LINCOLN SQUARE — From the profound — a debate about free speech — to the absurd (farting dogs!), there was plenty to talk about in 2013.
1. Chicago River Flooding: In April, Albany Park and North Park were hit with the second "100-year" flood in five years when the Chicago River overflowed its banks. Cook County was eventually declared a disaster area by President Barack Obama, enabling residents to apply for federal aid to cover property losses. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for a $50 million tunnel to be built 100 feet below Foster Avenue, diverting heavy rainwater from the river into the North Shore Channel.
2. Lane Tech Students Protest Ban of "Persepolis:" For a book published a decade ago, "Persepolis" raised quite the ruckus in 2013 when CPS called for the graphic novel to be removed from classrooms due to language and images deemed inappropriate for general use. Lane Tech students protested the "ban," a stance that earned the school an Intellectual Freedom Award from the Illinois Library Association.
3. Save the Trees: A border war over trees erupted between neighbors on the east and west banks of the Chicago River at Horner Park. West siders favored an Army Corps of Engineers' plan to remove invasive trees in order to restore the river bank. East bankers blasted what they termed "clear cutting" and the loss of a natural barrier between their homes and the park's noise, light and dust pollution. Less controversial were efforts to save the city's approximately 500,000 ash trees from the deadly Emerald Ash Borer. The Save Your Ash coalition raised the alarm among residents to protect their infected ash trees while the Bureau of Forestry is racing to inoculate parkway ash trees against the pest.
4. It's Hip to Be Square: A list of the country's top hipster ZIP codes revealed some surprising results — Lincoln Square made the cut, Wicker Park didn't. Taking into account a ZIP's demographics, percentage of renters and residents' use of public transportation, Chicago's hippest 'hoods are 60625 (Lincoln Square, Ravenswood, Albany Park and North Park), 60647 (Logan Square, Bucktown) and 60642 (West Town, River West). Let the comments war rage on.
5. Neighbors Raise Stink Over Lou Malnati's Cafe: North Center residents scarcely had time to mourn the news that the Golden Angel would close in November when Lou Malnati's announced it would take over the building. Neighbors' support for the pizzeria went south when Malnati's divulged its plan to open a sidewalk cafe come summer. Residents on Leavitt Street complained about the potential for noise from outdoor diners, with one neighbor threatening to walk his "flatulent" dog past the cafe during dinner service.