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Chicago 2021 In Photos: 85 Neighborhood Moments That Shaped The Year

From Rogers Park to East Side, our reporters share their favorite photos from the year.

A security guard feeds a slice of pizza to multiple festival goers before Lil Yachty’s set during the first day of The Summer Smash Festival in Douglass Park on Aug. 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Just like the year before it, 2021 was a year of struggle and loss — but there were moments of joy and triumph as well.

Block Club’s reporters were there for it all, from the early days of the vaccine rollout to the brief break in masking to yet another surge hitting just before Christmas.

Though the pandemic stuck around, life also carried on.

Here are some moments that stuck with our reporters this year.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Joseph Saunders speaks as members of the faith community rally in Auburn Gresham on Jan. 8. The group was protesting the removal of Rev. Michael Pfleger from his post at Saint Sabina while a decades-old sex abuse allegation was investigated.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Davion, 5, gets his temperature checked on the first day back to school for preschool and cluster students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academy of Social Justice in Englewood on Jan. 11, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Carole McManus holds her wedding photo in her North Park neighborhood condo on Jan. 14, 2021 for photographs in remembrance of her late husband, Russell “Mike” McManus, who lost his life to COVID-19.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Reverend Kara Wagner Sherer, with parishioners Connie and Maureen Frontzak-Ziegler, rang bells 40 times at St John’s Episcopal Church in the Irving Park neighborhood on Jan. 19, 2021. Each ring memorialized 10,000 people who had died from COVID-19.
Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
A CPS teacher greets her students while working on the sidewalk in Avondale in protest of the district’s reopening plan on Jan. 21, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Halsted Green Line stop in Englewood on January 28, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Eric Capers has been experiencing homelessness in Chicago for 30 years. He poses for a portrait in the Loop on Feb. 3, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Steam and the sun rise over Lake Michigan in sub-zero temperatures during the Arctic blast, as seen from the Museum Campus in Chicago on Feb. 7, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A FJ Cruiser is encased with ice in the 2700 block of North Ashland Avenue in Lincoln Park on Feb. 14, 2021.
Credit: Davon Clark for Block Club Chicago/CatchLight Local
Residents of the Uptown neighborhood in Chicago brave the recent snowfall on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot prepares to receive her second COVID-19 vaccine from Dr. Allison Arwady in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood on Feb. 19, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Carlos Flores bought his Victorian-era Wicker Park 3-flat in the 1900 W. block Potomac Ave. during the 1980s. His property includes a 4-bedroom 1800s-era coach house. Flores said he is one of the last Puerto Ricans living in Wicker Park after gentrification pushed families of color out of the neighborhood. He is photographed here on Feb. 25, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) speaks with David as public officials tour classrooms at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy while CPS continues its reopening plans in the Lake View neighborhood on March 1, 2021.
Credit: Woojae Julia Song for Block Club Chicago/Catchlight Local
Jasmine Sheth, chef and owner of Tasting India, near her home in Uptown on March 1. She says she immediately felt a sense of belonging in the neighborhood, which is home to many immigrant communities and a wealth of local restaurants.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Óscar Sánchez speaks as activists march and carry a fake coffin March 4, 2021 through Logan Square to call on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to deny a permit that would allow Southside Recycling to open in East Side.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
(Left to right) Zech Martin, Jaquan, Kyshaun and Jimmy sit on the swing at the playground at Douglass Park in the North Lawndale neighborhood on a windy but warm March 10, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/ Block Club Chicago
Mike Jeffers and David Chase pose for a portrait in the Epiphany Hall at the Epiphany Center for the Arts in the West Loop March 11, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
After announcing earlier this month that the river wouldn’t be dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day for a second straight year, the river was dyed Kelly green after all early Saturday morning, March 13, 2021
