Happy natals, Route 66! It’s your birthday week, and we here at the CuriousTraveler66 blog will raise some discussion this week about the past, present and future of the former U.S. Route 66 – now Historic Route 66, that most iconic American road, now recognized by the World Monument Fund and an official National Scenic Byway in Illinois – especially here in Chicago at the eastern terminus. The route was born on November 11, 1926 and was decertified in Illinois in the 1970s when the last part of it here was replaced by I-55. Today, the National Park Service has a U.S. Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to support this historic highway. We could spend today’s installment recapping the history of how the route came to be and how it got its name(s) and number designation, but we’ll leave that for later next week. Today, we’re going to do something different: provide you with an analysis of the condition/visibility of the route in Chicago, present you with a proposal of how the route should be marked in the city (because it really isn’t, except for a rare highway sign now and then), and explain how and why we’d like to see the city step up and capitalize on the presence of the historic road.
The end of route sign in Santa Monica (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
In other words: think of this as a discussion about what would help to preserve and popularize your favorite road trip. It’s overdue, and the route’s 88th anniversary this week (which went completely unnoticed by the city) is the best opportunity for this timely discussion. And since the city of Chicago is always scrambling for more money to put its budget back in the black and attract more tourism – especially the international kind – it’s time for city officials to finally pay attention, too.
In case you hadn’t noticed them earlier today, bicyclists participating in Stop The Cycle left the Will County Courthouse in Joliet, IL this morning in the light rain, headed downstate on Route 66 toward Springfield and, by the end of the trip, to St. Louis. The six-day trip will raise money to combat child sexual abuse and is the bicycle equivalent of a charity marathon. Stop The Cycle is short for the slogan Stop the Cycle of Abuse. The organizer is the Children’s Advocacy Center of North & Northwest Cook County, the local chapter of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois.
Okay, this is the part all you classic and custom car owners have been waiting for: the winners’ list from last weekend’s Berwyn Route 66 Car Show. This was the biggest car show in Berwyn EVER, thousands of visitors with more than 600 cars on exhibit. WOW.
I can tell you right off the bat that we have some repeat winners from last year; but before I get to that let me mention one thing that truly warmed my heart. There was finally an era-appropriate car to celebrate U.S. Route 66’s original birthday (November 11, 1926), and the judges even gave it a special award. Mike Home of Chicago won the Terrific ‘T’ award for his nicely preserved 1927 Ford Model T. Yaaaaaaaaaay!!! And now I’m annoyed that I somehow missed seeing it in the crowd.
Oh my, so much fun at the Berwyn Route 66 Car Show on Saturday the 7th – and even more this year than last, probably because we made a decision not to take 200 or 300 shots of all the cars. That actually gave us more opportunity to look around and enjoy things! ;D
But seriously: optimizing all those photos last year took forever, and we’re still working on the book manuscript, so we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and got picky about what we shot. Alas, our third had to babysit his daughter (better luck next year, Keith), but Joe and I made a complete day of it. It was a busy day, too, given that we started off in Hodgkins at Quarry Days and visited with the folks at the new Hodgkins Historical Society Museum on Kane Street. It’s in the former village hall and firehouse. Saturday at Quarry Days was the museum’s debut and open house. The staff hadn’t quite managed to get the entire collection on display in time, but based on what was on display, it’s going to be beautiful when it’s all up and running. Thanks to Sue Cappa for giving us a tour and to Mayor Cummings for posing for us.
Mayor Cummings of Hodgkins, IL and Sue Cappa of the Hodgkins Historical Society smile at the museum’s open house during Quarry Days 2013. Photo copyright 2013 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved
The Aluminum Overcast has three forward-looking compartments: a gunner’s roost at the top, the pilots’ deck just below that, and the clear nose cone in front, which gave excellent views to gunners on either side of the nose. Photo copyright 2012 by J.D. Kubal; all rights reserved.
We wrote about this event a few weeks ago, and it’s an annual affair. You can still catch EAA’s B-17 bomber at Lewis University Airport this weekend. Even if you can’t afford the pricy tariff for a ride, you can still get a tour on the ground for cheap. The airport is maybe a mile west of IL 53/Route 66 on Renwick Road. You’ll see the drive on the north side of Renwick. Just follow the crowds, and you can’t miss it. And for the armchair travelers, EAA has a page full of photos from the tour.