A New Name for Stony Island Avenue?

Mayor Emanuel has proposed renaming Stony Island Avenue for Bishop Arthur M. Brazier.  However, this is not the first time there was an effort to rename the street.

In 1989 the Chicago City Council entertained a proposal to change Stony Island to The Honorable Elijah Muhammad Drive, in honor of the longtime Muslim leader and Chicago resident. After five hours of heated debate, the legislation was referred to committee, where it died.

Stony Island near 69th during street-widening (1975)

Stony Island near 69th during street-widening (1975)

At the time, I wrote letters to the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Defender about the matter.  I suggested that instead of replacing a historic street name like Stony Island, one of the number streets should be changed instead.

I still feel that way.  If the mayor and city council wish to honor Bishop Brazier with an official street name, why not change 63rd Street?  It’s one of the most important streets in the city.  Besides, “Stony Island” is too pretty a name to abandon.

—30—

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12 Responses to “A New Name for Stony Island Avenue?”


  1. 1 Garry September 12, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    What a genuinely stupid idea!
    All this is to buy the black vote for Rahm’s re-election campaign.
    Does he really think they’re that stupid?
    If so, he’s really insulting them.
    And this city is broke & he’s going to cost the city a small fortune to change a couple of hundred street signs along with the CTA bus stop signs, the cost to IDOT for new expressway signs & the unfunded mandate for residents & businesses to change their addresses on anything that “Stony Island” has been printed on!

    All that for one of the infamous South Side reverends that have been extorting the city for decades so the Machine could keep getting votes.

    So no, it’s wrong! Stop changing names of anything government owns or uses!

  2. 2 Alzo September 13, 2013 at 10:15 am

    The Nation of Islam HQ is at 74th & Stony. To reject renaming the boulevard after Elijah Muhammad and then rename it after a Christian pastor would be a pointed insult to the Muslims. There is also the matter of all residents and businesses on this long street adjusting all their identities at great personal expense. Maybe this is the answer to the Balbo Drive embarrassment, though I think it’ll eventually become Obama Drive. Nice going, Rahmbo!

  3. 3 brian September 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    John, I love that photograph. Brings back memories. Not to blow off the political discussion here. Do you have anymore your could post from that era?
    By the way, it would be a VERY stupid idea to change the name.

    • 4 J.R. Schmidt September 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      I have hundreds of Chicago pictures from the 1970s–I went wild when I bought my first good camera. I’ve already used some on my former WBEZ blog, and on my bowling blog. Keep watching for more!
      –JRS

  4. 5 Lestine Byars October 7, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    The name Stony Island Avenue currently stands for an old abandoned beach. Let the renaming ceremony begin, Bishop Brazier has earned this honor with all the contributions he has made to civil rights, education, to the less fortunate, his church community infested with gangs, and to other smaller churches who needed financial support. If not him, then who has done more, so unselfishly. I am proud to support this honor for someone who has earned it.

    • 6 J.R. Schmidt October 7, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      I’m not arguing whether Bishop Brazier should be honored with a street. I’m merely suggesting that if a change is to be made, it should be a number-street, like 63rd.
      –JRS

  5. 7 Mmax October 8, 2013 at 8:08 am

    This is the best idea I’ve heard for a street naming in a long time. Bishop Brazier changed the face of 63rd Street when most would even come in the neighborhood. Change it!!!!!!!

  6. 8 sderailway September 30, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    State, Halsted, Wabash, Wacker, Cottage Grove and Stony Island, these are just a handful of names that are so typically a part of the essence of Chicago, they should be kept in perpetuity. Someone suggested changing 63rd street, let’s do one better than that, let’s change east 63rd st only to East Bishop Brazier Road, Ave or blvd and retain W. 63rd thereby still maintaining W. 63rd as the important numbered main arterial it’s been for years.

    • 9 J.R. Schmidt October 1, 2014 at 7:27 am

      That would make sense. Bishop Brazier was one of the people responsible for cutting back 63rd Street’s overhead ‘L’ line to Cottage Grove, saying it blighted the neighborhood.
      –JRS

      • 10 sderailway October 1, 2014 at 9:30 am

        There ‘s a bit of irony there as east 63rd although “blighted” by the ‘L’ was once a very vibrant commercial-strip compared to now; from a beehive of commercial activity to a strip of of emptness and inactivity, calls into question, was “blighted” that bad?

      • 11 J.R. Schmidt October 1, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        I’m just reporting what Bishop Brazier thought. Personally, I think cutting back the ‘L’ to Cottage Grove was a mistake.
        –JRS

  7. 12 sderailway October 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    -JRS, I know you were, I believe what was instrumental in the removal of the ‘L’ was a report I recall that the high ‘L’ bridge structure over the IC Electric bridge across E. 63rd was in bad shape and CTA was not opposed to the bridge’s removal which opened the door to removal of the whole end of line section from Stony Island to Cottage-Grove Av. I suspect that weighing refurbishing the structure against how much revenue the C-G to S-I section generated, CTA perhaps could not justify continuing that section, I agree with you that it was a mistake as it severed ride continuity. Perhaps one day it could be restored on a concrete deck and center support (like an elevated freeway ramp) as SEPTA in Philadelphia did to modernise a long section of the Market ST. elevated line in West Philadephia.


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