By William S. Bike
The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most momentous in history, and the ten communities comprising this area contributed to that history by making news of their own. News coverage is listed in the months during which articles appeared in Gazette Chicago.
In an anti-gentrification effort, the Chicago City Council enacted an ordinance imposing fines on real estate developers for trying to pressure homeowners to sell their homes. Taylor Street’s Pompei Restaurant owner Ralph Davino considered reconstruction plans for the building. Bronzeville residents asked for bicycle lane changes to make car parking easier.
John Chandler became president of Saint Ignatius College Prep, which celebrated its 150th anniversary. Michael Milburn of the University of Massachusetts introduced the DRUID app to help drivers measure if they are impaired from use of cannabis. McKinley Park neighbors expressed environmental concerns related to the MAT Asphalt plant. The Chicago Public Schools promised renovations to four local schools.
The City replaced water mains on Wells Street. The Chicago Park District invested $110 million in youth programs. Sharing Notes, a local music program, earned an excellence award from the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.
Gazette Chicago offered pre-primary election coverage and endorsements for the March primaries for president, U.S. Senate, Congress, State representative, State’s attorney, and other offices. The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Hospital and Health Sciences system announced it would build a new outpatient surgery center.
Local organizations, businesses, and healthcare providers went into full swing dealing with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and Gazette Chicago urged readers to help each other during a difficult time. Alderman Patrick D. Thompson (11th) held a meeting addressing new businesses, construction, and school and park improvements in the ward. City officials and local leaders announced plans for revitalizing Bronzeville with housing, retail, and a community center, data center, and life sciences campus.
Marie Newman ousted longtime 3rd District Congressman Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary. The Chicago Public Schools decided to cease recognizing Columbus Day; local groups fought back. The City’s Department of Planning and Development requested proposals for developing a South Loop site. UIC screened a film by student Hannah Bonecutter, Minstrel vs. Puppet,which highlighted women’s conflicts about brains and beauty.
A Gazette Chicago investigation showed how short-term, temporary insurance coverage failed to work. Gazette Chicago compiled a list of resources useful during the coronavirus crisis. The Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers launched a blood drive. Near South/South Loop residents objected to excessive railroad noise. De La Salle Institute chose Thomas J. Schergen as principal. The Urban Autism Solutions West Side Transition Academy held a public open house.
Related Midwest unveiled Phase One of the 78 development in the South Loop and addressed Roosevelt Square delays in Little Italy. Lift the Ban Coalition, fighting against a ban on rent control, said the COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for eliminating the ban. The social justice advocacy organizations Communities United and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education held an online conference detailing how teenagers need more mental health support because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Local schools pivoted to teaching online because of the pandemic; Gazette Chicago listed resources for parents and students. UIC student Tyra Patterson wrote a first-person account of how college has changed because of the pandemic. UIC held virtual Earth Day events. ComEd warned of coronavirus energy scams. Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium helped foreign-born nurses obtain work in Chicago.
Workers demolishing the Crawford Generating Station in Little Village caused a huge dust cloud of pollution. Hotel construction continued in the area despite fewer people visiting the city because of the pandemic. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency postponed a hearing on MAT Asphalt. Whitney M. Young Magnet High School named its athletic complex for former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Gazette Chicago covered the problems marijuana smokers could have with the law despite the drug’s legalization. The publication listed more coronavirus crisis resources.
Developers for One Central, a real estate venture in the South Loop, received an extension for a government loan. West Loop residents objected to the possible location of a cannabis business on Randolph Street. Advocacy groups squared off regarding the Fair Tax amendment. The City approved a rehab plan for the Ramova Theatre block, while the Bridgeport community fought a drag racing problem in the area.
Police named Jake Alderden to command the 1st District and Joshua Wallace to command the 2nd District. Greater Bridgeport Mutual Aid organized to provide help during the pandemic. St. Laurence hired Kristy Kane as its new principal. The Harrison Square and IMD Gateway developments progressed.
Vandals twice defaced the Columbus statue in Arrigo Park. CivicLab called for abolishing the City’s tax increment financing districts. More than 20,000 people marched in Juneteenth rallies in Chicago, protesting alleged police abuse of people of color and LGBTQIA individuals. The City announced Byrne Interchange construction would continue through 2022.
Businesses struggled because of the pandemic and resulting restrictions. Ladies of Virtue mentored women and girls. Experts offered views on police accountability and reform and on race relations. Pompei Restaurant canceled plans to rebuild and will leave the restaurant as is.
Despite community opposition, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered workers to remove the Christopher Columbus statue from Arrigo Park. Census takers changed tactics as the coronavirus made their jobs more difficult. The City and State enacted procedures to halt evictions due to the pandemic. The Women’s Treatment Center merged with Caritas and ramped up substance abuse disorder treatment.
Taylor Street business owners questioned closing off the street because of the COVID-19 impact. The city’s homeless crisis worsened because of the pandemic. Churches in Bridgeport hosted a Repentance Walk for Racial Injustice and Violence. The city planned Randolph Street infrastructure upgrades. St. Matthew Lutheran Church’s soup kitchen suffered shortages due to the pandemic.
The Trump administration made the United States Postal Service a pawn in trying to suppress the vote in the November. The Federal government shortened the census deadline. Bridgeport residents raised concerns about a proposed shipping and logistics facility. Gazette Chicago ran an article about Holy Family Parish holding its final Masses earlier and joining with Notre Dame de Chicago to become Our Lady of the Holy Family Parish. Judith McCray, a faculty member at DePaul, created podcasts detailing the lives of Chicago’s essential workers through her media production company Juneteenth Productions.
Gazette Chicago reporter Eva Hofmann won an Apex Award of Excellence from Communications Concepts for a series of 2019 articles on legalizing cannabis. Henry P. Pacelli, who grew up in the Taylor Street area and eventually became mayor of Alamogordo, NM, passed away. The Higher Learning Commission approved the merger of Roosevelt and Robert Morris universities.
Local high school student Liv Brown examined the effects of coronavirus and remote learning on her fellow students. The City created a new committee to determine the future of Chicago’s monuments and statues.
The coronavirus and alleged corruption in Springfield influenced people’s views of the proposed Fair Tax amendment.State’s Attorney Kim Foxx defended her record in a contentious election. The community expressed displeasure with transportation shutdowns during the summer. Gazette Chicago offered pre-election coverage and endorsements for the November elections for president, Congress, State representative, State’s attorney, and other offices.
The St. John Paul II Newman Center at the University of Illinois Chicago celebrated its 40th anniversary.
The Illinois General Assembly appropriated money for a new high school to serve Bridgeport, Chinatown, and the South Loop. The City set additional dates to apply for rental assistance. Landlords revealed problems with the State’s and City’s eviction filing moratorium due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus cases rose, and Gazette Chicago listed updated testing information.
Opioid addiction worsened due to the pandemic and Gazette Chicago interviewed local experts. Alivio Medical Center ramped up its fight against the coronavirus. The City canceled the Columbus Day parade, so holiday supporters celebrated in Arrigo Park. Entertainment venues struggled because of closings related to the pandemic. DePaul University faculty member Jim Duignan used the arts to get marginalized students involved in learning.