We have an odd debate in Chicago about the name of our most iconic road. A group of aldermen want to change the name of Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point du Sable Drive, in honor of the first non-native permanent settler, who was also Black. The (Black) mayor and a contingent of other aldermen of varying races disagree:
The proposal’s sponsors faced opposition from some colleagues and the mayor’s office over fears that renaming the iconic road would lead to a nightmare at the post office and for residents with thousands of address changes.
Ald. David Moore, 17th Ward, attempted to quell some of those concerns at a contentious committee meeting in late April, saying his proposal would only change the outer drive — not the inner, residential portion of the road. That meeting saw a shouting match between aldermen when the Chicago Department of Transportation tried to substitute Moore’s ordinance for one they said served the same purpose but cleared up confusing language.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot defended the move to delay the vote Wednesday, saying she has concerns over changing the name of Chicago’s most well-known roadway.
“It’s one of the most iconic assets the city has. When you say Lake Shore Drive, people know you’re talking about Chicago. And I think that that’s very important,” Lightfoot said.
The effort to get DuSable recognized on a grand scale in Chicago is not new. In the 1990s, then-Ald. Toni Preckwinkle introduced her own ordinance to rename Lake Shore to DuSable Drive, the Chicago Tribune reported.
His name is already affixed to several existing institutions, including the DuSable Museum of African American History, a high school and a monument on Michigan Avenue. But proponents have argued the man deemed the city’s “founding father” deserves more.
I find the whole thing odd. I have no idea which side to support, if either. We should have a DuSable drive. But we should also have Lake Shore Drive.
The decision won't come around again until late June. I'll keep my eyes peeled for follow-up stories on the subject.