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7067: Plan to rename City Hall rekindles du Sable debate (fwd)
From: nozier <email@example.com>
Plan to rename City Hall rekindles du Sable debate February 8, 2001
BY FRAN SPIELMAN CITY HALL REPORTER . CHICAGO SUN TIMES
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
prominence should be named after him. City Hall is appropriate. It's the
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,"
"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
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
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
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
street in Chicago. It would be impossible."