You know Eisenhower and Kennedy. You might have heard of Stevenson. But who was Dan Ryan?
Glad you asked. This is who Dan Ryan was. . .
He was born Daniel Ryan Jr. in 1894. Daniel Ryan Sr. was a Democrat office-holder who followed the Chicago political tradition of naming his son after himself. The elder Ryan eventually became President of the Cook County Board. Dan Ryan Woods, at 87th Street and Western Avenue, is named after him.
Our Dan Ryan grew up on the South Side. He served in the Navy during World War I, then earned a law degree from Chicago-Kent. When Dan Ryan Sr. died in 1923, Democrat leaders followed another local tradition. They appointed his son to the vacancy on the County Board.
After finishing out his father’s term, Young Dan ran the family insurance business for a while. In 1930 he became a candidate for the County Board in his own right, and was elected.