Stories by patty wetli

Landmark Status a ‘Slam Dunk’ for Austin Neighborhood’s Oldest House

The Seth Warner house. (Thshriver, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks unanimously approved a landmark recommendation for the 152-year-old Seth Warner house, which boasts layers of heritage.

Busted Holiday Lights Are the Worst, Especially When They Wind Up in Landfills. Here’s a Way To Recycle

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

A group of North Side alderpeople and community organizations are teaming up to recycle non-working holiday lights, which, it should be emphasized, cannot and should not be placed in regular recycling bins.

Chicago Park District Board OKs $600k Budget for New Accountability Office, Will That Be Enough?

River Park, in Lincoln Square. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The Park District board OK’d a $600,000 budget for the new Office of Prevention and Accountability, which is being established to prevent misconduct and hold wrongdoers accountable. Commissioners questioned whether the amount dedicated to the new office was adequate enough for the task at hand.

Why So Much Fuss Over a Plain-Jane Bird That Landed in Waukegan? It’s Half a World Off Course

The wrong-way small-billed elaenia, photographed Nov. 28, 2021, in Waukegan. (Courtesy of Geoffrey Williamson)

The sighting of a small-billed elaenia over the Thanksgiving holiday had bird lovers flocking to Waukegan from far and wide to catch a glimpse of this South American flycatcher, thousands of miles off course.

Cook County Government in the Market for a Power Player as It Aims for 100% Renewable Energy Goal


Cook County is aiming to reach 100% renewable electricity by 2030, but can’t get there on its own. So it’s looking for a renewable energy developer, who would front the costs of building a solar or wind farm to generate green electricity for county buildings. 

Sandhill Cranes Heading South, Finally, As Late Migration Sparks Concern

Sandhill cranes. (ladymacbeth / Pixabay)

The region’s nature lovers eagerly anticipate the annual flyover of the large, raucous birds but for regular observers of the cranes, this year’s migration was cause for anxiety due to low numbers counted at their regular Indiana rest stop.

Chicago’s Outdoor Ice Rinks Now Open, but Pre-Registration Required to Skate

Skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park. (Courtesy Chicago Park District)

Timed reservations will be required for all programs, from open skate to rat hockey, to allow for social distancing.

Stings at Malls To Crack Down on Disability Parking Placard Abuse

(Andrzej Rembowski / Pixabay)

The crackdown kicks off on Black Friday at Woodfield Mall. Scofflaws could face fines up to $600.

The CTA Holiday Train Is Back, And It’s Taking on Passengers This Year

The Holiday Train will welcome riders Nov. 26 through Dec. 22. (Courtesy of Chicago Transit Authority)

CTA has declared, “The magic is back.” Passengers will be able to board the Holiday Train and Holiday Bus this year, although a few restrictions are still in place due to COVID-19.

We’ve Got Your Thanksgiving Small Talk Covered: 10 Fascinating Facts About the Wild Turkey

The wild turkey is a North American original. (Elljay / Pixabay)

When’s the last time you thought about the turkey not as dinner but as a bird? Here are some fascinating facts about this North American original.

Popular Poinsettia Show Back at Lincoln Park Conservatory, With Candy Cane Theme and 12-Foot Tree

Lincoln Park Conservatory's annual winter flower show has a candy-cane theme of red and white poinsettias. (Lincoln Park Conservancy / Facebook)

Another holiday tradition makes a comeback in 2021, as winter flower shows open Wednesday at both the Lincoln Park and Garfield Park conservatories. Timed reservations are required.

Great Lakes Invaders Storm a Chicago Beach and Next to No One Notices

Rough waves coughed up the remains of one of Lake Michigan’s most troubling invasive species, quagga mussels. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Recent storm waves stirred up deposits of invasive mussels from the bottom of Lake Michigan and brought them ashore, begging the question: Would you know a quagga mussel if you saw one?

Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade Still On With Safety Plan in Place

Chicago's Thanksgiving Parade returns in 2021. (Chicago Thanksgiving Parade / Facebook)

Speaking at a press conference Monday afternoon, Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed concerns about the safety of large public gatherings after a man crashed his SUV into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin over the weekend, killing at least five people. 

