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Circle Interchange Renamed After Jane Byrne

First and only female Chicago mayor makes rare appearance at Friday ceremony

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    NEWSLETTERS

    8/29/2014: First and only female Chicago mayor makes rare appearance at Friday ceremony. NBC 5's Natalie Martinez reports.

    A highway interchange near downtown Chicago has been named for former Mayor Jane Byrne.

    Gov. Pat Quinn announced the new name Friday afternoon for what's known as the Circle Interchange. Its new name is the Jane Byrne Interchange.

    Byrne held office from 1979 to 1983. She was the city's first and only female mayor. Earlier in the summer, city officials also proposed naming a park next to the Historic Water Tower after her.

    The 81-year-old Byrne, who's in a wheelchair, made a rare appearance at the news conference announcing the name change.

    "The coming together of the city of Chicago is what will make it great," Byrne said at the news conference.

    Quinn said Byrne broke barriers and the newly named interchange will ensure she'll be remembered. He listed all of the legacy projects completed under her watch.

    "Taste of Chicago, Navy Pier, Museum Campus, all of the fests, gospel, blues -- Mayor Byrne had a passion for people then and now," Quinn said.

    The interchange connects several major highways near downtown, facilitating travel for more than 400,000 vehicles each day. It was built between 1958 and 1962 and is undergoing reconstruction.