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A file photo shows a crime scene blocked off by the Chicago Police Department. (WTTW News)

An Iowa man who was in custody in Chicago after police found a rifle with a laser sight in a hotel room that overlooks a Lake Michigan beach during the July Fourth weekend made bond and then proposed to his girlfriend upon his release.

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(WTTW News)

Keegan Casteel, 32, was allegedly found in possession of a loaded rifle with a laser sight and multiple ammunition magazines inside his 12th-floor Chicago hotel room overlooking Ohio Street Beach during the Fourth of July weekend.

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(WTTW News)

Chicago’s lakefront is often referred to as one of the city’s crown jewels, and as with many valuable things, it’s been the subject of frequent high-profile political and legal fights. A new history of the lakefront traces more than 150 years of nearly nonstop litigation.

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Lane Beach is five-star worthy. (Alexandra Silets / WTTW News)

For three months out of the year, Chicago’s every bit as much of a beach town as Los Angeles or Miami. As we kick off summer 2021, here are some things you might not know about the city’s sandy shore.

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(WTTW News)

The city’s lakefront beaches will officially open Friday for the first time since 2019, with lifeguards on duty and concessions returning. 

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The Navy Pier flyover. (WTTW News)

The project’s many delays – some due to unexpected maintenance, some to funding availability – became a source of both frustration and humor for trail users and observers, who joked about the flyover taking longer than engineering marvels like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Sears Tower. 

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A runner approaches one of the Lake Shore Drive bridge houses on the nearly finished Navy Pier Flyover portion of the lakefront trail, April 30, 2021. (Nick Blumberg / WTTW News)

The long-awaited, sometimes-maligned structure carrying the lakefront trail over Grand Avenue, Illinois Street and the Chicago River has missed its latest target to wrap up in April. But the Chicago Department of Transportation says it’s “very close” to completion.

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Repairs are just getting underway on a stretch of lakefront damaged by a storm in January 2020. (Courtesy of Metropolitan Water Reclamation District)

The repair, expected to take six weeks, will consist of piling 1,500 tons of rocks along the shoreline and building a concrete wall to guard against further erosion.

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A section of open beach is being added to the protected Montrose Dune Natural Area. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Conservationists are celebrating a big win for wildlife along Chicago’s lakefront, where the expansion of a “treasured” natural area will give more room to some high-profile occupants: a pair of endangered Great Lake piping plovers, Monty and Rose.

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A plover parent and chick at Montrose Beach in 2019, courtesy of the Shedd Aquarium. (Credit: Susan Szeszol)

Shedd Aquarium is hosting a pair of cleanup and habitat restoration days at 63rd Street beach, where 12 acres of dunes have attracted piping plovers, among other bird species.  

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Florin Deleanu powerline fishes at Montrose Harbor in Chicago on March 12, 2021. (WTTW News)

This time of year at Montrose Harbor, you’ll see people lining the lakefront with fire extinguishers — but they’re not putting out flames, they’re fishing. Powerlining is a unique fishing style with local roots.

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A file photo of Montrose Beach in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Metered parking is already in place at lakefront destinations like Rainbow Beach, North Avenue Beach, 31st Street Beach, 63rd Street Beach and Foster Avenue Beach. Now it’s coming to Montrose Harbor — and some residents aren’t happy about it.

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Great Lakes piping plovers, like the one pictured, need more protected habitat along Chicago's lakefront, advocates say. (Vince Cavalieri / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Ald. James Cappleman has joined the chorus of supporters lobbying the Chicago Park District to set aside a section of Montrose Beach as protected habitat for Monty and Rose, Chicago’s beloved pair of Great Lakes piping plovers.

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The view from Montrose Harbor is free, but soon the parking won't be. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The plan, which was approved by the City Council in November, has drawn outrage from residents and organizations who say the cost of metered parking will limit access to the lakefront. A petition against the meters has gathered thousands of signatures.

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South Works. (Eric Allix Rogers / Preservation Chicago)

The lakefront is arguably Chicago’s crown jewel, but that status is threatened, according to Preservation Chicago, which placed the lakefront on its annual endangered list for 2021, citing threats including development of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park and erosion from rising lake levels.

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Nearly a year after lakefront parks were closed due to the coronavirus, officials are set to announce their reopening. (WTTW News)

The Chicago Park District announced Tuesday that lakefront parks and playgrounds will reopen, nearly a year after they were closed due to the coronavirus.