Jane Byrne

Photo: Alan Light

For 21 years, from the mid-1950s to the mid ’70s, mayor Richard j. Daly ran the city of Chicago. And I mean he ran the city.

One member of Daley’s cabinet was a woman named Jane Byrne, who was Chicago’s Commissioner of Consumer Sales.

Not long after Mayor Daley’s death in 1976 Byrne left her city job, and ran for mayor herself in 1979. And against the odds, Byrne won. She became not only Chicago’s first female mayor, but the first woman to be elected mayor of any major U.S. city.

But 4 years later, when she ran for reelection, the tide that had swept her into office swept her back out again.

In 1992, Jane Byrne wrote a political memoir, and that’s when I have the chance to meet her.

So here now, from 1992, Jane Byrne.

Jane Byrne died in 2014. She was 81.

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