A city ordinance to rename Chicago's famous Lake Shore Drive for explorer Jean Baptiste Point DuSable is advancing after unanimously passing the city's Committee on Transportation on Thursday.
The measure has been under consideration for some time. It was first introduced to City Council in late 2019 by co-sponsors Ald. David Moore (17th) and Ald. Sophia King (4th).
The ordinance that passed Thursday was modified at the last minute to affect only Outer Lake Shore Drive and will therefore not require the many properties along the Inner Drive to change their addresses, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Jean Baptiste Point DuSable is considered Chicago's first permanent non-native inhabitant. A Black Haitian of African and French descent, DuSable traveled from New Orleans up the Mississippi River to St. Louis before eventually settling in Chicago, where he set up a trading outpost along the banks of the Chicago River in the 1780s.
In Chicago, there is currently a school, museum, harbor, and a bridge named after DuSable, and Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue has a bronze statue and plaque commemorating the explorer and his legacy. Some aldermen had suggested naming the Chicago Riverwalk after DuSable as an alternative to renaming the Drive.
There's also the unfinished DuSable Park, a 3.3-acre peninsula of reclaimed lakefront land between the Chicago River and the Ogden Slip. DuSable Park will be funded by developer Related Midwest, which is contributing $10 million toward the park’s creation and will use the parcel as a staging area for its two-tower apartment complex at the former Chicago Spire site.
"With the exception of the Du Sable Museum and the little known recognition on the Chicago River, very few people, especially tourists and new Chicagoans, know DuSable as the founder of Chicago," reads the 2019 ordinance. "...it is shameful that there is no major street or drive named after an African American male coming through the central business district."
After receiving the Committee on Transportation's blessing on Thursday, the plan to rename one of Chicago's most iconic roadways has only one step left in the process: a vote next month by the full City Council.
In 1993, then-alderman Toni Preckwinkle (who now serves as Cook County Board President) also pushed for LSD to be renamed after DuSable. That effort never made it past committee.