20 Great Things That Happened in the Bay Area in 2020
Our favorite story of 2020? This is 14-year-old San Francisco artist Tyler Gordon. He's partially deaf and has a stutter, but none of that has stopped him from his work. This year, his portrait of Kamala Harris went viral when the future Veep surprised him with a video call to say thank you. Gordon's painting of LeBron James also made the cover of Time, which named him a finalist for Kid of the Year. (Courtesy of @tygordonsworld)

20 Great Things That Happened in the Bay Area in 2020


As the new year approaches, we find ourselves racing toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Covid vaccines are here and, surely, the worst of the pandemic—and the worst year in memorable history—will soon be behind us.

But before we close out 2020, it bears remembering that every storm cloud has a silver lining, and many wonderful things came from this disastrous year.

As the coronavirus raged, communities and celebrities (including our own Steph and Ayesha Curry) stepped up to support and feed people in need. As wildfires swept through the state, California firefighters managed to save the 1,400-year-old redwood Colonel Armstrong, and SF's first Black firefighter got a street named after him. And, as the country rose up to proclaim that Black lives do matter, the nation elected our first Black woman vice president, the Bay Area's own Kamala Harris, and then the 14-year-old disabled Black artist in San Francisco who painted her portrait shot to fame and landed the cover of Time.

Catch up on the Bay Area stories that made us proud and gave us hope in 2020.

14-year-old Bay Area painter Tyler Gordon just made the cover of Time magazine. Literally., SFGate

After his portrait of Kamala Harris went viral, the San Jose teen's career has taken off with commissions from Janelle Monae, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, and the Beverly Center painting installation. Catch his portrait of LeBron James on the cover of Time magazine. Read more.

Glide's Christmas Eve House of Prime Rib Dinner still goes on, despite pandemic, Hoodline SF

For the 28th year in a row, House of Prime Rib cooked up over 2,000 pounds of prime rib for Glide to serve at their Christmas Eve meal service, served as takeout this year. Read more.

First COVID-19 Vaccinations in Bay Area Administered at SF Hospital, NBC Bay Area

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital administered Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to five healthcare workers—and SF has already received more than 12,500 doses that are set to be administered in the coming weeks. Read more.

Golden Gate Park Gardens Now Free for Low Income Families, Funcheap SF

In an effort to make art and the outdoors more accessible, admission for up to four people receiving CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or SNAP will be free year-round at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, and the Japanese Tea Garden. Read more.

SF native becomes first openly gay man confirmed to CA Supreme Court, San Francisco Examiner

After receiving a nomination from Governor Gavin Newsom, Martin Jenkins was unanimously confirmed to the California Supreme Court, making him the first openly gay man to serve there—and the third Black associate justice. Read more.

5 Bay Area Artists Receive the First Major Grant for Disabled Creatives, KQED

Berkeley-based documentary filmmaker Jim LeBrecht, Disability Visibility Project founder Alice Wong, and more received $50,000 in funding to help elevate their work. Read more.

Oakland actress Zendaya fights back tears, makes history as youngest Emmy winner in her category, SFGate

The 24 year-old, Oakland-born and raised actress' role as Rue on HBO's "Euphoria" earned her an award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a drama. Read more.

'Blindspotting': TV Spin-Off Of Rafael Casal & Daveed Diggs Feature Goes To Series At Starz, Deadline

Oh snap! Guess which poetry-slamming, hip-hopping, envy-of-all-bromances is bringing their hit movie tribute to Oakland to Starz?! That's right, our own Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal have an inked a deal to bring Blindspotting to cable. Haay! Read more.

Firefighters save 1,400-year-old redwood at Armstrong park, San Francisco Chronicle

Thanks to the work of firefighters and state natural resources crews, the oldest tree in Guerneville-adjacent Armstrong Woods was unharmed by Tuesday's Walbridge fire. Read more.

SF Announces $12.8 Million in Grants for Arts and Culture Organizations, KQED

While the pandemic has impacted the arts in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed's announcement that 227 arts and culture organizations will receive Grants for the Arts this year offers hope. Read more.

Berkeley nonprofit puts finishing touches to colorful 'tiny house village' for youth in Oakland, Berkeleyside

After three years of work by roughly 1,400 volunteers, Youth Spirit Artwork's tiny house village is complete and ready to house 22 youth. Read more.

'Town Fridge', Oakland's free-food refrigerator, sees overwhelming support, KTVU

The new grassroots community group Town Fridge is placing refrigerators around Oakland and asking for donations of fresh produce and food to help feed BIPOC and homeless community members. Read more.

San Francisco's first 'Community Fridge' brings free food to COVID-ravaged Mission, Hoodline

Inspired by Oakland's Town Fridge, SF Community Fridge, in partnership with Mission Meals Coalition, offers free food staples to under-resourced individuals and families outside of Adobe Books. Read more.

After 250 years, Big Sur land finally returned to Native American tribe, SFGate

A $4.5 million grant from the California Natural Resources Agency will allow the Esselen Tribe to return to Adler Ranch, an undeveloped property filled with redwoods and endangered wildlife near Big Sur, after its was wrongfully taken from them in 1770. Read more.

Giants manager Kapler kneels for anthem as team also make female coaching history, The Guardian

SF Giants' Gabe Kapler became the first MLB manager to kneel during the national anthem, alongside several players, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Then, at first-base during the game, Alyssa Nakken made MLB history as the first female on-field coach during a major league game. Read more.

San Francisco's First Black Firefighter, Earl Gage, to Have Street Named for Him, KQED

After a three-year effort by the Black Firefighters Association, a portion of the Fillmore District's Willow Street will officially be named after the firefighter who fought to improve the department's racial diversity during his 28 year career. Read more.

Herzog & de Meuron, Swiss architects of de Young Museum, selected to do UCSF hospital, San Francisco Chronicle

While it won't be completed until 2030—and the design process won't even begin until 2021, following community meetings—the architects behind Napa's Dominus Estate winery and the de Young Museum are set to design a nearly one-million square-foot Parnassus Heights hospital for UCSF. Read more.

SF Supervisor Introduces 'CAREN Act' To Make Racially Biased Police Calls Illegal, SFist

Introduced by SF District 10 supervisor Shamann Walton, the proposed Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act—complete with an acronym spelled almost like "Karen"—would pose criminal charges against individuals who call 911 based on racial bias or other forms of discrimination. Read more.

Ayesha and Steph Curry Support 200 Oakland Restaurants to Serve 2 Million Meals, Eater SF

The Eat Learn Play founders and José Andrés of World Central Kitchen teamed up to partner with more than 200 local restaurants to serve nearly two million meals to hungry Bay Areans this past summer. Read more.

San Francisco Rents Drop by Double Digits, SF Weekly

Thanks to "pandemic pricing" and a shift toward more spacious, affordable cities including Oakland and Sacramento, the median price of a one-bedroom SF apartment is 11.8 percent lower than last year. Read more.

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