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Chicago’s Heat Wave Killed Hundreds 25 Years Ago. A Documentary Shows What Happened

The re-broadcast marks the 25th anniversary of the devastating heat wave, which killed almost 800 Chicagoans.

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CHICAGO — PBS is re-broadcasting “COOKED: Survival by Zip Code” Monday to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Chicago heat wave that killed almost 800 people. 

The original broadcast of the documentary was watched by nearly 1.5 million people when it premiered Feb. 3 on PBS Independent Lens. It will be shown again 7 p.m. Monday and will be available online for free streaming for a year.

The documentary is based on the book, “HEAT WAVE: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago,” by Eric Klinenberg. It digs into the ways in which the heat wave exposed health disparities among racial groups and disproportionately affected low-income and Black residents. 

This comes amidst the coronavirus pandemic, which has also disproportionately affected Black and Brown Chicagoans.

“The COVID-19 virus, the current crisis that is literally stopping our world dead in its tracks, is much deadlier for some than others, and points to the underlying crisis and disease of acute systemic disparity and racism that is there everyday and has been killing people daily for decades,” said Judith Helfand, who directed the documentary, in a press release.

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