The Lost Hours of Melissa Lorraine

Melissa Lorraine survived a sexual assault after getting into a car she thought was an Uber ride she had ordered. She found a way to slowly heal by performing exercises she now teaches in classes for inmates in correctional facilities.

Author: Tony Adler
Published: Aug 6, 2019
Length: 17 minutes (4,416 words)

The Bicycle Thief

He was an Olympic hopeful in track cycling. Then he was a bank robber, more prolific than Dillinger, with a bright orange getaway bike. And then he was a prisoner, caught by his distinctive wheels.

Published: Jan 29, 2019
Length: 38 minutes (9,675 words)

The World’s Most Peculiar Company

How does Hammacher Schlemmer, which publishes the longest-running mail-order catalog in American history, survive in the age of Amazon?

Published: Jul 31, 2018
Length: 16 minutes (4,122 words)

Welcome to Refugee High

Chicago Magazine writer Elly Fishman spent several months at Sullivan High School in Chicago, where 40 languages are spoken, 35 countries are represented, nearly half of the students were born outside of the U.S. and 89 of the students accepted this year were refugees. Fishman’s story offers both a snapshot into the experiences of these students at a time when their host country is sharply divided over how to treat them, and a primer on how, after years of decline, a local school reinvented itself by adopting a new mission: becoming a haven for refugee youth.

Published: Jun 7, 2017
Length: 20 minutes (5,000 words)

Dispatches from the Rap Wars

University of Chicago professor Forrest Stuart describes the time he spent inside one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs.

Published: Sep 19, 2016
Length: 17 minutes (4,484 words)

The Last Years of Ernie Banks

The long life and tormented last years of the most popular—and loneliest—player in the history of the Chicago Cubs.

Published: Sep 23, 2015

These Suburban Preppers Are Ready for Anything

Inside the strange world of wealthy suburban survivalists.

Published: Apr 27, 2015
Length: 16 minutes (4,000 words)

The Truth About Chicago’s Crime Rates

The city’s drop in crime has been nothing short of miraculous. Here’s what’s behind the unbelievable numbers:

Unfortunately for all concerned, January 2013 could not have started out worse. Five people were murdered in Chicago on New Year’s Day. The number hit 17 by the end of the first full week. “This is too much,” Al Wysinger, the police department’s first deputy superintendent, told the crowd in the January 17 CompStat meeting, according to a memo summarizing it. “Last October and November, I kept saying we have to start 2013 off on the right foot. Wrong foot! We can’t reiterate this much clearer.”

Published: Apr 7, 2014
Length: 27 minutes (6,980 words)

The Last Hike of David Gimelfarb

On August 11, 2009, 28-year-old David Gimelfarb disappeared while hiking in Costa Rica’s Rincón de la Vieja National Park. His remains have never been found. His parents have spent more than $300,000 searching for him and are still holding out hope:

“‘We believe David is alive,’ said Roma, 66, his eyes searching mine to gauge a reaction.

“They told me that there continued to be sightings of a man who resembled their slight, red-headed son. The latest report had come last October from Limón, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, a five-hour drive from the national park. A man who was dirty, disoriented, and unable to speak had walked into a minimart there and gestured that he needed something to drink. Recognizing him from a newscast they’d seen on TV about David’s disappearance, a family took the stranger to a local police station. But after a brief interview, the police let him go without even snapping a photograph. The minimart’s owners insisted that the man was the missing American hiker.

“Was this David Gimelfarb? Or just another false glimmer of hope for two grief-stricken parents desperate for good news?”

Published: Aug 1, 2013
Length: 19 minutes (4,896 words)

Can $86 Million Save a Neighborhood?

In 1999, Gary Comer, the billionaire founder of Lands’ End walked into an elementary school in a struggling neighborhood in Chicago and wrote the principal a check for $68,000. Comer and his foundation have invested $86 million into the neighborhood since then:

“Comer’s Pocket Town project has already yielded some clear successes. The youth center, for example, offers not only recreational activities for kids who don’t have many but also provides hundreds of year-round jobs for them. The center’s garden yields 6,000 pounds of vegetables annually. Perhaps most important, the center serves as a much-needed haven from the violence that continues to plague the area. In 2012, Greater Grand Crossing saw 36 homicides—and one shooting in Pocket Town itself. ‘Being here has changed me because I’ve learned how to be safe,’ says Demetrius Walker, 15, a youth center regular. ‘It keeps me out of the streets.'”

“Comer’s health initiatives have been a slam dunk too. This year, for instance, the clinic has vaccinated 700 youths—a third of whom would not have been able to return to classrooms otherwise.

“Unfortunately, when it comes to schools and housing, results have been mixed.”

Published: Jan 17, 2013
Length: 12 minutes (3,215 words)