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Emanuel Makes Renaming Water Tower Plaza After Jane Byrne Official

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 30, 2014 2:30PM

Jane Byrne

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasted little time Wednesday backing a proposal to rename Water Tower Plaza after Jane Byrne, Chicago’s first and, to date, only female mayor. Emanuel’s announcement came on the heels of a unanimous vote by the City Council Finance Committee and caps a two-month campaign to cement Byrne’s legacy led by Sun-Times gossip columnist Michael Sneed, Byrne’s one-time press secretary.

“As Mayor, Jane Byrne didn’t just blaze a new trail for women in politics. She blazed a new trail forward to a better future for the entire City of Chicago. She remains an iconic figure in Chicago so it’s only fitting that we rename her beloved plaza surrounding our iconic Water Tower in her honor. It will serve as a fitting tribute to her lasting legacy.”

Byrne’s daughter, Kathy Byrne, told the Finance Committee the idea to rename the park surrounding Chicago’s original water tower was endorsed by her mother and family, which allowed the committee to set aside other options to memorialize Byrne.

“It goes back many, many generations that my family was in that area,” Byrne told aldermen. “My great, great grandfather, who was the first of my forbears to come to Chicago, lived in that area during the time of the Chicago Fire. And the Water Tower is a survivor, and my mother is a survivor, and Chicago is a survivor. And I think that would be a tremendous way to honor her, by dedicating that park to my mom.”

Kathy Byrne also suggested the city move the Children’s Fountain in Lincoln Park to Water Tower Plaza to “put everything into a wonderful package.” The Finance Committee did not act on that suggestion.

The Finance Committee’s recommendation will go before the full City Council during Wednesday’s meeting, which it will most assuredly be voted on.