Jane Byrne wore the most amazing high heels.
In 1979, everything about the first woman mayor of Chicago was new.
Each time the petite Byrne walked into a City Hall press conference, women reporters in the room would clock her kicks. Charles Jourdan was Byrne’s brand of choice back then. The French made shoes were exquisite and expensive. And Byrne had the legs to carry them off.
But, like everything else about her, there was something contradictory about it at the same time.
Byrne was, in a lot of ways, a plain Jane. Tough, wary, not given to big smiles or warm embraces.
An outsider, she’d beaten the insiders only to become one. She campaigned condemning the “evil cabal” of the two Eds, aldermen Edward Vrdolyak and Edward Burke. But once elected, she joined their club.
As political strategist David Axelrod put it Friday, “She was an imperfect vessel for the reform movement she led, and then betrayed. But she was absolutely fearless and, obviously, a trailblazer.”
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