Stories by Nick Blumberg

Program Tries To Reach Homeless ‘Where They’re At’ — On CTA Trains

Caseworkers MG Hibionada and Ell Fabricius talk to a person on the Red Line about shelter options. Fabricius and Hibionada are members of the Thresholds team on the CTA, which provides outreach and services to people sheltering on the trains. (Kathleen Hinkel / Block Club Chicago)

The program has connected dozens of people to housing or shelter, but officials say it needs more funding and time to make a bigger impact.

Snelling Faces First Public Test as City Council Confirmation Hearings Loom for Police Superintendent Pick

Larry Snelling and Mayor Brandon Johnson shake hands while addressing the media during a press conference announcing Snelling’s appointment as the Chicago Police Department’s superintendent Aug. 14, 2023. (WTTW News)

Snelling vowed to rebuild trust between Chicagoans and the Police Department, which is struggling to reduce crime and implement court-ordered reforms designed to ensure officers no longer routinely violate the constitutional rights of Black and Latino Chicagoans.

Police Oversight Board Votes to Permanently Scrap New Chicago Gang Database

(WTTW News)

The unanimous vote by the interim Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability caps an effort that began in 2017 to stop the Chicago Police Department from using databases to track Chicagoans they believe to be in a gang.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: West Garfield Park Community Coalition Receives $10M Investment

A business district in the West Garfield Park community is pictured on Jan. 19, 2023. (WTTW News)

A coalition of community-led groups just received $10 million from the Pritzker Traubert Foundation to help fund a wide-ranging project. It’ll bring together a range of services and opportunities — from health and wellness, to arts and culture and beyond.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: North Park Adjusts Plans For Winter Storm

A resident walks down a snowy sidewalk in the North Park area on Dec. 22, 2022. (WTTW News)

Local leaders are advising people to avoid travel when possible, and to check in on friends, family and neighbors who may need a helping hand. In Chicago’s North Park neighborhood, people are adjusting quickly during a busy holiday season while bearing in mind vulnerable community members. 

‘Chicago Tonight’ In Your Neighborhood: City Aiming to Breathe Life Into Financial District

Chicago Board of Trade building. (WTTW News)

As firms and other businesses have started locating their offices in other parts of town, and with the massive shift in work patterns driven by COVID-19, the eight-block stretch has become home to more vacancies than any other part of downtown. Now, the city has an ambitious plan to spur development.

City Council Debate Over Private Booting Shines Light on Ways Clout and Campaign Cash Work in Chicago

Former Ald. Joe Moore, who now works as a lobbyist, speaks with Mayor Lori Lightfoot on the floor of the City Council chambers on June 22, 2022. (WTTW News)

A vote on a measure that would strip members of the Chicago City Council of their authority to ban commercial property owners from hiring a firms to patrol their parking lots and swiftly immobilize cars that are parked there illegally was delayed. A familiar lobbyist and campaign cash factor into the debate. 

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Recovery and Development in Hyde Park

(WTTW News)

The community’s 53rd Street is home to many locally-owned shops, nightlife spots and restaurants. There’s been some turnover during COVID, but a lot of the small businesses have hung on — even though they’re still facing challenges. 

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: North Center

A colorful banner welcomes visitors to North Center (WTTW News)

Chicago’s North Center neighborhood is a community where many city dwellers raise a family with lots of schools, parks, and public space. Many residents and community leaders have worked for years to create a community feel and, to address infrastructure needs to improve transportation safety.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Pride Parade Returns in Northalsted

(WTTW News)

For the first time in three years, Northalsted and the surrounding neighborhood will host the city’s Pride Parade.

Richard Irvin’s Ex-Wife Hired by Development Firm Receiving Millions in Aurora City Incentives

Web of Politically-Connected Companies Involved in $128M Hospital Redevelopment

The former site of Copley Hospital in Aurora will include senior living residences, as depicted in this rendering, along with a medical facility and school administrative building. (Courtesy of Fox Valley Developers)

The ex-wife of Aurora Mayor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin works with a development team that stands to receive up to $15 million in Aurora city incentives, with the potential for millions more to redevelop the former Copley Hospital site.

