By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, CHICAGO, IL, Weds. June 30, 2021: Lake Shore Drive in Chicago could soon be renamed after the city’s famous Caribbean immigrant founder.
After months of infighting, council members on June 25th agreed to a compromise plan to rename the iconic roadway after Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable, the Haitian-born immigrant who founded the city.
The Chicago City Council recently voted 33-15 to rename Outer Lake Shore Drive – from Hollywood Ave. on the north, to 67th Street on the South – “Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable Lake Shore Drive.” There were “no” votes coming from 12 white and three Latino aldermen.
The vote comes after months of protests over racial justice in addition to a nationwide reckoning over monuments and symbols. Supporters say changing one of the city’s best-known roadways to honor DuSable, a Black man and Chicago’s first non-indigenous settler, is a recognition of contributions Black people have made to the city.
The ordinance calls for the renaming to happen immediately, but a city spokesman did not respond to questions about how long it would take to change the signs.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot opposed Alderman David Moore’s initial plan to rebrand the iconic lakefront ribbon of concrete “DuSable Drive” on the grounds it would make the city tougher to market. But she got behind the late “DuSable Lake Shore Drive” deal rather than risk taking a total loss in the 50-member council.
Moore and other DuSable backers agreed to the compromise instead of trying to hold together a majority in the face of pushback from the mayor and opponents on the council, or risking Lightfoot using her first veto to further impede them.
DuSable, a Haitian immigrant, set up a trading post in the late 1700s at the nexus of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. He eventually sold his land to French-Canadian fur trapper Jean La Lime, who then flipped it to John Kinzie. He is the namesake of DuSable High School, the DuSable Museum of African American History, DuSable Harbor and a bridge downtown.
Pushback against the name change has centered around the potential cost to those with outer Lake Shore Drive addresses and altering one of the city’s most well-known attractions.
A proposal to change the roadway to DuSable Drive was poised for a final vote two times, but delayed by parliamentary maneuvering and amid growing tensions between the mayor and members of the Council. Ald. Sophia King, 4th, and Ald. David Moore, 17th, the co-sponsors of the name change, have both expressed frustration at the administration’s handling of the issue.
Peggy Montes is now also hoping a plan to develop a section of reclaimed land along the lakefront, called DuSable Park, will gather momentum. Montes is on the DuSable Park advisory council, the organization that oversees the land that was dedicated by the late Mayor Harold Washington 34 years ago.
Montes said she is encouraged by a plan to invest $40 million to develop DuSable Park, to create the DuSable Riverwalk and to establish year-round programming.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that she is committed to tributes to Chicago’s founding father.
“I really think it’s important, not just to have a name out there. We’ve gotta teach our residents, and particularly our young people, about the history of Chicago,” the mayor said, adding that specific plans to honor DuSable will be heard soon in city council with votes possibly taking place by September.