Chicago police were condemned in 1904 for drinking, slouching, ignoring crime

Chicago Tribune, January 29, 2017 — Too many of Chicago’s cops weren’t doing their jobs. Slouching in unkempt uniforms, they drank whiskey in saloons when they should have been walking their beats. And they ignored crimes happening right in front of their eyes. These were the findings of an investigation in 1904 called the Piper Report. “Chicago’s police… Continue reading Chicago police were condemned in 1904 for drinking, slouching, ignoring crime

Displaced: When the Eisenhower Expressway Moved in, Who Was Forced Out?

WBEZ’s Curious City, August 26, 2016 — My story answers the question: “What happened to the people displaced by the Eisenhower Expressway?” Read and explore the interactive story (with web design by Logan Jaffe) and listen to the podcast and radio version.

Long before iPhones, cops battled phone use in fight against gambling

Chicago Tribune, March 6, 2016 — In 1904, Chicago got an early taste of how the competing interests of security and privacy would start to play out for law enforcement and the telecom industry — in an episode with echoes of today’s dispute between Apple and the FBI, over information that might be gleaned about the… Continue reading Long before iPhones, cops battled phone use in fight against gambling

A History of the Society of Midland Authors, Part 2

Society of Midland Authors Books Blog, April 10, 2015 — The authors who gathered at the Auditorium Hotel in Chicago on November 28, 1914, didn’t expect a free dinner. But they were somewhat stunned when the writer who’d invited them, John M. Stahl, picked up the tab for everyone… Read my post at the Society of Midland Authors… Continue reading A History of the Society of Midland Authors, Part 2

A History of the Society of Midland Authors, Part 1

Society of Midland Authors Books Blog, April 2, 2015 — As the Society of Midland Authors celebrates its 100th birthday, we present a history of the organization, starting with this look at its origins. In 1914, Carl Sandburg called Chicago “Hog Butcher for the World.” Edgar Lee Masters, a Chicago lawyer born in Kansas, was giving voice to the common… Continue reading A History of the Society of Midland Authors, Part 1

Book review: ‘Blood Runs Green’

Chicago magazine, March 2015 — Blood Runs Green Reexamines One of the Most Notorious Crimes in Chicago. The 1889 murder of Patrick Henry Cronin is at the center of this insightful new book by Gillian O’Brien. Read my review in Chicago magazine.

Before the car was king

Library of Congress

Chicago Tribune, February 7, 2015 — Almost as soon as automobiles appeared on the streets of Chicago, people wondered whether driving induced insanity. Read more of my Chicago Tribune story.

What if the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 never happened?

WBEZ’s Curious City, October 2014 — A thought experiment conducted by WBEZ’s Curious City, inspired by a question posed by Chicagoan Kevin Borgia. What if one of the most famous events in Chicago history — the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 — never happened? What would the city look like today? Read — and hear… Continue reading What if the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 never happened?