Developers That Donated to Gubernatorial Candidate Richard Irvin’s Mayoral Campaign Received Tens of Millions in Aurora Incentives

Developers involved with Pacifica Square in Aurora, which opened in 2021, donated $25,000 to campaigns connected to Mayor Richard Irvin. (Paris Schutz / WTTW News)

A WTTW News review of public records has also found that Aurora taxpayers are on the hook for tens of millions in tax incentives to two other development companies that have donated thousands to Richard Irvin and political funds connected to him.

Police Officers, Guards Will Be Added Along CTA Train and Bus Lines Amid Uptick in Violent Crime

This file photo shows a southbound CTA Red Line train in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Amid a double-digit uptick in violent crime along Chicago Transit Authority train and bus lines this year, city officials say they’ll be adding additional officers and security guards on trains and buses around the city.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Niles

(WTTW News)

Niles, a northwest Chicago suburb. It’s well known for its landmark replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but it’s also a community thinking about how to revamp one of its anchor businesses for the future. There are efforts to redevelop Golf Mill mall, a nearby park, and plans to improve infrastructure and pedestrian safety.

New DuSable Museum Exhibit Tells Stories of Those Killed During Civil Rights Movement


More than 150 names of people killed during the civil rights movement are on display in a special exhibit at the DuSable Museum. Their lives were cut short due to race-related killings more than 50 years ago, but the lessons learned from their deaths live on.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Washington Park

Washington Park is nestled between Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Englewood. It’s home to the DuSable Museum of African American History and to the former Schultz Baking Company. (WTTW News)

Washington Park is nestled between Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Englewood. It’s home to the DuSable Museum of African American History and to the former Schultz Baking Company. Now closed, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and there are plans to turn it into a data center.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Ravenswood

The Ravenswood community is neighbored by North Center and Lincoln Square, and there’s much disagreement over where the three neighborhoods’ borders end and begin. (WTTW News)

Eight miles north from the Loop, manufacturing buildings, Victorian homes and small businesses line Ravenswood’s streets. The community is neighbored by North Center and Lincoln Square, and there’s much disagreement over where the three neighborhoods’ borders end and begin.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Humboldt Park

Paseo Boricua has been the heart and soul of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community for decades. But the area has been impacted in recent years by gentrification and displacement of some longtime residents, as rents rise and luxury buildings sprout up on its borders. 

Chicagoans Log 640K Rides During 2nd Test of Scooters in City

A woman rides a scooter in Chicago during the city’s first pilot program in 2019. (WTTW News)

New data shows Chicagoans took approximately 640,000 rides on electric scooters during a four-month second trial run. That represents a significant decline from the initial test of the scooters in Chicago between June and July 2019.

As Lakefront Trail Reopens, Edgewater Eyes City’s Next Phase

A cyclist rides along the lakefront trail on its official reopening day, Monday, June 22, 2020. (WTTW News)

Chicago’s lakefront trail officially reopened Monday after the city closed it down in March in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We visit the lakefront and see how the Edgewater community is gearing up for phase four.

Chicago Showdown, Round Two: Musical Artists

Muddy Waters

This toddlin’ town isn’t just the subject of some iconic songs, it’s also the home of artists who helped innovate and shape modern American music. We’re passionate about our faves, and we want to hear from you. Which of these acts deserves to be crowned champion?

Lightfoot Says Chicago Won’t Be ‘Bullied’ as ICE Ramps Up Immigration Enforcement

New York Times reports specialized ICE Agents being sent to Chicago, sanctuary cities

In this July 8, 2019, file photo, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer looks on during an operation in Escondido, California. (AP Photo / Gregory Bull, File)

President Donald Trump will deploy specialized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tactical units to nearly a dozen so-called sanctuary cities, including Chicago, according to The New York Times.  

Deep Frydays: Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Before they say goodbye for the summer, Nick and Erica have a frying finale befitting our fair city: a teeny-wiener version of the Chicago-style hot dog.

Deep Frydays: Potato Chip-Crusted Polish Sausage

What do Polish sausage, potato chips and Plochman’s mustard have in common? They all come together to make a delicious snack.

Deep Frydays: Fry the Rainbow

Like the city itself, the Rainbow Cone is a painterly masterpiece of colors and tastes, each separate and distinct, which together somehow become more than the sum of their parts. 

Deep Frydays: Fine, We’re Doing Malort

Earlier this month, we took you on a tour of a distillery that produces Malort, the Chicago-born liquor that inspires devotion – and disgust. This week, we pour out a hefty helping of the stuff and stick it in the fryer.