Privatize Public Transit? Chicago’s tried it before. Here’s how that went.

Chicago Reader, June 10, 2010 — In December 1898, some Chicagoans began wearing twine—twisted into the shape of a hangman’s noose—in their buttonholes. It was their way of sending a message to the City Council about an upcoming vote. “I will not be surprised to see some hanging done in the streets of Chicago,” said Mayor… Continue reading Privatize Public Transit? Chicago’s tried it before. Here’s how that went.

Joseph Dunlop, a newspaper publisher imprisoned for obscenity

Chicago magazine, March 2010 — By the summer of 1895, anyone who glanc­ed through the classified ad section of a feisty young newspaper called the Chicago Dispatch would have noticed a curious phenomenon: Dozens of women used the forum to announce their desire to meet gentlemen. Many ladies specified the sort of men they wanted to see:… Continue reading Joseph Dunlop, a newspaper publisher imprisoned for obscenity

Steamer Trunk Diaries

This article by Robert Loerzel was originally published in the December 2009 issue of North Shore Magazine. They boarded grand 19th-century steamships in their finery — well-heeled men and women embarking on what promised to be the adventure of a lifetime. What they saw abroad would inspire them and, in a few cases, would ultimately change the… Continue reading Steamer Trunk Diaries

When another Senate seat was up for sale

The Huffington Post, February 6, 2009 — A hundred years ago, political tensions were running high in Illinois. Everyone wanted to know the answer to one suspenseful question: Who would be the new U.S. Senator from Illinois? The struggle to answer that question would stretch on for four years, as charges of bribery and corruption rocked… Continue reading When another Senate seat was up for sale

Some critics enjoy shooting ‘Buffalo’

Pictured (l to r) in the Goodman's 1975/76 production of David Mamet's AMERICAN BUFFALO are J.J. Johnson, Mike Nussbaum and William H. Macy. Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre

The Huffington Post, December 27, 2008 — American Buffalo came and went pretty damn fast on Broadway this fall. The reviews were not exactly glowing for director Robert Falls’s revival of David Mamet’s drama, which is widely regarded as one of the playwright’s best plays. It’s worth remembering, though, that critics did not greet American Buffalo with universal acclaim… Continue reading Some critics enjoy shooting ‘Buffalo’

When the world watched Chicago

The Huffington Post, December 6, 2008 — As just about everyone pointed out on Tuesday night, Barack Obama’s election as president was a moment of huge historical significance for the nation. Obama’s eloquent election-night speech in Grant Park is also surely one of the great moments in Chicago history… Read my blog post at the… Continue reading When the world watched Chicago

Another banking crisis: Chicago’s Panic of 1896

The Huffington Post, November 10, 2008 — The news from Wall Street is prompting a lot of comparisons with the Great Depression, but the history books are filled with other similar financial crises. Throughout the 1800s, when the government barely regulated the financial markets at all, speculative bubbles and piles of bad loans caused several… Continue reading Another banking crisis: Chicago’s Panic of 1896

General Dawes’ War

This article by Robert Loerzel was originally published in the September 2008 issue of North Shore Magazine. GAZING AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD today, it’s hard to imagine that as many as 50,000 people once gathered on this 19th-century mansion’s lawn and nearby streets, spilling into the park, pulling boats up along the lake shore, just to… Continue reading General Dawes’ War

Was Jane Addams a lesbian?

Chicago magazine, July 2008 — A new documentary establishes Jane Addams and her close friend, Mary Rozet Smith, as gay icons. Does it go too far? Read my story for Chicago magazine. Chicago History Museum photo