Stories by Jay Shefsky

Where and When to See the Best Chicago-Area Wildflowers

At Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, June brings a profusion of pale purple coneflower to this rare remnant prairie. Copyright 2019 Mike MacDonald. All Rights Reserved.

If you want to see wildflowers in and around Chicago, photographer Mike MacDonald will tell you where to go – and when – for the most glorious blooms.

A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew

Sometimes the best thing for a forest or prairie is to burn it. We spend a day with a Cook County burn crew.  

Newly Discovered Photos Reveal Childhood of Groundbreaking Journalist

(Courtesy of Jimmy Nuter)

Dozens of old glass negatives found in the attic of a North Side home lead to a surprising discovery, just days before the house was scheduled to be torn down. 

Cancer Diagnosis Leads to Donation of 400 Rare, Valuable Books

Bob Connors (Credit: University of Chicago)

In recent years, Bob Connors found a new passion and expertise. Now, he’s offering it to the world.

National Park Photographer Completes His Portfolio with Visit to Indiana Dunes

Photographer QT Luong at Kings Canyon National Park in California. (Courtesy QT Luong)

QT Luong is renowned for his photos of all 60 national parks. Now he's come to photograph our newest national park: the Indiana Dunes. 

At 102, This Longtime Chicago Pianist Has Still Got the Chops

Dorothy Olson Pauletti

Dorothy Olson Pauletti came to Chicago at age 17 and played piano professionally for nearly eight decades. At 102, she’s still living musically.

The Mystery of Nathan Leopold’s Bird Collection

Left: Nathan Leopold, soon after his arrest. (Chicago Daily News photo courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

In all the attempts to dissect the Leopold and Loeb story, one mystery remains unsolved: What happened to the vast bird collection that Nathan Leopold had in his Chicago home when he went to prison?

A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew

Sometimes the best thing for a forest or prairie is to burn it. We spend a day with a Cook County burn crew.  

Bleacher Bum Turns Passion for Baseball into Art

A story from the Wrigley Field bleachers, where one fan’s love for a beer vendor turned her into a baseball artist. 

Remembering Another Historic Election: Jane Byrne’s 1979 Victory

Forty years ago, Chicago elected its first female mayor. We remember the historic victory of former Mayor Jane Byrne.

Chicago Wrestling Coach Pays it Forward While Building a Dynasty

Bowen High School wrestling coach Ron Wilson

In just a few years, Ron Wilson reintroduced Bowen High School’s wrestling program and turned it into a city and regional powerhouse. Now, Wilson, a special education teacher turned firefighter, continues to lead the Boilermakers. 

Newly Discovered Photos Reveal Childhood of Groundbreaking Journalist

(Courtesy of Jimmy Nuter)

Dozens of old glass negatives found in the attic of a North Side home lead to a surprising discovery, just days before the house was scheduled to be torn down. 

National Park Photographer Completes His Portfolio with Visit to Indiana Dunes

Photographer QT Luong at Kings Canyon National Park in California. (Courtesy QT Luong)

QT Luong is renowned for his photos of all 60 national parks. Now he's come to photograph our newest national park: the Indiana Dunes. 

Chicago Artist Edo Wants to Light Up the World With Color

Chicago artist Edo

From clothing to digital art to painting, Chicago artist Edo sees color in all forms. “Color is my thing,” he says. “I want it to light up a room.”

Richard J. Daley’s Rise to Power Fueled by Ambition, Luck

Richard J. Daley and Eleanor “Sis” Daley vote in the 1946 race for Cook County sheriff. (Chicago Daily News Photo; Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

Richard J. Daley’s long climb up the Democratic Party ladder began in the 1930s and was fueled by unfailing loyalty to the party – and an extraordinary series of well-timed deaths.

Discovery of Political Buttons at NEIU Offers Glimpse Into Past

A recently discovered collection of old political buttons may tell us something about the voters of an earlier era.

Chicago Wrestling Coach Pays it Forward While Building a Dynasty

Bowen High School wrestling coach Ron Wilson

In just a few years, Ron Wilson reintroduced Bowen High School’s wrestling program and turned it into a city and regional powerhouse. Now, Wilson, a special education teacher turned firefighter, continues to lead the Boilermakers. 

Refugee Photo Exhibit ‘Designed to Engage You Empathetically’

Ahmednor (James Bowey)

For his traveling exhibit, “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Stories of Refugees in America,” photographer James Bowey spent time with all of his subjects in order to learn and share their stories.  

Hats and ‘Bracelets’ Gone Berserk: The Wildly Creative Wares of John Koch

John Koch (Jay Shefsky / Chicago Tonight)

He’s been making hats and gloves for 45 years, but they’re not designed to keep us warm. Meet the man behind some eye-catching creations.

Clowning Around as a Kid Leads to Lifelong Dance Career

Randy Duncan

The unlikely story of how a beloved local TV show inspired the career of a beloved dancer, choreographer and teacher. 

Chicago Artist Edo Wants to Light Up the World With Color

Chicago artist Edo

From clothing to digital art to painting, Chicago artist Edo sees color in all forms. “Color is my thing,” he says. “I want it to light up a room.”

Nestor Gomez: Chicago’s Champion Storyteller

Nestor Gomez tells his story “Growing Another Heart” at a Moth StorySlam. (Credit: The Moth)

Live storytelling has become its own competitive sport, and it’s drawing crowds across the country. We meet the winningest storyteller in Chicago.

‘Jay’s Chicago’: A New Season of Stories About Life in Chicago

Premiering Friday, the show’s fourth season includes stories about interesting people in the city and their talents, passions and projects. Here’s a preview of the season.

‘Angels Too Soon’ Remembers Tragedy at Our Lady of the Angels

Firefighters at the scene of the fire at Our Lady of the Angels on Dec. 1, 1958. (Photo of image courtesy Chicago History Museum)

It’s been 60 years since a fire at Our Lady of the Angels school killed 92 students and three nuns. We revisit the WTTW documentary about that tragedy, “Angels Too Soon.”

The Mystery of Nathan Leopold’s Bird Collection

Left: Nathan Leopold, soon after his arrest. (Chicago Daily News photo courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

In all the attempts to dissect the Leopold and Loeb story, one mystery remains unsolved: What happened to the vast bird collection that Nathan Leopold had in his Chicago home when he went to prison?

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