Top 40 OMG Moments in Recent Chicago History

MOUTH WIDE OPEN: We pick the 40 moments in recent Chicago history that made you stop, blink, and say, “Oh my God!”

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Olympics fail
#8—OLYMPICS BID FAIL: The T-shirts were made. Millions were spent. POTUS and FLOTUS flew to Copenhagen. Thousands gathered at Daley Plaza for a rally. Then, with brutal swiftness, Chicago was the first city knocked out of the running to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. For more photos of OMG moments, check out the gallery »



OMG moments in recent Chicago history

To celebrate our magazine’s 40th anniversary this December, we name the 40 best records, restaurants, movies, and more

What, exactly, is an OMG moment? At its most basic, it is an occurrence that makes those words come out: “Oh my God!” The next step usually involves retelling the news to the nearest available co-worker or to friends via Facebook. The OMG can be an expression of bemusement, irritation, or disgust. In picking the top 40 such moments in Chicago history, we set a start date of 1970 and avoided moments that seemed too serious—airplane crashes, tragic deaths, and violent crimes among them. Then the challenge was how to rank the moments. Was Rod Blagojevich’s arrest more or less astonishing than the Great Chicago Flood of 1992? Rail against our number one pick—or tell us what we missed—in the comments section below.

40. Lightning Strikes Twice
June 23, 2010
Shooting on assignment from the John Hancock Center, the Chicago Tribune photographer Chris Sweda captured lightning bolts hitting the Willis Tower and the Trump Tower at precisely the same moment. PLUS:  Chicagoan Craig Shimala captured the video below, which shows lightning striking the city’s three tallest buildings at once.

39. Oprah’s Keynote
September 13, 2004
Oprah Winfrey opened her 19th season by giving a fully loaded Pontiac sedan worth $28,400 to each member of the studio audience—all 276 of them. “Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!” the talk show host shouted as she jumped up and down. For a hilarious musical replay of the car giveaway, watch the video below:


38. Table Tempest
September 1995
In a bizarre move to protect public safety, the city’s health department zeroed in on so-called chef’s tables located in the kitchens of high-end restaurants, saying sick diners could infect food preparation areas. Charlie Trotter, whose restaurant was at the height of its popularity, got so mad he threatened to leave Chicago. The flap made national news, the city backpedaled, and Trotter moved his table two inches.

37. When Fans Attack
September 28, 1995
With the Cubs and Astros tied 7–7 in the eighth inning, Cubs reliever Randy Myers served up a homer, prompting a 27-year-old bond trader named John P. Murray to hop the first-base wall and charge the pitcher, yelling, “What the hell was that?” Myers decked him with his forearm.

36. They Had Us Rocking
September 18, 1997
The Rolling Stones, days before appearing at Soldier Field on their Bridges to Babylon tour, performed a surprise warm-up concert at the Double Door in Wicker Park. The event was a fan’s dream: Mick and Keith up close, 90 minutes, $7. Watch the Stones perform “The Last Time” at the Double Door in the video below:


35. Fog Bowl
December 31, 1988
In the second quarter of a playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles, a thick fog rolled in from Lake Michigan and engulfed Soldier Field in a cloud that reduced visibility to 20 yards. The running game dominated the rest of the contest, a CBS helicopter was grounded, the Eagles could not score a touchdown, and the Bears won 20–12. Watch footage of the game below:


34. Mancow Tests the Waters
May 22, 2009
Intending to prove that waterboarding is not torture, the Chicago shock jock Erich “Mancow” Muller subjected himself to the controversial interrogation method—on air. Strapped to a seven-foot-long table with his legs elevated, Mancow lasted six seconds. His verdict: “It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke.” Watch video of Mancow getting waterboarded below:


33. Coyote at Quiznos
April 3, 2007
A 30-pound male coyote strolled through the propped-open door of a Quiznos in the Loop at 37 East Adams Street and rested for 45 minutes in the beverage cooler. Watch the video below:


32. Bats
April 14, 1977
Still adjusting to the Picasso, the city howled over the latest work of public sculpture by a famous artist—this time, Claes Oldenburg’s $100,000 commission, Batcolumn, a towering steel replica of a baseball bat.

31. Our Lady of the Traffic Jam
April 2005
Obdulia Delgado was driving toward a ramp to the Kennedy Expressway when she saw what appeared to be an image of the Virgin Mary in a yellow-and-white water stain on the concrete wall of an underpass. The site, at the Fullerton Avenue entrance, became a minor shrine and snarled traffic for days. Watch video of crowds gathering at the site below:


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