From southern Cook County to the Mississippi River, the Lincoln Highway meanders through many of Chicago’s suburbs before heading west through Illinois’s fertile farmland. America’s first transcontinental highway once stretched nearly 3,400 miles from New York City to San Francisco. The story of the highway’s role in shaping the contemporary American highway system is one that examines the interaction of technology and human spirit. Conceived by entrepreneur Carl G. Fischer in 1912 and endorsed by businessman Henry B. Joy, the idea of creating an automobile-friendly roadway spanning America would soon change the nature of travel in the 20th century. Lincoln Highway in Illinois defines and describes the role of the highway as it zigzags its way across the “Land of Lincoln” and highlights the cities, towns, and rural communities along its route.
From 1926 through 1977, Route 66 carried millions of travelers from the shores of Lake Michigan to the Pacific Coast. Americans fell in love with the automobile and made a family tradition of the road trip. On its three different alignments through the capital city of Springfield, Route 66 took motorists around the Illinois State Fairgrounds, past the state capitol, and through Abraham Lincoln’s neighborhood. Mom-and-pop motels, gas stations, and eateries opened along the highway and became familiar landmarks to travelers in the “Land of Lincoln.” In Springfield, the “horseshoe” and the “cozy dog” became popular local foods, and one of the first drive-up window restaurants opened. A man spent 40 years on Route 66 operating his gas station before transforming it into an internationally known museum. Meet the proprietors of these businesses, witness the growth of the highway, and enjoy a generous dose of nostalgia.
Route 66 zigzagged southwest across Madison County, Illinois, before crossing the Mississippi River into Missouri. Various alignments of this segment of the “Mother Road” rolled through pastoral farmland, headed down main streets, and later straightened as it bypassed towns. From 1926 to 1977, the path of the highway changed numerous times and crossed the Mississippi River on no less than five different bridges. Along the way motorists watched for the blue neon cross on St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to guide their nighttime travel; they counted on the doors of the Tourist Haven, Cathcart’s, or the Luna Café to be open for business. Travelers crossed their fingers that they wouldn’t get stuck at the bend of the Chain of Rocks Bridge and hoped they could make it up Mooney Hill in the winter. A later alignment took motorists right by Fairmount Park and Monks Mound.
The portion of California’s Highway 99 between Modesto and Bakersfield presents a fascinating and nostalgic environment. The highway has a unique charm and character that are significant to California natives, visitors, and those who have moved to the California Central Valley over the past century. This roadway has never been upscale or presumptuous but is truly egalitarian. This book is a pictorial and textual history of the highway itself, the cities and towns along the highway, and other locations in Northern California that evoke the same nostalgic feelings. Presented here are images taken in the region before Highway 99 was officially established. It includes images that were captured over the past century of Giant Orange juice stands, vintage signs, historical buildings, and other attractions that are part of the heritage. The author’s hope is to entertain, provoke thought, and provide glimpses into obscure slivers of history.
Between the great cities of Chicago and St. Louis, there are 300 miles of adventure, history, culinary delights, and quirky attractions. This is the “Land of Lincoln” and roadside giants. There are cozy motels, cozy diners, and Cozy Dogs. Interstate 55 will speed travelers to their destination, but Route 66 offers something more. It goes through the hearts of the towns, wandering onto old brick pavement far from the roar of the interstate. Historic restaurants like Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago, the Palms Grill in Atlanta, and the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield still keep their coffee pots warm. Waitresses, pump jockeys, gangsters, cops, and politicians all gave the “Main Street of America” its distinctive personality, and their stories are within these pages. So slow down, take the next exit, and head toward the beckoning neon in the distance. Come explore Route 66 in Illinois—where the road began.
