For the last two years, I have enjoyed meeting people at libraries, museums, social meetings, and senior centers while presenting my programs on Route 66, the Plan of Chicago, and the Roads that Lead to Lincoln. Now, I have added two more PowerPoint presentations to our portfolio:
The Architects of Chicago’s Route 66, and
The Illinois & Michigan Canal: Past and Present
The Architects of Chicago’s Route 66 presentation is based upon an award-winning series of articles that has appeared in the Federation News, the quarterly publication of the National Historic Route 66 Federation, since 2007. The structures along the Route 66 corridor in Chicago, where Route 66 began its western journey, were the face that the city presented to visitors and travelers. Architects whose work graced the Chicago Loop thoroughfares that carried Route 66 traffic (Jackson Boulevard, Michigan Avenue, and Adams Street) include W. W. Boyington, William Le Baron Jenney, Daniel Burnham, John Root, William Holabird, Martin Roche, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe. This program will look at the reasons why this corridor became a haven for travelers and visitors. It will also explore the evolution and changes of the built environment over the course of the highway’s commissioned life from the perspective of the architectural styles of the designers that shaped it.
The Illinois & Michigan Canal: Past and Present will take a look at the long prelude to the building of the canal. Starting with the first exploration of the future canal corridor by French-Canadians Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, through the protection of the area by the U.S. Fort Dearborn, and then the succession of treaties with the Native Americans that ceded control of the area to the Federal government. The promise of the canal, which would create an unbroken navigable highway of water from the Great Lakes to the vast Mississippi River system, led to such decisions as where to draw the border between the new state of Illinois in 1818 and the Wisconsin Territory to the north.
It was the building of the canal that created a need for a municipality on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan–Chicago. Through this planned city, platted on paper before it ever existed on the swampy tall-grass prairie, it was expected that the goods and commerce transferred between large lake vessels and canal barges would bring wealth to Illinois and create a gateway between the settled east and frontier west.
The presentation’s final section will be a virtual tour of the Illinois & Michigan Canal corridor as it looks today, and it will showcase many of the places of historical and recreational interest that travelers can visit now. These sites include preserved sections of the canal and its limestone and wood structure in Lemont, Lockport, Morris, and LaSalle, and a look at the marvelous exhibits about early explorations and canal building at Will County’s Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville and the Joliet Area Historical Museum.
We are also continuing all four of our current presentations, and I am eager to bring them to any venue with an interest. For more information on any of the presentations, please check out the Presentations page on this blog.