Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Heights’

Book review: Lincoln Highway around Chicago

December 16, 2008

More than a half-year after moving and losing track of just about everything, I’m down to the last few boxes to open, and there in one of them was The Lincoln Highway around Chicago by Cynthia Ogorek. The 128-page book was published by Arcadia earlier this year — my review was to be a preview when I started this post in March! Since then many reviews have appeared favorably recapping the highlights. My best compliment about it is that it is unlike other LH books; it is not just a retelling of existing information, it is a grand amalgamation of numerous sources, some familiar to LH fans, others dug out from local archives. The introduction and captions bespeak of a solid familiarity with local history and geography. Although a few images from the LHA collection may be familiar to fans, nearly every page brings new and interesting vintage views.

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Chapter 1 explores the original route and the people behind its improvement. Chapter 2 is all about the Ideal Section. Chapter 3 highlights roadside businesses, including some great gas station shots. Chapter 4 looks at the connection to the many electric interurban lines that served Chicago. (One of my favorite photos is found here — an aerial view of snowbound motorists astride the Park Forest neighborhood of Lincolnwoods, with an impending development across the road. It is also the source of the photo below that shows the Lincoln Theater in Chicago Heights, a 1960s shopping center in Matteson, and the fabulous Northgate Shopping Center Sign near Aurora — and I’m glad to report that Cynthia says this has been designated a local landmark.) Chapter 5 examines the inevitable bypasses. Chapter 6 reviews recent events, from restoration of the Ideal Section monument to Art Schweitzer’s efforts to document and salvage part part os that section; from Lincoln Highway Lady Lyn Protteau visiting the area to Mad Mac’s March across Illinois.

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All of Arcadia Books leave me wanting more — more text, better quality on many photos, a break from the monotonous crammed design — but some authors rise above that to present well-researched, insightful books. This is one of them. $19.95 or $14.95 from Amazon.

Lincoln and Dixie Highways share ties in Illinois

December 14, 2007

Dixie H bannerIn our review of Traveling the … Historic Three by John and Lenore Weiss (which follows the Lincoln and Dixie Highways and Route 66), I mentioned Elaine E. Egdorf. Not only does she manage the Drivin’ the Dixie website, but as chairman of the Village of Homewood Heritage Committee, she got a Dixie Highway marker for Homewood, south of Chicago. The committee and the Homewood Historical Society (she was founding president) paid for the marker, which was dedicated in 2003 with a large ceremony. It was re-dedicated in 2005 as part of the kick-off for Illinois State Historical Society Markers week. The Dixie Highway communities also were recognized with a Superior Achievement Award from the ISHS for the unique way they pulled together towns, historical societies, and chambers of commerce to promote Illinois history.

The Dixie Highway was another idea of Lincoln Highway founder Carl Fisher. His north-south path was said to have been created so his wealthy auto-industry pals could more easily travel south to Fisher’s Miami Beach land developments. The Dixie was not as direct as the Lincoln, but rather a braid of roads from Sou. Ste. Marie, Michigan, to Miami, Florida. The route is now identified throughout Illinois (except Chicago) with red, white, and blue metal street signs, street pole banners, and state markers. One of at least six intersections of the Lincoln and Dixie Highways is at Chicago Heights: the roads run together for almost two miles there and their meeting is commemorated by the Arche Memorial Fountain.

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Above: Redd Griffin, Oak Park; Elaine Egdorf, Homewood; Arthur Martin, Chicago, at the rededication in 2005. All are on the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Historical Society.

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Dixie H map

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This group’s Triangle Tour has actually evolved into Drivin’ the Dixie, a moving car show and tour from Blue Island to Momence. A passport listing events in towns along the route can be stamped at historic sites; each town donates two prizes, and for each stamp, participants get a free raffle ticket. Last year about 200 cars total participated, mostly vintage cars. It’s nice to see such support for a road that played such a big role in early auto history.

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