The late-19th- and early-20th-century vision of the New South relied upon economic growth and access. The development of the Dixie Highway from 1914 to 1927—with its eastern and western branches running from Ontario, Canada, south to Miami, Florida—would help facilitate this dream attracting industry, tourists, and even new residents. Images of America: Tennessee’s Dixie Highway: Springfield to Chattanooga tells the story of people, places, politics, and organizations behind the construction of the road from Springfield, Tennessee, to Chattanooga. This section is particularly important, as it was roughly the halfway point of the route and contained the headquarters of the Dixie Highway Association in Chattanooga. It also included the seemingly insurmountable Monteagle Mountain in Marion County—the very last portion of the national north-south highway to be completed.
Prairie Avenue evolved into Chicago’s most exclusive residential street during the last three decades of the 19th century. The city’s wealthiest citizens—Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman—were soon joined by dozens of Chicago’s business, social, and civic leaders, establishing a neighborhood that the Chicago Herald proclaimed “a cluster of millionaires not to be matched for numbers anywhere else in the country.” Substantial homes were designed by the leading architects of the day, including William Le Baron Jenney, Burnham and Root, Solon S. Beman, and Richard Morris Hunt. By the early 1900s, however, the neighborhood began a noticeable transformation as many homes were converted to rooming houses and offices, while others were razed for construction of large plants for the printing and publishing industry. The rescue of the landmark Glessner house in 1966 brought renewed attention to the area, and in 1979, the Prairie Avenue Historic District was designated. The late 1990s saw the rebirth of the area as a highly desirable residential neighborhood known as the South Loop.
The Lincoln Highway across Indiana explores Indiana’s unique role in Lincoln Highway history and celebrates Indiana’s place in early automotive and road-building history. Once known as the “Main Street of America,” the Lincoln Highway route was established across northern Indiana in 1913, linking larger cities—Fort Wayne, Elkhart, Goshen, South Bend, LaPorte, and Valparaiso—to smaller communities. Most Lincoln Highway towns renamed their main streets Lincolnway in recognition of the nation’s first coast-to-coast auto road. When the Lincoln Highway Association shortened the route in 1926, the route linked Fort Wayne to Columbia City, Warsaw, and Plymouth, giving the state two Lincoln Highway routes. From Fort Wayne to the famous Ideal Section, between Dyer and Schererville, Indiana’s Lincolnway towns remain proudly connected to Lincoln Highway history. Through vintage photographs, postcards, advertisements, and other historical records, this armchair tour of the highway visits sites favored by early tourists, documents the people and places that made the highway a vital corridor, and celebrates Hoosier Carl Fisher’s leadership in the formation of the Lincoln Highway Association, as well as the people who work to preserve its legacy today.
US Highway 20 was designated a federal highway in 1926. For the first half of the 20th century, it was the most important east-west road across northern Iowa, extending from the Mississippi to the Missouri River. The road connected 13 counties, four major metropolitan areas, and many smaller communities along its route. Fortunately, the historic two-lane road remains almost completely intact and can be driven much as travelers did in years gone by. Along Iowa's Historic Highway 20 celebrates such a trip, illustrated by more than 200 antique postcards that show the personality of the road: town and city scenes, rural vistas, rivers, bridges, and historic sites. Not to be forgotten are the tourist courts, hotels, diners, and gas stations that made travel possible.
In 1902, magazine publisher Edward Gardner Lewis needed greater space for his thriving business, then based in downtown St. Louis. He headed west, out Delmar Boulevard a mile past the city line, and bought five acres of open land adjacent to the loop in the trolley tracks that sent the 10D streetcar back downtown. By 1903, Lewis was building a complex that included the Woman’s Magazine Building, a five-story octagonal tower with an eight-ton searchlight in its dome. In 1906, University City was incorporated, and Lewis became its first mayor, serving three terms. In 1913, Lewis went west again, this time to found the utopian colony of Atascadero, California. His octagonal dazzler is now University City’s City Hall. In 2007, in its first such list, the American Planning Association named the Delmar Loop one of the country’s “Great Streets”—it’s a long story.