WBEZ | Stevenson Expressway http://www.wbez.org/tags/stevenson-expressway Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en How I named a Chicago expressway http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/how-i-named-chicago-expressway-104247 <p><p>Adlai Stevenson II died on a heart attack while walking along a London Street on July 14, 1965. He was a one-term Illinois governor and a two-time Democrat presidential nominee. At the time of his death he was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-12--Stevenson%20%28LofC%29.jpg" style="float: right; width: 255px; height: 330px;" title="Adlai Stevenson (Library of Congress)" /></div><p>I was getting ready to start college that summer. I knew a bit about Stevenson and had a favorable opinion of him. Besides, he was a Chicagoan who&rsquo;d been an actual<em> presidential nominee. </em>We&rsquo;d probably never get another person that close to the White House for a hundred years.</p><p>So the day after Stevenson&rsquo;s death, I sent a letter to the <em>Sun-Times</em>, suggesting that the new Southwest Expressway be renamed the Stevenson Expressway. I recounted some of the high points of his career. I also said that the Southwest Expressway would be an appropriate memorial, since it ran toward the ancestral home of the Stevensons in Bloomington.</p><p>A week went by. I&rsquo;d just about decided the <em>Sun-Times</em> had thrown away my letter, when&mdash;they printed it! The paper had edited away about two-thirds of my copy. But there was my letter, on page 27 of the July 23rd <em>Sun-Times</em>, right under the editorial cartoon about President Johnson&rsquo;s proposed Medicare law.</p><p>On September 1st the Chicago City Council voted unanimously to change the Southwest Expressway to the Stevenson Expressway.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/12-12--7-23-65%2C%2027.jpg" style="float: left; height: 382px; width: 255px;" title="'Chicago Sun-Times'--July 23, 1965" /></div><p>I&rsquo;m sure that I wasn&rsquo;t the only one who came up with the Stevenson Expressway idea. Still, it was a heady experience for 17-year-old to think that the movers-and-shakers might actually be partaking of his wisdom.</p><p>A few years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. I again sent a letter to the <em>Sun-Times</em> suggesting a street name be changed. I proposed that 47<sup>th</sup> Street be renamed King Avenue. After all, 47<sup>th</sup> was a main street in a Black section of the city, and it ran west into a White section, and wasn&rsquo;t bringing the races together what Dr. King was all about?</p><p>This time, the <em>Sun-Times</em> did not print my letter, or even part of it. South Park Avenue was the street chosen by the city council to become King Drive.</p><p>I retired from the street-naming business for forty years. Then, when Barack Obama was elected president, I wrote to <em>Chicago </em>magazine with my proposal for the street that would eventually be renamed in his honor. I mentioned Wabash Avenue, though lately I&rsquo;ve been leaning toward Franklin Street.</p><p>But that will have to wait until the President&rsquo;s term is over. In the meantime, has anyone noticed that the I-57 expressway doesn&rsquo;t have a name?</p></p> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2012-12/how-i-named-chicago-expressway-104247