FAR NORTH SIDE — Residents of Rogers Park and Edgewater have had an interesting year.
From the weird — a leopard print-painted house on Estes Avenue and Fritz Stotz's Stutz Bearcat replica — to the scary — like a gang feud playing out online in gun-toting rap videos.
DNAinfo Chicago has rounded up the stories that mattered most to the Far North Side.
1. Rap Feuds and Street Violence: In 2013, Rogers Park saw spates of street violence, including the brutal baseball bat beating of Mike Davis, and a revealing example of the violent attitude of one of the neighborhood's most prominent gangs. Rapper Bang da Hitta uploaded a gun-toting music video to YouTube in August, in which he called for the death of rival gang members to the north. Hitta also mocked the death of 20-year-old Blake Lamb, who was gunned down in June in Willye B. White Park. Police say the murder of Elliott Frazier, the son of an alderman's aide, was also related to the neighborhood's gang conflict.
2. The Dream Home That Wasn't Theirs: Michael Donley, 46, and Carmilla Manzanet, 43, moved earlier this year into a three-bedroom house on Birchwood Avenue. They said it was their dream home and they even spent $3,000 fixing it up. But there was one problem with the house: It wasn't theirs. They were squatting in the once-foreclosed home, and the company that bought the property from a bank kicked them out, had them arrested and locked all their stuff inside.
3. Weird Houses and Fritz Stotz's "Love Affair:" The people of the Far North Side are known for being, well, "far out." That might be best exemplified in another quintuple list: The five weirdest houses in Rogers Park. The list includes Jackie Seiden's Candyland-colored house on Pratt Boulevard, Michael Riley's leopard print-painted house on Estes Avenue, and the front yard of Mark Troitsky's house on Lunt Avenue that's decorated with junk he has found on the streets of Rogers Park. Fritz Stotz has also been keeping the neighborhood interesting. His Stutz Bearcat replica, a yellow sports car, was designed in Indianapolis in 1914. And now he turns heads by driving his beloved — and mostly wooden — car around the neighborhood. "It’s always been a love affair," said his daughter, Sheryl Stotz.
4. Pritzker Parking Garage: The monstrosity on the lakefront or a solution to Rogers Park's parking problem? Col. Jennifer Pritzker's plan to build a 250-car parking garage on Sheridan Road perturbed some neighbors and excited others, including Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who supported zoning changes that would allow Pritzker's plan to move forward. Construction of the parking garage — on the footprint of a former Buddhist meditation center — is expected to start soon.
5. Senn's High School's Big Transformation: Principal Susan Lofton took over Senn High School when it ranked in the bottom third of Chicago Public Schools. Now, after just a few years, the school has earned a top rating from CPS, and officials expect the upward trend to continue. Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) credits Lofton and a new-found school pride with the big transformation.