City council members are reluctant to rename Lake Shore Drive to DuSable after poll, alderman says

A poll showing only 32% support for renaming Outer Lake Shore Drive in honor of Jean Baptiste Point DuSable has “more than four” aldermen reconsidering their votes, potentially denying supporters the 26 votes they need, a influential alderman.

Last month Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) used a parliamentary maneuver to delay the controversial name change in honor of DuSable, a black man of Haitian descent who was Chicago’s first non-Indigenous settler.

In the meantime, Hopkins and downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) used his campaign funds to commission a poll.

It showed that 41% oppose the name change, compared to 32% of those polled who support it.

Among the remainder of the respondents, 24% were undecided and 3% refused to answer.

The proposal to rename the Outer Drive garnered the greatest support among African-American respondents, but even there it fell short of a majority – 48%, compared to 32% among Hispanics and 25% among whites.

On Thursday, Hopkins said he got what he wanted from those results – some who had planned to support DuSable Drive are now hesitant.

Ald. Sophia King (4th), city council champion for the proposed name change, argued that “the votes were there” for DuSable Drive last month and that she “will be here again” to do so over vigorous objections from Mayor Lori Lightfoot when council meets again on Wednesday.

Hopkins isn’t so sure.

“I’m sure there aren’t enough voices to override a veto, if it comes down to it. I’m not so sure they have the 26 [to pass it]. I know they think so. If they do, it’s not by much. It’s by a very narrow margin, ”Hopkins told the Sun-Times Thursday.

“And since we released the data from our poll, I’ve been told that a few of their aldermen are reconsidering their position because they’ve looked at the numbers and they know it’s not something their constituents argue. They don’t have the majority of their residents asking them to do so.

He added: “This battle is not over. And the outcome of this roll-call vote is less certain than the sponsors would have you believe. “

Hopkins was asked how many aldermen reconsider their votes because of the poll. He would only say “over four” and that was “enough to have them under 26”.

Pressed to explain why he was so fiercely opposed to the idea, Hopkins pointed to the seven high-rise buildings in his neighborhood with “Lake Shore Drive addresses that would not be covered by the Inner Drive exception.”

“We weren’t really getting a response from the CDOT or the supporters of this proposal. They were just rejecting these buildings. They are not on the Inner Drive. So they will lose their name, ”Hopkins said.

“They are told they can keep their address. Even if the name of the road will change, they do not have to change their address. It seems like a ridiculous argument to me. It’s condescending. And it does not recognize the legitimate complaint of the people who live in, say, Lake Point Tower, who have had this address – 505 North Lake Shore Drive – for years. And I don’t blame them.

Hopkins said he was concerned about the “confusion” that could be caused by “having a building with an address that does not match the street it is on” in terms of GPS systems, giving directions or receiving deliveries.

“Some people have said, ‘It’s all about prestige. It is a prestigious address. Okay, okay, I’m sure that’s part of it for people. They are attached to it. Lake Shore Drive has a ring. There’s a song about it that we’ve all heard. There is a traditional element there that some people are very fond of, ”said Hopkins.

The alderman said his only regret about the poll was not asking whether Chicagoans would support the name change of Lake Shore Drive in honor of someone else – say, Daniel Burnham.

“I really believe if we had asked that question the opposition to it would have been the same in every way,” Hopkins said.

“It’s not about DuSable when people say they’re opposed to the name change. This is their fondness for the name. They don’t want to change it for anyone or anything.

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