Name change accepted: it is now Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive


Chicago’s most iconic and scenic road has a new name—and it’s a bite of history: Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

The Haitian-born black man who was Chicago’s first non-native settler has finally gotten the honor his champions say he’s long deserved, thanks to a recurring, recurring compromise that’s been repeated again – and approved – at a city council. meeting Friday.

Three Hispanic aldermen joined 12 white aldermen in voting against the compromise.

Ahead of the 33-15 vote, downtown aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Brendan Reilly (42nd) urged their colleagues to agree to what they called their “best alternative” – ​​renaming Millennium Park for DuSable.

Reilly lamented that the Board “spent the better part of nine months” discussing the name change at a time when Chicago faces “unprecedented challenges” requiring urgent attention.

After the vote, Lightfoot said she agreed, arguing that the DuSable vote should be a “point of reflection” on “what really matters.”

Reilly further argued that the compromise involved a “very, very long name” which could lead to “even more confusion”.

Aldus. Brendan Reilly (42nd) spoke at Friday’s Chicago City Council meeting to argue unsuccessfully against the ordinance renaming Lake Shore Drive in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, the first non-Native settler in what is Chicago today.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Hopkins said six high-rise buildings and a seventh under construction would have addresses that “no longer match the road they are on.”

Aldus. Sophia King (4th) dismissed the argument that Lake Shore Drive is too iconic to be renamed, arguing that its stature is exactly why it should be renamed.

“Why are we spending so much time on this issue when we have bigger fish to fry? You can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can do both,” King said.

“What’s in a name? History, education, pride, racial recognition and hopefully unity.

King also said she was confident between herself and Ald. David Moore (17th) would have had the 26 votes he needed to change the name to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Drive – dropping “Lake Shore” from the name entirely.

But they agreed to the hybrid name change because the Black Heroes Coalition was on board. After two years of lobbying and months of parliamentary maneuvering, they were ready to take what they could get and not risk a veto from the mayor.

Aldermen David Moore (17th) and Sophia King (4th) embrace after the Chicago City Council passed the ordinance they co-sponsored, changing the name of Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive during of a meeting at City Hall, Friday afternoon, June 25, 2021.

Aldermen David Moore (17th) and Sophia King (4th) embraced during Friday’s city council meeting after council passed the ordinance they co-sponsored, changing the name of Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

“I’m not sure we would have the [34] vote for a waiver. I’ll give you that. [But]I don’t think this mayor would have used this parliamentary gesture…. I don’t think so,” King told the Sun-Times hours before Friday’s vote.

“I don’t think she would want to go down in history as the mayor who supplanted DuSable Drive. … Politically, it would send a message to the black community that they are not serious about the black community.

After the chaos that cut Wednesday’s city council meeting short, Moore wasn’t so sure he would have gotten the necessary 26 votes for Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Drive.

“You no longer know what is going on at the municipal council. I can’t even lie about it,” Moore said Friday.

Moore said that once the hybrid name change was launched, some of its original supporters began to dither.

“It made it difficult. I was still going to go ahead, but I listen to people,” Moore said. “My position was, ‘If that’s what you all want to do, I’m not going to fight you on it. It’s not my preference. But I don’t build walls. I am a bridge builder.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot desperately tried to stop the name change on the grounds that it would inconvenience business owners and high-rise residents, confuse first responders, and make it harder to market Chicago.

She noted that the stunning road is commemorated in movies and songs – and there’s value in the fact that the name “Lake Shore Drive” is known around the world.

South Lake Shore Drive at East 31st Street looking north.

South Lake Shore Drive at East 31st Street looking north.

At one point, Moore accused the mayor’s office of trying to block the ordinance with an alternative he sees as having “racial overtones” – renaming the Dan Ryan Freeway in honor of DuSable for “the keep on the south side”.

Lightfoot also proposed a $40 million plan to complete DuSable Park, create an exhibit including statues and murals honoring DuSable in the “busiest part” of downtown Riverwalk, and rename the entire Riverwalk to DuSable’s honor.

When neither offer was accepted, the allied mayors bought more time. They encouraged Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th) joins Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) using a parliamentary maneuver at the May City Council meeting to delay a vote on the name change.

Only after it was clear that King and Moore still had the votes they needed did the mayor’s forces finally propose the hybrid, keeping Lake Shore Drive in the name but giving DuSable the top spot.

“It’s something that shouldn’t have been so difficult. Other cities recognize their founders in very distinct ways. Cleveland is named after Cleveland. Cadillac is very much in the spotlight in Detroit. And DuSable is our founder and should be honored. Even the person who bought DuSable’s house — Kinzie — had a street named after him,” King said.

“There are and have been racial overtones and resistance to meaningful recognition of our founder, who happens to be black and of Haitian descent. It is both conscious and unconscious. »

Even after Friday’s long stalled vote, Lightfoot has work to do to undo the political damage.

“When the rules are public and the rules of the game are fair, everyone has a chance to win. In this case, the playing field was not level. … This is not democracy. And that’s what happened here. … It’s disheartening,” Moore said.


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