In 2014, I made my way through the neighborhoods — spending the summer in a Streeterville high-rise; braving the polar vortex at a Humboldt Park sledding hill; tasting the city's best doughnuts in Roseland; discovering the "garage art" trend in Pullman alleys; interviewing angry Latina comics in Old Town; witnessing a veteran bartender's last call in Lincoln Park; watching aldermen cry at Wing Fest in the West Loop; outing Gov. Pat Quinn for not mowing his Galewood front lawn; finding happiness talking to strangers on the CTA, among other things — to capture the essence of "My Chicago" in stories, pictures and a video or two.
Here's a look back at the pretty pictures:
In the darkest moment of my seasonal affective disorder, Stella the Dog and I searched for happiness amid the polar vortex.
At Wing Fest, the chicken wings were so hot they made a grown alderman — and regular folks — cry.
Humboldt Park resident Nick Floyd's brewery, Three Floyds, announced a $10 million expansion and introduced a new staple of beer bars, YumYum.
Wendy Mateo and Lori Diaz of the feisty comedy duo "Dominzuelan" spoke out against "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels after the variety show aired a skit that included an offensive Latina stereotype.
After I celebrated the longevity of bartender Bill Hemme, who served up cocktails at Four Farthings in Lincoln Park for 32 years, bar ownership forced him into retirement.
I took a trip for arguably the best doughnuts in Chicago since 1972 at Old Fashioned Donuts in Roseland. Reporter Kyla Gardner captured the action on video.
Pullman's Cooperation Operation turned its community garden into a spooky lair haunted by goblins for Halloween.
A University of Chicago study titled "Mistakenly Seeking Solitude" found that talking to strangers makes people happy. My trip on the Purple Line proved the study true when I met these happy people.
Gov. Pat Quinn's neighbor ratted him out for not mowing the front lawn at his Galewood home. I snapped this picture, which spurred a debate about the benefit of dandelions and inspired a Quinn campaign commercial.
In Pullman, artist Ian Lantz bedazzled garages with murals that fueled an "alley art" trend in the historic South Side neighborhood.
When Chicago Teacher's Union field representative Joey McDermott took a beating in the boxing ring for a good cause, I was there to capture his pain on camera.
One of the highlights of the year was the six weeks I spent living in a Streeterville high-rise to get a better perspective on how the other Chicago lives. My time there was filled with delight and personal tragedy — when Stella the Dog suffered a stroke — and was chronicled in a four-part series called, "Tourist In My Own Town."
Looking back, my journalistic journey through Chicago was equal parts inspiring, hopeful and heartbreaking — just like the city I love.
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