In 1868, visiting Scotsman David Macrae was astonished to see Chicago transforming itself — dozens of buildings were transplanted to the suburbs, and hotels weighing hundreds of tons were raised on jackscrews. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow the city’s astounding 20-year effort to rid itself of sewage and disease.
We’ll also learn how a bear almost started World War III and puzzle over the importance of a ringing phone.
Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet — on our Patreon page you can pledge any amount per episode, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. You can change or cancel your pledge at any time, and we’ve set up some rewards to help thank you for your support.
You can also make a one-time donation via the Donate button in the sidebar of the Futility Closet website.
Sources for our feature on the raising of Chicago:
David Young, “Raising the Chicago Streets Out of the Mud,” Chicago Tribune, date strangely withheld (retrieved Dec. 7, 2015).
Robin Einhorn, “Street Grades, Raising,” Encyclopedia of Chicago (accessed Dec. 6, 2015).
Josiah Seymour Currey, Chicago: Its History and Its Builders, 1918.
Alfred Theodore Andreas, History of Chicago: Ending With the Year 1857, 1884.
David Macrae, The Americans at Home, 1870.
There’s a very extensive collection of contemporaneous news accounts here.
Aaron Tovish, “The Okinawa Missiles of October,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Oct. 25, 2015.
Wikipedia, “Norwegian Rocket Incident” (retrieved Dec. 12, 2015).
Wikipedia, “Volk Field Air National Guard Base” (retrieved Dec. 12, 2015).
Chris Hubbuch, “False Alarm: How a Bear Nearly Started a Nuclear War,” La Crosse [Wis.] Tribune, Jan. 30, 2009.
This week’s lateral thinking puzzle is from Matthew Johnstone’s 1999 book What’s the Story?
Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.
If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at email@example.com. Thanks for listening!