The Chicago City Council on Friday voted to rename the city’s iconic Lake Shore Drive in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a Black trader who is widely regarded as Chicago’s founder.
As part of a compromise, alderman approved an ordinance renaming the popular street “Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.” DuSable 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, which was formally incorporated in March 1837.
The city council was initially slated to vote on the measure in its Wednesday meeting, which adjourned abruptly amid arguments over the confirmation of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s nominee as corporation counsel and the rules of the body.
Ald. David Moore, one of the leading advocates for the move to rename the roadway in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, originally wanted the street to be called “Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Drive.”
However, he, along with others pushing for the name change, announced support for the compromise, which was also supported by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Opponents, mainly those representing predominantly white wards along the lakefront, said the change was controversial and could cause confusion for commuters, among other concerns.
“It was about the desire to protect the tradition, the legacy, the attractiveness of the name,” Ald. Brian Hopkins, of the city’s 2nd Ward, previously said. “It’s a beautiful name for a beautiful road.”
Supporters contended the move was long overdue and a step toward addressing racial injustice.
“It’s been argued not to change Lake Shore Drive, because it’s so iconic,” said Ald. Sophia King of the city’s 4th Ward. “I argue just the opposite. Let’s change it, because it is so iconic. Let’s be leaders as the city council did when renaming South Parkway to King Drive, Aug. 1 of 1968…”