Friday Marks Emanuel's Final Business Day as Chicago Mayor - NBC Chicago
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Friday Marks Emanuel's Final Business Day as Chicago Mayor

Like many before him, the city's 55th mayor had his ups and downs during his tenure

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mayor Emanuel Leaves Office for Last Time

    It's an end of an era at City Hall, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel left his fifth floor office for the last time. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern was on the scene. 

    (Published Friday, May 17, 2019)

    Friday marks the end of an era in Chicago, as it's Mayor Rahm Emanuel's final business day before leaving office.

    Like many before him, the city's 55th mayor had his ups and downs during his tenure, taking the city along for the ride.

    First elected in 2011, fresh from serving as then-President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff, Emanuel served two terms before announcing in September 2018 that he would not seek re-election.

    One of his earliest major controversies after taking office 8 years ago was the largest public school closing in U.S. history.

    In 2013, the city closed 50 Chicago schools on the city's South and West Sides due to financial hardships, forcing thousands of students to transfer.

    The following year, Chicago was again thrust into the national spotlight with the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, shot 16 times by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke in November 2014.

    Accusations of a police cover-up, particularly surrounding dash-cam video that was released 13 months later (after Emanuel won his second term) led to calls for his resignation as protesters flooded the city. In October 2018, Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He was sentenced to just under seven years in prison in January 2019.

    Emanuel's tenure also saw some of the deadliest years in Chicago, as violent crime rates soared in 2016 and 2017. According to Chicago police data, 2017 saw 660 homicides across the city, a drop from 2016, which saw 777 - Chicago's deadliest year in nearly two decades. At least 3,550 shootings took place in 2016, which dropped to 2,777 the following year.

    Violence continued to fall toward the end of Emanuel's tenure, as Chicago ended 2018 with an estimated 561 homicides and roughly 2,391 shootings - numbers that eclipsed the totals in New York City and Los Angeles combined.

    Despite all that and then some, Emanuel prides himself on several initiatives he undertook as mayor.

    Transforming the city's Riverwalk, adding thousands of cameras on CTA trains and platforms as well as modernizing stations, as he did with the "Your New Blue" initiative along the city's Blue Line.

    Emanuel also recently announced one of the largest-ever expansions of O'Hare International Airport, featuring the nation's first "global terminal." He's also touted his acumen in drawing companies - and thus, jobs - to Chicago, as well as expanding early childhood education.

    Emanuel leaves office officially on Monday when his successor Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot is inaugurated - sure to see her own triumphs and trials over her time leading Chicago.

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