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Lake Shore Drive renamed to honor Jean Baptiste Point DuSable

The scenic expressway that runs along Lake Michigan will now honor Chicago's first settler.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

The contentious proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive has officially passed, and the scenic lakeside expressway has a new name: Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

City Council has spent months attempting to come to an agreement on a way to honor Jean Baptiste Point DuSable, a man thought to be of Haitian decent who is widely regarded as the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not support changing the name of Lake Shore Drive (citing the confusion it might cause for business owners and residents of high rises located along the road), but a majority of aldermen voted to make the new moniker official, supporting the change by a vote of 33 to 15.

Alderman David Moore (17th) lead the effort to rename Outer Lake Shore Drive in honor of DuSable, arguing in an interview with WGN Radio 720 that highlighting the role that a Black man played in the history of Chicago is a way of uniting our city, saying "this is not about a place, this is about a drive down unity, a drive down hope."

While the name change has been approved by City Council, it's unclear when the change will officially go into effect, in the form of updated signage along the road itself and the many other roads that feed into it. When City Council approved the renaming of a portion of Congress Parkway in the Loop to Ida B. Welles Drive (in honor of the journalist and civil rights activist) in July of 2018, the new signage was not installed until February of 2019. Running just over 16 miles from Edgewater on the city's North Side to Jackson Park on Chicago's South Side, the task of retrofitting signage to reflect Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive's new name will be much more extensive.

It's worth noting that Mayor Lightfoot could still decide to veto the name change. City Council would need 34 votes to override the veto—one more vote than was cast to approve the new name.

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