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Name Games

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Know why honorary street naming is de rigueur in present day Chicago? Because the city found out a long time ago that official changes to street names cause great strife among locals, and unintended expenses and risks for businesses. That's the story of Western Avenue as Woodrow Wilson Road, writes John R. Schmidt for WBEZ's Chicago History Today column. The change was implemented in April 1924 to honor the passing of President Wilson, an icon of the Progressive movement. The same effort was made on behalf of Teddy Roosevelt a few years before, and that one stuck. But a solid business block existed on Western by the 1920s and it fought back, convincing City Council to reverse the change within a month. [WBEZ]