Stories by nick blumberg

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: West Loop

 The West Loop is known for its trendy Michelin-rated restaurants and lively nightlife scene. (WTTW News)

The neighborhood has changed from an industrial hub to an area bustling with bars and restaurants. And more changes are on the way, with huge new developments under consideration, including a Guinness brewery.

Chicago’s 4th Architecture Biennial Reimagines City’s Vacant Lots

In Englewood, one of the biennial’s 15 sites, the community partner is Grow Greater Englewood and they are constructing a new Englewood Village Plaza at 58th St. and Halsted. (WTTW News)

The exposition kicks off Friday. Past editions have been based at the Chicago Cultural Center, but now, its focus shifts to neighborhoods across Chicago — and to finding creative opportunities to meet those communities’ needs.

The Week in Review: Energy Overhaul Finally Moves Ahead

Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Ogle County, Illinois. (WTTW News)

An energy bill passes the House. Calls grow to investigate an alderman accused of retaliating against residents. Thousands of CPS students are potentially exposed to COVID-19. And the Chicago Bears kickoff their season Sunday.

Spotlight Politics: Calls to Punish Alderman Grow

City Council colleagues of Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th Ward) are calling for him to be punished after text messages show him using offensive language and seeking to withhold city services from a constituent. (WTTW News)

City Council colleagues of Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th Ward) are calling for him to be punished after text messages show him using offensive language and seeking to withhold city services from a constituent. Our politics team weighs in on that story and more.

Class-Action Lawsuit Targets Chicago Police Stop-and-Frisk Practices

(WTTW News)

More than two million people might be eligible to join a class-action lawsuit over the Chicago Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, according to attorneys suing CPD and the city. We hear from one of the plaintiffs in the suit and an attorney.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Des Plaines

Des Plaines is a diverse city, with a growing population of more than 58,000 people, located just North of O’Hare Airport. (WTTW News)

Des Plaines is a diverse suburb just north of O’Hare Airport. It has a high vaccination rate but is still facing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. It’s also looking forward to the reopening of a historic theater, and the expansion of one of its major employers.

Illinois Advocates Hope High-Speed Rail Is on the Horizon

A new High Speed Rail Commision is also charged with integrating current rail service from Metra and Amtrak. (WTTW News)

Imagine getting from Chicago to St. Louis by train in just a couple of hours. That’s the vision of high-speed rail advocates, who want to see an ultrafast train cut across Illinois — and the vision has gotten a boost from Illinois lawmakers.

Rogers Park Alderwoman Asks Neighbors to Put Pressure on Park District After Lakefront Life Ring Removed

A life ring installed on the lakefront by Rogers Park activist Jim Ginderske. (Credit Halle Quezada / Twitter)

After a drowning in Lake Michigan near a Rogers Park beach earlier this month, longtime community activist Jim Ginderske decided to take action in the name of public safety. Now, a local alderperson is joining the effort.

The Week in Review: Vaccine Mandates Widen

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by unvaccinated Illinoisans, Governor J.B. Pritzker reinstated an indoor mask mandate and widened the state’s vaccination mandate. (WTTW News)

A statewide indoor mask mandate. A city worker vaccine mandate and police union pushback. Two Republican congressmen in jeopardy as remapping begins. And the country reels from an Afghanistan terror attack.

The CDC Is Only Tracking Some Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases. Is That a Problem?

According to recent reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided in May to stop tracking all COVID-19 breakthrough cases and is instead only gathering data on the most severe cases. (WTTW News)

As the delta variant continues to drive a spike in COVID-19 cases, two recent reports outline the challenges of tracking so-called breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people. We discuss the importance — and limitations — of disease surveillance.

Pritzker Signs Into Law New Sex Education Standards. Critics Say They Go Too Far

Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed into law a pair of bills that update sex education for K-12 schools in Illinois. Supporters say the move will offer students age-appropriate information, but critics say the new standards go too far.

The Pfizer Vaccine Wins Full Approval. Will That Spur an Uptick in Vaccinations?

(WTTW News)

President Joe Biden says people who have been waiting for the FDA to formally approve a COVID-19 vaccine should get their shot now to stem what he calls a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Dr. Michael Angarone of Northwestern Medicine weighs in on that and more.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Avondale

The Northwest side community of Avondale is a diverse neighborhood with an industrial history. (WTTW News)

Located near the Kennedy Expressway and the Chicago River, Avondale has significant Polish, Latino, Eastern European and Asian populations. And like many parts of Chicago, residents and community leaders are concerned gentrification might displace longtime neighbors.

