Lightfoot, a 56-year-old former assistant United States attorney, fought a hard election battle.
On day one, Lightfoot will also have to find a way to ease tension between the police department and state's attorney after prosecutors made a decision to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging a hate crime attack.
Chicago voters chose attorney Lori Lightfoot to be the city's next mayor.
"Out there tonight a lot of little girls and boys are watching. They're watching us. And they're seeing the beginning of something, well, a little bit different", Lightfoot, who describes herself as "an out and proud black lesbian" told the crowd. "They're seeing a city reborn". She got in the race even before Emanuel announced he wouldn't seek re-election amid criticism for initially resisting calls to release video of the shooting.
Lightfoot emphasized during her campaign that she was among the few early candidates to declare her candidacy before Emanuel decided not to run again.
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Despite that, her supporters were pleased.
"My momma always said birds of a feather flock together, " Ross said.
Lightfoot easily defeated Preckwinkle on Tuesday with backing from voter across the city.
"While I may be disappointed I'm not disheartened". "For one thing, this is clearly a historic night".
Preckwinkle acknowledged that two black women vying for the top spot in Chicago was historic.
That path will have major challenges.
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As the next mayor, her new responsibilities will be to tackle crime and police-community relations to enhance the quality of life and encourage people to move to the city, Arthur Lurigio, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Loyola University Chicago told the CNN.
Despite the barbs on the campaign trail, the two advanced similar ideas to boost the city's deeply troubled finances, which include an estimated $250 million budget deficit next year and billions in unfunded pension liabilities.
Lightfoot is a 1980 graduate of Washington High School.
On day one, she will also have to find a way to ease tension between the police department and state's attorney after prosecutors chose to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging a hate crime attack.
Chicago has long struggled with issues of segregation, housing discrimination mostly targeting blacks and Hispanics and a generationally engrained mistrust of the city's mostly white police department.
Before that, Lightfoot thanked voters at the Clark-Lake CTA station.
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Associated Press reporter Don Babwin contributed.