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Stories by Erica Gunderson

Ask Geoffrey: What Happened to Chicago Burger Chain Wimpy’s?

A viewer wonders what became of a Chicago burger chain that borrowed its name from a cartoon moocher. Geoffrey Baer serves up some hamburger history.

Back to That Same Old Place: Sweet Home Chicago

Chicago and Illinois lost residents faster than any other state or major U.S. city in the last few years. But some are returning. (From left: Araceli Arroyo / Flickr; © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons)

For the last couple of years, the news about Chicago has rarely been upbeat. Thus it comes as little surprise that both Chicago and Illinois lost residents faster than any other major U.S. city or state in the last few years. But sometimes, they come back.

Viewer Feedback: ‘Is This Guy Kidding? Chicago is Rudderless’

Viewers sound off on our interview with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Ask Geoffrey: Was There a Panda at Lincoln Park Zoo?

Geoffrey Baer solves the mystery of a viewer’s “vague memory” from the 1940s, revisits an exhibit at the Century of Progress and opens the door to the Evanston History Center.

Dese, Dose and Dibs: the Midwest’s Weird Word World

How do you pronounce “Chicago”? Meet the author of a new book about how to speak Midwestern.

6 Illinois Democrats Skipping Out On Swearing-In

At Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday as the 45th president of the United States, some of Illinois’ congressional representatives will be most noticeable for their absence.

Viewer Feedback: How Can the Police Have a Chance?

Viewers spoke up about our conversation with Dean Angelo, the president of the Chicago police union.

Ask Geoffrey: What Was a Manure Monger?

Before automobiles, Chicago basically ran on horsepower. Find out how the city kept its streets free of manure in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

The Trump Bump: Stocks on the Rise Despite Post-Election Fears

We talk with experts about which stocks will win and lose in a Trump administration.

Viewer Feedback: ‘There Is No Going Back’

We heard from you about the Chicago Police Department’s struggle with low morale. 

Viewer Feedback: ‘Put the Blame Where it Belongs’

Our story about Pritzker Elementary School’s lack of a librarian drew strong opinions on both sides, and our story on social media and violence prompted your remarks. 

2 Chicago Doctors Test ‘You Are What You Eat’ Adage

We learn about two Chicago studies showing that following a few basic nutrition principles can keep your brain agile and your heart strong.

Ask Geoffrey: What’s the History of Asylum Place?

Geoffrey Baer investigates the history of Asylum Place, the explosive story behind a 1930s manhole cover and what happened to a magical Chicago restaurant chain in this encore edition of “Ask Geoffrey.”

Chicago Filmmaker’s ‘State of Eugenics’ a Look at Forced Sterilization

Chicago filmmaker Dawn Sinclair Shapiro (Chicago Tonight)

A new documentary by Chicago filmmaker Dawn Sinclair Shapiro looks at the history of North Carolina’s eugenics program and how modern-day lawmakers sought state compensation for survivors.

Ask Geoffrey: What’s the History of the Telenews Theater on State Street?

In the 1940s, a theater in the Loop was providing nightly news updates, and a professional cyclist was cleaning up with his Chicago chain of dry cleaning stores. Geoffrey Baer raises the curtain on these local history stories in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

Ask Geoffrey: Which Came First, Eisenhower or Old Main Post Office?

Old Main Post Office (Brianbobcat / Wikimedia Commons)

The Eisenhower Expressway runs beneath the Old Main Post Office, causing one viewer to wonder which came first. Geoffrey Baer delves into the history of these interlinked landmarks in this encore edition of Ask Geoffrey.

How ‘Santa Claus’ Saved Christmas in Chicago

For Chicago’s municipal workers, the Christmas of 1904 was shaping up to be a sorry one indeed. The city was so broke it couldn’t pay municipal employees. But three days before Christmas, Santa Claus himself emerged from City Hall to save the workers’ Christmas. Well – kind of.

Ask Geoffrey: Chicago’s Crusade Against Air Pollution

Not that long ago, air pollution from burning coal made the Windy City more like the Smoggy City. Geoffrey Baer tells us how Chicago cleaned up its act.

Adulting, Hygge and Xenophobia: The 2016 Words of the Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for word nerds! We take a look at the candidates for 2016’s word of the year.

Viewer Feedback: ‘What a Bunch of Crybabies’

Viewers were nearly unanimous in their disapproval for the six state lawmakers suing Illinois for their paychecks. 

Are Americans Dying Younger? A Closer Look at Report on Life Expectancy

For the first time in more than two decades, American life expectancy is dropping. Is this cause for alarm?

Room to Grow: Chicago’s Eleanor Clubs

Chicago’s rapid growth in the late 19th century meant opportunities for the throngs of young, unmarried women who came to make their way in the big city. How one woman’s practical move impacted thousands for more than 100 years.

Ask Geoffrey: Where Does Chicago’s Water Go?

(Roman Boed / Flickr)

Geoffrey Baer dives into the history of Chicago’s water and answers viewer questions about ghostly paper images haunting a South Side neighborhood and memories of a space-themed park.

Viewer Feedback: ‘Go Home and Start Your Application’

Here’s what some of you had to say about Chicago immigrants worried about their status since the election when we read feedback from the Chicago Tonight website, and our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Ask Geoffrey: Was That Really 5 Million People?

The city estimates about five million people attended the Nov. 4 rally and parade. (Evan Garcia / Chicago Tonight)

The Cubs rally brought throngs of fans to Grant Park. But was it really the biggest gathering ever in Chicago? Geoffrey Baer counts heads in this week’s Ask Geoffrey.