Amid the ongoing debate over whether to rename Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive after its first permanent non-indigenous settler, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office unveiled a massive new plan to honor his legacy in a variety of ways, including a new festival and a development of a new park near Lake Michigan.
According to Lightfoot’s office, the plan involves three sites that will be developed into new projects, and will also involve the establishment of an annual DuSable Festival, which would take place every August and highlight the importance of both his legacy, as well as the Potawatomi nation, which inhabited the Chicago area prior to DuSable’s arrival.
Jean Baptiste Point DuSable is regarded as the first non-Indigenous settler of the area that would ultimately become the city of Chicago. He is 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 that was formally incorporated as a city in March 1837.
“This comprehensive plan asserts the mayor’s belief that Jean Baptiste Point DuSable has played a critical role in Chicago’s history, and has not received the proper appreciation that he deserves,” the mayor’s office said in the press release.
According to Lightfoot’s office, a new plan to honor his legacy will begin to take shape this year, starting with the development of DuSable Park. Located east of Lake Shore Drive and north of the Chicago River, the undeveloped 3.44 acre site would become a large park dedicated to his memory.
The city will seek to identify and hire a park designer, and that portion of the project would start later this year.
The plan would also designate a landmark along the Chicago River, where the main branch of the river meets the north and south branches. DuSable Point would feature sculptures and tributes both to DuSable and to Kitihawa Point DuSable, who was married to the trader and who was believed to be a member of the Potawatomi nation.
The development at the site would be visible from CTA el trains, Chicago Riverwalk visitors and from architectural boat tours. Educational programming would also take place at the site, according to Lightfoot’s office.
The third monument would be placed near DuSable Bridge, which goes over the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue. The DuSable Homestead was located at the site, and although there is currently a bust of DuSable and a plaque at the site, the city would upgrade those existing tributes, according to the press release.
Finally, an annual “DuSable Festival” would be established to celebrate the legacy of DuSable and his wife Kitihawa.
Lightfoot has pushed for the new parks, monuments and festival as a proper way to honor DuSable, but has been hesitant about an ordinance that would rename Lake Shore Drive after the tradesman. A bill to do so was stalled in the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, with a vote on the measure being delayed by at least a month in a parliamentary move by Ald. Brian Hopkins and Ariel Reboyras.