POLITICS
11/14/2014 12:39 pm ET Updated Nov 14, 2014

Jane Byrne, Chicago's First Female Mayor, Dead At 81

Chicago’s first and, to date, only female mayor Jane Byrne has died, according to reports.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed reported late Friday morning that Byrne had died. The Chicago Tribune also reported the news of Byrne's death.

Byrne was 81 years old and had suffered from health problems in recent years, including a hospitalization following a stroke in 2013.

Byrne served as the mayor of Chicago from 1979 until 1983. She defeated incumbent Michael Bilandic, who had been considered part of the city’s “Democratic machine,” and was succeeded in office by Harold Washington.

Earlier this year, Byrne made a rare public appearance at a Chicago ceremony commemorating the city’s Circle Interchange being renamed in her honor. The City Council also moved to rename Water Tower Park after Byrne this summer.

Byrne’s legacy as mayor included a tough stance on gun control and the spearheading of popular Chicago attractions like the Taste of Chicago and the redevelopment of Navy Pier. Byrne also appointed the first black superintendent of Chicago Public Schools and was the first mayor to participate in the city’s Gay Pride Parade.

Reactions to Byrne’s death came rolling in Friday. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel described Byrne as “a great trailblazer” and “a Chicago icon.”

Other Chicago-connected elected officials and community leaders mourned Byrne’s death:

PHOTO GALLERY
Jane Byrne, Chicago's First Female Mayor
CONVERSATIONS