Alderman to rename island ‘Chopin Plaza’


Alderman Margaret Laurino (39th) has introduced an ordinance to name the traffic island at Milwaukee, Elston and Melvina avenues "Chopin Plaza" in honor of Polish composer Frederic Chopin.

The island has been referred to as "Chopin Square," but the alderman’s office could not find any city records with that name for the island, and Laurino wanted to formalize the designation. The word "plaza" was substituted for "square" to better reflect the shape of the traffic island, according to the alderman’s office.

Former 41st Ward alderman Roman Pucinski often said that he had the island named after Chopin in honor of the area’s rich Polish heritage. The site was in the 45th Ward in the early 1990s, and under the most recent ward remap, it is in the 39th Ward.

The Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce has maintained three flagpoles on the island for about 20 years. The chamber recently held its annual Flag Day ceremony there.

Laurino spokesman Manuel Galvan said that a dedication ceremony for naming of the island will be held in conjunction with a Chopin tribute concert at Northeastern Illinois University and that a plaque in honor of Chopin may eventually be installed at the intersection. Chopin, who lived from 1810 to 1849, was a child prodigy who finished many of his works by the age of 20.

The ordinance states that Chopin’s "name carries a strong sense of cultural pride for Polish people" and that "the headquarters of the Polish National Alliance, the Copernicus Foundation and a widely distributed Polish language newspaper are in the vicinity of the plaza." It also states that the plaza will "honor the many Polish Americans who have settled on the Northwest Side of Chicago and contributed to the greatness of our city."