Chicago was raised over 4 feet in the 19th century to build its sewer

In the middle of the 19th century, Chicago embarked on a quest to literally lift itself out of the mud. Water couldn't drain from the low-lying city, so its streets became impassable swamps. The most reasonable solution, Chicago decided, was just to raise the whole goddamn city by 4 to 14 feet. » 10/15/14 1:34pm 10/15/14 1:34pm

Some museums have flesh-eating beetles on staff to clean off skeletons

An animal skeleton is made up of hundreds of tiny bones, many of which are too fragile to be handled by human hands. That's why many osteology departments at museums have a special team exclusively devoted to the careful cleaning of these specimens: A colony of millions of flesh-eating beetles. » 10/06/14 2:23pm 10/06/14 2:23pm

The strange case of O'Hare Airport's vanishing Terminal 4

Chicago's O'Hare Airport is one of the busiest in the world. That scene from Home Alone where they're running through the airport is no joke. O'Hare's hectic energy is overwhelming enough to make you forget your own Macaulay Culkin, for sure. And if the McCallisters had followed signs for Terminal 4, they would've… » 10/01/14 5:29pm 10/01/14 5:29pm

The Souped Up Acoustics Behind a Giant David Bowie Retrospective

When art museums first became a thing, in the 19th century, they were the aristocracy's idea of intellectual charity: A chance for the hoi polloi to catch a thin whiff of true civilization. They couldn't have imagined a fine art museum spending $2 million on a show about a pop star who grew up in a completely average… » 9/22/14 2:44pm 9/22/14 2:44pm

Chicago's New Electric Garbage Trucks Give Trash the Silent Treatment

You know how I know it's garbage day? Because it's 5 am and it sounds like the trucks from Pump are getting busy on the curb. VROOOOOM, CRUNCH, SLAM, WAKKA WAKKA WAKKA, SLAM, CRUNCH, VROOOOOM. But some lucky Chicagoans will soon be able to sleep all the way through the night thanks to a new fleet of (mostly) silent… » 9/16/14 1:40pm 9/16/14 1:40pm

Even Scientists Are Using Google Street View to Measure Gentrification

Google Street View is an excellent way to watch your neighborhood change. In fact, we've conducted our own informal surveys of urban transformation in Detroit, San Francisco, and Brooklyn. While our investigations were based on casual observation, now a pair of sociologists from Harvard are using Google Street View… » 8/06/14 11:00am 8/06/14 11:00am

Chicago Wants To Install Superconducting Cable To End Power Outages

With the threat of terrorism and extreme weather perennially perched on the horizon, Chicago's getting creative with its infrastructure upgrades. The city's primary power company, Commercial Edison, is planning to install superconducting cables to prevent outages in the city center. Why doesn't every city do this? » 7/16/14 6:00pm 7/16/14 6:00pm

Here's One Early Proposal For Obama's Presidential Library In Chicago

Obama's nearing the end of his second term, which means talk is turning towards where he'll be setting up camp post-presidency. The location of his presidential library is being hotly contested, with Chicago, New York City, and Honolulu all vying for the prize. Here's one proposal for locating it in Bronzeville,… » 7/01/14 4:40pm 7/01/14 4:40pm

17 Works of Art That Will Hang In George Lucas's New Museum

There was a great disturbance in the Force this week as George Lucas announced he's locating his new art museum in Chicago instead of San Francisco. But Lucas's art isn't all Millennium Falcon models: There are some seriously fascinating pieces in his collection, all themed around the concept of storytelling. » 6/26/14 2:00pm 6/26/14 2:00pm

Uber, Kids Peeing, Donald Trump: What's Ruining Our Cities This Week

Uber arrives in Europe and the cab drivers are pissed. Be careful when you let your kid piss all over our public parks. And Donald Trump has gotten himself into a pissing match with critics over his new building in Chicago. It's (a not totally urine-themed) What's Ruining Our Cities This Week! » 6/14/14 6:00pm 6/14/14 6:00pm

These new skyscraper tilting windows are designed to freak you out

Holy crap. The John Hancock Tower in Chicago rolled out a snazzy scary new attraction for people who visit the top of the skyscraper: windows that tilt down to give you a better view of the ground beneath you. It's like a roller coaster ride for those afraid of heights (that would be me). Just stand next to the window… » 5/09/14 7:36pm 5/09/14 7:36pm

First Video of Chicago Airport Train Derailing and Going Up a Stairwell

On Monday a Blue Line subway train at Chicago's O'Hare airport jumped the rails and then proceeded to plow its way up a set of stairs and escalators. And just a few days later security footage of the incident has finally been released. Not surprisingly, it looks like a real life action movie—minus the Hollywood-style… » 3/26/14 9:21am 3/26/14 9:21am