A transformative decade in review

December 30, 2009 4:18:26 PM PST
When the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, we will say so long to the first decade of the 21st century. ABC7's Ben Bradley is taking a look back at how Chicago and our lives changed over those 10 years.

The Kindle, the Blackberry, HDTV, Facebook, Twitter, texting: Just think of the things that are now pervasive that didn't register on most people's radar a decade ago.

It's been a transformative 10 years, and technology has played a key role.

A decade ago, people were preparing for the worst.

"No one can state with 100 percent certainty that every potential Y2K problem everywhere in the city has been solved," Mayor Daley said in 1999.

Concerns computer code couldn't cope with a rollover from the 1900s to the year 2000 caused plenty of people to hold their breath as the clock approached midnight. A decade later in Chicago, most don't give technology a second thought.

"To even think I would be walking around with something that is more powerful, that has more memory and capability than my computer at the time is kind of scary but almost an enlightened feeling," said Ari Bendersky, foodietheapp.com.

Bendersky creates apps for the iPhone, including one that helps foodies find good deals at nearby restaurants.

"I think in 20 years, we're going to be in a place where technology recedes away and just becomes embedded all around us," said Matt Marcus, digital strategist.

A decade ago, the main fear at most airports was missing your flight. Soon, high-tech scanners promise to peak under travelers clothing to prevent the smuggling of explosives.

Text messaging truly arrived in the United States within the last decade. In June of 2000 Americans sent 12 millions texts. In June of this year 135 billion text messages were sent. Beginning January 1, it will be illegal to send or read those messages while driving in Illinois.

Our connected society has also created celebrities out of characters.

Celebrity isn't always a bad thing. Cable reality shows, for example, have made chefs into stars and restaurants into destinations.

"It has really launched us in a new direction," said Rick Bayless, chef and restaurant owner.

Bayless says, in the last decade, Chicago has secured its spot as a capital for cuisine.

"Restaurant is now a bigger phenomenon, not just a place you stop by and get a little meal because you're hungry, but a big event," Bayless said.

What will the next decade bring?

Chicago is already the test site for next generation wireless internet connectivity.

Also, the federal government has authorized funding to build high-speed rail. Chicago would be the hub for fast trains running to cities like St. Louis, Minneapolis and Detroit.


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