Lake Shore Drive could be renamed Du Sable Drive today as City Council prepares to vote


CHICAGO — Chicago’s iconic Lake Shore Drive could be renamed Wednesday after the city’s first non-Native settler — despite Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s objection.

The city council is set to consider a controversial plan to rename Lake Shore Drive for Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, Chicago’s first non-native permanent settler. Du Sable, a black man believed to be of Haitian descent, arrived here by establishing a trading post and farm at the mouth of the Chicago River in 1779.

The name change would affect 17 miles off Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Avenue to East 67th Street. It is expected to cost $2.25 million, according to the Sun-Times.

The Transport Committee unanimously endorsed the proposal at a tumultuous meeting in April. It was first introduced by Ald. David Moore (17th) in 2019, who said the name change was long overdue and will connect Chicagoans.

“It will bring us even closer,” he said.

Although this committee of city council unanimously approved the name change, it is possible that a heated debate or last-minute maneuver at city council could derail or delay the Du Sable plan. It only takes two aldermen to “adjourn and publish”, which would delay the vote of an assembly. And Lightfoot herself could veto the name change.

Last month, Lightfoot did not explicitly object to the name change, but said she hoped 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.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
A statue for Jean Baptiste Point du Sable along the Magnificent Mile on Monday, December 21 in downtown Chicago.

Aldus. Sophia King (4th), whose South Side lakeside neighborhood would include much of the renamed road, said the change would make Chicago “even more iconic” and the issue reminded her 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 in April. .

“We had no problem changing White Sox Park – very iconic – 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 the right thing.

Other aldermen who represent stretches of Lake Shore Drive, including Ald. Tom Tunnney (44th), fielded concerned calls from people living on Lake Shore Drive, according to the Sun-Times.

Tremell Williams, one of several members of the Black Heroes Matter coalition, said he understands the complications and pushback from the proposal. But honoring Du Sable will put the city council on the “good side” of history, he said.

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.

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