Geoffrey Baer attempts to solve some of Chicago’s most baffling mysteries

Geoffrey Baer
Geoffrey Baer

Did a UFO fly over O’Hare Airport? How did the alligator later named “Chance the Snapper” suddenly appear in Chicago’s Humboldt Park Lagoon? Is Hull-House haunted? Why don’t Chicagoans put ketchup on their hot dogs? WTTW award-winning host Geoffrey Baer sets out to solve these and other puzzlers in CHICAGO MYSTERIES.

Geoffrey and a team of sleuths will deploy their detective skills to answer these and other burning questions:

  • Did a UFO fly over O’Hare Airport? WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling explains what aviation professionals may have seen that day.
  • How did the alligator later named “Chance the Snapper” suddenly appear in Chicago’s Humboldt Park Lagoon? Chicago Block Club’s Mina Bloom, who broke the story, shares her theory.
  • What was the mysterious vessel known as “the Foolkiller” doing at the bottom of the Chicago River in 1915?
  • Who is the “girl in glass” in Graceland Cemetery and does her statue really vanish during thunderstorms?
  • Does an outdoor sculpture on the University of Chicago campus send a subversive secret message to students each year?
  • Why is there a mysterious “S-shaped” tree in a wooded area in Deerfield, and how is it connected to local Indigenous history?
  • Why do Chicagoans never put ketchup on their hot dogs? Axios reporter Monica Eng supplies the surprising answer.
  • Why is the world’s first nuclear reactor buried in the Palos Forest Preserve?
  • And why is there a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Niles?

“Chicago Mysteries takes us on a journey to uncover and learn about the history and people who make our city a vibrant, fascinating, and fun place to investigate and explore,” said Sandra Cordova Micek, WTTW President and CEO.

“Chicago is filled with mysteries, and our team had so much fun trying to solve them with a quirky cast of characters.” said Geoffrey Baer. “We hope people will come away thinking, ‘I never knew that’ – and maybe even feel inspired to explore more corners of our city and suburbs on their own.”

Geoffrey’s fellow sleuths include those listed above, along with TikTok historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, Chicago Tribune transportation reporter Jon Hilkevitch, authors Adam Selzer and Jessica Mlinaric, gallery owner John Corbett and publisher Julia Klein, Indigenous educator Starla Thompson, podcaster Mark Chrisler, Chicago Tribune archivists Marianne Mather and Kori Rumore Finley, paranormal researcher Dale Kaczmarek, and Hull-House education manager Nadia Maragha.

Visit the companion website to watch the show, peek behind the scenes in Geoffrey Baer’s production diary, and dig into more mysteries including a supposed Salvador Dalí painting that baffled curators at the Art Institute, what might or might not be entombed in a small slab of concrete stored on a bookshelf in the University of Chicago Library, why the combination of Malört and Old Style beer is called a “Chicago handshake” even though neither beverage is from Chicago, what happened to the long-lost Terminal 4 at O’Hare, and, on a more serious note, the still-unsolved 1982 Tylenol murders.

Geoffrey Baer is an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and host for WTTW. Known for feature-length programs about the architecture and history of Chicago including The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago, Chicago by ‘L’ and The Chicago River Tour, Geoffrey also hosted the PBS series 10 that Changed America. Geoffrey has been a docent for the Chicago Architecture Center since 1987 and has been honored by the American Institute of Architects Chicago, the Society of Architectural Historians, the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Chicago Headline Club.