Reminder: Stroll 66 on November 6th Chicago Walking tour

November 5th, 2011

Chicago Hilton, formerly the Stevens Hotel, where the Nov 6th tour begins

Chicago Hilton, formerly the Stevens Hotel, where the Nov 6th tour begins

…and there is still time to join us! The tour begins at the Chicago Hilton Hotel, 720 S. Michigan Avenue, at exactly 12:06 p.m. (66 minutes after 11 a.m.!).

From the railroad era through the Route 66 era, Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard were the main destinations for tourists and visitors in Chicago. Our December 6th Stroll on Chicago’s Route 66 will trace the history of lodgings, rail stations, and other attractions that brought the world to Chicago’s “route center.”
The tour will meet on Sunday, November 6th at 12:06 p.m. (66 minutes after 11 a.m.) at the historic Chicago Hilton Hotel, 720 S. Michigan Avenue. When built in 1927, it was the Stevens, the largest hotel in the world and convenient to two of Chicago’s six passenger rail stations: the Illinois Central and the Dearborn Station.
We will walk north along Michigan Avenue and discuss the Blackstone, the Congress, the Auditorium, the Richelieu, and the Stratford Hotels. Along the way, we will discuss “smoke-filled rooms,” labor unrest, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, and the changing face of Chicago.
Turning west on Jackson, we will see the original starting point of Route 66, Chicago’s most musical corner, and the site of former luxury hotels: the Wellington, designed by Henry Ives Cobb; Burnham & Root’s Great Northern and Majestic; and Boyington and Jenney’s Grand Pacific. The tour will end at Adams and LaSalle, where the former Midland Hotel lives on as the W, and a bank building designed by D.H. Burnham & Company is now home to the J.W. Marriott. By the end of our walk, we will have a thorough understanding of why this corridor has been home to Chicago’s visitors for 140 years.
All participants in the tour will pay a discounted price equal to 66% of the regular $18.00 per person cost—that is only $12.00 per guest for a 2-hour adventure.
Reservations required. To register, send an email to: . Or Contact Me Here:
Or call me at 312-432-1284.
I hope to see you Strolling Chicago’s Route 66 (and neighborhood) TOMORROW, November 6th, at 12:06!

Reminder: Stroll 66 on October 6th Chicago Walking tour

October 2nd, 2011

Dearborn Station at Polk & Dearborn in Chicago

Dearborn Station at Polk & Dearborn in Chicago, starting point of the October 6th walking tour--click above for more info

…still plenty of room for more folks to join in the fun! A leisurely walk from Dearborn Station to Miller’s Pub in Chicago’s Loop! The walk will include information on history, stories from Chicago’s sordid past, and stops at 2 classic watering holes! Only $12 per person! For more info or to register for the trip, click here: and/or call Dave at 312-432-1284

Union Station, Springfield IL featured on new blog page

October 2nd, 2011

Union Station, Springfield IL

Union Station, Springfield IL. Click above to go to the Springfield Union Station blog page

On the September 23rd, I had the pleasure of leading a group of La Grange IL middle school students on a trip to Springfield, Illinois. On a break when I had some free time, I took a close look at Springfield’s Union Station. I published pictures of this visit in an album on my Facebook page last week. I have now used those same photos on a dedicated Springfield Union Station blog page with a lot more background information than on the Facebook album.

This new Union Station page is part of my ongoing attempts to add more exclusive content to I will be adding more articles, photos, and research-in-progress projects as time goes on. I would appreciate your feedback about what you like, your critical concerns, and what you would like to see more of in the future. Feel free to comment on this post, send an email to: Or Contact Me Here:
You can also send me a twitter message Follow windycityroad on Twitter or call me at 312-432-1284.

