Stories by Patty Wetli

Chicago History for Sale by Owner as Louis Sullivan’s Kinda-Sorta Last Building Hits the Market

The final building Louis Sullivan helped design is now for sale in Lincoln Square. (Steve Silverman / Flickr)

Never mind the square footage, floor plan or estimated property taxes. The primary selling point of this two-story mixed-use building rests almost entirely in its exquisite facade, which bears the unmistakable mark of the man who designed it.

Illinois Lawmakers Take on Plastic: Bills Would Ban Styrofoam, Create Bag Tax and Bottle Deposit

(Kate Ter Haar / Flickr)

In the war against plastic pollution, Illinois legislators just announced a new battle plan that would tackle the problem from multiple angles.

Watching These Insanely Cute Animals Enjoy Their Valentine’s Treats Will Warm Your Cold Heart

Charger the sea lion cozies up to a Valentine’s Day cake. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

From gorillas chomping on heart-shaped biscuits to sea lions digging into a gelatin cake, Brookfield Zoo’s Valentine’s Day celebration has warmed our hearts.


We *Heart* These Vintage Valentines Shared by the Newberry Library

Vintage valentine from the Andrew McNally collection at the Newberry Library. (Courtesy of the Newberry Library)

The Newberry’s collection of vintage valentines is spreading old-fashioned romance across the internet.

Expanded Drug Takeback Program Aims to Keep Pharmaceutical Pollutants Out of Our Water

(Images Money / Flickr)

Flushing unused or expired prescription drugs down the toilet is “neither safe nor responsible,” says one local official. A new bill would establish convenient statewide locations for their collection instead.

If Pangolins Are Linked to Coronavirus, Conservationists Fear for Animal’s Safety

Pangolins (USAid Asia / Flickr)

Preliminary findings point to the endangered pangolin as a possible host of the novel coronavirus, sparking concerns that a panic could lead to killings of the animal. 

The Board Game Biz is Booming, and Chicago’s Ready to Play

El: The Chicago Transit Adventure. (Photo: Transit Tees)

Board games are a multibillion-dollar analog unicorn in a digital world. How Chicago is catching up on the trend with hyperlocal games, a meetup group and a trio of board game bars/cafes.

NASA Sending Spacecraft on a Polarizing Mission to the Sun

An artist’s impression of Solar Orbiter. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

It may not seem like it lately, but the sun does indeed still exist. And NASA is sending a spacecraft to our friendly neighborhood star to get some answers.

North Channel Restoration Project Will Benefit Wildlife, But Some Neighbors Don’t Like Their New View

The east bank of the North Shore Channel has been stripped of foliage in Legion Park as part of a habitat restoration project. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The east bank of the North Shore Channel has been stripped of foliage between Foster and Bryn Mawr avenues, to be replaced with native species. Neighbors say the project has laid bare “eyesores” on the opposite bank.

Chicago’s Matthew Cherry Wins Oscar for ‘Hair Love’

Matthew A. Cherry, from second left, Deandre Arnold, his mother Sandy Arnold, second right, and the cast and the crew of “Hair Love” arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP)

The Loyola Academy graduate and former NFL wide receiver picked up an Academy Award on Sunday for best animated short film.

Federal Funds to Protect Great Lakes Have Been Withheld for 2 Years; ‘Unacceptable,’ Says Durbin

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Sept. 30, 2019.

Sen. Dick Durbin and Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a joint news conference Friday to call for federal funding to manage and protect the region’s vulnerable shoreline.

Lightfoot Declares Lakefront a ‘Local Disaster,’ State, Federal Action — and Dollars — Could Follow

Boulders have replaced beaches along the lakefront, as part of the city’s efforts to mitigate shoreline damage. (WTTW News)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has asked Gov. J.B. Pritzker to issue a state proclamation that would free up additional funds and resources for recovery from January’s severe storms.

