Chicago’s famous Lake Shore Drive renamed in honor of black town founder DuSable

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago City Council voted Friday to change the name of Lake Shore Drive to the name of a black man recognized as a key settler in the city.

In a compromise, aldermen voted to rename one of the city’s iconic roads to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive. DuSable, originally from Haiti, is considered Chicago’s first non-Native permanent settler.

DuSable had a thriving trading post in the late 1700s. He died in 1818. Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1833 and incorporated as a city four years later.

South Side Alderman Donald Moore proposed renaming the concrete ribbon along Lake Michigan to DuSable Drive two years ago after taking a boat tour of town in which he claimed the name of DuSable was not mentioned.

A major redesign of the iconic road to reduce its environmental impact by making it less car-centric and improving access to green spaces has been under consideration for some years.

Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said the lack of honor for black leaders has a detrimental impact on black children. Naming the road for DuSable — alternatively rendered as De Sable and du Sable — “is a small but important step in addressing racial injustice,” Ramirez-Rosa said.

Moore’s initial proposal to get rid of the Lake Shore Drive name entirely was opposed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. An opposing councilman noted that getting rid of the Lake Shore Drive name would require a “long and costly solution” for Chicago voters and would have “expensive implications” for businesses, police and firefighters.

Proponents of the name change this week accepted the Lightfoot-backed compromise that added DuSable’s name to the causeway’s existing name. The vote for change was 33 to 15, with “no” votes coming from 12 white aldermen and three Latino aldermen.

Detail from a vintage postcard from Chicago featuring an illustration of Lake Shore Drive.

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DuSable’s name was previously affixed to a Chicago public high school in the historic Bronzeville district, the city’s main museum of African American history, a major marina and lakefront park near Navy Pier originally promised as part of the scuttled development of the Chicago Spire residential tower designed by Santiago Calatrava.

MarketWatch contributed.

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