Meet the Route 66 Authors Oct 5th at Berwyn 66 Museum-

October 1st, 2011

Berwyn Route 66 Museum Logo

Berwyn Route 66 Museum, 7003 W. Ogden Avenue, Berwyn IL

Come visit with Dave Clark and Jim Hinckley, noted and award-winning authors of books on Route 66 (and other subjects). We will be at the Berwyn Route 66 Museum from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on October 5, 2011. Feel free to come by to buy an autographed book, bring books you already own so we can sign them, or simply engage in conversation about Route 66, transportation history, Chicago and the great American West, or anything else! It will also be a great opportunity to see the new Berwyn Route 66 Museum and what it has to offer!

Ghost Towns of Route 66 by Jim Hinckley

Ghost Towns of Route 66 by Jim Hinckley (click above to visit Jim's blog, Route 66 Chronicles

Jim Hinckley – Author of Ghost Towns of Route 66

Explore the beauty and nostalgia of these abandoned communities along America’s favorite highway! Ghost towns lie all along the Mother Road. The quintessential boom-and-bust highway of the American West, Route 66 once hosted a thriving array of boom towns built around oil mines, railroad stops, cattle ranches, resorts, stagecoach stops, and gold mines. Join Route 66 expert Jim Hinckley as he tours more than 25 ghost towns, rich in stories and history, complemented by gorgeous sepia-tone and color photography by Kerrick James. Also includes directions and travel tips for your ghost-town explorations along Route 66!
Hardcover • 160 pages
151 color & 21 b/w photos, 1 map
$25.00 US

Route 66 in Chicago

Route 66 in Chicago by David G. Clark

David Clark – Author of Route 66 in Chicago

Vintage photographs and postcard views, as well as contemporary images, are weaved together with narrative and captions to tell the pictorial history of the world’s most famous highway and the city in which it began.

“Much as Route 66 and the city of Chicago share a kindred history, so do the art and text, paired perfectly so that readers get plenty of information and are able to see what the author is talking about” –Jon P. Callender, American Road Magazine.

“David Clark has produced an excellent volume tracing the Route 66 corridor through the Chicago of today and back to early Native American trails and waterways…Clark is noted for his outstanding research and entertaining writing style and this book does not disappoint in either category”—Bob Moore, Route 66 Magazine.

First place winner, nonfiction history book, 2008 Illinois Women’s Press Association Communications Awards.

Softcover: 128 Pages, 6 1/2″ wide x 9 3/16″ tall, 195 photos & illustrations. $19.99.

Both authors will have these titles and more available for purchase and signing. Come by for casual conversation about Route 66, other U.S. Highways, your travels, local and U.S. history, or to just say hello!
Berwyn Route 66 Museum, 7003 W. Ogden Ave., 708-484-9349

Your Chicago: Route 66 Starting Point, CBS 2 Chicago

October 1st, 2011

…this segment with news anchor Kate Sullivan appeared on the CBS 2 Chicago 10 p.m. newscast on September 30th, 2011. It can be seen, along with its accompanying text, at the Web page.

If this video makes you hungry for more, please contact me for a tour, a presentation to your library/museum/social group, or to buy a book or postcard! or call me at 312-432-1284! Get your kicks with me on Route 66!

Another Promo for CBS 2 9/30 Route 66 Your Chicago Segment

September 30th, 2011

… this time I speak! I was asked the question why people come to Chicago from all around the world for their 66 adventure and I said, “It is the adventure of a lifetime that they’ve been looking forward to.” Enjoy!

Promo for CBS 2 Your Chicago Route 66 Segment

September 30th, 2011

as it appeared on the 9/29/11 newscast with anchor Kate Sullivan. Yours truly is the large guy in the Route 66 Aloha Shirt!

Chicago Route 66 to be featured 9/30 on CBS News

September 26th, 2011

CBS2 Chicago Logo on the local Chicago 10 p.m. newscast. As part of their ongoing Friday segments titled “Your Chicago,” news anchor Kate Sullivan recently interviewed me about the history of Route 66, why the highway begins in Chicago, and why it originally began at Jackson and Michigan (Chicago’s traditional “route center”). As part of the segment, CBS also interviewed Heleen Thanas, owner of Lou Mitchell’s restaurant, and some New Zealand tourists that had traveled the Illinois section of Route 66 and ended their Mother Road journey with a walking tour on the route in Chicago’s Loop.

