Salt Storage Warehouse Collapses, Chicagoans Unfazed

If you've spent time in Chicago, you've likely seen the gigantic Morton Salt warehouse nestled into the industrial north branch of the Chicago River. It's hard to miss its corrugated roof, which is painted with the company's dancing-in-the-rain child and its slogan: When it rains, it pours. Today, it was the salt… » 12/30/14 5:40pm 12/30/14 5:40pm

The Obama Library May Be a City-Wide Piece of Public Infrastructure

Presidential libraries preserve archives and promote scholarship—but beyond that, they're marble-clad information tombs, quiet and somber and only remarkable for the architectural value of their designs. Obama is the first president who may change that. » 12/23/14 10:45am 12/23/14 10:45am

Blood on the Tracks in Pullman: Chicagoland's Failed Capitalist Utopia

In 1880 industrialist George Pullman set out to build a capitalist utopia. The town of Pullman was established just outside of Chicago as a model community—a place that was supposed to produce both happy workers and a nice return for Pullman's investors. It turned out to be a miserable failure. And conditions in the… » 11/13/14 11:22am 11/13/14 11:22am

This Street Has No Lanes, Signals, or Signs—And It's Safer For It

Imagine a street where pedestrians, bikes and cars peacefully coexist without any posted regulations or official roadway technology. Is this some autonomous car utopia of the near-future? Nope. This is a globally proven design for safer streets, which is finally making its way to the U.S. » 10/28/14 4:10pm 10/28/14 4:10pm

Good night, Chicago

I like Chicago. The city is clean, the architecture is nice, Wrigley Field is fun, a river cuts through it and the lake is right there. I wanted to make fun of the Bean but it drew me in like a mosquito about to be zapped. And hey, I realized that I don't really like ketchup when I visited Chicago. It's a nice place. » 10/23/14 1:41am 10/23/14 1:41am

How Long a Yellow Light Should Be

Sitting at a red light can feel torturously long, but yellow lights often seem suspiciously short. It's not all in your head: some yellow lights are too short. There is an ideal minimum length of a yellow traffic light. You just might never experience it (especially if you're from Chicago). » 10/17/14 6:30pm 10/17/14 6:30pm

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

The Best Typeface Apple Ever Had

It was square, squat, and inherently cute. It was friendly. It was easy to use. I'm talking about the beige box with the blue grinning face that came to live with us in 1985. But I'm also talking about the font that came with it. » 8/22/14 1:55pm 8/22/14 1:55pm

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

Chicago's New Lamp Posts Will Track Pollution and Count People

The walls—or lamp posts, at least—have ears. Chicago is rolling out some new street furniture, and it will be able to measure air quality, monitor noise and even count pedestrians. » 6/23/14 5:40am 6/23/14 5:40am

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

The Willis Tower's 103rd Floor Glass Skydeck Cracked Last Night

Acrophobes, stop reading now. The Skydeck at Willis Tower, which lets tourists stand on a glass ledge more than 1,500 feet above Chicago, cracked under the weight of visitors late last night. Believe it or not, it's not that big a deal. Here's why. » 5/29/14 11:11am 5/29/14 11:11am

There's a Hero Repairing Chicago's Horrible Potholes With Mosaics

As a transplant Chicagoan, one of my favorite daily rituals is calling 311 to report the potholes that make my street un-driveable. Fellow Chicagoan and artist Jim Bachor is taking a more proactive approach: He's repairing them, but also turning them into tiny little jokes. » 5/26/14 7:00pm 5/26/14 7:00pm