State Street sings for the holidays

By Lyndsey McKenna

Along State Street between Lake and Van Buren, 18 planters are filled with LED installations that resemble the plumbing tubes from the Super Mario Brothers video game series. The displays light up and are choreographed to music.

The installation called Lightscape was unveiled in November 2011 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a special project of the Chicago Loop Alliance, a consortium of local businesses.

Currently, the display is aglow with holiday lights and plays holiday tunes for all to hear.

Uber’s issues: Road blocks or simply speed bumps?

By Beth Lawrence

The sharing economy is all the rage today with companies such as Airbnb, Lyft and Uber disrupting traditional industries from hotels to taxis. San Francisco-based Uber is arguably the most prominent peer-to-peer business in the world.

The popular ride-sharing app allows customers to request a cab from a smartphone and track its approach on a map. The five-year-old company is reportedly already valued at a breathtaking $40 billion. It was valued at $17 billion just six months ago. In a recent blog post Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said the company is now operating in more than 250 cities in 50 countries, a huge increase from last year when the company was in just 60 cities in 21 countries. Measured by number of rides, it’s six times bigger today than it was 12 months ago.

But Uber has hit more than a few bumps in the road. It has encountered strong opposition from the taxi industry in cities around the world, including Chicago. But that was to be expected. What was more surprising was the onslaught of public relations nightmares that have plagued the company in recent weeks.

Continue reading “Uber’s issues: Road blocks or simply speed bumps?”

Admission fees up at museums citywide

By Lyndsey McKenna

Earlier this year, the travel site TripAdvisor named the Art Institute of Chicago the top museum in both the United States and the world. Roughly 1.4 million people visit the museum annually. But the cost of admission to the Art Institute is keeping many out, leaving them only to admire only the lion statues that protect the museum’s collection, not the art inside.

View a PDF chart of all of Chicago’s Museums in the Park member institution admission fees

“The cost is annoying, and it keeps me from going to museums when I’m home,” said Elin Meliska, a museum program coordinator from Chicago who now works in Washington, D.C. “To take a family of four to a museum can cost over $100, especially if you’re seeing a special exhibit.”

Continue reading “Admission fees up at museums citywide”

Gait analysis makes strides in mobility treatments

Scripted by Katherine Dempsey, animated by Next Media Animation

By Katherine Dempsey

The way you walk or run can help health care professionals learn more about how to improve different kinds of mobility treatment and gauge how well treatment works. Doctors, therapists and researchers use three-dimensional gait analysis to see how to best help people with arthritis, cerebral palsy and other conditions in addition to gathering data that can help prevent and treat injury. Continue reading “Gait analysis makes strides in mobility treatments”

Starting to make cents: North Side plan coming to fruition

Work being done on the facade of Wrigley Field near the Marquee Joe Musso/Medil Reports
Work being done on the facade of Wrigley Field near the Marquee
Joe Musso/Medil Reports

By Joe Musso

For the better part of the last century the Chicago Cubs have delivered an on-field product most fans would be ashamed of. The lovable losers’ ticket sales have also suffered over the past five years, but widespread change is on the horizon. Continue reading “Starting to make cents: North Side plan coming to fruition”

Peer-to-peer lending sees exponential growth

By Penny Yi Wang

In the past few years, consumers disillusioned with tight-fisted banks have jumped on the peer-to-peer lending bandwagon.

When the Great Recession hit, banks suffered big losses as borrowers defaulted on loans they had taken out during the economy’s long upturn. In response, lenders have drastically tightened their lending requirements. As a result, many borrowers with anything less than stellar credit now can’t qualify for traditional bank loans. Continue reading “Peer-to-peer lending sees exponential growth”

In the VC world, Chicago is the seventh city

by Lei Xuan

Timeline Startups
Click the image above to see the hundred million dollar deals in Chicago since 2011.

 

Five years ago, when Stanford MBA graduate Brian Spaly decided to build his second online fashion startup, he chose Chicago.

“I love the city and felt that running a startup business focused on apparel here would draw much interest,” said the CEO of Trunk Club, a personalized online men’s clothing store that had raised $12.4 million in venture capital before being scooped up by Nordstrom Inc. for $350 million earlier this year.

Spaly’s is one of the success stories in Chicago’s venture capital-backed startup community, which has grown exponentially in the past five years, but still trails many other U.S. cities. Continue reading “In the VC world, Chicago is the seventh city”

Club drug gets new life fighting depression

Scripted by Zachary Vasile. Animated by Next Media Animation

By Zachary Vasile

Could a much-maligned club drug provide quick relief for tens of thousands of people suffering with treatment-resistant depression? Increasingly, a chorus of voices in the medical and scientific communities are answering “yes.”

The newest salve in the ongoing struggle against the world’s costliest and most widespread mental illness may be ketamine, a drug primarily used as a veterinary anesthetic but approved for limited human use and popular as an illegal street drug. Its novel properties put ketamine outside of the normal classes of accepted antidepressants that raise serotonin levels in many cases. Continue reading “Club drug gets new life fighting depression”

Hyde Park community seeks more open policy about racial profiling from UCPD

By Elizabeth Atkinson

Community members and University of Chicago students gathered at the Experimental Station in Hyde Park to urge transparency from the University of Chicago police department, which is private and not subject to the same disclosure requirements as the Chicago Police Department. Many of those who attended the event believe the UCPD is racially profiling during stops on and off campus.

After celebrating recent immigration reform advocates warn about fraud

pieChart_jpg (1)By Rachel White

President Barack Obama’s executive action to remove the threat of deportation from about 5 million undocumented immigrants was greeted with celebration by immigrant communities across the country and in Chicago. But now immigration advocates are worried about something else: fraud.

Immigrant advocates are concerned that undocumented immigrants eager to take advantage of Obama’s new policy will fall prey to scam artists who are looking for easy targets. In Hispanic neighborhoods such individuals offer their services as “notarios,” people who are authorized to perform some legal functions, including drawing up contracts or certifying contracts, deeds or other documents.

Continue reading “After celebrating recent immigration reform advocates warn about fraud”