As we wrap up 2021, we’re taking a look back at what you did this year by revisiting some of our top stories on Over the last 12 months, you came to us for recommendations on everything from restaurants to real estate, and you spent time learning about your favorite sports personalities and the city’s history.

Turns out, Chicago’s reading interests are as diverse as its neighborhoods.

1. The 10 Best Hot Dog Stands, Ranked

Never change, Chicago! We love that you came to us time and again to learn where to find the best dogs in the city. We respect that you have priorities, and we’re happy to be your guide. Our list includes the least-pretentious, classic and nonclassic dogs at locations across Chicagoland.

Weger after being released from the Pinckneyville Correctional Center
Weger after being released from the Pinckneyville Correctional Center in February 2020. His parole had been turned down 23 times before finally being approved. Photograph: (Weger) Isaac Smith/Chicago Tribune

2. Unmaking a Murderer

Our deep dive into the 1960 triple homicide at Starved Rock State Park follows the story of Chester Weger, the man convicted of the brutal murder. Weger was released from prison in 2020 and is trying to prove his innocence, banking on help from a high-profile lawyer and DNA testing.

3. Opinion: Let’s Take Lake Michigan Away From Indiana

Indiana’s track record of caring for Lake Michigan is spotty at best. Writer Edward McClelland argues that Illinois and Michigan should take control of the Indiana shoreline, where steel mills continue to pollute the lake. “Granting Indiana a sliver of Great Lakes shoreline may have been justified 200 years ago, but that was long before chemists invented hexavalent chromium,” McClelland writes.

The view looking north on Clark Street after fire destroyed much of Chicago in 1871. Photograph: Jex Bardwell/Chicago History Museum

4. The Great Chicago Fire, As Told By Those Who Lived Through It

The story of the 1871 Chicago fire is well-trod territory, but rarely has it been revisited using residents’ own voices. For the 150th anniversary of the tragedy, we used letters, memoirs, oral histories, newspaper articles and books of the time, and testimony at a city inquiry in 1871 to rebuild the harrowing tale of a city engulfed in flames.

5. A Visit to the Least-Trafficked ‘L’ Stop

The pandemic lowered CTA ridership across the board, making some “L” stops feel like a ghost town station at times. But one stop — the Kostner Pink Line station — is the least-trafficked of all in the city. So what will you find in this corner of Chicago? Storefront churches, tire shops, a combination corner store-restaurant, and a few good characters.

6. The Storyteller of the White Sox

White Sox broadcaster Jason Benetti is already a legend, known for his obscure facts and careful study of games and players. A noted part of his own story is his cerebral palsy, which does play a role in how Benetti interacts with the audience: “[H]is disability is a significant part of what drives him, what obsesses him, and what has shaped his life — not so much in how it has limited his physical activities but in how it has suffused his sense of self.”

Urbanspace food hall in the Loop. Photograph: Neil John Burger

7. The 10 Hottest Restaurants in Chicago Right Now

As restaurants reopened this year, you came to us for insight on where the best spots were for pastries, pizza, tacos, breakfast sandwiches, and more. And each month we provided our best-of list for where to snag the best food and drink in the city. (We also put together a list of the best things we ate this year.)

8. Candace Parker Comes Home

The city was entranced by the Chicago Sky this year as the team won their first WNBA championship. Our June/July cover story featured Naperville native Candace Parker in her own words, walking us through her favorite book, her family life, the limitations of being a female athlete, and being judged on your accomplishments. This week, Parker was named the Associated Press’ Female Athlete of Year — her second time receiving the accolade.

335 N Commonwealth Ave, Elgin, $319,900 Photo courtesy of Redfin and Art of Home

9. Five Tudor Revival Homes For Sale

Another popular feature on our site that readers regularly eat up is the Monday real estate slideshow. Each week, we take a look at homes for sale in the region, including those in courtyard buildings, those with basketball courts, or with modernist details. One of our top real estate posts this year highlighted Chicagoland Tudor Revival homes.

10. The Rise and Fall of Chicago Neighborhoods

We watch the city change from year to year, month to month, and even minute to minute. Our December story used census data and anecdotal evidence to explore how Chicago’s neighborhoods are growing and shrinking — and what that means for those living in them. The takeaway? “Anything can grow if you water it.”