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chef Michael Airhart has been serving food for those experiencing homelessness most days at the corner of 14th Place and Canal Street. On March 17, 2021, he cooked up dozens of burgers and polishes for those in need of a bite.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Gus “Jett” Hawkins poses for a portrait, donning his hair in braids, in his family’s Douglas home on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Loretto Hospital in Austin on March 21, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Community members release balloons in Little Village on April 5, 2021 to mourn 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was fatally shot by the Chicago Police a week before.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chicagoans pack Logan Square on Apr. 16, 2021, in protest of the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Little Village.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Johnny Adams, grandfather of Jaslyn Adams, sheds a tear as Chicagoans gathered on April 19, 2021 at the McDonald’s at Kedzie and Roosevelt to memorialize his 7-year-old granddaughter, who was fatally shot in the drive-thru while with her father on April 18.
Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
More than 100 people joined Anthony Alvarez’s family May 1, 2021 for a march in Portage Park to demand justice for the young father, who was killed by police one month ago.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Shermann Thomas, known for his Chicago history posts via his Tik Tok account @6figga_dilla, poses for a portrait outside Cook Elementary School – where Thomas attended as a youth – in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on May 11, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Dennis Wise poses for a portrait in his eccentric, eclectic and verdant Logan Square backyard at 3921 W. Wrightwood Ave., on May 12, 2021.
Credit: Jonathan Aguilar/Block Club Chicago
Thousands march down Adams Street in Chicago during a protest in support of Palestinians on May 12, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Nurko “Norm” Gazija, a Holocaust survivor from Bosnia who has lived in Chicago since 1950, recently turned 100 years old. He is photographed the day after his birthday at his Sauganash home on May 12, 2021.
Credit: Jim Vondruska/ Block Club Chicago
Demonstrators march in support of Palestinians May 16, 2021, Downtown.
Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
Michelle Morales officially opened The Joy Room Chicago, 4837 W. Irving Park Rd. on May 20, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Katlin Stupegia of MobileVax holds a vial of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine at a special COVID-19 vaccination event with live performances for arts & culture workers held at Theater Wit in Lakeview on May 21, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Father Michael Pfleger is greeted by supporters at St. Sabina Church on May 24, 2021. Earlier in the day, the Archdiocese reinstated the popular pastor after a five-month-long investigation into sexual abuse allegations.
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
People dance at Scarlet Bar on Saturday, May 29, 2021.
Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago
Clemente players huddle after their walk-off win on Senior Day against Kenwood, 5-4. Catcher Raul Figueroa (right) hit a bases clearing double during the game.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Michyah, 8, swings on the swingset at Good News Partners in Rogers Park on June 2, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Jun Lin, owner of The Point at 1565 N. Milwaukee, poses for a portrait in Wicker Park on June 3, 2021.
Credit: Keerti Gopal/Block Club Chicago
Hernandez and Monique Esparza (far left), 41, a devoted volunteer with the Puerto Rico Project, chat with Veronica Wronkiewicz (sitting), 24, and Barbara Fernandez, 32, after giving them supplies. Wronkiewicz, who Hernandez said she has provided services to for several years, is pregnant.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Family and friends gather as Chicago Police work the scene where four people were killed and at least four others wounded in a mass shooting in the 6200 block of South Morgan Street in Englewood in the early morning of June 15, 2021.
Credit: Pascal Sabino / Block Club Chicago
Teens at Austin Harvest manage every part of the fresh market.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Chicagoans marched through Bronzeville on June 22, 2021 for the fourth year calling for justice for the dozens of missing or murdered women in the city.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
CEO Matt Garrison and Zack Cupkovic of R2 at 1315 N North Branch St. pose on their office’s rooftop in Goose Island on June 23, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Executive chef Lamar Moore poses for a portrait at Eleven | Eleven, a New American restaurant at 1111 W Lake St in the West Loop, on June 24, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) stretches at a City Council meeting on June 25, 2021.
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
