Frequently asked questions about Chicago's brown honorary street signs
DO signs only honor people?
Honorary signs in Chicago are most often dedicated to people who made a difference in Chicago. However, there are signs that honor significant buildings, places, organizations, and events.
how many signs are there?
We are working on an official count (it is not as simple as it sounds). The City of Chicago has dedicated more than 2000 signs since it formalized the process in 1984. An undetermined number of commemorative street signs were designated before this date. New honorary signs are approved every month.
who chooses who gets a sign?
In order for a sign to be approved by City Council it needs to be proposed by an Alderman or by the Mayor. Most often the nomination is made by Chicago residents. If approved the City Council issues and order to install the honorary sign at the designated location. See our post for more details
Initial requests for a new honorary sign are most often made to the Alderman of the ward in which the sign is to be located. See our post regarding the nomination process
How do I nominate someone
for a sign?
Yes. As of February 2017 the City of Chicago will only accept nominations for persons who are deceased. See our post regarding details on the changes to qualifications
Do you have to be dead to get a sign?
On rare occasions the Chicago has repealed a sign and had it removed after it was installed.
As of February 2017 signs have been given a expiration date, a renewable 5-year term. The City plans to remove signs after five years. See our post about the new rules
Do signs ever get taken down?
The Chicago City Council meets every month (except August), there is usually at least one sign approved every month. Note: new restrictions were instituted as of February 2017 which puts and annual limit on the number of new signs.
How often are there new signs?
How many New honorary streets are named in a year?
What kind of people get the most honorary streets?
The largest category of honorary street recipients is clergy:
Reverends, Rabbis, Priests, Pastors, Nuns, Monsignors, Bishops, Cardinals, Elders, Swami, and Saints.
You thought it was politicians or rich people, didn't you?
I was just a curious citizen who saw all these names I did not recognize on honorary signs. I would ask myself "ok, what did this person do to deserve an honorary sign?" So I started looking for answers but could not find a book or even a decent list on the topic. I researched individual signs discovered wonderful and inspiring stories about people from all walks of life who did great things in the world and they were all connected to Chicago. They stood where I was standing - under the sign - and walked the same sidewalks and went to the same schools and parks. I got inspired by my fellow Chicagoans and decided it was sad that their names were remembered but their stories were lost. After several years of listening to me relate these stories, friends and family convinced me to write a book.