Bright news on the darkest day of the year

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With only nine hours and six minutes of daylight, today’s winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year. For many of us, that means dark commutes to work and school, less time spent enjoying the outdoors, and potential changes to our mood and sleep patterns.

While these dark winter days at the end of the year aren’t conducive to outdoor concerts or trips to the beach, they’re the perfect time to reflect on the many ways our community shined this past year, despite the challenges we faced, and the many bright opportunities ahead of us in 2019.

This month, holiday lights twinkled in our newly renovated Fountain Square for the very first time as we celebrated the lighting of the Menorah and a brand new, permanent spruce tree. (View photos.) Thanks to our City’s investment, and the patience of surrounding businesses, Evanston will enjoy celebrating the holidays and other community events in this activated public space for many years to come.

Joining us at the holiday tree lighting were a few adventurous community members who bundled up and biked to the event with me along the new Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue protected bike lane, which was just named one of "America's 10 Best New Bikeways of 2018." The City reached a milestone on another major project last week, as Public Works staff turned on the valve supplying Niles and Morton Grove with Evanston tap water. In a matter of days, residents in those communities will begin drinking—and purchasing—water from Evanston, financially benefiting all of our communities. Lincolnwood will soon join them.

Our residents’ financial stability is just as important. In 2018, we launched the Elevate Evanston initiative, working to better connect Evanstonians with workforce development and career training opportunities right here in our city. In 2019, we’ll continue our work to expand this program so that all residents have a bright future.

Read on in the newsletter below for more highlights from 2018. As the New Year approaches, I look forward to continuing our work to make Evanston an even better place to live, work, and visit, and to all of the bright moments we’ll share in 2019.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a safe and healthy New Year.


Mayor Hagerty Signature

Stephen Hagerty
Mayor, City of Evanston

Evanston Shined In 2018!

Public Art Brightened Our Community

2018 public art collage

Clockwise from top left: "Stitch," by Warren Langley, Emerson, Ridge and Green Bay Road; South Boulevard CTA/Metra viaduct, by Dustin Harris; "Re-Grow, Re-Vive," by Vivian Visser, Quinlan Park; "Vision Board," by Damon Reed, Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center.

In 2018, Evanston viaducts, walls, and public spaces were transformed from ordinary to extraordinary with colorful murals, beautiful sculptures and other public art pieces. My thanks to the tremendous efforts of the Evanston Arts Council, the Evanston Mural Arts Program, the Chicago Public Art Group, and, of course, the many talented and creative artists who make our city more vibrant.

Evanston Rocked

Out of SPACE concerts

Evanston added to its reputation as an entertainment destination in 2018. The inaugural Out of Space outdoor concert series brought world-class musical acts to our city, including Mavis Staples, The Indigo Girls, and Dinosaur Jr. We also welcomed new entertainment venues, including the Evanston Rocks Entertainment Complex on Church Street and Theo Ubique cabaret theatre on Howard Street. In 2019, we'll continue our work to bring a performing arts theatre to downtown Evanston.

New Businesses Bloomed

2018 new businesses

Clockwise from top left: Good to Go Jamaican Cuisine, Target, Colectivo Coffee, Industrious Evanston, 10Q Chicken, Gotta B Crepes, Assembly Creators Market, Falcon Eddy's. Center: Cafe Coralie.

More than 70 new businesses opened their doors in Evanston in 2018, contributing to the economic vitality of our city and providing new places to work, shop, dine and be entertained. Some longtime businesses celebrated milestones, like D&D Finer Foods, while others enjoyed new locations, like Prairie Moon.

We Invested In Our Future

Robert Crown Center groundbreaking

Evanston celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Robert Crown Community Center, Ice Complex and Library project in July, fulfilling a longtime vision of the community. Construction is well underway at Dodge Avenue and Main Street, and the new facility is expected to open in late 2019.

We Participated In Our Democracy

Boards, Commissions and Committee retiring ceremony

Evanston community members continued to be active participants in our democracy at the local, state, and national levels. In October, we recognized the service of retiring members of City boards, commissions, and committees, who generously gave their time and expertise to help guide our City on important issues, from the arts, to equity, to economic development. In November, 67 percent of Evanston voters went to the polls to cast their ballots in the midterm elections, the highest turnout in more than two decades.

The 'Cats Made Headlines

Welsh-Ryan Arena courtesy of NU Sports

Photo by @NU_Sports Twitter.

Northwestern University fans had plenty to cheer about in 2018, from a Big Ten West Division football championship to a royal wedding. The 'Cats also celebrated the opening of the renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena and the stunning Walter Athletics Center, which are sure to attract students, athletes, and fans to our community for years to come. Northwestern Football will try to finish 2018 with a victory against the University of Utah in the Holiday Bowl on December 31. I'm so confident in a Wildcats win, I wagered some of Evanston's finest craft beer with Salt Lake City. 

Finally, just this week, I joined Northwestern President Morton Schapiro in announcing the university's $1 million Good Neighbor Fund allocation, which will support a variety of important City projects next year, including paramedic services, job training, and library programs. Thank you to Northwestern for being a partner in our community's success.

The Wildkits Beat Buzzers

Blake Peters shot

Click to watch video

One of the year's best plays happened right here in Evanston, when freshman Blake Peters hit a near full-court shot to beat Maine South 45-44. Blake's incredible shot earned him an invitation to this summer's ESPY awards in Los Angeles, where he was a finalist for the year's best play.

The Wildkits excellence in athletics wasn't limited to the basketball court. ETHS senior Enyaeva Michelin won a state title in the 800-meter run.

We Took Action on Local and Global Issues

CARP plan

Lauren Marquez-Viso and Joel Freeman, co-chairs of the CARP working group.

Just minutes before midnight at the final meeting of 2018, the Evanston City Council approved the Climate Action and Resilience Plan, a comprehensive plan to reduce Evanston’s impact on global climate change while preparing the community for its effects. In approving the plan, Evanston became the first Illinois city to target 100 percent renewable electricity, continuing our longstanding leadership on climate and environmental issues.

In October, I was proud to launch an Affordable Housing Plan Steering Committee. Continuing into 2019, the group will work to develop a plan to address our city's affordable housing needs.

Public Safety Services Shared the Spotlight

public safety 2018 collage

In August, the Evanston Fire Department became one of only 305 departments in the nation to receive a Class 1 Fire Protection Rating, the highest possible rating for fire protection services. The City's Lifeguard Service followed suit by becoming the only agency on the Great Lakes to be certified by the United States Lifesaving Association, an honor normally reserved for coastal programs. The Evanston Police Department continued its excellent work to keep our community safe, while also keeping us healthy. In October, the department launched a new "Five-0 Fitness" initiative, inviting community members to work up a sweat with Evanston Police officers and local fitness trainers. Did I mention they can dance, too? On Halloween, the department unveiled its long-awaited lip sync challenge video, showcasing the talents of the entire community.

We Brightened the Year for Others

Holiday Food, Book and Toy Drive

Staff and volunteers assemble holiday food, book and toy baskets for Evanston families.

This year's Holiday Food, Book and Toy Drive distributed holiday turkeys and customized food baskets to nearly 400 Evanston families in need, while providing more than 800 toys and 1,000 books to children. The sale of holiday greeting cards designed by Evanston students helped support the drive, which was one of our most successful ever.

The holiday season reminds us of the importance of supporting each other not only during the holidays, but year round. Thank you to all those who contributed their time, energy, and resources to helping others in our community in 2018.

Stay Engaged

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