Is Coming

The forecast calls for highs in the mid-70s on Thursday, which could approach the date's record high of 75 degrees set in 2020.

South Side voters overwhelmingly supported an advisory referendum to stop cutting down trees in Jackson Park and South Shore. (Save Jackson Park / Facebook)

South Side Voters Speak Up for Trees in Jackson Park and South Shore. Is Anyone Listening?

Voters sent a message to officials by overwhelmingly supporting an advisory referendum calling on the city of Chicago to stop cutting down trees in Jackson Park and South Shore. 

The Damen Silos, former grain elevators. (WTTW News)

Sale of Damen Silos to MAT Asphalt Owner Draws Fire From McKinley Park Activists, Who Want To Halt the Deal

Activists in McKinley Park are calling on the state to postpone the sale and give the community an opportunity to weigh in on the decision.

Pond at Sand Ridge Nature Center, a Cook County Forest Preserve in the Calumet region. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Supporters Celebrate ‘Victory for People and Nature’ as Forest Preserve Tax Hike Appears a Winner

A proposed tax increase to benefit the Forest Preserve District of Cook County met with little opposition. Will voters respond with support at the ballot box?

A polling place on the North Side of Chicago is pictured on Nov. 8, 2022. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The MWRD Is Guaranteed To Welcome a Raft of New Commissioners as Democrats Lead Early Counts

With just one incumbent on the ballot and four seats up for grabs, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board of Commissioners is guaranteed to welcome a raft of new faces once votes are tallied Tuesday night.

A two-page ballot and "Sharpie bleed-through" were the two biggest issues at the polls in Chicago on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Two-Page Ballots Create Confusion in Chicago, Some Voters Short-Changed

Voters should receive a Ballot A and Ballot B but in roughly two dozen precincts, an unknown number of people were only handed Ballot A, officials said. The problem has been corrected.

A total lunar eclipse, seen from Joshua Tree National Park in 2015. (Brad Sutton / National Park Service)

Lunar Eclipse on Election Day: Here's How, and When, To View the Sky Show in Chicago

Election Day 2022 will kick off with a pre-dawn total lunar eclipse. There won't be another like it until March 2025.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, center, and Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx (l) discuss election safety measures, Nov. 4, 2022. (Chicago Police Department / Facebook)

Chicago Officials Announce Election Safety Measures: ‘Everything’s Changed Since 2020’

The Chicago Police Department, Cook County State's Attorney's Office and Chicago Board of Elections are coordinating efforts to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers.