Just in time for the annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show: a history of Route 66’s own Automobile Row on Ogden Avenue, by none other than my own dear colleague, Joe Kubal. Kudos, Joe!! Our thanks go to Gina Blitstein, editor of The 66 News and the web site of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, who posted Joe’s article about Automobile Row today on the group’s web site. Gotta love that wonderful slide show, too, which she put together from the photos Joe took or obtained. Very slick, Gina!
If you don’t know about Automobile Row, it was pretty much all of Ogden Avenue through the suburb of Berwyn, IL. Even before Route 66 officially opened, Ogden had auto sales and service business all along its length in the town, and that business presence increased and waned with the flow of traffic along Route 66 over the decades. The overwhelming majority of businesses that once populated Auto Row are gone now, but their buildings have been repurposed (as was the former Anderson Ford building recently), often by other car service businesses. There were other factors, of course, that contributed to Auto Row’s decline, including economics — but it’s an important part of the history of the route, commemorated in one of the four wayside markers installed last year in Berwyn by the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway authority.
Remarkably, one of the earliest businesses to locate on Auto Row is still around: Ogden Top and Trim, run by the third generation of Nesladeks (good Bohemian name!). And it’s a perennial supporter of the Route 66 Car Show, so make sure you stop by and say hi when you attend the show this weekend.
Until next time,