Stories by Erica Gunderson

Social Service Organizations Race to Help At-Risk Communities

(WTTW News)

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt by just about every segment of American society, but for those already facing difficult circumstances, the pain can be even sharper. 

Tenants, Landlords at Odds Over Call for Statewide Rent Freeze

(Stephen M. Scott / Flickr)

In just the past month, Illinois unemployment claims ballooned to more than 133,000 as people lost their jobs in the midst of the pandemic – and it could be just the beginning. Is a rent freeze the right answer?

Dispatches from the Block, Week 2: ‘I Hate Remembering’

As Chicagoans hunker down amid the pandemic, we check in with some familiar faces on how they’re weathering the storm and meet a new couple that is finding creative ways to stay connected with their grown children.

Keeping Your Kids Learning (and Yourself Sane) Through the School Shutdown

(Brandis Friedman / WTTW News)

With Illinois schools closed through at least April 7 – and April 20 in Chicago – parents are suddenly finding themselves thrust into an uncomfortable new role: their children’s educator.

Illinois Broadcasters Rally to Support State Food Pantries

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Parkinson)

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold and layoffs and business closures mount, food pantries all over Illinois are bracing for increased need.

Illinois Universities Give Remote Learning the Old College Try During Pandemic

(WTTW News)

The nation’s academic institutions are shifting operations online to bring instruction to students at their homes all over the country — and even the world. We check in with some local universities.

Chicago Restaurants Struggle to Survive Coronavirus Pandemic

(WTTW News)

We talk about the state of the restaurant industry with Alpana Singh, host of the WTTW restaurant review show “Check, Please!” and the owner of Terra and Vine restaurant in Evanston.

Chicago Showdown, Round Two: Musical Artists

Muddy Waters

This toddlin’ town isn’t just the subject of some iconic songs, it’s also the home of artists who helped innovate and shape modern American music. We’re passionate about our faves, and we want to hear from you. Which of these acts deserves to be crowned champion?

Dispatches from the Block: How Chicagoans Are Coping with COVID-19

(Photo provided to WTTW News courtesy of the family)

As we close out the first week of COVID-19 isolation efforts, Chicagoans are finding themselves with suddenly upended lives. How are you adapting to the “new normal”? 

How Seniors Can Stay Safe (and Fed) During the Pandemic

(sabinevanerp / Pixabay)

What can older adults and their families do to keep them safe during this crisis while still getting the food and care they need? We speak with Dr. John Holton, director of strategic initiatives at UIC’s Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research.

Empty Fridge, Full House: Managing Anxieties in the Age of COVID-19

Full house? More and more Chicagoans are staying home to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. (WTTW News)

The coronavirus pandemic has altered daily life in every way, from increasing financial worries and food insecurity to simply upending routines. How can people adjust to a new normal in the face of all these new worries?

Ask Geoffrey: A Long-Lost State Street Hot Spot

A viewer’s photo of her mother at a glamorous restaurant in 1940s Chicago left her wondering where the photo was taken. And we finally address an elephant in the room at Marshall Field’s.

Ask Geoffrey: Lincoln Park Statue in Mexico City?

How did a Lincoln Park statue wind up standing in cities all over the world? Geoffrey Baer goes south of the border for the answer. 

Ask Geoffrey: A 1917 Army Parade on Michigan Avenue

What do a train ride and an army parade have in common? Geoffrey Baer investigates two Chicago publicity stunts in this installment of Ask Geoffrey.

Deep Frydays: Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Before they say goodbye for the summer, Nick and Erica have a frying finale befitting our fair city: a teeny-wiener version of the Chicago-style hot dog.

Deep Frydays: Potato Chip-Crusted Polish Sausage

What do Polish sausage, potato chips and Plochman’s mustard have in common? They all come together to make a delicious snack.

Terra-Cotta Treasures Tell Chicago’s Neighborhood Stories

To truly appreciate the charm of a terra-cotta lavished building, Chicago author and photographer Lee Bey says to put on your gym shoes and go for a walk. We join him for a look at some of the city’s early architecture.

Deep Frydays: Fry the Rainbow

Like the city itself, the Rainbow Cone is a painterly masterpiece of colors and tastes, each separate and distinct, which together somehow become more than the sum of their parts. 

Deep Frydays: Fine, We’re Doing Malort

Earlier this month, we took you on a tour of a distillery that produces Malort, the Chicago-born liquor that inspires devotion – and disgust. This week, we pour out a hefty helping of the stuff and stick it in the fryer.

Ask Geoffrey: What’s the History of the Chicago Huskies?

The Chicago Huskies (Credit: Japanese American Service Committee)

A youth basketball league from the 1940s and ‘50s is a reminder of Japanese American internment during World War II. Geoffrey Baer has that story and more in this edition of Ask Geoffrey.

The Best Chicago Film Archive You’ve Never Heard Of

If you’ve ever marveled at archive footage of old Chicago in a WTTW documentary, chances are good it came from Walt Keevil’s north suburban basement.

Deep Frydays: Take a Pizza My Heart

In honor of the Fourth of July, we deep-fry what is perhaps Chicago’s greatest culinary contribution to America – and the globe: deep-dish pizza.

The Streetscape Symphony of Chicago’s Brick Buildings

Brick enthusiast Will Quam

From houses of worship to working class homes, brick built Chicago. And brick enthusiast Will Quam believes Chicago is one of the nation’s best showcases for all that a brick can do. 

Ask Geoffrey: What Happened to Immel State Bank?

Geoffrey Baer deposits some knowledge about buildings left behind by the banking panics of the Great Depression in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

Deep Frydays: Brownie Disaster

For our new summer series, we take some of Chicago’s favorite foods and, like the name says, we deep-fry them and deal with the big questions. Today’s sacrifice to the gods of hot oil: brownie batter.