2021: The Year in Pictures

There were still challenges, but glamour and games finally returned

01 of 13

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez Hit the Red Carpet

Ben Affleck Jennifer Lopez
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

They started hanging out together in April, became Instagram Official in July and were soon seen out shopping with their kids. But it was not until September that Hollywood's most dazzling couple took their relationship to the red carpet, appearing at the Venice Film Festival to support Affleck's film The Last Duel. They are still going strong. He recently professed to being "in awe" of Lopez.

02 of 13

New York City Commemorates 9/11

9/11 memorial
Erica Lansner/Redux

The Tribute in Light, an art installation first created in 2002 in remembrance of the attacks on the World Trade Center, lit up the sky again above the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to mark the 20th anniversary. The 88 searchlights, arranged in two columns, represent the Twin Towers.

03 of 13

The U.S. Capitol Is Attacked

Captiol insurrection
Shutterstock

A pro-Trump mob descended on the Capitol Jan. 6, threatening the peaceful transfer of presidential power. The building was evacuated, but five people ultimately died — and four more police officers took their own lives in the aftermath. The government has brought charges against 675 rioters in what has become the largest criminal investigation in American history.

04 of 13

The Windy Fire Destroys Hundreds of Giant Sequoias

California fires
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty

On Sept. 9 lightning ignited the fire that would span 97,528 acres in California and severely burn 11 giant sequoia groves before being contained by firefighters. The trees normally live as long as 3,000 years.

05 of 13

Blue Origin Makes Its Maiden Passenger Flight

Blue Origin
Joe Raedle/Getty

Billionaire Jeff Bezos (front left) joined the space-tourism race when he took his first civilian crew (Wally Funk, Oliver Daemen and Bezos's brother Mark) 50 miles above the Earth's atmosphere to the edge of space on July 20. "I was surprised at how easy zero G was," Bezos said after the 10-minute ride. "It was like swimming."

06 of 13

They Play Ball at the Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams
Ron Vesely/Getty

A Chicago real estate developer built a ballpark on the Iowa site where the movie Field of Dreams was filmed — and 8,000 fans showed up to see the Chicago White Sox defeat the New York Yankees on Aug. 12. Planned for 2022: Cubs vs. Red Sox.

07 of 13

Hurricane Ida Wallops Louisiana

Hurricane ida
Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg/Getty

The most destructive hurricane since Katrina to make landfall in Louisiana killed 82 Americans and caused more than $65 billion in damage to eight states.

08 of 13

The 2020 Olympic Games Finally Happen — in 2021

Caeleb Dressel
Kyodo News/Getty

After putting their dreams on hold because of the pandemic, more than 11,000 athletes got to compete at last— albeit without spectators. The U.S. beat China in the gold medal count, in part thanks to five wins by swimming star Caeleb Dressel, 25 (here in the 100-m butterfly). The extra year added to the pressure, he said: "You have to be so perfect in that moment."

09 of 13

Afghans Flee Kabul Before the U.S. Military Departs

Afghanistan evacuation flight
Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Desperate Afghans rushed to the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 16, attempting to leave their country before U.S. troops ended the longest war in American history and Taliban officials seized the capital.

10 of 13

Vaccination Sites Turn the Tide in the Pandemic

2021 Vaccination station
JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty

People lined up at the Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle on March 13 to receive their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. As shots became more widely available, the makeshift sites gave way to local pharmacies, where wait times have disappeared and boosters are offered. More than 443 million doses have been administered in the U.S. so far, with 196 million people now fully vaccinated — 58.9 percent of the population.

11 of 13

An Angry Bird's Face Speaks Volumes

Animal comedy awards
Andrew Mayes/Comedywildlifephoto.com

And how was your 2021? Photographer Andrew Mayes captured this image of a pied starling in South Africa, titled it "Monday Morning Mood" and won a comedy wildlife photography award.

12 of 13

Harry and Meghan Tell All to Oprah

Prince Harry Meghan Oprah
Joe Pugliese

The royals sat down with Oprah Winfrey on March 7 to tell their side of the family rift, revealing that Meghan felt so isolated that at one point she "just didn't want to be alive anymore." They shared happy news too, saying for the first time that baby No. 2 was a girl.

13 of 13

The Supply-Chain Crisis Impacts Everything

California oil spill
Jeff Gritchen/Getty

A myriad of factors has disrupted the global supply chain. On Oct. 6 dozens of container cargo ships remained anchored off the coast of Southern California, creating congestion as they waited days to unload.

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