This New Year also brings with it a new decade. As the country continues to move forward from a downed economy, here in Naperville we reflect on the last 10 years.
In 2001, Americans across the country – including in Naperville – were shocked and devastated as they watched the news of the September 11 attacks. The events of that day hit home when Naperville native and Navy Commander Dan Shanower was killed in the attack on the Pentagon.
While 2001 brought grief to the community, 2002 was a more enjoyable year. Naperville Reads started as a way to bring residents together through literature. Soccer fans also enjoyed watching the Chicago fire play at North Central College.
“They played for 2 years. There had been a lot of concern at that time from neighbors whether it’d be disruptive but it turned out to be just fine,” said Bob Smith, City Editor for the Daily Herald.
In 2003, the Naperville Public Library added their 95th Street location. That same year, U.S. troops were deployed to Afghanistan. Three of those soldiers – all from Naperville – were killed in 2004. Also that year, Facebook hit the social networking scene.
2005 brought more devastation when hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Naperville residents were eager to lend a hand. A group called “Naperville Responds” helped raise money to build homes for demolished homes along the Gulf Coast.
2006 was a slam dunk for Naperville. North Central High School graduate Candace Parker became the first woman to dunk at an NCAA tournament basketball game. Naperville also celebrated its 175th anniversary as well as the 25th anniversary of the Riverwalk.
In 2007, the Naperville North High School football team won the state championship. 2008 started a downward economy that would prove challenging to cities across the nation, including Naperville.
“As the years went on and the economy took a turn, things have certainly tightened up considerably,” said Smith. “This city is cancelling some of its festivities as opposed to adding them. So I think it’s just a tougher different time than it was.”
But 2008 did have some highs. The Naperville Park District hired a new executive director, Ray McGury, and Wentz Concert Hall opened its doors to the public.
In 2009, Metea Valley opened as the city’s fifth high school. And for the tech savvy, the Apple Store also opened its doors in downtown Naperville. Later that year, the Jeanine Nicarico case finally had closure. Brian Dugan was sentenced to die for the 1983 rape and murder of the Naperville girl.
“[It was] a case that had people by the throat for decades and then changed the legal system in Illinois,” said Smith.
The end of the decade ended on a high note. In 2010, Naperville Central High School managed to open on time after undergoing an $87 million renovation, despite a construction strike in the middle of the summer. Naperville native Evan Lysacek won a gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics and the hearts of Naperville fans during his homecoming parade for Naperville’s Evan Lysacek Day.
As we head into the New Year, Naperville has some milestones to look forward to. North Central College will be commemorating 150 years of higher education and the Kroehler YMCA will be celebrating its centennial.
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