From the unprecedented destruction caused by Sandy to the heartrending tragedy in Newtown, Conn., to another Giants Super Bowl win, the end of super-sized sugary drinks and a shuttle on the Intrepid, here are the top local stories of 2012.
: The tri-state area experienced unprecedented destruction when Sandy slammed into the region on Oct. 29, making landfall in Atlantic City, N.J., as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds. The storm claimed more than 60 lives in the tri-state area, including 41 in New York City, where its massive storm surge destroyed homes along the coast, flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and caused power outages. Many hard-hit areas were in the dark for more than a month. Tri-state governors requested more than $69 billion in federal aid to support recovery efforts.
Sandy Hits Tri-State
: Tragedy struck the bucolic community of Newtown, Conn., 11 days before Christmas when 20-year-old Adam Lanza went to Sandy Hook Elementary School, armed with a military-style assault rifle, and fatally shot 20 children no older than age 7 and six educators. The Dec. 14 massacre was the second-worst mass shooting in the nation's history and revived a national debate about gun violence. In the shooting's aftermath, President Barack Obama vowed to make concrete changes to national gun policies.
School Massacre in Newtown, Conn.
: The space shuttle Enterprise, riding atop a modified jumbo jet, glided past the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and World Trade Center on a flight over New York City before landing at Kennedy Airport April 26. Enterprise comes to New York as part of NASA's process of wrapping up the shuttle program, which ended last summer. It's part of an exhibit on the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum that opened in July.
Space Shuttle Enterprise Lands in NYC
: Pedro Hernandez, 51, was charged in May with murder after an alleged confession to the slaying of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who vanished from his SoHo neighborhood as he walked to the bus stop more than 30 years ago. It was the first time anyone had been charged in the boy's 1979 disappearance. Hernandez was a teenage stock clerk at a convenience store in the neighborhood when Etan disappeared. Little Etan's face has become one of the most globally recognized in missing children cases. Hernandez pleaded not guilty to murdering Patz. The court case is ongoing.
Etan Patz Investigation
AFP/Getty Images - File
: The death of music legend Whitney Houston sent shock waves around the world, especially at the Newark, N.J., church where she dazzled her first crowd as a child in the choir. Houston died Feb. 11 in Beverly Hills at the age of 48. Friends, family and some of the world's most famous entertainers celebrated her life at a homecoming at the Newark church where she got her start. Houston was buried next to her father in Fairfield Cemetery in New Jersey.
Death of Whitney Houston
: Tim Tebow was traded to the New York Jets in March, igniting a firestorm of controversy among fans and a frenzy for media that would last through December. The former Broncos quarterback was acquired in exchange for a fourth- and sixth-round draft pick in 2013, though the hype far outweighed performance. Tebow never started a game for the Jets and was used sparingly in Wildcat packages. He was passed over for QB3 Greg McElroy when Mark Sanchez was benched late in the season, fueling speculation he'd be traded to some other team as soon as the season was over.
Tim Tebow Comes to New York
: New York City's Board of Health opened up a new, experimental front in the war on obesity Sept. 13, passing a rule banning sales of big sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, concession stands, and other eateries. The board passed the proposal 8-0 with one abstention.
NYC Bans Sale of Super-Sized Sugary Drinks
: The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time in five years to bring the NFL Championship title home. Fans danced in the streets, the bars and in their homes and thousands turned out to celebrate Big Blue with a ticker tape parade in the "Canyon of Heroes."
Giants Win the Super Bowl
: Fourth of July celebrations turned devastating when three children drowned after the boat they had been on with 24 other people capsized after a fireworks display near Oyster Bay. The three children -- 12-year-old David Aureliano, 11-year-old Harlie Treanor and 7-year-old Victoria Gaines -- were trapped in the boat's cabin when the Candi Won, a 34-foot yacht, capsized. No one was charged in the fatal accident.
3 Children Drown When Boat Capsizes Near Oyster Bay
: A New Jersey mother gained national notoriety following her arrest for bringing her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth, causing the girl to suffer burns. Ultimately, the story became more about the mother's own tanning obsession. Patricia Krentcil said she's been visiting her local salon for more than 10 years and while she admitted to excessive tanning, she denied putting her daughter at risk.
Tan Mom Arrested
NBC 4 New York/AP
: A disgruntled former employee fatally shot an ex-coworker in the head outside the Empire State Building Aug. 24 in the middle of the morning rush before he was shot and killed by police. The shootings, in front of one of New York City's most iconic landmarks, created chaos and gridlock at a time of day when the streets were jammed with tourists, commuters heading into their offices and merchants opening their shops. Nine bystanders were wounded as police bullets sprayed across the crowded street. The gunman was identified as 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson (inset left, NBC 4 New York exclusive); the victim was Steven Ercolino (inset right).
Empire State Building Shooting
: A son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was acquitted on all counts in a trial stemming from a clash at a Westchester hospital in January. Douglas Kennedy never took the stand at the trial in which he faced child endangerment and physical harassment charges after a scuffle on the maternity floor of Northern Westchester Hospital. Kennedy was arrested after an altercation with nurses as he tried to remove his newborn from the maternity ward.
Douglas Kennedy's Nurse Clash Trial
: Three generations of a family died after the van they were traveling in flew off the Bronx River Parkway and into a ravine on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo April 29. Three children were among the seven dead in the crash, which incited demands for new guardrails along the parkway. The wreck was the deadliest in New York City since the driver of a tour bus returning from a Connecticut casino in March of 2011 lost control and slammed into a pole that sheared the bus nearly end to end, killing 14 passengers.
Bronx Parkway Van Plunge Kills 7
NBC 4 New York
: A 21-year-old Bangladeshi man was arrested after he allegedly tried to detonate a fake 1,000-pound car bomb next to the Federal Reserve building in lower Manhattan on Oct. 17. The criminal complaint said Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis wrote a statement claiming responsibility for what he thought would be the Fed attack, saying he wanted to "destroy America" by going after its economy. He referred to "our beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden" in the statement. He also proposed various other targets.
Federal Reserve Car Bomb Plot
NBC 4 New York
: A photographer captured a snapshot of a man who had been pushed onto the subway tracks at 49th Street moments before he would be killed by a train, sparking a national debate about why no one in the station tried to save him. A 30-year-old former deli worker was charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 3 incident.
Man Arrested in Subway Push; Photog Snapped Victim Pic Moments Before Death
: A garment salesman was charged in December with systematically shooting three shopkeepers to death as they worked alone in their Brooklyn clothing stores. Police had launched a manhant for a possible serial killer in a case that had shop owners and a neighborhood on edge for months. Salvatore Perrone pleaded not guilty to murder charges on Dec. 12.
Brooklyn Shopkeeper Murders
: An ex-Marine killed two co-workers, ages 18 and 24, and himself Aug. 31 after bursting through the glass windows of a closed New Jersey supermarket with an AK-47 and automatic handgun, officials said. Investigators discovered a third weapon in Terence Tyler's car after the shootout. A law enforcement source said he may have had a history of mental illness.
NJ Supermarket Shooting