Lake Shore Drive Signs Now Have Its New Name, DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Honoring City’s Black Founder

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CHICAGO — Lake Shore Drive has gotten signs that proclaim its new name: Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

The signs were unveiled at a Thursday ceremony at Buckingham Fountain with Alds. Sophia King (4th) and David Moore (17th), who pushed for the ordinance that renamed Chicago’s famous lakeside street. They’ll be put up over the next few days, officials said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also celebrated at the unveiling, though she fought hard to prevent the street being renamed for du Sable. She said she still plans to build out a park for du Sable and create a memorial to him along the Riverwalk.

“We needed to find a way to honor our founder; and, in the long process that took us to get to this point, we took a lot of steps, a lot of journeys,” Lightfoot said. “We took steps in each other’s direction to get to … this important place.

“… Now, forevermore, people will know the name du Sable.”

Lightfoot said the city is “proud” to rename the street after du Sable, and the renaming honors the contribution of Black residents to Chicago’s history.

The name change affects about 18 miles of outer Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood Avenue to East 67th Street. City Council voted to approve the name change June 25 after months of back-and-forth between aldermen and Lightfoot.

The name change comes as people have sought ways to honor Black historical figures like du Sable.

“By telling the story of our founder on this highway, we are further unifying our city and residents in a moment of racial and historical reckoning,” Lightfoot said. “… Never again will the contributions of this man be forgotten. And more to come.

“We are an incredible city founded by a Black man and his Indigenous wife. We should be very proud of this legacy and never forget it and honor it and revere it fom this point forward.”

Moore, speaking at the ceremony, said he started his crusade to rename Lake Shore Drive after being troubled hearing a tour guide talk about Chicago’s white historical figures, like Al Capone, without mentioning du Sable.

“This way, it opens the door for everybody to learn — if we can take this drive … drive down bringing everybody together from north to south to east to west to celebrate a man who was about bringing people together,” Moore said. Urging people to look at the buildings Downtown, he said, “That’s because of the foundation of Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable.”

This summer, critics of the change said residents didn’t want to change their address or were worried about getting rid of the iconic “Lake Shore Drive” name. Some said aldermen should focus on other issues, like Chicago’s recovery after the pandemic or the city’s spike in shootings and murders.

Lightfoot proposed other ways of honoring du Sable, including building out DuSable Park, hosting a festival in his honor and naming the Riverwalk for him. There was also a push to rename Millennium Park for du Sable.

But supporters of the renaming — like Moore, who had fought for the change since 2019 — ultimately prevailed.

Du Sable, a Black man believed to be of Haitian descent, is often credited as Chicago’s founder. He and his wife, Kitihawa, settled where the Chicago River and Lake Michigan meet in 1779, establishing a trading post and farm before selling the property in 1800 and moving to the port of St. Charles.

In addition to a school and the DuSable Museum of African American History in Hyde Park, a small monument to du Sable sits near the DuSable Bridge on Michigan Avenue.

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October 21, 2021 at 03:27PM

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