It’s been a debate that has divided Chicagoans and political leaders, but Wednesday could finally see a resolution to the issue, as the City Council is set to evaluate whether Lake Shore Drive should be renamed in honor of the city’s first non-native resident.
If the measure passes the City Council Wednesday, DuSable Drive would replace the name of Outer Lake Shore 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 he feels that he has 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 says. “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 says that 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.”
Chicago Mayor Lori 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.
The ordinance is expected to be called for a vote on Wednesday.