A proposal to rename a section of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago could be voted on by city council on Wednesday.
The measure, which would rename part of Lake Shore Drive as “Jean Baptiste Point du Sable Drive,” was approved last month by a city council committee in a controversial and at times secular meeting.
The ordinance was originally introduced by 17th Ward Ald. David Moore and co-sponsored by several other Chicago City Council members to rename the iconic Sable Road, which arrived in Chicago in 1790 and was possibly the area’s first permanent non-Native American settler.
According to the language of the original ordinance, proposed in 2019, Lake Shore Drive would be renamed “Jean Baptiste Point du Sable Drive” from Hollywood Boulevard, located in the Edgewater district of the city on the north side, until the amalgamation of the 71st south street on the south side.
Moore later agreed to limit the proposal to Hollywood’s Outer Lake Shore Drive to 67th, affecting only the city’s ports and not changing the addresses of businesses or residences along the LSD.
But at an event just hours before the committee vote, Mayor Lori Lightfoot presented an alternate proposal to honor DuSable: complete a park named for him that had been laid down for decades, and rename the Chicago Riverwalk after him.
“It goes without saying that DuSable was not properly recognized as the founder of this city. We do not exist if he does not come and set up a trading post with his wife Kitihawa who obviously helps him navigate the river. Potawatomi tribe and what we’ve done to date historically, in my opinion, is woefully inadequate, ”said Lightfoot, when asked about the ordinance before the transportation committee at an unrelated press conference at Navy Pier.
“So the proposition is this: DuSable Park, which is, I think, just south of where we’re sitting right now, was actually something Harold Washington gave to the park district in 1987 and this project languished for all these years in part because there was a lot of environmental remediation that needed to be done, looking into who was responsible for it, in short, we are now in a position where we can really turn this park into a reality and we have the resources to make that happen, ”she continued.
“We will then connect, both physically and thematically, this park by transforming the riverwalk into the DuSable Riverwalk and there will be three iconic statues that will tell part of the story of DuSable and Kitihawa,” said Lightfoot.
Then, at the committee meeting itself, a representative from the Chicago Department of Transportation introduced substitute language that Moore called “a whole new ordinance” that had not been discussed before, later exclaiming that it was a “racist bull ****”.
In the end, the committee unanimously approved the measure following the sometimes controversial discussion, with the promise to fix the language of the ordinance before the city council vote.
Point du Sable arrived at the mouth of the Chicago River in 1790 and established a property near what is now Michigan Avenue. He sold his property in 1800, researchers say, but the area where he settled is now marked by historic landmarks along the Chicago River.
If the causeway is renamed, it would be the second major street to be renamed in the city in recent years. Congress Parkway was recently renamed Ida B. Wells Drive in honor of the famous journalist and activist who helped found the NAACP.