UPTOWN — The year 2013 was an eventful one in Uptown and Andersonville — and DNAinfo Chicago was there for the ride, covering everything from tragic murders to contentious school closings and health violations at beloved restaurants.
Below is a list of some of the most notable moments.
1. The Man with the AK Tattoo
It was a bloody August in Uptown. On Aug. 31, a man on a bike allegedly shot a 14-year-old boy twice in the head and shot a 22-year-old man in the wrist. The shooting, which left the teen in critical condition, came just 12 days after a drive-by shooting outside Uptown Baptist Church wounded five people, including 21-year-old Darius Oliver, who died days later. Police in September said that the incidents were likely gang-related and connected. Ald. James Cappleman (46th) also hinted that the man suspected in the shootings had "a distinguishing feature." Few people might have guessed that meant an AK-47 was tattooed on his forehead. Later that month, 20-year-old Kelsky Patterson, a known member of the Black P Stone street gang and the man with the tattoo, was arrested for the Aug. 31 shooting — and in November he was charged for the Aug. 19 shooting that killed Darius Oliver.
2. CPS Closes Uptown and Andersonville Schools
There were impassioned pleas, protests, sit-ins (and attempted sit-ins) and lawsuits. But that wasn't enough to stop the Board of Education from closing Joseph Stockton and Graeme Stewart elementary schools in Uptown, and Lyman Trumbull Elementary School in Andersonville after a May vote. All three schools were deemed underutilized, under a formula critics said ignored the space needs of disabled and special education students. Under the CPS plan, Trumbull's students were split between James B. McPherson and Eliza Chapelle elementary schools in Ravenswood and John T. McCutcheon Elementary School in Uptown; and Stewart's kids were to enroll at Joseph Brennemann Elementary School in Uptown. Stockton was merged with Mary E. Courtenay School, and its building was renamed Courtenay.
3. Say it Ain't Sun Wah!?
One of Uptown's most popular restaurants was closed for a week in December for various city health code violations. City inspectors found live roaches and cooked food stored at dangerously low temperatures at Sun Wah BBQ, 5035 N. Broadway. The Hong-Kong style barbecue joint is known for the delectable spectacle of rolling out whole roasted Peking ducks for patrons and carving them up tableside. A lot of people were grossed out by the health code violations and vowed to never return to the restaurant. But a lot of people said so what — and were eager to give Sun Wah another shot based on its tasty resume. That resume also includes seven failed health inspections since 2010, including two failed re-inspections the week Sun Wah closed, when the city found 50 live roaches in the restaurant's food prep area ... some of the critters found inside an ice machine. Whatever the case — Sun Wah eventually passed an inspection and is open for business.
4. Pigeon Gate
In January, an Indiana farmer got permission from the office of Ald. James Cappleman (46th) to capture pigeons in Uptown and take them back to the Hoosier State — where it was later discovered (much to the horror of animal rights activists) they had been shot for sport. Cappleman denied prior knowledge of the pigeons' eventual fate. While some people said good riddance to the winged pests, others wondered why Cappleman was so focused on pigeons with other problems such as gang violence in the neighborhood. So what's Cappleman got against pigeons? He told DNAinfo Chicago that the birds are abundant eyesores in Uptown whose presence (and waste) have contributed to vacant retail spaces — which means fewer eyes on the street and contributes to crime in Uptown.
5. James Cappleman vs. The Salvation Army
After a March 1 meeting with officials at the Salvation Army about its mobile outreach unit that feeds the homeless at Wilson Avenue and Marine Drive, Cappleman found himself in a controversial, much-publicized dustup. Cappleman, concerned that the mobile food truck provided a disincentive for homeless folks to get off the streets, said he asked the organization to document the impact of its outreach. Salvation Army officials gave a different account of what happened. It was their understanding that the alderman wanted the feeding to stop because he thought it was bringing more homeless people to the area and giving them cause to stay there, while they said the food is just a "calling card," for social workers to build rapport. Regardless of their different interpretations, Cappleman and the Salvation Army decided to kiss and make up within days of the tussle. That didn't stop more than 200 people from protesting outside Cappleman's Uptown office, many of them accusing him of waging "war with the poor."