The segment will air during the 10 p.m. newscast on Friday, 30 September 2011. It will then be posted on the CBS2 website on their “Your Chicago” page:

Driving through Pontiac IL in 1915

September 14th, 2011

Pontiac Trail SignYou have just bought a brand new 1915 Studebaker and you want to drive from Chicago to Bloomington, Illinois. This is a daunting journey in the early decades of the 20th Century, since you never know what roads to take. Few rural roads are marked with names and most are unimproved dirt surfaces (that turn to mud after even a moderate rainfall).

Motorists did have a few tools to help them find the best available roads in those days. Some named auto trails were beginning to get marked. Those wishing to travel from Joliet to Iowa could follow the Lincoln Highway whose red-white-blue symbols with a large “L” had been painted on posts and trees all along the way. From Chicago to Bloomington, you could theoretically follow the signs for the Pontiac Trail, whose sign is shown here.

Or could you? A 1915 article in Illinois Highways, a publication of the state highway department, discussed the plans and general routing of the Pontiac Trail. The Trail was also included on the state’s “Map showing Marked Through Routes in Illinois” published in February 1917. However, other sources from the era do not mention the Pontiac Trail at all.

Several years ago, I started a page on my website titled “The Mystery of the Pontiac Trail.” I detailed some research into a primary source: the 1914 Automobile Blue Book, where detailed turn-by-turn directions are given for a trip between Chicago and Bloomington, with NO mention of the Pontiac Trail along the way. This is not surprising since it depicts the state of the roads a year before the trail was described in Illinois Highways.

1915 King's Official Route Guide, Section Four for Illinois & Iowa

1915 King's Official Route Guide, Section Four for Illinois & Iowa

On that page, I promised to add more information from a 1915 guide, King’s Official Route Guide. That promise remained unfulfilled until I recently got a call from a gentleman in Pontiac that asked about the routing of the trail through his home town and namesake for the trail. This shamed me into pulling out the guide and resurrecting my research. I will soon add a new page to the website that will have scans from the book covering the entire route from Chicago to St. Louis–the way folks could get between those points 11 years before the birth of Route 66. I see no mention of the Pontiac Trail in the King’s Guide, but the Lincoln Highway and the Alton Way do get mentioned in the appropriate sections.

Click here to see 1915 routings through Pontiac Illinois

Click above to see 1915 routings through Pontiac Illinois

Until I get that page up, here is a little taste of the routing through Pontiac, Illinois. The description through town is familiar to anyone that has driven through Pontiac: from north-to-south, it is Aurora St to Indiana St to Main St to Washington St to Vermilion St to Reynolds St. Today, you can drive this same route by crossing the tracks south into Pontiac adjacent to the Old Log Cabin Restaurant. Click on the image here and you can see a .pdf of three pages–the first two are the north-south directions, and the last is the south-north directions. Enjoy and stay tuned for the full routings from Chicago to St. Louis!

Recap of Berwyn Route 66 Car Show

September 13th, 2011

…from Saturday September 10th. Thanks to the hospitality of the Berwyn Route 66 Museum folks, I was able to take a portion of their table and tent at the Car Show to meet & greet the patrons and offer my books for sale. I was also able to meet Bill Kelly for the first time. Bill is the director of the Illinois Route 66 Heritage Corridor and Scenic Byway, and prior to Saturday we had only met via phone and email. It was a fun and busy day at the booth, meeting old friends and making new ones, while talking up Route 66 and the new museum in Berwyn.

I was so busy that I could not take any photos of the amazing cars on display. Thus, I was happy to see this slide show on the Time Out Chicago website. I especially enjoyed the photo of the 1960 Buick Electra (6th picture in the slide show) since our family car from 1963-1970 was a black sedan 1960 Electra.