Chicago Area Deals with Tornadoes, Heat Warnings During Week of Extreme Weather

(WTTW News)

Half a dozen or more tornadoes touched down in the Chicago suburbs Monday, with more severe storms possible in the next few days. Those come as hot and humid conditions have prompted extreme heat warnings — and on the heels of a stark new report on climate change.

The Last Word: Steven Rogers

Author and Englewood native Steven Rogers gives The Last Word on “Black Voices.” (WTTW News)

The retired Harvard Business School professor and Englewood native talks about some of the ideas in his new book, “A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues: What You Can Do Right Now to Help the Black Community.”

Safety Advocates Want Flotation Devices Along the Lakefront. The Park District Isn’t Sold

Water safety advocates want flotation devices like life preserver rings or life buoys made available throughout the lakefront. (WTTW News)

Lake Michigan is one of Chicago’s biggest attractions. And while it’s scenic, it’s also sometimes dangerous. What water safety advocates are proposing to stop people from drowning and dying in the lake.

After More Than 30 Years With the City, BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareño Retires

Commissioner Rosa Escareño joins “Chicago Tonight: Latino Voices” via Zoom to discuss her background, history and legacy as she steps down from Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, July 30, 2021. (WTTW News)

While she was originally planning to stay for just the first year of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s term, the pandemic delayed Rosa Escareño’s retirement plans – and gave her a firsthand seat to the massive blow COVID-19 dealt to the local economy.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Bronzeville

Renderings of Katherine Johnson and Gwendolyn Brooks are captured in part of Bronzeville’s “Renaissance Mural.” (WTTW News)

The historic Bronzeville neighborhood on the city’s South Side sits just south of McCormick Place, and has been known for decades as a hub of Black arts and culture in Chicago. Wednesday, City Council paved the way for a massive new development that could reshape the community’s future.

Survey Finds $2B in Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Coastline Repairs in Coming Years

In this file photo, high waves create hazardous conditions along Lake Michigan. (WTTW News)

Coastal repairs and climate change mitigation are a huge concern for cities around the Great Lakes region. The group behind a new survey calls on the American and Canadian governments to fund local efforts to address these issues.

On Chicago Visit, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Promotes Biden Infrastructure Plan

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks at the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line CTA station on July 16, 2021. (WTTW News)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says he’s confident the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill will pass Congress, touting on Friday its bipartisan support and saying both the president and the public are impatient to see the deal finalized.

As Local School Councils Vote on Keeping Police in Schools, Some Advocates Push for Alternative Models

Youth activists organized a peaceful march to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home on Aug. 13, 2020 to demand the removal of resource officers from Chicago Public Schools. (Matt Masterson / WTTW News)

Wednesday marks the deadline for about 50 local school councils with Chicago Public Schools to decide whether they want to keep their school resource officers — Chicago police officers assigned to work on school campuses.

Taxi Industry Hopeful for Post-Pandemic Recovery

(Petr Kratochvil / Public Domain Pictures)

Uber and Lyft say they’ve added thousands of drivers in recent weeks to address long wait times and surge pricing. But many passengers are still unhappy and some are turning to taxis — an industry hit hard by the popularity of ride-share services and by COVID-19. 

After Florida Collapse, a Look at Condo Building Safety in Chicago

A Chicago condo building. (Photo by Dylan LaPierre on Unsplash)

The deadly collapse of a condo building in Surfside, Florida, has prompted quick action in nearby cities. It has also left some Chicagoans wondering whether any local condo buildings are at risk, and what sorts of inspections they face.

Survey Reveals Racial, Partisan Divides on American Identity, Political Violence and Guns

Chicago police officers and demonstrators make their way along city streets during one of many protests sparked by the 2020 police killing of George Floyd. (WTTW News)

It’s no secret that America is divided across partisan and racial lines. But a new, nationwide survey of white and Black Americans from the University of Illinois at Chicago illustrates just how deep some of those divisions are.

New Book Explores the Legal and Political Fights That Shaped Chicago’s Lakefront

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s lakefront is often referred to as one of the city’s crown jewels, and as with many valuable things, it’s been the subject of frequent high-profile political and legal fights. A new history of the lakefront traces more than 150 years of nearly nonstop litigation.

Chicago Chef Erick Williams on Juneteenth, Promoting Equity in Hospitality

(Virtue Restaurant / Facebook photo)

As Juneteenth becomes a widely recognized holiday, the award-winning chef at Virtue restaurant talks about what the day means to him, and how he tries to honor it through his work.