Chicago Will Rename 13 Downtown Streets to Avoid Offending Millennials

In an effort to lure more west coast tech companies to Chicago, late last week Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to rename a baker’s dozen downtown streets in order to “forget the past, and bring Chicago into the 21st century.”

Hizzonor hopes that by removing the names of dead American presidents from some of the city’s most prominent thoroughfares he will be able to align the city’s image with the views of the average 20-something tech-corridor billionaire: That people over 40 are terrible, ignorant, and hold up the line at Argo Tea.

In doing so, Mr. Emanuel believes that Chicago will improve its chances of convincing to build its HQ2 project in the Windy City, while simultaneously convincing Facebook to move its existing headquarters from Silicon Valley to the former campus of Michael Reese Hospital.

Facebook was recently evicted from its Menlo Park, California offices when its landlord discovered CEO Mark Zuckerberg stumbling through a Denny’s parking lot writing down the license plate numbers of all the cars parked there.  A video posted on celebrity gossip website TMZ shows the technology tycoon dressed in a soiled bathrobe muttering, “All I need is this chair… and this ashtray… and the paddle game… and this thermos. And that’s all I need.”  The footage ends with Mr. Zuckerberg being escorted to a waiting Palo Alto Police limo.  One officer reportedly declined an offer to be “poked” by the fallen tech star after an aggressive friend request.

Back in Chicago, Mayor Emanuel described the renaming campaign as making the city “woke.”

Madison Street street sign

Madison Street is among the Chicago streets to be renamed. James Madison was America’s 4th president, wrote the nation’s constitution, started the end of slavery, and founded the nation of Liberia in Africa as a refuge for southern slaves. But a Millennial once posted on Tumblr that Madison was an old dude with a white wig, so he must be purged.

“For too long, Chicago has been too old, too poor, and too focused on the past,” Emanuel told WGN Radio after a hastily-called weekend city council meeting. “This is just another step in building  a new era in Chicago.  One where the poors in our outlying neighborhoods will get the privilege of being bathed in the dazzling light of opportunity coming from the skyscrapers of The Loop. And also Ravenswood, where I live.”

The mayor’s Director of Superficial Initiatives remarked to the  Sun-Times, “We’re getting rid of manufacturing jobs that only attract poor people.  We turned Michigan Avenue into a strip mall.  And this spring we’re going to stop the remaining middle class people from fleeing the city by disabling their vehicles through the strategic placement of potholes.”

City council approved the mayor’s $312 million plan in a unanimous voice vote.

Aroused from a nap in Chicago’s City Council chamber, 51st Ward Alderman Ima Stooge blathered, “That’s a lot of street signs that will have to be changed.  That means good, solid, union signmaking jobs for my ward.  And what’s good for the unions is good for me.  In-ground pools don’t just grow on trees, you know.”

Still, some activists worry about the prospect of Facebook moving to the beleaguered Bronzeville neighborhood, bringing with it an estimated 27,000 new jobs and $60 million in annual tax revenue.  The Reverend Keepem Lowe told WBBM over the weekend, “It’s bad enough we have all these snooty gastropubs and artisanal doggie bakeries pushing in on us from the South Loop.  If the people of Bronzeville get good jobs and homes and a some pocket money, the local unemployment rate will rise by one.  Me.”

The city streets to be renamed will end up in a numbered sequence that largely dovetails with the current numerical order of streets in the South Loop neighborhood.  It’s a technique the mayor learned about on a recent visit to China, where he admired the efficiency and blandness of the People’s Number Four Shining Road Design and iPhone Assembly Bureau.  Since coming to office, Emanuel has become well known for making the city as bland and homogenized as possible.

Map showing which downtown Chicago streets will be renamed.

Map showing which downtown Chicago streets will be renamed.

Streets will be renamed thusly (listed here north to south):

  • Washington Boulevard → 0th Street
  • Madison Street → 1st Street
  • Monroe Street → 2nd Street
  • Adams Street → 3rd Street
  • Jackson Street → 4th Street
  • Van Buren Street → 5th Street
  • Harrison Street → 6th Street
  • Polk Street → 7th Street
  • Taylor Street → Taylor Swift Street
  • Roosevelt Road → Target Street

Van Buren Street will become 5th Street instead of 4th Street since Congress Parkway is skipped in the renumbering plan.  This is because Congress so often skips out on its responsibilities.  Roosevelt Road becomes Target Street because that’s what everyone calls it already anyway.

The north and south running streets don’t have a numerical sequence to latch on to, so they will lose their presidential names in favor of modern-day cultural touchstones that Millennials will remember into their old age, the way 50-somethings remember space shuttles and Yugoslavia.

  • Jefferson Street → Avocado Toast Street
  • Franklin Street → Tide Pods Street

Clinton Street in the West Loop was not named after President Bill Clinton, but is being renamed anyway to avoid offending future generations.  It will be known as “#MeToo Boulevard.”

In a related note, the CTA’s “Quincy” Brown/Purple/Orange/Pink line station will be eliminated entirely.  It was named for President John Quincy Adams, a well-known chess enthusiast.  Since Millennials can’t multiple 4 by 5 without a smartphone, chess is like Newtonian physics to them.  So the station with its chess motifs will be shuttered so it doesn’t make anyone feel bad.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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