2020 is one of those years where most of us were so far down in the weeds, we didn’t have a chance to come up and look at the big picture. A good end-of-the-year list is a way to get some perspective on all that we’ve lived through. So, we did what we always do—we asked our behind the scenes numbers guy to pull the top 15 stories of 2020. We’ll start with #1 on the list.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, a lot of people in our community were eager to find ways to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting Black-owned businesses. Plus, for a lot of people who’d been mostly sheltering-at-home since mid-March, the chance to get out and get food from local restaurants was a welcome change. This story, penned by Bham Now’s own Hannah Chambley Williams, was by far our most popular of 2020.
Wait, did somebody say “change of scenery?” I can’t tell you how many times I for one begged my family, who are all quite happy at home, to get out so I could feast my eyes on something new. By the end of September, y’all were ready, too, and this piece, by resident Bham Now foodie Chaise Sanders, went crazy. Because what’s a rooftop for if not for a little dose of perspective.
Anybody else sensing a theme here? This piece, by our historian Nathan Watson, hit just the right nostalgic tone for all of us who remember Birmingham restaurants of days gone by. From Joy Young’s to John’s to the Ensley Cafe, this roundup brought back tasty memories.
Who among us didn’t notice that our skincare routine could use a little upgrade this year, while looking at ourselves—over and over again—on Zoom? Irene Richardson did a great job pulling this guide together from our small business guide (currently featuring 677 local small businesses and counting).
It’s hard to believe that late June was still relatively early days when it comes to COVID. But it was, and this story was big news when a number of local restaurants and bars closed their doors because employees got COVID. This one was brought to you by our restaurant scores guy Pat Byington.
This one written by yours truly may go down in history as the weirdest story of 2020. One Sunday in mid-August, we got word of a huge new skyscraper and major development potentially slated for downtown Birmingham. But many of you had your suspicions, and pointed out all the reasons why this lofty project may never get off the ground. Time will tell.
If voting wasn’t on your mind in 2020, truly you must have been living under a rock. In late July, the State of Alabama decided that all registered Alabama voters could vote absentee in the November election if they had concerns about COVID. Producer Beth Cunningham did a nice job of keeping us in the know.
Hard to believe this big news, brought to us by our man-about-town Pat Byington, only came out in early May. When my husband drove home the other day, he announced “Century Plaza is nearly gone.” Move over decades-old shopping mall, make way for Amazon.
Who knew a gas station featuring a jerky wall, a “Texas roundup” BBQ station, not to mention fudge and Icees would have such a cult following in the Birmingham area, even before it’s here? Chaise Sanders and Jacob Blankenship got a sneak peek, and they took the rest of us along for the ride.
10. Get one, then give a pair of shoes to an essential worker from Dec 4-13 at Mountain High Outfitters
Not once, but three times since the start of the pandemic did Mountain High Outfitters decide to run a buy one, give one special on the comfiest shoes your poor, aching feet could imagine. The catch? You had to buy a pair of certain brands and they would gift a pair to an essential worker. How’s that for a win-win? This one was brought to you by the talented Hannah Chambley Williams.
If there’s one thing Chaise Sanders loves as much as food, it’s the great outdoors. Right before Memorial Day, she wowed us with a list of not one, not a dozen, but 18 waterfalls in and around Birmingham. Because nothing says pandemic-safe fun than spending time outside near a gorgeous waterfall.
Back in late January (remember that? Pre-pandemic January when we could get together in crowds, hug people and even cough in public without anyone raising an eyebrow…), Beth Cunningham had the idea to feature businesses owned by people of color, and y’all let us know this was something you’d been waiting for. From food to bodywork to beauty and cars, there was here something for everyone.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Pat Byington brought us the news of the plan for the old Trinity Medical Center to become a mixed-use development. This one came out two weeks into the pandemic, and we’re betting y’all were delighted to have some news that did not have the words coronavirus, COVID or pandemic in it. You better believe we’ll be heading over there to get a sneak peek when construction’s done.
It’s hard to believe now, but in early June, it was big news that COVID cases were trending higher. Here’s a quote from Nathan Watson from this time-capsule piece: “According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Alabama has seen at least 20,590 cases of COVID-19, with 714 confirmed deaths.” By comparison, yesterday’s Alabama numbers were 351,804 total cases in Alabama with 4,737 deaths. What a difference half a year makes…
Finally, just to prove that sometimes music is the cure for whatever ails you, intern Grace Howe pulled out this hit in mid-June. Did you have any idea that Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham had their first taste of fame right here in The Magic City? We didn’t, either.