Stories by nick blumberg

The Chicago-Based Scientist Who Helped Find Art-World Frauds

Gary Laughlin handles specimens at the McCrone Research Institute in Bronzeville, founded in 1960 by Walter McCrone. (WTTW News)

Walter McCrone championed the light microscope — and used it to analyze art world treasures and frauds. The late scientist is featured in the recently released Netflix documentary series “This Is a Robbery” and appeared years ago on WTTW’s “The New Explorers.”

Bike the Drive Set to Return Labor Day Weekend

(Active Transportation Alliance / Facebook)

Bike lovers, get your rides ready. After it was canceled in 2020 over coronavirus safety concerns, the hugely popular Bike the Drive event is scheduled to return on Sunday, Sept. 5.

New Head of Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on Lincoln’s Legacy and Inclusive Education

June 8 was the first day on the job for Christina Shutt, the new director of Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. June 8, 2021 (WTTW News)

Christina Shutt will be the fifth executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the first person of color to hold the title.

Ride-Share Passengers Complain of Long Waits, High Fares

(Petr Kratochvil / Public Domain Pictures)

A Chicago alderman wants ride-share companies to cap surge pricing amid a driver shortage, and drivers want Uber and Lyft to do more to keep them safe.

Chicago Hotels See Occupancy Upswing, but Full Recovery Still a Ways Off

The Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel (WTTW News)

The last 14 months have been incredibly difficult for Chicago’s usually booming hospitality industry. Though many hotels are still grappling with lower occupancy rates and many employees are still laid off, a recent uptick in travel means things are starting to look up.

A Brief History of Chicago Police Reform Efforts

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announces the findings of a Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department on Jan. 13, 2017. (WTTW News)

The Chicago Police Department has been operating under a consent decree since 2019. The order, which was prompted by the 2014 police murder of Laquan McDonald, is the first consent decree the department has faced. But it’s not the first attempt at police reform in Chicago.

Meet the Black-Owned Engineering Firm Helping Oversee the CTA’s Massive Red-Purple Line Overhaul

Rashod Johnson, president and CEO of Ardmore Roderick. (WTTW News)

For extra help with its massive $2.1 billion modernization project, the CTA hired a joint venture made up of three firms, including a locally owned company that started in a South Side attic. Rashod Johnson tells us about his company and his love of civil engineering.

Lawmaker Moves to Block State Financing for Massive One Central Development

The site of the proposed development One Central. (WTTW News)

The proposed mega-development would create residential and retail space, parkland and a transit hub on top of the Metra tracks just west of Soldier Field. Why some lawmakers want to block state financing for the splashy, $20 billion plan.

City, State Officials Cut Ribbon on Long-Awaited Navy Pier Flyover

The Navy Pier flyover. (WTTW News)

The project’s many delays – some due to unexpected maintenance, some to funding availability – became a source of both frustration and humor for trail users and observers, who joked about the flyover taking longer than engineering marvels like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Sears Tower. 

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Evanston

Reparations, equitable recovery top of mind for some residents

Downtown Evanston (WTTW News)

Located along the lakefront just north of Chicago, Evanston is known for its dining scene, arts and culture, and Northwestern University. But it also has a history of racial segregation and redlining, which city leaders hope to address through a historic reparations program that passed in March.

Full Navy Pier Flyover Close to Completion, But Misses Latest Deadline

A runner approaches one of the Lake Shore Drive bridge houses on the nearly finished Navy Pier Flyover portion of the lakefront trail, April 30, 2021. (Nick Blumberg / WTTW News)

The long-awaited, sometimes-maligned structure carrying the lakefront trail over Grand Avenue, Illinois Street and the Chicago River has missed its latest target to wrap up in April. But the Chicago Department of Transportation says it’s “very close” to completion.

Open Streets Project ‘Sundays on State’ Set to Start in July

Pedestrian traffic on State Street. (WTTW News)

One of Chicago’s most iconic thoroughfares is putting on its Sunday best this summer in an effort to lure people back downtown.

State Lawmakers Advance Bill to Replace Toxic Lead Service Lines

Maria del Carmen Macias was asked by the city to test the water in her Belmont Cragin home, where she offers day care. (WTTW News)

Chicago has more lead service pipes than any other U.S. city. Last year the city announced a plan to slowly replace those lines, an effort which has yet to get underway. Now, state lawmakers want to tackle the toxic problem—and they want Congress to foot the bill.

