Friday, October 7, 2016

October 7, 1947 -- Tribune Editorial Protests the Name of Balbo Drive

October 7, 1947 -- The Chicago Tribune uses its editorial page to support a movement afoot in the city to change the name of Balbo Avenue, the former Seventh Street.  “It is disgraceful,” the paper observes, “to have a Chicago street named for a man who represented and helped found a system of government that Americans despise.”  The city council failed to take action on a petition requesting a name change for the street because that petition did not have a sufficient number of signatures from actual property owners on the street, many of them who were members of trusts and estates scattered throughout the country.  The paper ignores this technicality, telling the city’s aldermen to “change the name of Balbo Drive immediately” also suggesting that the street might be renamed after Lieutenant Commander John Waldron who died at the command of Torpedo Squadron 8 in the battle of Midway.  Seventh Street had been renamed in honor of Italo Balbo, the commander of a squadron of 24 seaplanes that flew from Rome to Chicago in 1933 to appear at the Century of Progress World’s Fair that summer.  More information about the Balbo mission can be found here.  The renamed Seventh Street is not the only reminder of the Italian fascist aviator.  Balbo Column, pictured above, was a gift from Balbo in 1934.  It stands not far from Soldier Field.

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