CITY HALL — Working to grant recognition that aldermen said was "past due for many, many years," the City Council declared the park around the Water Tower to be "Jane M. Byrne Plaza" at its meeting Wednesday.
The 80-year-old Byrne is the first and only woman to serve as the city's mayor. She served from 1979 to 1983.
The Finance Committee endorsed the renaming Tuesday, and the full Council approved it Wednesday by a 45-0 roll-call vote.
"Mayor Byrne has finally been accorded the recognition she so rightfully deserves," said 14th Ward Ald. Edward Burke. He called Byrne's legacy an "inspiration and challenge" to young women.
Ald. Ray Suarez (31st) said the honor was "past due for many, many years."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called her "a trailblazer for the City of Chicago and for the country."
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) praised her work promoting the city as a movie location, as in "The Blues Brothers."
The formal resolution cited her initiatives to expand O'Hare International Airport and CTA lines to both O'Hare and Midway airports, to redevelop Navy Pier and the Grant Park museum campus and to create Taste of Chicago.
It also mentioned how she was the first mayor to declare a formal "Gay Pride Parade Day" in Chicago, in 1981, along with her brief move into the Cabrini-Green housing project the same year.
It called the renaming "a suitable commemoration ... and as a symbol of the esteem in which" she is held.
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