CHICAGO (AP) — A highway interchange near downtown Chicago has been named for former Mayor Jane Byrne.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced the new name Friday afternoon for what’s known as the Circle Interchange, where the Dan Ryan, Kennedy and Eisenhower expressways meet. The spot’s new name is the Jane Byrne Interchange.
Byrne held office from 1979 to 1983. She was the city’s first and only female mayor. Earlier in the summer, city officials also proposed naming a park next to the Historic Water Tower after her.
Quinn says when motorists hear the traffic reports every morning, they should hear notable names, like Jane Addams (the namesake of Interstate 88) and, now, Jane Byrne.
Ald. Ed Burke, the longest-serving Chicago City Council member, concurred.
“In seeking to honor Chicago’s first – and as the governor pointed out, only female mayor — Jane Byrne, the governor has sought to honor a true trail-blazer. Jane Byrne’s legend is iconic,” Burke said.
The spot facilitates travel for more than 400,000 vehicles each day. It was built between 1958 and 1962 and is undergoing a $420 million reconstruction.
“I never thought of it, but I’m sure not giving it back,” Byrne, 81, quipped to CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine after Friday’s news conference. “I’m glad of it, very glad. My grandson will be able to point up and say, ‘That’s my grandmother.’”
Byrne says she believes her political legacy lives on in moments of unity in Chicago. She referred to this week’s parade honoring the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team.
“It showed how Chicago is coming together, and I would like to think I played a little part in that,” Byrne said.
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