2020: a Chicago year in review

At this time of year, I’d normally be writing a post called Funniest travel moments of 2020.

Yeah, so 2020 wasn’t funny and we didn’t travel. I did my best to document it, though, since (hopefully) I’ll never live through another year like it.

Most of my documentation is of signs, since that’s how I saw Chicago—from outside, at a distance, looking at places that were closed or that I was afraid to enter.

I’ve always enjoyed hand made signs, and I guess something good that happened this year is that there are suddenly a lot of them. Also, it is a comfort to realize my neighbors spell about as well as I do.

I got really nerded out by my neighborhood’s pandemic infrastructure, especially the initial, scrappy attempts to safely herd us through our essential tasks.

At the beginning of the pandemic, our Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, urged us to stay home. This turned into a kind of city-wide inside joke; folks put life size cutouts of her in their windows, and memes of her looking sternly at those who would disobey the quarantine orders flooded social media.

Our rituals and ceremonies were interrupted. Class of 2020 couldn’t have their graduation, so they were celebrated with lawn signs. (Can someone please ask a graduate if they actually liked this?)

After staying home for months, many of us hit the streets with our signs in support of racial justice.

A tornado ripped through our neighborhood, Rogers Park, this summer, smashing down our beautiful old trees while I was hiding in our building’s basement laundry room with HOB and Shinto.

The tornado coincided with the second of two waves of social unrest throughout the city, and I can’t think of one without the other.

After the unrest, many business were boarded up and after a while the board ups were covered with elaborate murals. (Don’t miss the painting of Mayor Lightfoot in the lower right photo.)

2020 in Chicago was not without charm. Rather than cancel Halloween, folks decorated pipes with festive colors and used them as chutes to deliver candy into kid’s buckets from a safe social distance.

You may have noticed we had an election this November. We are not fans of Cheetolini in Chicago, and when he officially lost folks ran into the streets and danced, banged pots and pans out their windows, and drove around blowing their horns for hours.

There are a still a lot of interesting signs here in Chicago, in the remaining days of 2020, and I’m still here too, though I often think I may have disappeared.


  1. Glad you guys have managed to dodge disease and tornadoes and found humor and creativity at closer range than you’d rather. At least the end is in sight for one scourge! Have a lovely holiday and cheers to a better year next year!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I recall you also had a tornado, Tricia. Hope 2021 is a healthy and fun one for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Those trees! No wonder you were in the basement.
    Let’s hope things cheer up in the coming year.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I often avoid walking down that street—the quality of light is so different without the trees and it makes me so sad.

      I’m wishing you a more cheerful 2021 as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad you’re safe and haven’t disappeared! We have a own self-inflicted ‘tornado’, codenamed Brexit, due on New Year’s Day, Deal or No Deal. Expect quality of life and mental health to fall rather than trees. Thank heavens the Orange Peril has been legitimately taken down, though he’s still capable of doing damage on his way out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know what’s dragged on longer: the US election or Brexit.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You dodged many bullets this year. Wish you an easier 2021

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, and I am grateful, though so many around me haven’t. Hope you and the Family are able to safely travel in 2021.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked your review of signage; lordy, I’m such a nerd for signs and fonts and typefaces. Take care, and happy 2021 to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooooh I should do a post just on fonts for us, fellow nerd! Happy 2021 to you as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That is a lovely wind up and it did provide many funny moments. Wishing you health, happiness, and inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wishing you the same, thank you Sidran!


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