State Lawmakers Consider Letting Local Voters Decide on Rent Control

(WTTW News)

Since 1997, rent control has been banned in Illinois. A bill working its way through the General Assembly would give cities and towns the chance to hold a referendum vote on whether their municipality should allow it.

Transit Ridership Expected to Rebound, But Telecommuting Could Drive Big Shifts: RTA Report

(WTTW News)

People who have stayed away from public transit because of the coronavirus pandemic say they expect to return to buses and trains, but the shift toward working from home is likely to change when, why and how often people ride, according to a just-released survey.

Protests Planned in Chicago Following Release of Toledo Shooting Video

Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef of the Chicago Activist Coalition For Justice speaks during a demonstration in Millennium Park on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (WTTW News)

Police and city officials have been preparing for anticipated demonstrations following the release of videos showing the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, as well as a verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in the death of George Floyd.

Lawmakers Advance Bill to Create Elected CPS Board, But Changes Appear Likely

A bill that would create a 21-member elected board to oversee Chicago Public Schools advanced in a Springfield committee Wednesday, but some lawmakers who supported the bill said they’re not fully sold yet. (WTTW News)

A bill that would create a 21-member elected board to oversee Chicago Public Schools advanced Wednesday in Springfield, but some lawmakers who supported the bill said they’re not yet fully sold on it. CPS parents tell us how they think the school board should be structured.

Justice Department Joins Lawsuit Over Accessibility of Chicago Crosswalks

(WTTW News)

The DOJ says the city is required to install accessible pedestrian signals that give audio or tactile cues when it’s safe to cross the street. According to the suit, Chicago has just 15 of those signals out of 2,700 crosswalks with visual signals.

The Week in Review: Vaccine Eligibility Expanding Monday

The state of Illinois will make coronavirus vaccines available to everyone 16 and older, a week ahead of the city – and Gov. J.B. Pritzker says if Chicagoans don’t want to wait, they’re welcome at state-supported sites in the suburbs. (WTTW News)

COVID-19 surges and vaccine eligibility expands. The vice president hits town. Strained relations between Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker. And CTU may delay a return to class for high schoolers.

Spotlight Politics: Vaccination Rollout Speeding Up

(WTTW News)

President Joe Biden said all adults in the U.S. should be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by April 19. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city will follow suit. Our politics team takes on that story and more in this week’s roundtable.

Amazon Employees Stage Walkout at Distribution Center Over Working Conditions

The Amazon facility in Gage Park known as DIL3. (WTTW News)

A group of Amazon employees walked out of the mega-retailer’s Gage Park distribution center Wednesday morning, calling on the company to stop understaffing the facility and to provide accommodations for people working a 10.5-hour overnight “megacycle” shift.

Team Overhauling Former Michael Reese Site Aims for Community Connections

Earlier this year, the Chicago Plan Commission approved a $3.8 billion effort to overhaul the former Michael Reese Hospital site in Bronzeville on the city’s South Side. (Rendering courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

The Chicago Plan Commission approved a $3.8 billion effort earlier this year to overhaul the former Michael Reese Hospital site in Bronzeville, just west of the lakefront on 31st Street. The team behind the development is thinking big and working toward community buy-in.

Pritzker Signs Legislation to Cap High-Interest Payday, Title Loans

Legislation awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritker's signature could shut down the payday lending industry in Illinois. Payday proponents say that could lead to a host of bigger problems. (WTTW News)

The Illinois Predatory Lending Prevention Act was recently signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The legislation had support from organizations around the state, but critics say the law could shut down the payday lending industry in Illinois, leading to a host of bigger problems. 

Amazon Employees in Chicago Demand Accommodations for ‘Brutal’ Shift

Amazon employee Bekim Mehmedi speaks with WTTW News during a demonstration at facility in Gage Park on Thursday, April 1, 2021.

As workers in Alabama decide whether or not to unionize, Amazon employees in Chicago push for accommodations for a long overnight shift.

New Buyers Step Up to Block Hedge Fund from Control of Tribune Publishing

The Chicago Tribune Freedom Center printing facility along the Chicago River. (WTTW News)

Two more investors have stepped forward in a last-ditch effort to prevent hedge fund Alden Global Capital from taking control of Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune and eight other newspapers. We discuss the latest developments.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Albany Park

City’s ‘Hidden Gem’ faces down COVID-19, anti-Asian hate

Businesses line a street in the Albany Park neighborhood. (WTTW News)

For the latest in our reporting series, we visit the diverse Northwest Side community to see how it’s supporting Asian American residents amid a rise in anti-Asian rhetoric and violence.