As any true Chicagoan knows, Western Avenue is the longest street in the city. Would you believe it was once named Woodrow Wilson Road?
Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, died on February 3, 1924. He’d been an icon of the Progressive movement and led the country through the First World War. The Chicago City Council wanted a suitable way to honor him.
A few years before, after Theodore Roosevelt died, the aldermen changed 12th Street to Roosevelt Road. What was good for a dead Republican president should be good for a dead Democratic one. Since the city already had a Wilson Avenue, it was decided to use President Wilson’s full name on his street.
It’s not clear why the lawmakers chose Western Avenue for renaming. On April 25, 1924 they voted to re-designated the street as Woodrow Wilson Road.
The 12th-to-Roosevelt change had caused little controversy. But now the property owners along Western objected to the expense involved in renaming their street.