Stories by Brandis Friedman

‘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 Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: South Loop

Motor Row in the South Loop. (WTTW News)

It’s another sign that Chicago is returning to normal: Conventions are beginning to return to the city, including the Chicago Auto Show, which is set for mid-July at McCormick Place in the South Loop. We hit the streets as part of our community reporting series.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Woodridge

Evidence of a tornado that tore through suburban Woodridge is visible June 24, 2021, just four days after the EF3 twister touched down. (WTTW News)

After a major tornado ripped through west suburban DuPage County, community members are picking up the pieces. For some, it will be a long road: more than 160 homes saw significant damage and about 30 were destroyed.

It’s Curtain Up and Light the Lights for the Lyric Opera and Joffrey Ballet

“Florencia En El Amazonas” (Credit: Lynn Lane / Houston Grand Opera)

After 15 months of dark theaters and livestreamed performances, two of Chicago’s most famous performing arts companies announce they are returning to the stage for live performances — this time under one roof.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Navy Pier

Navy Pier (WTTW News)

Chicago is loosening its pandemic restrictions. As part of our community reporting series, we spend the day reporting in and around Navy Pier as it begins a phased reopening.

Teachers Union Asks CPS to Push Back Return Date for High School Students by a Week

(WTTW News)

The Chicago Teachers Union is asking Chicago Public Schools to delay its target reopening date for high schools by one week in order to allow more time to learn about coronavirus variants and current transmission rates.

Chicago’s Black and Latino Communities Bearing the Brunt of Pandemic’s Health, Economic Impact

Erica Lopez speaks with “Chicago Tonight” about the death of her mother and father, who both contracted COVID-19. (WTTW News)

From rates of infection to unemployment following the economic shutdown, some residents of Chicago have been cut deeper by the pandemic. We talk about the specific challenges facing hard-hit communities, and some of the support systems in place.

Thousands More CPS Students Return to In-Person Learning

Some principals concerned over staffing shortages

(WTTW News)

Tens of thousands more Chicago Public Schools students returned to their classrooms Monday, many for the first time in nearly a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the district continues its school reopening plan.

CTU Leader Karen Lewis Dies After Long Illness

Karen Lewis appears on “Chicago Tonight” in March 2016. (WTTW News)

The former chemistry teacher who went on to battle former Mayor Rahm Emanuel throughout her tenure as the head of the Chicago Teachers Union, and nearly ran for mayor herself, has died. She was 67 years old.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: North Lawndale

(WTTW News)

North Lawndale on Chicago’s West Side has faced challenges of economic depression, unemployment and violence for many years, all before the pandemic exacerbated those issues last spring. 

Some CPS Teachers Not Returning to Schools as In-Person Learning Set to Resume

(WTTW News)

More than 5,800 Chicago Public Schools employees were due back in their classrooms Monday to prepare for students’ return next week. But not all of them showed up.

Teachers Excited, Anxious About New School Year as Remote Learning Resumes in Chicago

(ArtisticOperations / Pixabay)

Beyond first-day jitters, Chicago educators expressed concerns over stable internet connections and checking in with students about COVID-19 as classes in Chicago Public Schools resumed Tuesday for a fall unlike any other.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Auburn Gresham

(WTTW News)

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Auburn Gresham neighborhood was considered a hot spot for cases of COVID-19. It has recently become a hot spot for some of the city's increasing violence, too.

Pomp and Circumstance in a Pandemic and Time of Civil Unrest

Oprah Winfrey delivers the keynote address to Chicago high school graduates during a virtual celebration Sunday, June 14, 2020. (Chicago Mayor’s Office / Facebook)

During a virtual ceremony on Sunday, Oprah Winfrey told Chicago’s graduating high school seniors they are being called to “reckon with our country’s past and determine a more equitable future for black and brown people.”

CTU Reaches Tentative Deal But Won’t Return to Work Thursday

Chicago Teachers Union members hold a rally at the Lincoln Yards development on day nine of the strike, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. (WTTW News)

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union won’t head back to school Thursday morning and their strike will last at least one more day after the union’s House of Delegates accepted a tentative agreement with the city, but refused to return to work.

Lightfoot Asks CTU to End Strike Before Contract Agreement is Finalized

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks with reporters about the Chicago teachers strike, now in its third day, on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. (WTTW News)

In a letter sent Monday to CTU President Jesse Sharkey, Mayor Lori Lightfoot urges the union to halt its work stoppage while negotiations continue because “our students and families are sacrificing a great deal that cannot be recovered.”

CPS Teachers, Staff Take Their Case to the Streets with Rallies Across the City

Teachers and support staff on the picket line Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 in front of Little Village Academy. (WTTW News)

Chants of “fair contract!” and “Mayor Lightfoot, get on the right foot!” rang through the air outside Chicago Public Schools around the city on the first morning of the Chicago Teachers Union and SEIU support staff walkout. 

Ald. Willie Cochran Indicted, Charged with Fraud, Extortion, Bribery

Charges were announced Wednesday as the South Side alderman, a former Chicago police officer, attended the final City Council meeting of the year.

Duckworth Defeats Kirk in Heated US Senate Race

“Tonight, we showed a campaign that respects voters and is focused on practical solutions rather than shopworn slogans can be successful,” Duckworth said during her victory speech.

Cubs World Series Parade, Rally Set for Friday

Cubs fans line Waveland Avenue for a chance to see the World Series champs Friday morning. (Evan Garcia / Chicago Tonight)

The 2016 World Series Champions will celebrate their historic win on Friday. Here's what you need to know. 

CTU Overwhelmingly Votes to Authorize Teacher Strike

More than 95 percent of voting union members in favor of strike

(Chicago Tonight)

More than 95 percent of Chicago Teachers Union members who participated in last week’s three-day authorization vote said they were in favor of another work stoppage. 

CTU Considers October Strike if New Deal Not Struck

In a bulletin published this week, the Chicago Teachers Union says it will consider striking if it cannot come to an agreement with Chicago Public Schools on a new contract. (Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

Without a new contract agreement with CPS, Chicago teachers are looking at their second work stoppage this year. 

Task Force Aims to Change Broken Police Department

Lori Lightfoot

“The community's lack of trust in the Chicago police department is justified.” That's a direct quote from the scathing report released Wednesday afternoon by the Police Accountability Task Force. 

Several Catholic Schools to Close

Approaching his last days as the leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George announces that low enrollment and limited budgets mean tough choices. The school system is closing seven schools, and consolidating six others.