chicago politics

Chicago City Council Meets Without Voting on Renaming Lake Shore Drive

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Chicago City Council met Wednesday but did not take up the controversial proposal to rename part of Lake Shore Drive as chaos erupted at City Hall.

The move to rename a portion of one of the city's most well-known streets in honor of the city’s first non-native resident has divided Chicagoans and political leaders - and Wednesday was no exception.

City Council abruptly adjourned after a heated debate over Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's nomination of Celia Meza as the city's next corporation counsel. The next City Council meeting was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Friday.

The ordinance to rename Lake Shore Drive, now tabled until Friday at the earliest, would change the name of Outer Lake Shore Drive to DuSable Drive from Hollywood all the way south to 67th Street.

Ald. David Moore has been one of the leading advocates for the move to rename the roadway in honor of Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable, and said Tuesday he felt he had the votes to do so.

“None of us would be here, including Lake Shore Drive, if this city wasn’t founded by Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable,” he said. “We’ve gotten it out of committee, and I’m not going to have it go back to committee just so it can get stalled.”

Ald. Brian Hopkins is part of a contingent that opposes the change, and says he’s heard that many residents support his stance.

“It was about the desire to protect the tradition, the legacy, the attractiveness of the name,” he said. “It’s a beautiful name for a beautiful road.”

Hopkins has proposed a compromise to rename the city’s Millennium Park in du Sable’s honor. He argues that it would be much less controversial, and would save confusion for thousands of downtown residents who live along the drive.

Moore said his ordinance ensures that no residential addresses would change.

“The inner drive will still be Lake Shore Drive,” he says. “Their homes are still on Lake Shore Drive, and the outer drive is named after the founder. He should get the recognition.”

Lightfoot, who has voiced opposition to the plan to rename Lake Shore Drive, has offered a series of proposals as a compromise. A project proposed by Lightfoot would establish an annual du Sable Festival, to be held every August, and a park in his honor, which would be established on city land near the shores of Lake Michigan.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is regarded as the first non-Indigenous settler of the area that would ultimately become the city of Chicago. He’s believed to have lived at the mouth of the Chicago River in 1790, and established a trading settlement that led to the formation of the city, which was formally incorporated in March 1837.

Another possible compromise that has been floated is to rename the street du Sable Lake Shore Drive, but it is unclear whether that proposal will be put before lawmakers.

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