look back on chicagos mayors since

Look back on Chicago’s 8 mayors since 1955



Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle will be Chicago’s next mayor. As one of them is about to make history, here is a look back at the mayors of the past.


Richard J. Daley (1955 – 1976)
Served 21 years from 1955 until his death on December 20, 1976. He is often credited with delivering victory for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 Presidential election.

Michael Bilandic (1976 – 1979)
Appointed by the Chicago City Council after the death of Daley. His popularity nose-dived after he was blamed for the city’s handling of the Blizzard of ’79.

Jane Byrne (1979 – 1983)
Chicago’s first female mayor, Byrne stayed at the Cabrini-Green housing project for 3 weeks to bring attention to shootings and murders there.

Harold Washington (1983 – 1987)
Chicago’s first African-American mayor died only 6 months into his second term. Washington faced fierce opposition to his agenda from a mostly-white block of alderman during the so-called “Council Wars” early in his tenure.

David Orr (1987)
Vice Mayor and 49th Ward alderman Orr became acting mayor for eight days until the City Council could elect a permanent replacement for the late mayor.

Eugene Sawyer (1987 – 1989)

The longest-serving black alderman at the time, he was chosen to finish out Washington’s second term.

Richard M. Daley (1989-2011)
After 22 years in office, he surpassed his father to become Chicago’s longest serving mayor.

Rahm Emanuel (2011 – 2019)
Chicago’s current mayor concludes his second term in May of 2019.

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