My title is the refrain from Skip Haynes’s classic 1980 ballad, “Lake Shore Drive.” Anyone who knows anything about Chicago knows that Skip nailed it.
The original LSD was laid out in the horse-carriage 1860s as a promenade along the eastern edge of Lincoln Park. The drive was immediately popular, and newspaper accounts of the era tell of citizens’ groups lobbying to get it extended all the way north to Evanston.
In 1882 Potter Palmer built his mansion on LSD just south of North Avenue. That began the migration of the city’s elite from Prairie Avenue to the near North Side. It also began the mystique of an LSD address as the city’s “best” address. Everyone wanted to have a connection with LSD.
“Oak Street” was not a classy-enough designation for the folks living east of Michigan Avenue. So the local street at 1000 north became East Lake Shore Drive.
Sheridan Road was once the western boundary of Lincoln Park between 3200 and 3900 north. But when the Outer Drive was extended north of Belmont, this section of Sheridan became Lake Shore Drive.
In 1929 a parkway was built along the southern lakefront. It was originally called Leif Erickson Drive. In 1946 Leif Erickson Drive was changed to—wait, don’t tell me—Lake Shore Drive.
Until last October, LSD ended at 67th Street. South of there it became a local arterial street named South Shore Drive.
Then a new road was opened through the site of the old U.S. Steel South Works, between 79th and 92nd Streets, to carry U.S. 41 traffic. Much of the route was a few blocks inland from the lakefront. It also had no physical connection to the existing LSD.
The city named the road Lake Shore Drive, anyway. The idea is to spur development in the area—which ultimately translates into more tax revenue for government coffers.
There’s a lesson to be learned here. If you live in Chicago and want to raise your property values, ask your alderman to have your street renamed Lake Shore Drive. Assuming you approach him in the right way, he will be happy to introduce the necessary legislation.
But you’d better hurry and do it soon, before too many LSDs crash the market.