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From Bitter Cold To Chance The Snapper: The Best Chicago Photos Of 2019

In what turned out to be a historic year, Chicago suffered through a record-breaking cold spell, residents overwhelmingly elected its first black woman mayor and the nation became enthralled with an elusive alligator in Humboldt Park.

Plus, in typical Chicago style, there were sports, music festivals and an indicted alderman.

WBEZ photographers were there with a camera.

The Polar Vortex

January 30 was one of the coldest day in Chicago history, but that didn’t stop residents from visiting the lakefront.

The Polar Vortex
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Ed Burke: Federal Case No. 19CR322

Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward, entered the federal courthouse on Jan. 3 to face charges of attempted extortion for allegedly shaking down a Burger King. The case is ongoing.

Ed Burke
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Final flips at UIC

The University of Illinois at Chicago cut its gymnastics programs this year. In their final act, the women's team just missed qualifying for the national tournament.

UIC Gymnastics
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Chicago’s 56th mayor: Lori Lightfoot

On April 2, Lori Lightfoot was elected Chicago's first black woman mayor. “Today, you did more than make history. You created a movement for change,” she said during her election party at the downtown Hilton.

Lori Lightfoot
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

The real Chicago P.D.

The Chicago Police Department continued to expand the force in 2019. On July 9, hundreds of new police officers joined Mayor Lori Lightfoot and then-Superintendent Eddie Johnson for a graduation ceremony at Navy Pier.

Chicago Police
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Florida Gator-aid

On July 16, an elusive alligator in the Humboldt Park lagoon was finally captured – with the help of a Florida man. Wildlife expert Frank Robb nabbed the gator, nicknamed "Chance The Snapper," and posed for pictures with dozens of fans.

Alligator Rob
Blair Paddock/WBEZ

Music Box Theatre: Since 1929

Chicago's historic Music Box Theatre turned 90 this year. Julian Antos, the theatre's technical director, inspected and previewed a film in the projection booth before an Aug. 21 show.

Music Box
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit

The Wu-Tang Clan played Riot Fest in Douglas Park on Sept. 14. (And it was awesome.)

Wu-Tang Clan
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Humming through summer

Summer in a big city can be overwhelming. Luckily, there are places to get away and enjoy nature. At the Cranberry Slough Nature Preserve in southwest suburban Willow Springs, humming birds floated above the plants on Sept. 20.

Humming Birds
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Pencils down, children

For 11 days in October, classrooms were empty as teachers went on strike. On Oct. 18, teachers marched outside City Hall.

Teachers Strike
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Covfefe and doughnuts

For the first time since being elected, President Donald Trump visited Chicago on Oct. 28 to speak at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference — where he quickly insulted the city. “It’s no surprise that (Trump) brought his insulting, ignorant buffoonery to Chicago. Luckily, in this city, we know the truth and we will not let anyone — no matter how high the office — denigrate who we are as a people or our status as a welcoming city,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot replied.

Donald Trump
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

I quit, you're fired!

Then-Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced on Nov. 7 that he'd retire at the end of the year. But Johnson didn't last that long. Mayor Lori Lightfoot fired him Dec. 4, saying he lied about the night he was found asleep in his car.

Eddie Johnson
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ


If you don't like the weather in Chicago, wait five minutes. A Nov. 11 storm covered Millennium Park in snow, which melted within days.

Fall snow
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

From Harlem to Chicago

The Harlem Globetrotters will be at the United Center on Thursday and the Allstate Arena in Rosemont on Friday. Hops Pearce stopped by the WBEZ and Vocalo studios to show off his skills before he helps blow out the Washington Generals. 

Harlem Globetrotters
Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

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