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City Council Weigh Options To Honor Jane Byrne

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 26, 2014 3:25PM

Jane Byrne

Imagine Buckingham Fountain being renamed for former Mayor Jane Byrne or rechristening Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom the Jane Byrne Memorial Grand Ballroom. Those are two options introduced by Ald. Ed Burke at Wednesday’s City Council meeting to honor Chicago’s first and, to date, only female mayor.

Burke suggested Buckingham Fountain, the Grand Ballroom, the International Terminal at O’Hare Airport and Water Tower Plaza. “I am suggesting these as a range of ideas — proposals designed to advance the conversation in the forum of public opinion,” said Burke, whose resolution was immediately signed by 32 aldermen and referred to the Finance Committee Burke chairs for discussion. Once a site is agreed upon the measure will go to the full City Council for a vote.

The push to memorialize Byrne has gained steam ever since Sun-Times columnist (and onetime Byrne press secretary) Michael Sneed made it a cause célèbre in her columns. Sneed and Byrne’s daughter Kathy have lobbied local politicians to memorialize the former mayor, who at 81 is frail and in declining health. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has assured Kathy Byrne the city will do something to honor her mother, while Gov. Pat Quinn has already instructed the Illinois Department of Transportation to begin the process of renaming the Circle Interchange after Byrne.

Of the four spots Burke suggested, the International Terminal and Grand Ballroom make the most sense to be renamed in honor of Byrne. She pushed for the former during her mayoralty and, while Byrne championed the original ChicagoFest at Navy Pier only after she attempted to end it, her backing of the festival eventually resulted in the revitalization of Navy Pier into the tourist attraction it is today. Renaming Buckingham Fountain after Byrne is a dark horse choice, at best. If the city went apoplectic with the Trump Tower sign, renaming Sears Tower, Willis Tower and Marshall Field's becoming Macy's, people may riot if the fountain is renamed after Byrne.

The Campaign To Memorialize Jane Byrne May Bear Fruit