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7067: Plan to rename City Hall rekindles du Sable debate (fwd)

From: nozier <nozier@tradewind.net>

Plan to rename City Hall rekindles du Sable debate  February 8, 2001

You can't fight Du Sable Hall. That's what people battling City Hall
would be saying if Ald. Ed Smith (28th) has his way. Smith wants to
rename Chicago's political nerve center in honor of Jean  Baptiste Point
du Sable, the city's founder.  About eight years after cost
considerations prompted   Mayor Daley to derail a plan to rename Lake
Shore Drive in   honor of du Sable, Smith revived the old controversy.
 At Wednesday's City Council meeting, he introduced a   resolution
calling for City Hall   to be "officially named Jean Baptiste Point du
Sable Hall" in  honor of the black fur trader  who established Chicago's
first trading post in 1779.
 Du Sable's name would be "permanently affixed in the appropriate place"
to the City
 Hall building, the resolution states. The resolution did not say
whether City Hall
 stationery and the many documents distributed by city government would
have to be
 "Du Sable was the first black citizen in this city, and he came and set
up a trading
 post--really the beginning of business in Chicago. Some edifice in
terms of
prominence should be named after him. City Hall is appropriate. It's the
seat of
 government," Smith said.
 Du Sable already has a high school, a museum and a new Park District
harbor  named in his honor, but Smith said that's not enough for one of
the city's most  prominent historical figures. If the old Civic Center
could be named for former Mayor Richard J. Daley and the  State of
Illinois Center for former Gov. Jim Thompson, du Sable should have his
 name affixed to City Hall, Smith said. It would be an important
symbolic gesture to
 African Americans across the city.
 "The recognition that he's gotten in the past has been minuscule,"
Smith said.
 "Kinzie was a Canadian who came to Chicago and ended up buying du
Sable's      home. We've got a very prominent street named after Kinzie.
Clark was another guy
 who came into the city. He's prominently registered. Du Sable has a
museum out on
 the South Side of Chicago, and, I guarantee you, no one . . . can tell
me what street
 it's on and you can't tell me how to get there by bus."
  Mayor Daley treated the renewed du Sable controversy like a giant hot
 refusing to take a stand. Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), the City
Council's resident historian, said he would   keep an open mind.  "I
know the new harbor has been named Du Sable Harbor, which is a
significant   historical development. Whether or not the City Hall
should be named for some historical figure in the past is an interesting
question," Burke said.  Asked if the gesture would be worth the printing
costs, Burke said, "Is that what it  calls for? Would the City Hall
stationery have to include another term? I don't know. Would there be
anything very expensive about adding a plaque to the lobby of City
Hall? I doubt it. I don't know that expense is an issue."
 Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) recalled what happened in 1993 when she and
  Madeline Haithcock (2nd) tried and failed to persuade Daley to rename
Lake Shore
 Drive in honor of du Sable.
 "It's fair to say that Madeline and I got killed on that one,"
Preckwinkle said. The
 South Side alderman said she intends to support Smith's resolution but,
"It's an uphill
  battle. . . . It's difficult to have African-American heroes get their
proper due."
 Haithcock was even more blunt. She predicted Smith would meet the same
  wall of resistance. "They're not going to do it. It just won't happen.
It'll get stuck in committee, just like  Lake Shore Drive," Haithcock
said. "It's not a racial thing. It's just tradition. Lake  Shore Drive
is Lake Shore Drive and City Hall is City Hall."
  During the 1993 du Sable debate, Daley argued it would "cost a
fortune" to rename
  Lake Shore Drive. He said he understood the desires of black aldermen
to honor
  the city's founder, but taxpayers would be better served with a
"With all the crises in Chicago and we're into that?" the mayor said at
the time. "It
costs a fortune. It costs taxpayers and property owners more money. The
idea is not
  silly. But the cost--you start renaming streets, we'll have people
renaming every
 street in Chicago. It would be impossible."