Category Archives: History

How To Save a Historic Building from Becoming a Parking Lot

Here in my hometown of Joliet IL, we have several architectural gems in the old downtown along the east bank of the Des Plaines River. Prominent among these is the acclaimed Rialto Theatre, which I’ve written about previously in my … Continue reading

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Leonard Dubkin, Chicago’s Urban Nature Writer: A Short Biography

Leonard Dubkin (1905-1972) was a businessman, journalist, naturalist, and nature writer who lived and worked in Chicago.A contemporary of the much more well-known Nelson Algren and Studs Terkel, Dubkin is a long-neglected urban nature writer of the 20th century whose … Continue reading

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Joliet Kid Makes Good: John C. Houbolt (1919-2014), Space Flight Engineer for Moon Missions

Last week a local legend passed away at the ripe old age of 95. A former NASA engineer who played a key role in developing the technology and mission strategy for the Apollo moon landing missions, John C. Houbolt was … Continue reading

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Film Noir Star and Joliet Native Audrey Totter Dies at Age 95

I’m a big fan of obituaries, and always read them with great fascination. This week there was a dandy story of an elegant lady from my hometown of Joliet who passed away at the ripe old age of 95. Despite … Continue reading

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Love Canal: a Still Unfolding Legacy of a Toxic Waste Community Disaster

This week the New York Times features a “retro report” on Love Canal, one of the most infamous environmental disasters in US history and the incident that spurred the creation of the EPA’s Superfund program. Far from a closed book, … Continue reading

Posted in Health, History, News, Pollution, Social justice, Waste & Recycling | Comments Off

Toward a Sustainable Future: Why Science and Policy Need the Environmental Arts and Humanities

Recent reports in the popular media would have it that the humanities are embattled: waning in popularity among students, deemed irrelevant by the general public, and viewed by legislators as expendable luxuries in today’s rapidly changing higher education environment. In … Continue reading

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Remembering Don Reiter

Today in Joliet, while picking up a prescription after dropping my daughter off at school, I ran into a friend from my Jr. High days. Lori and I both worked at Plainfield Road Pharmacy back in the 1980s, when the … Continue reading

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A Remembrance: Millie Bryson, 1914 — 2012

My grandmother Millie was one of the most important and influential people in my life, and it was a distinct honor to write her obituary this week. Here is the full text, which is reprinted in today’s edition of the … Continue reading

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From the Chicago Portage to the Iron Street Farm: An Urban Landscape Exploration

Last Saturday was the first field trip opportunity of the summer for my PLS 392 Seminar in Humanities class at Roosevelt, the focus of which is “Representing the Urban Landscape.” After last summer’s trip to Canal Origins and Stearns Quarry … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Chicago, Field Trips, History, Land use, Rivers, Urban nature, Water | Comments Off

New Book on the Chicago River’s Reversal

The reversal of the Chicago River — one of the great engineering projects of the late 19th century — impacted both the watersheds of the Chicago Region as well as the economy of the city and its suburbs. While that … Continue reading

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