Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Gallery : How Chicagoans Remember Their History
How Chicagoans Remember Their History
What We All Know: Icons of Memory
Reproduction of Memory
Institutions of Memory
Forgetting, Misremembering, and Contesting Memories
Case Study: Jean Baptiste Point DuSable
Case Study: Fort Dearborn
Reproduction of Memory, Page 2
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Honorary Street Names: Frankie Knuckles

Cities have often named and renamed streets in order to memorialize people and events. Jefferson was one of the first streets named in Chicago (in honor of President Thomas Jefferson), as it was at the western edge of the James Thompson's 1830 plat. In the 1990s, with street names in Chicago long fixed, the city began erecting "honorary" street signs on segments of streets to honor people or events significant to some nearby constituents. In a city dominated by a strong mayor, this was one of the few areas in which aldermen could act with unquestioned independence. In August 2004 Jefferson Street between Monroe and Van Buren became honorary "The Godfather of House Music" Frankie Knuckles Way, near the site of the Warehouse, a club where Knuckles was DJ between 1977 and 1982. Honorary Frankie Knuckles Way, 2005.

See also: Aldermanic Privilege; Fight for 40th Street; Rap; Rhythm and Blues; Street Naming

Historical Markers

Even when historical memory fades, monuments and markers may persist in the landscape to claim attention. Stephen Douglas was one of the most powerful political leaders of the 1850s, foremost proponent of a policy intended to avert civil war over slavery. After his death in 1861, his landholdings on the south side became the site of a prison camp named for him. Decades later his friends sponsored a monument designed by Leonard Volk at his tomb near 35th Street. The monument has persisted in an area that became a Jewish neighborhood and later a center of African American life and culture. Douglas was neither an abolitionist nor a proponent of slavery, and in the 21st century his monument is easier to recognize than his legacy. His doctrine of popular sovereignty rested on a faith in the power of mobility; the Illinois Central Railroad that he helped bring to Chicago brought many descendants of freed people to Chicago in the century after his death. Monument to Stephen A. Douglas, 1928.

See also: Camp Douglas; City as Artifact; Douglas; Fugitive Slave Law of 1850

Industrial Ruins

There are no museums devoted to the history of industry and labor in the Chicago region, but landscapes of defunct industries still exist, and in some cases have been preserved and interpreted. In 1998 the Forest Preserve District of Will County opened an interpretive walking trail through the remains of structures at the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site along the path of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. The Joliet Works opened in 1869 and was a major employer until it closed in the 1930s. The photograph shows the foundations of the gas engine station, which consisted of three large Allis-Chalmers engines that generated electricity for the works. The Joliet Penitentiary, built in 1858, is in the distance. Joliet Iron Works Historic Site, 2005.

See also: Historic Preservation; Iron and Steel; Pullman

Oral History

In researching the history of Goose Island for a manuscript written in 1938, Charles S. Winslow interviewed a number of men who grew up in the neighborhood and transcribed their recollections and their answers to his questions. Remiscence of Frank Monahan, Ward Supervisor of Streets, in Charles S. Winslow, Historic Goose Island, typescript, 1938, pp. 61-62.

See also: Baseball; Fire of 1871; Land Use; Railroads; Sports, Industrial League