CHICAGO — A proposal to rename Chicago’s iconic Lake Shore Drive after the city’s first non-Native settler was approved Thursday by a key city committee over Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s objection.
After a “tumultuous” meeting that included accusations of racism, the Transport Committee unanimously approved the proposal, first presented by Ald. David Moore (17th) in 2019.
If approved by the full city council, 17 miles off Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Avenue to East 67th Street would be renamed for Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a black man believed to be of Haitian descent. . Du Sable arrived here by establishing a trading post and farm at the mouth of the Chicago River in 1779.
Before the vote, the committee took an hour-long detour to discuss a last-minute amendment to the Lightfoot administration’s proposal that clarified the name change and extended it farther south than Moore’s order. did not require it.
A furious Moore dismissed the changes, calling the move “racist bullshit” and naysayers’ “last day game plan” to maneuver against the ordinance he has been trying to push through for more than a year.
Aldus. Jeanette Taylor (20th) agreed, saying the Lightfoot administration could have spoken to Moore before the meeting instead of making changes to the committee and catching the main sponsor off guard.
“It’s very disrespectful to Ald. Moore and Ald. (Sophia) King, and it seems really racist to me. He’s the founder of Chicago…and all of a sudden you all throw a wrench there. C That’s why our city isn’t moving because we’re working in silos,” she said.
Gia Biagi, Commissioner of the Department for Transport, later apologized to Moore and others for not circulating and explaining the changes sooner. She said they were only meant to codify the intent of Moore’s order.
Several aldermen demanded clarification on what was voted on at the meeting, fearing that Moore’s ordinance could affect the addresses of people living along the interior of Lake Shore Drive if the proposal is not drafted properly.
Ald town center. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said he needed “absolute” certainty that residents would not be affected before voting on the measure.
In the end, the committee never accepted the late amendments and passed Moore’s ordinance unanimously.
Moore said the name change was long overdue and would connect Chicagoans.
“It will bring us even closer,” he said.
At a press conference, Lightfoot did not explicitly object to the name change, but said she hoped the aldermen would consider alternative proposals to honor Du Sable.
“Du Sable has not been properly recognized, in my opinion, as the founder of the city,” she said.
She offered to invest in DuSable Park near Navy Pier. The Chicago Park District is renovating the land east of Lake Shore Drive as part of the development that will plug the hole at the former Chicago Spire site.
“We have the resources to make this happen, then we will connect – both physically and thematically – this park by transforming the Riverwalk into the DuSable Riverwalk” with three statues of Du Sable and his wife, Kitiwaha.
Tremell Williams, one of several members of the Black Heroes Matter coalition, spoke during public comments ahead of the vote, as the group has done for months. Williams said he understands the complications and the pushback of the proposal, but urged the committee to be on the “right side of history” and honor Du Sable.
King, whose lakeside South Side neighborhood would include much of the renamed road, said the change would make Chicago “even more iconic” and the issue reminded him of the fight to rename Congress Parkway after Ida B. Wells, a pioneering black journalist and anti-lynching advocate.
“I think it’s all unconscious bias that comes out, and people are strategically scared of money and marketing and all the things that really aren’t that important but change people’s minds,” he said. said King.
“We had no problem changing the – very iconic – White Sox Park and several other icons. No problem. So marketing shouldn’t stop us from taking this moment of judgment in our world, in our country and in our city to do what is right.
Moore first introduced the order in fall 2019, but said he “respectfully agreed” to keep the item until the end of the 2019 budget season. He later agreed to limit the name change outside of Lake Shore Drive to limit the cost of the proposed name change.
Du Sable settled where the Chicago River and Lake Michigan meet in 1779, establishing a trading post and a farm before selling the property in 1800 and moving to the port of St. Charles. But du Sable’s “successful role in the development of the Chicago River Colony was little recognized until the middle of the 20th century,” the draft order says.
Renaming the drive would help educate the “very few people, especially tourists and newcomers to Chicago” about du Sable’s life and importance to the city, the ordinance says.
In addition to a school and the DuSable Museum of African American History in Hyde Park, a small monument stands near the DuSable Bridge on Michigan Avenue.
After the meeting, Lightfoot spokeswoman Jordan Troy said the mayor would continue to speak with the city council “to find a way to honor” Du Sable.
“As the mayor mentioned earlier today, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable has played a vital role in Chicago’s history and has not received the recognition he deserves. As our city’s first non-Indigenous permanent settler, it is important that we honor and recognize his contributions in a meaningful way. We look forward to continuing this conversation with City Council and various stakeholders to find a way to honor his remarkable legacy,” she said.
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