A group of ballroom performers known as the Angels march during Sunday’s “Pride Without Prejudice” protest.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Ephelia Thomas, long-time resident of the Ida B. Wells Homes admires the Ida B. Wells Monument in Bronzeville on June 30, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
CPD officials respond after Glen Brooks, CPD’s Director of Public Engagement, collapses during a press conference at Chicago Police Department headquarters following on July 6, 2021 a violent Fourth of July weekend.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Sotiria Tejeda at Clark Street Beach in Evanston, a place where she finds peace as she recovers from COVID-19, on July 14, 2021.
Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
The mural, at 1798 N. Humboldt Blvd., pays tribute to Neftali Reyes Jr., who was shot and killed in Humboldt Park in 2017.
Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Debra Harris (left) and Gerald Stanley pose for a picture on the Lakefront Trail in front of the “Dawn Treader” July 21.
Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Kids pose for a picture in cowboy hats after most riders had returned to Washington Park on July 31, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Kids skate at the community plaza and outdoor roller rink at Madison Street and Pulaski Road in West Garfield Park on August 6, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A person waves a rainbow fan near the Belmont Stage during Bambi-Banks-Coulee’s Soul Train on the second day of 39th Northalsted Market Days along North Halsted Street on August 7, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Hundreds gather outside District 16 in Jefferson Park on Aug. 11, 2021 for a prayer vigil in memory of fallen Chicago Police officer Ella French. French was fatally shot in West Englewood during a traffic stop on Aug. 7, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Dancers perform along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive during the 92nd Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago on Aug. 14, 2021.
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Officers carry the casket of Chicago Police Officer Ella French at the fallen officer’s funeral at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel in Ashburn on Aug. 19, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A security guard feeds a slice of pizza to multiple festival goers before Lil Yachty’s set during the first day of The Summer Smash Festival in Douglass Park on Aug. 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A crew welds a gate together on the southern bridge to the Wooded Island in Jackson Park on Aug. 26, 2021 after the Chicago Park District announces park closure from dusk to dawn to “keep area safe.”
Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago
A Porsche SUV remains in Giddings Plaza in Lincoln Square on Aug. 24, 2021 after an Irving Park man, who was wanted in a previous shooting, crashed the car during a police chase and ran into a restaurant full of police officers.
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Nahiomy Alvarez, who survived an Aug. 14 hit-and-run crash in Lakeview that killed her best friend, Sophie Allen.
Credit: Hillary Flores/Block Club Chicago
Community members and activists attend a vigil and prayer in honor of Miguel Cisneros. The vigil was held on Sept. 7, 2021 in Rogers Park.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A bee flies near Ela Minus as she performs at the Blue Stage during the first day of Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park on Sept. 10, 2021.
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Alberta Brooks poses for photos after her 100th birthday in her Englewood home on Sept. 15, 2021.
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Angel Roman, one of the residents of the West Humboldt Park encampment.
Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
The central dome of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral against the Chicago skyline on Sept. 24, 2021
Credit: Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
Brothers and Guthrie’s Tavern co-owners Matt and Mark Baldino unveil Guthries Tavern’s new sign as it reopens Oct. 8, 2021.
Credit: Mauricio Peña/ Block Club
Inside a 64 square foot chainlink cage, Mashaun Ali Hendricks lays on a thin cot, thinking about the detention facilities housing families across the U.S. and Mexico border.
Credit: Maia McDonald/Block Club Chicago
A lioness lounges in her newly opened habitat at Lincoln Park Zoo on Oct. 14, 2021.
Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Chicago Sky team swag surfs during the rally to celebrate their first ever WNBA Championship, on Oct. 19, 2021.
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Lillian Wong carves the bowl as skaters gather for the last froSkate meetup of 2021 at Wilson Skate Park in Uptown on Oct. 19.
Credit: Maia McDonald/Block Club Chicago
Chicagoan Caramaletta Jones (left) and rapper Common (right) speak after a Parole Illinois press conference on Oct. 20, 2021