Who do you think Howard Street was named for? A list of famous people with the last name of Howard gives us such names as Trevor Howard, Leslie Howard, or even the ever-famous Three Stooges: Moe, Larry and Curly Howard. When I was a child I think my older brother tried to convince me that Howard Street was named after the Three Stooges, but that is not the case. In fact, Howard Street was not named after someone with the last name of Howard at all, it was named after someone with the first name of Howard - namely Howard J. Ure.
Who was Howard J. Ure and why was a street named after him? Let's find out.
Howard J. Ure came from a family of early settlers to the area known as Rogers Park. His grandfather, John Calder Ure, had moved to Chicago as a youth from his native Scotland and settled permanently in the Village of Rogers Park, buying up large tracts of land, some of which he planted for his use as a landscaper and florist. He moved to 17 acres at the present day southeast corner of Howard Street and Clark Street in 1852. John Calder Ure was married 4 times, and had a total of ten children, one of whom was his son, John Francis Ure. John Francis Ure was born in 1869 in Rogers Park to John Calder Ure and his wife Margaret, nee Keyes.
John Francis Ure as an adult lived in Rogers Park on a farm between Rogers and Birchwood, east of Clark and operated a dairy business on this site. He also helped convince the Village of Rogers Park to be incorporated in to the City of Chicago. Rogers Park wanted to have the benefit of police and fire protection that incorporating into the City would provide. As a part of that deal, in 1897 John donated the land east of Clark Street that is now Howard Street to the City of Chicago that they wanted for east/west access to Lake Michigan and in gratitude, the City of Chicago offered John the chance to name the street. He agreed and named the street after his son, Howard Ure and so, the street dividing Chicago from Evanston became not Ure Avenue, but Howard Avenue.
John Calder Ure did not die until 1905, so he could have been involved in the Chicago transaction, but he gave his property at Howard and Clark to his wife Margaret at their divorce in 1871, and she gave it to her two sons John Francis Ure and Robert Arnold Ure when she died in 1889.
John F. Ure listed his occupation as "Dairyman". By the 1900 census John James Ure was known as John H. Ure and by the 1910 census as Howard J. Ure. Why was baby John James Ure's name changed to Howard J. Ure? The answer is lost in the mists of time, but Howard was not a common name among the Irish or Catholics of that time.
Although John Calder Ure was a Scots Presbyterian, he sent all his children to Catholic schools, and finally converted to Catholicism on his deathbed in 1905. Unlike his son John Francis, and his grandson Howard who are buried in All Saints Catholic Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois, John Calder Ure is buried in Rosehill Cemetery:
In 1908 the Howard Avenue stop for the elevated trains (the "el") was opened in combination with the Chicago and Northwestern train station and the terminal for the Clark Street surface lines. Howard quickly became a transportation hub and development of land along Howard started a land boom in the area.
John Francis Ure did not live long after the opening of the Norshore - he died in a car accident on November 25, 1927.
Through the years Howard Ure remained active in the life of Howard Street. He was one of the original members of the Howard District Business Men's Association and became a director of the Howard Avenue Trust and Savings Bank at the early age of 26. Between 1953 and 1973, he served as a director of the North Shore National Bank of Chicago But Howard Ure is probably best remembered as a restaurateur. He opened and operated the Grill Restaurant, and the Ship Restaurant which was located in the Norshore Theatre building.
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