In the 41 years of Gazette Chicago’s existence, Chicago has seen five mayors before current Mayor Brandon Johnson: Harold Washington, Eugene Sawyer, Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and Lori Lightfoot. Two academics with a University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) connection, Dick Simpson and Betty O’Shaughnessy, have edited a new book that analyzes these five’s impact on the city: Chicago’s Modern Mayors.
The editors contend Chicago’s transformation into a global city occurred under these mayors. For each, they analyze how and why that mayor won office, whether the City Council acted as a rubber stamp or independent body, and how the mayor’s administration and accomplishments influenced the future.
With eight other contributors, “Simpson and O’Shaughnessy have put together a fascinating look at Chicago’s mayors since Harold Washington’s 1983 election,” said Dominic A. Pacyga, a Chicago historian and author. “This book is a must read” for those “who hope to understand the politics of the modern American City.”
“My coauthors and I wanted to tell the story both of individual mayors but also the arc of modern Chicago political history,” Simpson said. “There are individual facts about each of the mayors, how they got elected, their governing coalition, their crises and challenges, and their legacies which have not been explored. In the study of each mayoral era, we learned something we hadn’t known before, and I think will surprise our readers.”
Simpson is a professor emeritus at UIC, and O’Shaughnessy is a retired visiting UIC lecturer.
“There are important lessons to be learned from Chicago’s past, including the triumphs and the mistakes during each mayor’s administration from which we can learn,” Simpson said. “Learning from our past is key to creating a better future for Chicago.”
The book was published by University of Illinois Press and is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book. For more information, contact Heather Gernenz at [email protected]. The book is available on Amazon and other websites.
—William S. Bike