In Eerie Coincidence, HBO’s Flu Pandemic, Post-Apocalyptic Series ‘Station Eleven’ Filming in Chicago

The cover of Emily St. John Mandel’s book “Station Eleven,” left, and filming notices shared on Twitter, right, for the TV adaptation in Chicago.

As global health agencies grapple with the spread of the coronavirus, filming is underway in Chicago for “Station Eleven,” the story of a swine flu pandemic that wipes out most of the world’s population. Welcome to the apocalypse.

The Super Bowl Ad Chicagoans Should Be Talking About, But Probably Didn’t Even Notice

Illinois workers, and jobs, were front and center in a Dakota Access pipeline ad that aired during Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020. (Energy Transfer / YouTube)

A 30-second spot from Dakota Access ran at least twice during Sunday’s broadcast of the big game on FOX. Here’s why.

What Does Climate Change Sound Like? An Antarctic Iceberg Speaks This Weekend at Millennium Park

Photo from a 2017 NASA flight over Antarctica. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr)

The sounds of a calving Antarctic iceberg have been turned into a musical composition, which will be performed as part of an immersive experience this weekend at Millennium Park.

U of C Alum Helps Unlock Clues to Giant Squid’s Mysterious Ways

A model of a giant squid in Glover’s Harbour, Newfoundland. (Robert Hiscock / Flickr)

Biologist Carrie Albertin helped sequence the genome of the octopus while earning her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Now she’s made surprising discoveries about the elusive giant squid.

Tips to Keep Your Super Bowl Party From Being Super Trashy — We’re Looking at You, Pizza Boxes

(Erich Ferdinand / Flickr)

Hosting a more sustainable Super Bowl party can be as easy as buying snacks from the bulk bin and using cloth napkins instead of paper. Oh, and split the difference on pizza boxes.

How Will Chicago Meet Its 100% Clean Energy Goal? Join the Kickoff Conversation This Weekend

(Jonathan Cutrer / Flickr)

Chicago has a target date of 2035 to transition to clean energy. On Saturday, the first of several planned community forums will gather residents’ input on how to achieve that goal.

Recycling Do-Over? Lightfoot Asks Streets & San to Study Other Cities’ Best Practices

(WTTW News)

Is it time to hit the reset button on Chicago’s beleaguered Blue Cart recycling program? The city is preparing to conduct a study of the nation’s waste management best practices as it looks for ways to improve.

Now for Some News to Brighten Your Day: Sun to Set at 5 P.M. Tuesday

(Wendy Berry / Flickr)

Winter is about to turn a major psychological corner: For the first time in nearly three months, 9-to-5-ers will see the sun when they leave work. 

Even in Winter, Chicago is Still a ‘City in a Garden.’ Take a Closer Look

(Jo ana Kubiak / Lurie Garden)

Lurie Garden's four-season approach to plantings provides a prime example of the beauty and life to be found in a winter garden.

With $900K Grant, Big Improvements Coming to Big Marsh Park — Including City’s 1st Campground

(Courtesy Friends of Big Marsh)

A grant from the state will help fund creation of the Chicago Park District’s first campground and a fully accessible 3-mile trail at Big Marsh, a natural area rising up from the waste of big steel on the city’s Southeast Side.

Captured Coyote, Named Mercy, Won’t Be Euthanized

The injured coyote after it was captured by Chicago Animal Care and Control. (Chicago Animal Care and Control via AP)

The coyote, confirmed to have bitten a young boy, won’t be released back into the wild but will be placed in an educational setting to raise awareness of the need for peaceful coexistence.

Wanna Help the Environment? Lighten Up on the Salt

The MWRD labeled this image “how not to salt.” (Facebook / Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago)

Overuse of salt as a de-icer can contaminate waterways and harm wildlife. Learn how much is too much – and what eco-friendly options exist.

Myth Busted: It’s NOT TRUE That Property Owners Can Be Sued if Someone Slips on Shoveled Sidewalk

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

On the other hand, property owners can be fined for not shoveling.