Want To Steer Clear of Holiday Gridlock? Here’s the Chicago Route To Avoid at All Costs

(WTTW News)

Of the 53.4 million Americans planning to visit family and friends or enjoy a mini-vacation, 90% will be hitting the road in cars. For those looking to avoid the worst of the traffic, AAA has identified a few windows of opportunity.

Jeff Bezos Donates $100M to Name Obama Center Plaza for Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

Design rendering of the Obama Presidential Center. Plaza in foreground. (Courtesy of The Obama Foundation)

As part of the $100 million gift to the Obama Foundation, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has asked for the plaza at the Obama Presidential Center to be named the John Lewis Plaza.

Lunar Eclipse Lives Up to Hype, Clear Skies Give Chicagoans an Eyeful

(Dids / Pexels)

For once, the weather cooperated in Chicago. Astronomers at the Adler Planetarium proclaimed: “What a stellar view!”

A Near Total Eclipse of This Week’s Full Moon Is Coming. Here’s What You Need to Know

(Lim Yaw Keong / Pixabay)

If the skies are clear, Chicagoans will have an excellent chance of seeing the eclipse Friday morning, with the best hours for viewing the event being approximately 1:30-4:30 a.m.

All Aboard: CTA’s Belmont Bypass Ready For Riders

Overhead view of the bypass during construction. (Chicago Transit Authority / Facebook)

The rail bypass goes into service Friday, carrying CTA Brown Line trains over Red and Purple line tracks and eliminating a 114-year-old transit bottleneck. 

Thanksgiving Dinner To Take Bigger Bite Out of Wallets, National Survey Says

(Courtesy of National Turkey Federation)

The cost of a Thanksgiving feast for 10 is up 14% from 2020, according to an annual survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Seahorse Daddy Goes Into Labor at Brookfield Zoo, and the Video Is #BirthingGoals

Seahorses. (Wal_172619 / Pixabay)

Brookfield Zoo is in the midst of a seahorse baby boom and caught the arrival of its newest little ones on camera. Dad made it look easy.

Illinois’ Copy of the Gettysburg Address Is Coming Out of the Vaults, and It Has a Weird Back Story

(Rachel Bostwick / Pixabay)

Illinois’ handwritten copy of the historic document once belonged to the guy who was the main speaker at Gettysburg and whose own two-hour oration was followed by Abraham Lincoln’s 272-word masterpiece.  

20-Year-Old ‘Oops’ Leads to Invasive Carp Pulled From Chicago Lagoon. How Many More Are Out There?

A bighead carp, like the one caught in the Humboldt Park lagoon. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

When a fish the size of a 10-year-old child was pulled from the Humboldt Park lagoon earlier this month, the reaction quickly went from “Oooh” to “Uh-oh.” The angler had reeled a whopper of an invasive bighead carp accidentally stocked 20 years ago. Are there more?

The Entire US, Not Just Chicago, Is Bad at Recycling. The EPA Wants to Change That

(Mali Maeder / Pexels)

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its first National Recycling Strategy, which aims for a 50% recycling rate in the U.S. by 2030. 

Expect a Messy Friday Afternoon, Evening Commute With Squalls and Snow

Friday’s afternoon and evening commutes could be a messy one. (WTTW News)

Buckle up for a bumpy ride this weekend. Friday’s forecast calls for high winds and bursts of heavy snow, more snow is possible Saturday, and Sunday’s temperatures are expected to dip into the teens, according to the National Weather Service.

Rockford Airport Says Prairie Site Is Critical to Expansion

$50M airfield cargo expansion first phase of grander plan

Construction on the Rockford Airport cargo expansion has come right to the edge of Bell Bowl Prairie. (Courtesy of Cassi Saari)

The Rockford Airport Authority is not ceding Bell Bowl Prairie, an ancient prairie remnant that’s part of the airport’s nearly 3,000-acre property. In an interview with WTTW News, the authority reaffirmed its commitment to a $50 million expansion plan that would impact the five-acre prairie.

Environmental Cleanup of New Park District HQ Runs Into Deeply Buried Hidden Costs

A rendering of John Ronan Architects’ plan for the Park District’s new headquarters. (Courtesy of Chicago Park District)

Construction on the Chicago Park District’s new $65 million headquarters in Brighton Park is already $4 million over budget just months after the project broke ground, demonstrating how challenging it is to redevelop former industrial sites, officials said.