Chicago 2011: A Year in Review

As 2011 comes to a close, WGN remembers some of the big stories that made Chicago headlines, from politics to weather to sports.

Kicking off 2011 was a kick from Mother Nature -- the blizzard that hit the Chicago area on February 2 shut down Lake Shore Drive leaving drivers stranded for hours. By the time it was done, over 20 inches of snow had fallen, making it the third largest storm in Chicago history.

Meanwhile, another type of storm had been brewing – this time, a political one. The Illinois Supreme Court made the decision to allow Rahm Emanuel to run for mayor. The issue had been whether he was a resident after leaving his Chicago home for a job at the White House.

After that battle was resolved, came Election Day. On February 22, Emanuel won the mayoral race with about 55 percent of the vote.

“All I can say is you sure know how to make a guy feel at home,” Emanuel said.

Emanuel succeeded Mayor Richard M. Daley. In May, Daley walked out of his City Hall office and became the longest-running mayor in Chicago history.

Meanwhile, former governor Rod Blagojevich waited for his second trial.  On June 27, he was convicted of 17 counts, and in December, he received a 14-year sentence.

Also in politics, Illinois lost two high-profile women.  Former Illinois first lady Lura Lynn Ryan died in June.  Her husband, former governor George Ryan let out of prison briefly to be by her side.  Then, on Thanksgiving night, Maggie Daley passed away after battling cancer for nine years.  

But the world of politics alone didn`t dominate headlines.  As always, Chicago loves its sports.  In November, the Cubs welcomed new president Theo Epstein.   As for the White Sox, it was Ozzie out and Robin Ventura in as manager.

Also, Ron Santo made the Hall of Fame. 

The Bulls tied the series but lost in overtime to the Miami HeatDerrick Rose made MVP.  And then, there was the lockout.

The NBA lockout put the spotlight on money as Chicago dealt with its own economic issues. Occupy Chicago took to the streets, bringing attention to corporate greed.

By the end of 2011, however, Chicago’s unemployment was below 10 percent, signaling that the economy may be getting better.