Crews began installing green and white street signs Thursday along Chicago’s lakefront to reflect the new name of Chicago’s most iconic road: Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive.
Even though Mayor Lori Lightfoot opposed the push led by Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward) and Ald. David Moore (17th Ward) to honor Chicago’s first non-native settler by changing the name of the city’s most well-known road, the three gathered near the Buckingham Fountain on Thursday to celebrate the compromise they agreed on agreed.
Concluding the heated debate, which has been marred by allegations of racism, with a solution everyone could adopt should set an example for all city leaders, Lightfoot said.
Twelve large signs bearing the full roadway name will be installed along with more than 80 smaller signs reading “DuSable Lake Shore Drive” at a cost of about $500,000, Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi said. .
Moore said it was fitting that the road that showcases the Chicago skyline and its thriving business district was named after DuSable, who founded Chicago’s first business – a trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River and what is now Michigan Avenue.
“After decades of starts and stops, one of Chicago’s most iconic roads is named after the black man whose vision as an entrepreneur of seeing Chicago as a mall is finally a reality,” Moore said. “For everything there is a season and the city council’s vote for DuSable Lake Shore Drive was the right thing at the right time.”
Four months ago, the Chicago City Council voted 33 to 15 to rename Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Avenue in Edgewater to 67th Street in Woodlawn after months of intense debate.
Twelve white aldermen and three Latino aldermen voted against the name change, an indication that the issue had become racially polarized.
Moore’s efforts to rename Lake Shore Drive for DuSable had been stalled for more than 18 months when the measure took on new life amid nationwide scrutiny of systemic racism sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May 2020 and the widespread protests that followed.
For more than a year, members of the Black Heroes Matter effort have urged Aldermen to act urgently to address the lack of proper recognition of the Haitian-born DuSable.
“This historic milestone tells the world that Chicago is not only ready for change, but sets the country on a path to ending systemic racism, to the point that other major cities are now following our lead and honoring our founder, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable and other great black heroes,” said Ephraim Martin, the leader of Black Heroes Matter.
This story has been updated to correct Ald. Statement by David Moore due to an error in the statement issued by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.
Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]